Break the law just like the ruling party - get arrested.
November 21, 2001 12:30 AM   Subscribe

Break the law just like the ruling party - get arrested. According to Singapore's Straits Times (article expires in seven days, I linked to the cache on Google), Robert Ho allegedly encouraged an 'attempt to incite violence or disobedience to the law'. The original posting that got him into trouble was encouraging civil disobedience, as if Singaporeans would dare do such a thing. (From Politech.)
posted by jetgrrl (22 comments total)
Bear in mind that this is a country where it is illegal to chew gum (to prevent the possibility of people jamming chewing guminto the subway doors or keyholes on public building doors). The nuisance was considered too much a public threat.
posted by scarabic at 1:06 AM on November 21, 2001

I'd really like to comment on this but I can't, I live in Singapore.
posted by Jubey at 1:18 AM on November 21, 2001

By the way, that Playboy link, a little way down, when I tried to look at it, this is what I got:

The URL you requested:

Has been blocked by the caching server.
Please contact your System Administratorwith any questions

Welcome to Singapore. This has been deemed offensive by the government. Hope I didn't miss out on anything interesting, guess I'll never know.
posted by Jubey at 1:30 AM on November 21, 2001

So if I say "The PAP is a bunch of lousy scumsucking corrupt trash-collecting idiots!", will they try and shut down Metafilter and arrest us all?
posted by timyang at 2:27 AM on November 21, 2001

Metafilter's not within their jurisdiction, given that it isn't based in Singapore so I'd say that they can't. If you're living in Singapore and post something that they deem libellous etc, they'll come after you.

There's a notorious site called that they've been trying to shut down for ages, it's run by a Singaporean but hosted elsewhere and is full of porn and the locals speaking out against the government. I'm suprised they just don't block it.

The thing is about Singapore, there's lots of things to moan about, however if you look at the society, mostly, it works. There's very little crime, you always feel safe, the place is clean, the economy, even in a recession, ticks over. It's a small enough place that everything is easily monitored, which is a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it.

Anyway, as an expat, I'm choosing to live here. Like people say, if you don't like it, leave.
posted by Jubey at 2:39 AM on November 21, 2001

Jubey, Singapore only 'works' for the rich. And then, only for the apathetic rich.
'When tourism recently slackened off because of Singapore’s reputation as a boring city, developers recreated the infamous Bugis Street which earlier spiced night life with its transvestites and other adventuresome attractions. The street was demolished in 1985 but was recently recreated, complete with the popular food stalls, cross dressers and other lures in the hope that tourists will return to its night markets.'
posted by asok at 3:19 AM on November 21, 2001

Everything in that article is true and I could tell you some stories, but, well, actually I can't. I'm here on a work visa. Singapore's in a recession, at the moment they're hard to get and even easier to take away so I have to watch what I say.

Singapore is indeed a parent state, and I never denied this. The driving force is money. Now you may say this is common everywhere. Not like Singapore. Greed is good here. So far as it only working for the rich (although that is everyones end goal), I'd have to disagree. I don't know if you've lived in Singapore, which IMHO is really the only way to truly get a rounded experience of the place, but I don't see that statement as being true.

Also, the class structure here is very apparent. Racism runs rampant and is considered acceptable. The government preaches harmony among the sectors of the community, but it is very obvious where your station is in life and you're never allowed to forget it.

Having said that, I moved here knowing it would only be for a few years, so I can accept the good with the bad knowing that I can go home when I've had enough.

By the way, that paragraph about Bugis St, I'm not sure what the relevance was, could you explain?

If you'd like to hear my views, I'd be happy to send you an email.
posted by Jubey at 4:20 AM on November 21, 2001

I just thought the bugis st. situation was somewhat ironic.
posted by asok at 4:26 AM on November 21, 2001

My days and nights in Singapore go back over 30 years to when I was a vacationing soldier from Nam on R&R. The one thing that struck me like a 2x4 between the eyes was the cleanliness and orderliness of things in Singapore.

I'm not sure they had the laws prohibiting the chewing of gum, but I do recall they had some sort of law about the length of one's hair. They also had squads of people with scissors who would conduct impromptu, streetside tonsorial sessions if they deemed you to be too hirsute.

All in all, coming from a combat zone, Singapore was a very welcome respite from it all.
posted by MAYORBOB at 4:29 AM on November 21, 2001

Asok, your sources are 5 years old at least.

I also have mixed feelings about Singapore. The chewing gum offense is often quoted, but the fact of the matter is that what you call a "nuisance", multiplied by the number of people on a subway car during rush hour, becomes something more.

Actually, most Singaporeans seem ok with it (and also joke about it) and while there are poor people in Singapore, most are better off than where they came from.

Hong Kong is dirtier, even more soulless and equally non-democratic. As for Bangkok, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, etc. they are in a different league altogether.
posted by magullo at 4:34 AM on November 21, 2001

as neither of us has an email address in our profile, sending one would require one of us to declare our email address in this thread.
i wonder if my hushmail account is still in existence?
i am aware my sources are 5 years old, but very accurate i am sure you'll agree.
posted by asok at 4:49 AM on November 21, 2001

Hurrah for Singaporeans for Democracy! "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead (quoted by SFD)
posted by Carol Anne at 4:50 AM on November 21, 2001

They are not old, but rather archaic and thus irrelevant. I'll tell you why. I stopped reading after the sentence "Singaporeans however are confident that the future belongs to them, especially when rival regional economic competitor, Hong Kong, reverts to China’s control in 1997" 5 years after the event, so many things went in totally unexpected ways that for anybody with any experience in the region will be totally turned off by this. I mean, SE Asian economic crisis anyone? That is post-handover and it already is old news.
posted by magullo at 6:13 AM on November 21, 2001

I just like that he links to a website called talking cock. Which is in English.

Anyway, I'd rather live someplace interesting then someplace overly clean. And how does the racist system work anyway? Whose on top? What's to position of foreigners?
posted by delmoi at 6:14 AM on November 21, 2001

There was an interesting interview on NPR with one of the founders of the present Singapore government. He was interesting to listen to and a consumamte politician. He spoke with what sounded like a genuine love for the people, but his overall goal, it appeared was power. To meet that goal, he turned a third world country into a first world country (although this is arguable), but the means are questionable.

Gross asked him about the people being unhappy with the government, to which he replied, "if they are unhappy, why do they keep electing them? It's a democracy." Which sounds all well and good, until you question the election process...
posted by plinth at 6:34 AM on November 21, 2001

so I have to watch what I say

Whatta way to live....
posted by rushmc at 6:55 AM on November 21, 2001

This is a local forum in Singapore. People do air their views under anonymity, but it's surprising how many controversial threads disappear...

If you search around the forum, you'll also hear people's opinions about working with westerners (there's a lot of "go home angmoh, you take my job, you take my women" kinda thing) maybe learn a little more about Singaporeans and their value systems.
posted by Jubey at 7:03 AM on November 21, 2001

In many Asian countries, racism is rampant, but then again, so is clasism. So it works like anywhere else, if you have money, you're on top.
posted by magullo at 7:27 AM on November 21, 2001

I guess a more recent way Singapore is fighting the stigma of being perceived as a 'boring city'1 by tourists is by hosting the World Toilet Summit* [via paxtonland].

I [heart] NY logo has nothing on the Toilet Summit logo. The website comes complete with a javascript pop-up that has a stick-figure male-female pair running to either the the Toilet Summit, or the toilet. The Toilet Summit's goal is to someday form a World Toilet Organization. Don't we already have a WTO?

Somewhere deep inside, I want to believe this is a big practical joke, but seeing that they even got China to send 20 Toilet Delegates, (and also a few from England and Finland) I can't but be impressed by Singapore leading the world into 21st century Toilet Sensibilities.
posted by tamim at 7:46 AM on November 21, 2001

Heh. Didn't realise I'd get such a response. I linked to it because, (a) it's an interesting story, and (b) I was born and raised in Singapore.

MAYORBOB, there is a law against selling chewing gum in Singapore, the official reason is some genius stuck it between train doors and held the train up. The rumour I heard was the foil in chewing gum wrappers makes really good cones.

delmoi, I'm a girl... I know I don't have a photo and can't really prove it, but I am. Really. Pretty much.

Jubey, while the system has worked for many years, people have changed. I know I have. I did not choose to be born here, and it's the only place I can get a job right now, so I have to stay. Meanwhile I remain as diplomatic as I can be in airing my views. By the way, icered actually annoys me because it's really immature. Also, I can access blocked sites at work, I don't know why.

asok, it's true Singapore can be seen as dead boring, it usually is. But the government has tried, in their own limited way, to liven things up a bit. And it's still a safe country to visit in the SEA region. So it could be worse, but isn't.

And to everyone: living in any country means having to trade off certain things for assurances of other, er, things. If you don't mind giving up civil liberties for physical security and relative political stability, Singapore is the place for you.
posted by jetgrrl at 5:19 PM on November 21, 2001

foil in chewing gum wrappers makes really good cones.

what are cones?
posted by chiheisen at 9:22 PM on November 21, 2001

cones are made to hold marijuana in pipes and bongs? You can buy cones, but some people make them. I think.

<fear>No, I don't do drugs, Mr Central Narcotics Bureau man!! I just, er, read about them a lot.</fear>
posted by jetgrrl at 10:20 PM on November 21, 2001

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