It seems like our ongoing needs to improve us has even taken its toll in the arena of free speech and press freedom and that we are now 7 positions better from last year as shown in this report by Reporters sans frontieres.
We should be proud as even the great US of A slide 20 places down.
This makes it a surprise to all during the farewell speech of the outgoing American ambassador to Singapore that we Singaporean should really open up and give us the citizens more freedom of choice and expression. The passage is here:
Singapore has its share of challenges as well. Singapore has flourished over the past 40 years, but is a 20th century model adequate for the 21st century? Singapore is grappling with the definitional questions of what kind of society it wants. Remaking its economy is, in a sense, the easy decision. Shaping a political system to reflect the needs and aspirations of its citizens is more difficult and more sensitive. What are the bounds of expression? What say should citizens have in their government? In this era of Weblogs and Webcams, how much sense does it make to limit political expression? Remember, we have the death of distance. There are no islands anymore. As part of Singapore’s success is its strong international links, it is surprising to find constraints on discussions here. In my view, governments will pay an increasing price for not allowing full participation of their citizens.
This is while the diplomatic immunity card is still in force which practically is a get out of jail free card. Even so, this speech was uttered just before he is flying back to land of the free whereby minority elected president can just sits fine doing pretty much nothing besides going to Camp David, his ranch and also to invade countries which failed to yield Osama and the WMDs. For all fairness, the full test of the speech is here. We can probably write this off as a criticism by a departing friend in good faith or as the current administration which an article in Littlespeck has eloquently put. And which while it’s all quote-worthy, I find this little excerpt rather eloquently spoken about how to actually inspire people.
I close with this excerpt of a review of a book by the late Dale Carnegie: "...Success, Carnegie believed, is due 15 percent to professional knowledge and 85 percent to the ability... to arouse enthusiasm among people [by] dealing with them so that they feel important and appreciated...handling people without making them feel manipulated...You can make someone want to do what you want them to by seeing the situation from the other person's point of view...You learn how to...win people over to your way of thinking, and change people without causing offense or arousing resentment. For instance, 'let the other person feel that the idea is his or hers,' and 'talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person'."
But it seems the criticism is not the only voice that dissent our state of affair. Should the words sting, I guess action would more like a slap, and in this case, a slap in the face not unlike a spurned lover walking off in disengagement. The name of this love interest is Warwick University of UK, which spurned the idea of a branch campus in Singapore after the result of a vote by the senior lecturers of Warwick against setting up in Singapore. Seems like our limits of expression as well as reluctance to allow demonstration on campus is a damper. Not to mention that smoking pot will not be granted as a special privilege or as an educational pursuit.
That might really set us back to further attracting the good money we get from the influx of students in the region which we will readily give PR status and jobs so as to reduce the brain drain despite the fact that some may very well view us as a mere stepping board while the natives not recognized as main stream are better off spreading their wings in a land far from home only to be labeled quitters by a country that has no place for them.