Friday, August 27, 2010

Youth on the Balance

I was reminded today that if you do not want your personal details to be known, then don't put any of it online, on the internet, to be specific. The internet media has a long long memory. You can delete the pages where you posted these info, you can delete your account, but whatever you do, those pages, if they were once openly available on the internet, will always remain there in some cached pages (such as those that Google maintains) - perhaps till kingdom come or the internet is destroyed, whichever happens first. Even Google's demise, should it happen, would not erase those information. So also if you want to post a comment that can be viewed as a threat, especially one of bodily harm to someone living no more than 41 km away (that's the diagonal size of Singapore island). Then you had better be ready to defend yourself. In particular, I am referring to a Singaporean who did just that on his Facebook page - threaten to kill the Sports Minister of Singapore.

He was arrested and questioned, as anyone who has threatened murder should be, and subsequently released on bail. I agree with many who wrote on the incident, that if he hasn't done anything wrong, he should not be afraid. And he displayed this fearlessness by subsequently claiming, on the internet again, that whatever he said wasn't literal. One can argue till the cows come home if his tirade on his Facebook page is a piece of literary art form or a bald threat by a would-be terrorist. That he goes by a Malay name doesn't help. He should have known better, or is he fronting for someone in the shadows? For all that we say about freedom of speech, if this person boarded a subway train, I will not follow him into that same train. Call me a coward, or accuse me of being paranoid, but you can never know, until it is too late. I am not going to put my life on the line for some vague freedom of speech thing, which some claim they will die defending even if they don't agree with what was said. Hogwash. That is the idealism of youth and the folly of the aged - probably a fallacious belief if ever there was one.

It is so easy to criticize someone or something. Sure mistakes were made in the YOG. Everyone could see it, and not a few poured scorn on the organisers. It was very publicly visible, and embarrassing for a Singapore that prides itself on being efficient, and always planning to the last detail. Perhaps our Kiasu spirit showed up and the MOE soaked up as many tickets as it could so that it could send in the 'army' if and when necessary, to fill the stands.- so some tell me. But what is important is that corrective action was taken, it was effective, just like what our young footballing cubs did to secure the bronze medal after a disastrous outing with the Haiti Football Team.  

So was it worth it? Only time will tell. I asked a youth today if he had volunteered to help out in the YOG. He said 'Yes', and I asked what he got out of it all. He was positive about the experience, especially with the opportunity to mix around and converse with so many different peoples of the world. Somehow I was happy for him but felt a tinge of sadness that I could not go back in time to experience what he has for the past week or so. For our young, who are our future and to learn to co-exist with others - this alone makes it worth it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks. I think you wrote a very sensible piece here.

Paul said...

Do you mean to suggest that our Minister Mentor should be arrested and charged for threatening to kill Mr Jeyaretnam???

or the SIA pilots???

"Put it this way. As long as Jeyaretnam [Workers' Party leader] stands for what he stands for -- a thoroughly destructive force -- we will knock him. There are two ways of playing this. One, a you attack the policies; two, you attack the system. Jeyaretnam was attacking the system, he brought the Chief Justice into it. If I want to fix you, do I need the Chief Justice to fix you? Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac. That's the way I had to survive in the past. That's the way the communists tackled me. He brought the Chief Justice into the political arena."
- SM Lee Kuan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997

In a speech at the Global Brand Forum on Monday, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew had said: "Pilots believe they are special, they got huge egos, I'm told. We are telling both management and unions - you play this game, there are going to be broken heads - let's stop it." - CNA, 3 Dec 2003