Polling Day: Eve of Merdeka? Answer, No.

 No Merdeka-ing tonight, sorry. 
Check soon for thoughts on results but enjoy the story. 

When I was attending St. Patricks School, an odd incident occurred that I wasn’t really able to comprehend until now.

It was close to the end of the year, Kids enjoying the relaxed mood of the pre school holidays week, after exams were over.
Three Sec 4 boys from the express stream (Morning section at the time) Were on their way out of school at they shouted MERDEKA! which means Independence in Malay.

This caught the ire of the disciplinary head teacher who was waiting at the gate trying to give problems to kids who were coming to school late or with untucked shirts.

He then reprimanded them, by making a display of them, making them stand on stage as he tried to make his point, something about Singapore’s independence how people shouted merdeka and whatever, it’s a bit of a blur to me now, and how it’s a sensitive word, because LKY cried or something. Look it wasn’t a convincing speech, I was just perplexed as to why this was punishable by public shaming.

I just thought, that’s odd, if the word Merdeka is not allowed to be uttered by students can I say the english version of it, Independence?
Would those boys be in trouble if had shouted Independence instead?
I just didn’t understand why that word needed to be censored especially in its very definition it symbolizes a good thing, Independence.

Remember this was the week after exams and these boys were done with secondary school education. So saying Merdeka in this context especially since two of them were Malays is relevant and well within the context of their life experience.

Needless to say, they got detention and the rest of the day went on as per usual for the rest of us and this incident went to the back of my mind until now.

I struggled to understand why the word Merdeka triggered the Discipline teacher so much, and here at the cusp of the GE2015, arguably the hottest election year in our history since 1965, We might actually gain independence from the PAP and the sovereignty of our minds, I think I finally understand him.

I think he took issue with the sec 4 boys saying merdeka because the idea of independent thought scares him that those kids dared utter words that defy conformity, he is the head of discipline after all, it was his duty that his students are molded the right way, a word that they love to use,”right”, which is utterly useless in the context of objectivity.

So Singaporeans
Is there going to be Merdeka at midnight?
Or are we going to have another five years of the same old shit?

Peace.

Advertisements

Malays and Muslims are NOT Synonyms (Thoughts on Cooling off Day)

The run up to the Singapore General Elections 2015 have been a real eye opener for me.
In my opinion none of the Malay candidates are fit to represent the Malay community with the exception of Noraini Yunus from the Reform Party, as they seem to be religiously motivated with talks about the Malay Muslim community.

I have a question for them.
I’m Malay in my Identity card.
I’ve renounced my faith and no longer Muslim.
Am I then, a Malay Atheist, excluded from your policies?
How about the Muslims who aren’t ethnic Malays, are they excluded too?
Lastly, is Singapore a secular country or do we need to have a partisan system of law and policies for Non Muslims and Muslims?

This is the problem that I have brought up in my previous posts, the Taboo of Apostasy and Singapore for Singaporeans (The Great Divide) where I highlighted that the Racial Harmony in Singapore is a farce more akin to Racial Profiling, this deep seeded identity politics runs so deep that Malays themselves identify as Muslims first rather than as Malays and this is at odds with the principle of secularism and creates a chasm between themselves, Ex-Muslims and everyone else.

Religion has no place in politics for only when governments are free of religious influence that everyone can enjoy freedom of religion and freedom from religion but as it stands now in Singapore, it seems like Islam is being used as a tool of politics by the Malay candidates and this is a frighting threat to secular democracy and serves only to divide the Malay community further. How can we be united when we’re so obsessed with each other’s piety?

The silver lining in the horizon is that there are more and more Muslims in Singapore who support secularism and there is also an increase in the amount of Muslims apostatizing from Islam within our shores but then why do we not hear about them?

The problem lies in the fact that we do not have freedom of speech in Singapore, Articles 298 and 292 have made it specifically clear that we cannot offend the feeling of the religious, which in itself is incredibly vague as offense is always taken and not given.
And I’m sure right now some people reading this are taking offence to the fact that I, a Malay ex-muslim, am criticizing them.
Secondly Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (Religious Council of Islam Singapore) has far too much authority and influence on the local Muslim community.
And lastly the ministerial position of “Minister in charge for Muslim Affairs”.
Think about it for a second, do we have a Minister in charge for Christian/Taoist/Buddhist/Jewish affairs? What makes Islam so important that we needed a position in Parliament just for it, instead of allowing Muslims to discuss amongst themselves through interfaith dialogues.
If practitioners of those faiths can settle their own religious discussions, why can’t muslims?

So this leaves us, Ex-Muslims outside of the dialogue that needs to happen, even though we’re still affected by policies effecting Malay Muslims because to many people they’re the same thing and it silences the community at large from having a discussion about Islam within the Malay Community because MUIS and the Ministerial position of “Minister In Charge of Muslim Affairs” are seen as the authority for Muslim issues.

Secularism is the principle of Separation of State and Religion.
Every policy brought up within government in terms of people should be to the benefit of all people regardless of their religion and having these 2 bodies speak on behalf of Muslims through government is clearly not Secular.

And Muslims have the biggest role to play, by treating religion as a personal belief instead of as a tool of behavioral control. You can see through mass media how the Malay Muslim community reacted to recent events.

muslim contest 2
Malay Minister holding a confetti cannon that looked like a champagne bottle and even if he did partake in the consumption of alcohol, so what?
It’s none of your business what he consumes but you’re half right, after all he is the Minister In Charge of Muslim Affairs and should set the standard of a “Good Muslim”, while another political candidate is lauded as as an exceptional Muslim because he openly prayed, amazing.

Abas
Another claims to champion minority rights but says he doesn’t agree with the move to repeal 377a the act that criminalizes male homosexuality, which is at odds with his Party’s stance, that this law needs to be repealed to ensure equality for all citizens.

Yet the one political candidate that does champion minority rights and secularism, issues effecting the malay community, yes malay community not malay muslim community, Ms Noraini Yunus hardly gets any recognition for her efforts.

Do you see the problem I’m talking about?
Where using religion as a form of behavioral control is not a good thing?
When there is a formal authority to decide on muslim affairs and issues.
You become obsessed with the piety of a person instead of the merit of their ideas and policies and the whole thing devolves into a pissing contest of who is the most pious.

I would love to see the Malay community become more inclusive with the rest of Singapore but first we need to remind ourselves that religion is a personal belief belief and that Malay is not synonymous with Muslim that first and foremost we are Singaporeans.

Peace

“A Secular(godless) state is the guarantee of religious pluralism. This apparent paradox, again, is the simplest and most elegant of political truths.”  – Christopher Hitchens

This article is also found on the Council of Ex-Muslims Singapore Facebook page.
Feel free to comment and share over there, if you don’t have a way of doing so here and would like to add your input.

The Taboo of Apostasy (from Islam)

I’ve had a few people asking me why it’s such a big deal for ex-muslims to come out.

It really shouldn’t be a big deal for a person to lose their faith or convert to another religion.

But within Muslim Communities, It’s still a very big taboo.

Niloy Neel was murdered by Islamists, people who believe in the divinity of Shariah, wherein apostasy is an act of treason and should be punished by death.

Our condolences go out to his family members and loved ones.

I’m lucky, I guess, I live in a country where Islamism is kept at bay, despite being surrounded by heavily Muslim neighbours, it’s really not that bad here but even so.

In a country like Singapore, many of my colleagues express their fear of coming out due to their parent’s disappointment, being outcast by family members and just being a societal pariah within the Malay and other Muslim majority ethnic communities and this emotional burden eats up at our relationships.

And all of this stems from the inability within the Muslim community to discus Islam, be it protected by shariah law or making it an offense to criticize religion for fear of “wounding religious feelings”.

In the west you have Authoritarian Leftist, Regressive Illiberals (who fancy themselves as liberals, the irony) who condemn any and all criticism of Islam and certain Muslims and their community as Islamophobia.

To these people, I would like to say, your shielding the majority of Muslims, the non Islamists ones, from a badly needed discussion to address how their religion is being hijacked, is putting our lives at risk, the Muslims who want to address the problem of Islamism and the apostates who want to leave Islam altogether, we’re not sorry we don’t play the victim card, it is due to our position where we find ourselves at that gives us the ability to understand how freedom of speech is crucial for progression and all you’re doing is keeping us back and keeping the majority of Muslims in complacency, while allowing Islamists to terrorize us.

And in the East you have Islamists exacting holy law on non believers and if that’s not happening, the very act of apostasy is taboo.

To any Muslims, reading this.
It’s time for a discussion about Islam between yourselves.
If you support secularism and human rights, we support you too.

But as Ex-Muslims, our priority is not the reformation of Islam, it is to provide support for people who have left Islam, as it’s an emotionally taxing thing to do. As we have left Islam, it is not our place to reform it.

All we can do as ex-Muslims is engage the Authoritarian Left, who are silencing people like us, the reformists and the apostates, the minorities within the minority.
The reformation of Islam and it’s renaissance is ultimately up to you, Muslims readers.

Peace.

Singapore for Singaporeans (The Great Divide)

sg4sgers

That slogan Singapore for Singaporeans kinda scares me.
Like Germany for Germans back in 1940s.

Nationalism is a dangerous ideology and it’s been ingrained into the minds of our youth since kindergarten, Singing the National Anthem, Reciting the National Pledge, Preparing boys for life in the Army.

I’ve expressed this many times that Singaporeans do not have actual racial harmony as we are not allowed to speak about hard topics (example: Apostasy within the Malay Muslim community) so we pretend that racial profiling is harmonious because we can co-exist with Indians who are Hindus, Malays who are Muslims, Caucasians who are Foreigners and Chinese people of different dialects, each dialect denotes a certain stereotype, no doubt, because ts easier to pretend we know everything about our neighbours than to actually get to know them.

We also brag about multiculturalism further testament to our tribalistic mentality, instead of working together on a unified culture, which we had in the early 80s believe it or not Singlish actually played a big role in this, so instead we destroyed it and divided the people up even more with an ever widening class divide by thinking that people who speak Singlish were unsophisticated and that proper English is posh.
Even I’m guilty of propagating that social conditioning when I was younger.

The rich come here as their play ground, make fun of the poor citizens who are forced to take public transport who cannot afford to buy a piece of paper that privileges them into owning a car.
They, the rich locals, pretend the old people collect cardboard boxes and sell tissue paper for fun and exercise.

All of this conditioning, the racial divide, the class divide and Nationalism, are you really surprised that this overt tribalism exists?
We defended a young boy who was prosecuted by the state for expressing his free speech, because hes one of us.
But when a Filipino practices their free speech, even at our expense, it’s business as usual because hes an other?
How can we say we defend human rights when we don’t even offer them for those we don’t like?

I oppose Population White Paper, not because I’m anti foreigner but because I’m aware that this country’s infrastructure is not capable of handling our population as it stands now, with the MRT’s total breakdown, the overcrowding, the slow bus services, the crowded roads, and we want to increase the population to 6.9million?
Make the expressways wider, increase parking space, reduce MRT and Bus Fairs and make them more frequent, instead of putting up useless taxes and selling pieces of paper at a ridiculous price that don’t seem to be going into road upgrades.

And instead of focusing on foreigners creating jobs for Singaporeans, which they do by the way because rental in Central Business District area is expensive along with the property prices, so rich investors who can afford the prices due to their strong currency can afford these. Why doesn’t this country focus on helping local entrepreneurs and business start ups, so LOCALS can create jobs for everyone.

And it’s slogans like “Singapore for Singaporeans” is why I don’t want to support these protests.

Peace

“Tribalism never prospers, for when it does, everyone will respect it as true nationalism, and no-one will dare call it tribalism.” – Ernest Gellner

Blog Update

Incase anyone is wondering, if this blog is still alive.
YES, YES IT STILL IS.

Recently I’ve joined the group on facebook Council of Ex-Muslims Singapore, since I’m an avid writer and social commentator and most importantly an Ex-Muslim Atheist they wanted me to write about events that have to do with religion and politics.
lhlatheist
Here’s a piece I wrote when the Prime Minister tried to imply that a godless society faces a lot of problems as the communists found out.

The PM of Singapore has recently released a statement to the local news outlet and TIME expressing his belief that a “Godless Society would have many other problems, as the Communists found that out”.

We the Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers (including religious Ex Muslim Converts) at CEMS strongly disagree his statement of Godlessness being problematic, one only needs to look back in recent history where unrest arose because of religious belief whereas one would be hard pressed to find atrocities done in the name of Atheism.

To give you an example,
The communists in China who committed horrible acts did so in the name of Communist Ideology, not Atheism.
ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood committed theirs in the name of Islam.
The religiously charged persecution of Rohingya Muslims by radical Burmese Buddhists.

It doesn’t matter what your religious affiliation is but as a Politician and Leader of a Secular Country, your religious beliefs and politics should be worlds apart and stating something so outrageous as to imply people who live without the belief of a God are akin to Communists who have committed crimes against humanity is an egregious accusation and only serve to alienate Atheists, Agnostic and Freethinkers.

Mr. Lee Hsien Loong, please understand that what we are, as Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers only describes what we are not , and what defines us as who we are is our Humanist values, that all humans are entitled to the rights and freedoms bestowed to them as individual human beings, one of which being freedom from religion.

Regards, Council of Ex-Muslims Singapore

Which brings me to my next update notice.
I will be using this blog to also write about my experiences as a recently out Atheist and apostate of Islam, if you’re into that kind of stuff, Socio Political commentary and criticism of religion, stay tuned.

Peace!

Freedom of Speech has Limitations?

ryan

Nobody believes in total freedom of speech you say?
I do, but yeah I’m a nobody in the Singaporean political sphere, perhaps you’re right.

I do mind child pornography and there are laws against this, laws that protect children from being taken advantage and exploited.

Well I don’t know about you, if I had a 12 yr old child who shows keen interest in the fine art of demolition, maybe because their daddy (hypothetically me in this scenario) happens to be a professional buildings demolitionist, I would teach my child first and foremost the safety of demolition. Our children are not a vessel to live vicariously through, they’re their own person and it’s up to us as parents to offer support with what they’re interested in (as long as it doesn’t violate any laws or harm another person) and perhaps some day, this hypothetical child of mine will be the heir and successor of a top class demolition company because their daddy didn’t restrict their curiosity.

And yes I agree with you that “free speech with boundaries” argument is just pointless because free speech already has a definition, it’s the freedom to speak freely to share your mind and ideas, no matter how nonsensical, idiotic, crazy or offensive it is without fear of legal or violent repercussion, because all of those are subjective, it’s up to the individual who is listening to determine this for themselves,

Is pornography okay?
Yes it is, its legitimate work, in countries where pornography is legal there are unions formed to protect the rights of porn actors and actresses.
I’m assuming you’re talking about legal porn and not amateur revenge porn.
Revenge porn is a clear violation of privacy and as such is illegal.

Should we be allowed to criticize Politicians?
Yes, no person/people, institution, ideology or religion are immune from Criticisms, Mockery, Satire or Scrutiny.

Example when we prioritize the feelings of the religious to not be offended, we get movements like “We are against the pink dot” whose anti gay stances which are backed up by theology cannot be challenged for fear of wounding their religions and getting you in jail.
So they get to spread their message of hatred towards homosexuality and you can’t do anything about it because their ideology and religion is protected by law.

Can companies sue us for expressing displeasure at their products?
No, because we paid for these services we expect a standard of service.
Like with the recent FlyScoot incident where passengers were stranded over 20 hours, sure it’s a budget airline but when I see people defending the company for their incompetence saying “you pay cheap like dat lor” you know 400 dollars is still a lot of money to some people the least a company could do is display a fair bit of professionalism and own up to their mistakes and compensate when those happen.
Companies can however sue if they are being slandered or libel to protect themselves from falsehoods.

Your last paragraph is basically saying, free speech has limits, who sets these limits?
When did I relinquish my ability to think for myself to another person or a group of people to decide for me what I can and cannot hear?

Just a short excerpt from a post I made with regards to this same point being brought up

“So guess to those Singaporeans, my standard of Freedom of Speech (the one where its actually freedom of speech) this would be going too far. That more moderation needs to be done, maybe we should have a committee to decide for everyone what is and what isn’t allowed. You know, thought policing, alleviating your freedom to think for yourself so that another person or a group of people may do so for you, this is the problem with many Singaporeans that I’ve come across.”

To sum up this long winded post.
When people say “Free Speech should be limited/have boundaries”
What they’re really trying to get at is the “Right to not be offended”
Which by the way doesn’t exist because offense is taken not given.
If someone finds themselves offended its their own prerogative to stop taking offense.

Peace!

“Nothing happens when you’re offended” – Steve Hughes.

Click here for my explanation of Free Speech.

The Fear of Freedom

Recently a new video to highlight the injustice the City State has incurred onto the 16 yr old dissident Amos Yee.

That should have been it but being a curious person that I am, I decided to look through the comment section and what I have found are a myriad of comments of citizens expressing their fear of freedom and coming to the defense of the City State in it’s inhumane treatment of a child.

Comments such as these
thefarah

My replies are as follows.

1) He criticized a religion, it’s wrong to insult a person’s faith
Why? you can make a claim why something is positive or negative but not explaining the claim, makes your claim worthless.

Religions are not immune from insults, scrutiny, criticism, mockery or satire because, stick with me here I know this is a radical idea for you, not everyone believes in religion. And when religious people make a claim about scientific or academic theory being wrong because it doesn’t match up with religious doctrines, then I suppose your position would have to be, “Well religion is right, because we cant insult them, we cant scrutinize their claim or mock them” Well then the earth is in the center of the universe.

Well thank “god” that’s not the case and thank “god” Galileo still kept his scientific papers for the rest of the world to see and thank “god” the church does not have a say in academia because now we know the earth is not the center of the universe

2) Freedom of speech is reserved for important things
If “freedom” is reserved then it’s not free is it?
Like saying, Free seating but only if you reserved or Open to Public but tickets required.
Also important things like what for whom, based on what and whose standards?

3) Conditions of your country are deplorable.
Well I’m from Singapore and I agree, they are deplorable especially with people like you espousing your willingness to give up your freedom to think for yourself but on a serious note, whose country are you talking about?
Oh nevermind, it just hit me, you’re one of those people who thinks Singapore is world class compared to other countries because those countries have a littering problem I assure you, as someone whose been around, Other countries are much cleaner than our less touristy spots.

4) You protested in your countries, did huge changes come about? Not really does it?
I can name you one protest that had recently brought about new legislation, Ireland – Legalizing same sex marriage. So protests don’t dont work huh? If you wish to suffer in silence,  do so at your own whim but don’t tell me I have to join you.

5) These laws are necessary
Which laws? The ones that tell you how to think?
Maybe for you.

6) Singapore you know that religious and racial harmony is important, peace is maintained.
 I’ve long been under the impression that the peace in this country is maintained through ignorance and fear, and your entire post is a good summary of my suspicion.

7) Country with various Religions and Races
Why do Singaporeans keep thinking we’re the only country that is a metropolis of race and religion?

thebashir

Harmful, Insulting subjective weasel words.
If someone insulted my mother or father, I would take offense.
Then I would calm down and realize that taking offense is a waste of time and stop being offended nothing happens when people are offended.

Yes there are limits to everything, limits that you set for yourself.
So stop trying to impose your limits onto other people.

religious freedom

Tell that to the Jehovah’s Witnesses who are persecuted here and have their literature and books outlawed.

mindyourownbusiness

You heard the man, Singapore, meddling with other countries.
Don’t even bother reporting or commenting on outside world.
Isolationism Now!
I’m just being sarcastic, please don’t take me out of context.

freedomofspeechmeans

Actually it does, what you’re trying to get at is the “Right to not get offended”.
The thing is, that’s impossible because offense is taken, not given.
So if you find yourself offended, then its your own prerogative to stop taking offense.
Secondly, no one has to respect anything or anyone they don’t want to, this includes your “founding father” and religion.

freedom of expression

There’s no absolute right?
So you think human rights for us to bargain for?
How very Singaporean
“Uncle this one freedom of speech how much, ah? wah so expensive leh, I take half can discount or not?” 

Human rights is not something that is to be “moderated” or compromised.
When you do that, you are denying individual autonomy, this means the standards that you’ve moderated your rights may be fitting to you but they certainly do not fit other people.

I’m glad you’re happy but just for a moment, try not to be solipsistic?

wedonotconform

A victim of propaganda, believing what the media says about Amos defaming his bailor.
If you don’t follow this saga, I wouldn’t blame you either for believing the misinformation but allow me to offer you the source, Amos’ own wordpress blog.

A short summary, Amos is called out his bailor for his actions towards him, emotionally black mailing him (Amos) if he didn’t comply with Vincent’s demands, by threatening to recuse himself as Amos’ bailor, evidence of the harassment here.

The rest of her message, yes indeed freedom of speech is the cause of hate crimes, sorry my sarcasm gets the best of me at times.

Again another Singaporean who does not understand the difference between Hate Speech and Free Speech.

Hate Speech is a speech that is a call to violence or a physical threat on a person or people or group of peoples.

Speech like this, by Jason Tan.
maiming

An actual physical threat to maim the child, by the way, he got off with a stern warning.

Singapore is not the West
Sounds like an argument for “Asian values vs Western Democracy” fallacy.

And what I understand of Asian values is that it means we’re tolerant of child abuse.
Neo Gim Huah the man who slapped Amos sentenced to 21 days in jail.
Jason Tan (above) a stern warning
Amos Yee, for speaking his mind, 40 days in remand and still counting.
If this is Asian values, I want no part of it.

If a nation’s people is so insecure about their race and religion that a single off colour remark about either is the spark to unleash racial and religious turmoil, then that’s not peace or stability, it’s a house of cards waiting to crumble under the weight of it’s own ignorance and how can we learn about race relations when there’s laws actively prohibiting such discussions for fear of offending or wounding feelings?
That we think stereotyping and racial profiling is acceptable, like the comment below.

Penal Code section 298 and 292
Laws based on feelings have no basis in legislation.

Feelings are subjective and laws are supposed to be objective.

racial profiling

A spectacular example of what I mean when I say our “racial and religious harmony” is nothing more than a facade, I was racially profiled by my name.
This was my reply:

myreplycen

Can we please stop with the racial profiling, it’s annoying.
Just a piece of advice, if you meet someone who has a “muslim sounding” name, don’t just assume they’re muslim, if it really matters to you what faith they’re of, like when it comes to knowing what food you need to cater for them or you’re just plain curious, ask them.

Because I get offended when you serve real bacon to your non muslim guests and give me not bacon because you think I’m muslim, depriving someone of bacon is torture!

But seriously, I don’t go around assuming everyone who is Indian is Hindu, do you? 


We, as a country, have bred a culture within 50 years of autocracy of people who are actually petrified of basic human freedoms.
We think that freedom of speech needs to be moderated.
We don’t know the difference between hate speech and free speech
We think that religions need to be held above human rights
And the biggest joke of all
We think the government is secular.

I call it, Singapore Syndrome, it’s Stockholm Syndrome on a national scale.

A message to my Singaporean readers, stop being afraid of freedom and your human and civil rights, it is not the place for governments to restrict them but their duty to protect and uphold your rights and freedoms from those who wish to revoke them from you.

Peace!

“Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness” – Alejandro Jodorowsky