02 June 2007

Watch out for the big men

Veteran opposition politician J B Jeyaretnam wants to form a new party to push for reforming Singapore's political system. Are his chances of success good? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

I think JBJ is unfair to the election officials and the auditors, or even to the media.

Given the Asian emotional need for great leaders, the leadership group always tries to make itself seen as the group of the best and brightest of the society, with the ideas and skills to make the society better. While this sounds fine, it has certian consequences: opposition parties, for example are left without talent or resources, which are concentrated in the hands of the ruling elite, including control over the economy and the media with all the leaders of major organizations coming from the same, well connected ruling group. This makes it rather hard to have a system of dialogs and checks-balances needed for a normal democratic system. Further, with their technocratic resources and command systems, the leadership group would naturally be inclined to seek to re-engineer their society from the top down.


Anonymous said...

Asian emotional need for great leaders? Who doesn't want great leaders?!

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

I too disagree with this essentialising of "Asianness".

The yearning for great leaders (saviours) may simply be a function of social stress and perhaps an absence of political empowerment.

Another possibility is the degree of social straitification in a society. For example, Thais often have a patron/client mode of seeing social relationships, and this predisposes a society to look for "big men" who can act as benefactors and protectors, but are also expected in some ways to be a law unto themselves.

I'm sure many African societies can be described similarly. Or Southern Italy and their mafia too.

Anonymous said...

>Asian emotional need for great leaders? Who doesn't want great leaders?!

this sounds so "asian"; the need for great leaders is so obvious you cannot imagine anyone feeling differently

take a look at george bush; his countrymen are happy to look down upon their leader; leaders are only people's servants...


Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with you that considerable investment has to be made first into political education before anyone decides to start a political party and stir the hearts of the minority who understand the need for a change in the political system. I quote Vaclav Havel, “The intellectual should constantly disturb, should bear witness to the misery of the world, should be provocative by being independent, should rebel against all hidden and open pressures and manipulations, should be the chief doubter of systems… and for this reason, an intellectual cannot fit into any role that might be assigned to him… and essentially doesn’t belong anywhere: he stands out as an irritant wherever he is” and personally I think that presently, it is only the 'intellectuals' who see the big picture and the need for change in our institutional system of governance/politics.

Anonymous said...

There are all kind of brainwashing cults - religious, self-improvement, political, etc.

It is sad that most Singaporeans are victims of the white uniformed cult.

It takes time but we shall recover from being victims of the cult.