Now, abject idiocy and a lack of basic human decency are quite enough to be going on with. But there’s a far more disturbing element to the NgerngHui protesters’ gaffe: the reactions of the apologists justifying and defending their actions. From the NgerngHui side of things, there are various reasons for the protesters behaviour being justified, including:
1) They only heckled those at the YMCA carnival because some of the carnival attendees taunted them first. So the heckling was only a response, and thus all sins are forgiven.
2) They really believed in their cause, so they got carried away. Too much excitement, lah. Their altruistic love for Singapore is just that powerful. Huat ah!
3) The whole series of events that transpired at Hong Lim Park was a huge trap, planned masterfully by the Gahmen Empire and executed by a strike team of ninjas who ooze airborne propaganda from their pores and use the YMCA as part of their cover. Because in Singapore, YMCA carnival watches YOU.
You crazy kids, why didn’t you just say so? I mean, the tit-for-tat thing is totally justified! That always ends up with everyone singing around the campfire while unicorns prance around in the background. That he-started-it-so-I-can-do-what-I-want logic always works out well!
Apart from all those other times it ends up in you know, violence and other bad stuff.
You know what else always works out really well apart from the times that it results in trauma, violence, and sometimes death? The “I believe in my cause with all my heart so those awful things I did were not that awful, in context” excuse. I don’t care if your cause is saving rare red pandas that are clairvoyant and carry the cure for HIV as well as the key to immortality in their DNA. No matter how important or altruistic your cause may be, it is not a blank cheque for reprehensible behaviour.
(He too believed in his cause with all his heart…)
But hey, don’t just take my word for it. I found this on Facebook via Jeremy Chen, who was talking about the danger of justifying the actions of the protesters:
“By the same logic, something else that would be acceptable would be Pink Dot participants being heckled by Christian/Muslim protesters. Another reaction condoned would be an anti-rape event disrupted by the small but vocal group of victim blamers who subscribe to the mantra that Boys Will Be Boys So Leave Them Be.”
Yes. Let’s just be assholes to anyone who doesn’t agree with us. Disrupt some random events. Frighten children, because it’s for the greater good. Set some vehicles on fire. Lock up those who disagree indefinitely without a right to trial.
Oh wait. That last one sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? Oh, sweet irony.
Do the NgerngHui apologists still not understand that the “for the greater good” justification is the most dangerous phrase ever created by humans, which has caused death and misery to countless people? Do they not think something is wrong when their justification for bad behaviour is not dissimilar to the logic that leads terrorists to blow buildings and people up?
Last but most certainly not least, there’s the mind-bogglingly kuku conspiracy theory justification, which posits that:
1) The protesters’ behaviour was not as evil as the fiendish trap laid out for the protesters by the Gahmen/ YMCA/ NParks Ninja Uncle Spies/ whoever else is part of this moronic conspiracy theory which is so damn stupid that thinking about it just gave me cancer. Alternately;
2) The protesters’ behaviour was to be expected, because the whole thing was a trap and part of a conspiracy to discredit NgerngHui. Of course they behaved badly! They were meant to! It was a trap, guys! It’s ok, it’s all part of the plan!
To all of you wearing your tinfoil hats emblazoned with “I Heart Ngerng Because Bar Graphs,” I’m really sorry to disappoint you, but it wasn’t a huge conspiracy. There were no NParks Ninja Uncle Spies, nor did YMCA give a damn about your protest until the participants began terrifying the kids on stage. If there were a huge conspiracy in Singapore, it would probably involve large amounts of valuable data, panda spies, and vast amounts of black market sio bak. Like a William Gibson novel, but with pork and pandas.
(If he’s your boss, and you see him today – let him know we’ve nominated him for “Patient Uncle of The Year Award”)
There is no damn way that NParks sabo-ed the NgerngHui contingent by placing the two events there at the last minute. Why? Because the YMCA event was approved by NParks before the protest, on September 9. YMCA made the application for their event way back in April. NgerngHui’s protest was approved on 22 September. The NParks folks in charge of the application probably thought (as most rational people would): Two events on the same day, Hong Lim Park has two lawns, shouldn’t be a problem, so let’s approve the second application. I guess if they had been forewarned about Hui’s inability to understand that each event is assigned one different lawn, they wouldn’t have granted that second approval to the NgerngHui protest.
The other reason that The Dumbest Conspiracy Theory Ever is not an actual thing: elementary war strategy. If your opponent is doing a magnificent job of weakening (read: discrediting) themselves, why would you waste time and resources on that? Ngernghui, y’all never read Sun Tzu’s TheArt Of War ah? This kind of thing people must tell you meh?
Conspiracy theories, supergorbloks, and mythical NParks Ninja Uncle spies aside, this sorry series of events has made a few things painfully clear.
First, exceedingly polarized, no-holds-barred strategies (if you can call them that) will almost always end badly for their proponents. Singaporeans are not fans of combative politics seen in Western democracies. Go calculate the percentage of the total population that donated to Ngerng’s lawsuit fundraising, if you’re skeptical about this. Just because you agree with some policies from the opposing camp, it doesn’t mean that you’re any less of a supporter of your particular camp. It simply means that you’re a rational human being. If you still think that passion is more important than logic, please ask yourself if you would prefer a Minister of Foreign Affairs who acts on passion or logic. I know I want a logical individual in that particular seat, if not all the seats in Parliament – whatever their party colours might be.
Second, this zero-sum-game approach to politics in Singapore has to stop. I don’t believe that placeholder opposition representation in Parliament which doesn’t actually do anything constructive for policy is a good thing. However, activists and politicians who are more fond of arguing than finding better solutions to existing problems are not helping Singapore either.
Third, there is an increasing lack of rationality and among the most vociferous extremes of supporters and activists in the political spectrum. I don’t think this is the way forward, and I’m sure it will lead nowhere pleasant for the political landscape here, especially for the opposition. Passion is great, but it has to be tempered with logic, if you want to be taken seriously.
Last, if you want to survive more than five minutes in the Singaporean political landscape, you should not be an unparalleled moron.