Threats of violence are unacceptable

“According to The Straits Times, 36-year-old Gary Yue Mun Yew allegedly posted a video clip of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s assassination to the Facebook page of socio-political website Temasek Review.

He is also believed to have called for a live version of the assassination to be re-enacted on the grandstand during the National Day parade. Yue is also accused of posting a doctored photograph of a Vietnamese soldier holding a gun to the head of then Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, whose head had been superimposed onto the original image, on his Facebook page. He was fired from his job last month.”

The above quote is from Asia One website.

Sadly, such postings are becoming more frequent on the Internet. This should raise the alarm bells for the authorities – and also for netizens. It is my fervent hope that such things will be unequivocally condemned by all. The danger is that some will actually support such calls to do harm, and worse, to defend and justify or rationalise away such behaviour.

I am no psychologist and I do not know what caused people like Gary Yue to express his apparent anger in such ways. But whatever his reasons, it is unacceptable. Period. Instigation to violence is a serious matter and should be dealt with firmly and conclusively.

Last I checked, Singapore is not a lawless country.

Also, last I checked, being angry does not give one the right to do or encourage violence, or to do harm to others.

I am concerned that those who are upset with government or PAP policies feel that the only way for them to express such anger or to change things (to their liking) is to do so through illegal and violent means.

Another thing which troubles me is that when such calls or postings appear online, netizens/bloggers are virtually silent about them. I do not see anyone condemning or speaking out against those who behave such.

Are we so blinded by our hatred or dislike for the government or the PAP that we are willing and prepared to turn a blind eye to extremism? Is such behaviour justified as long as they are directed at those we dislike?

Are we guilty of burying our head in the sand, for whatever reasons? Could it be we silently, in our hearts, approve of such postings? If so, then we should be utterly ashamed of ourselves. And I would want no part of whatever “freedom” – of speech, expression – which we think such postings fall under.

Democracy, or the craving for it, does not give one the rights to harm another, or to encourage or instigate others to do so.

Can we blame the government for calling netizens “the lunatic fringe” or “cowboy towns” when we behave like this?

The general elections in May have empowered Singaporeans and this is a positive development. However, empowerment comes with maturity – or at least the recognition that maturity is needed to use the new “power” we have.

At the end of the day, it is not about whether one shouts the loudest, or shocks the most. It is about where we go as a country, as a people. There are serious problems we face, our children face, our elderly folks face.

It would be much more productive to use our collective intelligence to seek ways which will help resolve the problems we face, or to highlight the shortcomings of policies, but to do so with the intention to make Singapore better.

If we claim to love the country and its people, then lets stop instigating others to violence, or adding fuel to the fire. Lets not keep quiet when we see behaviour which is unacceptable and which will do harm to our society.

We have only one country and it is our job – all of us – to make this country work.

The general elections are over. Whether you like it or not, the people have spoken. The results are out. No one, not even the opposition parties, have alleged any fraud or impropriety with the election. It really is time to move on to the more important things we face.

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2 thoughts on “Threats of violence are unacceptable

  1. Easier said than done, Andrew. And you know what? The lesson for the day is, be careful what you wished for, because you are going to get what you want!

    All of these “liberals” who clamoured for freedom of expression apparently did not understand that behind this statement is the call for responsibility. Clearly, the emotions whipped up by the GE has not subsided, and looks like it will become a permanent feature. I put the blame on sites such as TRE and, to a certain extent, TOC, for this. From an active reader and contributor, I have now ceased to even visit these places. Any comment in support of a government policy is shouted down by a pack of unseen and unknown online vigilantes, or in the case of TRE, deleted by the moderators. How can society progress with such attitudes?

    Now that the genie is out of the bottle, it won’t be going back in.

  2. Dear Andrew,

    I completely endorse your views above.
    But I also feel that it takes TWO hands to clap.
    We have a classic issue of an individual or individuals
    versus a group (a society).

    While it is incumbent on every member of a group not to destabilize or upset what can be sometimes a fine or even delicate balance scheme of things, society (people, groups and govt) being the ‘bigger’ of the two nevertheless must shoulder a far greater responsibility for
    ‘maintaining the peace’ – the peaceful co-existence between
    members and group.

    It all boils down to basic equity and equality wherein there exists a better chance of smaller groups (by that I mean smaller groups with sufficient critical mass) within a larger group to be treated (more) considerately (than individuals) – be given the opportunity to be heard and to suggest or be able to negotiate and hold its own within the larger group.

    However, consider the case when the larger group takes deliberate and constant actions to prevent like-minded individuals from coming together to form a group to further their interests (not talking about illegal purpose obviously) with tactics which basically boils down to ‘giving a dog a bad name in order to shoot it’.

    There would come a time when things would inadvertently boil over – when irrational behaviour of the ‘big’ would meet headlong with the same from the small.

    To cut a long story short let’s put it this way: Society must recognize its role and responsibility to permit all reasonable undertakings and interests the opportunities to express themselves. It is when the safety valve is removed or shut that pressure would build up leading to tragic circumstances.

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