Friday, October 16, 2009

A response to Young PAP's article on 'Western Democracy and Human Rights'

Seelan: The following article is from a fellow local blogger.

To The Devotees of “Asian Values”

By Die neue Welle

Many of my readers (if there are any left) will want to have a reason for my disappearance. Well, I have been observing. Ris Low boomz’ed, lifts should be upgraded, the EZ-Link cards had to be changed. But then i came across something on Young PAP, an article called “To The Devotees of Western Democracy and Human Rights.” Since I believe that idiocy has to be dealt with using a large hammer, so here goes…

The author has tried to justify the “superiority” of Asian values vis-à-vis Western values. Well, in every culture, the dominant values are always seen as superior over other values – it is one of the things which contribute to identity. But one has to ask the question if it is right, or even if it does make sense to use such a blanket-term like “Asian Values”. What are “Asian Values,” anyway? The author seems to be deliberately trying to remain vague on what they are. Does he assume that we all know what they are? One quarter of our population are now expats and PRs leh.

In fact, the term “Asian values” as they are in Singapore remains so vague, because it is implicitly expected that we know what they entail. But do we? The ruling class can have another set of “Asian Values” – e.g., maybe the Men in White ARE the Sons of God, or maybe a particular Man in White, the scholar system (i.e., elitist thinking), the larger focus on belief in authority, society before self, etc. But for the ruled, “Asian Values” may mean virtue, being ruled fairly, and that a ruler should care for his subjects, family, etc. BUT these are never said clearly. ”Asian Values” must remain vague, because as a blanket-term, you can apply it anywhere and everywhere, and you can separate yourself from the horrible West. So yah, first, what are “Asian Values?”

And these were also the nations [European powers] that, at the height of their imperialism, imposed, by sheer brute force, the ‘right’ of extra-territoriality upon the countries they had subjected. And now, they are crusading for Freedom and Human Rights in their former colonies as well as the other countries of Asia.

Now the author accuses the West of cultural imperialism. Of course the West can afford to be cultural imperialists (especially Uncle Sam, well under Bush anyway), since they have the might and the money. But in ‘crusading’ (jeez! what a word! this isn’t the Middle Ages, you prick, and if you had any sense of political language, you would have avoided it. The very concept of Jihad by Muslim fundamentalists go back to the Crusades, you fool!) for “Asian Values” overseas – what, Singapore is trying to strike back? With what force?

In fact, Western values are so important for Singapore that you can’t do without them. If we don’t want Western values, then we should chase foreigners out, especially the educated Westerners in our universities, and we should, of course, send our scholars not to Europe anymore! I mean, they ARE going to rule, you know?? So what is being said is that for our author, he is grossly short-sighted: this smacks of a way to stay in power, by using a vague term to make one system sound better than the other. Without any agreed definitions, this is just RHETORICS.

The Anglophile may be despised, but maybe our author should be too, since he is doing nothing much more than building castles in the air, i.e. calling others to take up arms against the Western cultural crusade (seriously, were you with the Taliban?) based on a term which is so general that it is empty, and using the rhetoric of certain senior citizens who deem fit to travel the world and impose their own brand of imperialism under the motto of “leave us alone, you have no idea what it is like to rule an Asian country,” yadda, yadda. Yes, what were you thinking?