Wednesday, 27 September 2023

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No place for political violence in Singapore

Koh Jie Kai / Senior Writer

As with many other people, I was shocked to learn about Seng Han Thong’s injuries at the hands of an apparently mentally unstable attacker. 

I was however, revolted to read some of the comments on the attack. There are apparently quite a lot of people out there in Singapore who apparently believe that there is some sort of “karmatic” law of nature out there which justifies serious injury (or death) upon politicians responsible (partly or fully) for unpopular government policy. 

To those people out there who claim that this attack was a justified response to a lack of public space (speech-wise), I’d like to point out two things. Firstly, it appears that Mr Seng’s assailant was mentally unsound–I doubt that political protest was on the top of his mind when he threw that lit kerosene bottle at his victim.

Secondly, a culture of tolerance for violence as an answer to political problems does nothing to help Singapore develop as a liberal democracy. You might as well argue, for instance, that it was “natural” for the late Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to be murdered, because it best reflected the sentiments of the religiously fanatical. 

No, if you’re fed up about the current state of affairs in Singapore, for whatever reason, there are many things you can do. Write for TOC, or to Singapore’s many political blogs, or to your Member of Parliament, or to the press. Turn up at a protest or two at Hong Lim park. And so on. 

The Government has already made limited concessions to freedom of speech online. If we want the political freedom of adults, don’t give the Government excuses to give us the privileges of children. 


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