Saturday, April 12, 2008

I almost stopped writing… but then came a phone call

Hi Friends,

The music stopped

I stopped writing to the newspapers’ forum pages for just about a year.

Many reasons accounted for the hiatus- primary one being constraint of time. I was just finishing a course and I needed more than 24 hours a day. But a more important reason was that my creative juices sort of just dried up.

I was also feeling the futility of ranting and shouting like a madman in the wilderness. I felt that if no one else cared whether this place went to the pigs, why should I? “They deserve what they get” I said to myself.

In the past, I had opinions about many facets of Singapore’s society. These ranged from the overbearing arrogance of the ruling elite to other more mundane topics like the neglect of our forgotten poor as well as the inhumane working contracts of maids.

In fact, it seemed like I had opinions just about everything and for a time, I was shooting letters like Billy the Kid shot his guns- from the hips. There were occasions when the Straits Times and Today printing two different edited versions of the same letter on the same day!

However unbeknownst to all, I was burdened with doubts. Doubts that perhaps I was writing too much. Perhaps no one was interested in what I had to say. Perhaps I was the weird discontented one and everyone else was happy and gay ( in a non-sexual sense).

My gloom was compounded by the forum editors rejecting what I felt were several legitimate and balanced accounts of topics of the day. The standard replies such as “ we regret that we are unable to publish…. because we get more than 70 letters a day… blah blah” do sound disingenuous when one reads sycophantic letters from obsequious and ingratiating writers that more or less say, “ When the wind blows ...Praise be to the rulers”.( Creative license- exaggeration used here to prove a point)

The phone call

But there was a phone call that stopped this rut!

Someone that I respected greatly and who is a giant in my profession called me in the office. He said that he always looked for my letters in the forum page. He encouraged me to write on as my views closely represented his opinions and those of his friends.

Truth be told- the sentiment expressed by this gentleman was not the first. I will sound conceited here if I go on in this vein. Suffice it to say that I am often self-deprecating and do not take others’ tributes easily. When someone stepped up to me to say, “ Hey, I read your letter the other day and …” I would quickly change the subject.

On thinking back, I now realize that by having this false sense of modesty and dismissing well-intended encouragements from readers, I am actually not respecting their right to an opinion.

Perhaps in my small way I am articulating the views of some who feel helpless and without a voice. Notwithstanding the editorial policies of the forum pages, a fraction of our common sense of frustration and indignation do get expressed. Perhaps that is better than not saying anything at all. ( I may be wrong- some may say that participation with them gives them undeserved legitimacy).

So readers, thank you for reading. Whether you like it or not, I will be here- right in their face!

Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan


family man said...

dude - keep writing. That's all I can say. I was pretty sad when some of the others stopped writing - kitana, Ben, and that sweet girl from ACJC - jee what's her name?? But really, you do voice out much of what I feel.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi family man
The ACJC girl was Gayle Goh.
I think she is in Oxbridge.
The gahman probably trying very hard to attract her to their way of thinking.
Thanks for encouragement.
I will plod on till the joy and energy is gone.

Gerald said...

Hi Dr Huang,

I'm glad to hear that your peers also read alternative viewpoints. Hopefully this tide will grow. Keep on writing!

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Gerald,
I am increasingly surprised that my view-points are even more conservative than my peers.
Many of them are truly upset about the state of affairs and I think there is less fear of voicing disgust ( ok but mainly only amongst friends), and I think some will really vote according to their conscience if given the chance.
But I may be wrong.

Gerald said...

I think you are right, you know. Recently I ran into an old friend who proudly proclaimed he was anti-govt, but was not willing to express it publicly (like writing on a blog). Even I don't say I'm anti-govt.

I also heard from this well connected guy this week that some people in the highest echelons of society -- including judges -- are not happy with the state of affairs here politically.

I think people WILL vote according to their conscience -- that is, they will vote for only competent opposition candidates, not some rag-tag, "I just joined the party last week" type of candidates.

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SHIMURE said...

You are a very good writer honest and true to your heart.

Please do not stop writing....

I read your blog somewhile ago and did commented on certain topics.

I am not as informed or wise, your blog did shed light on some incidents in life.

Anonymous said...

if we stop writing and complaining, who benefit? The establishment, and the people in power of course.

So when some people tell us things like "oh do something, go out there form a party, don't just whine and complain" and so on, they are merely trying to discourage us. And they would have succeeded if we buy into that kind of deceptive logic and stop complaining.

It is the right of all citizens to complain. It is one of those things we cannot really quantify or qualify and see immediate results.

nofearSingapore said...

Shimure: Thanks for your heartfelt compliments. I will accept them. Yes I am honest ( and do not have any special agenda) and am rather well-informed about Sg’s current affairs but I am not as wise as you think. I am certainly not special.
Yet I can have opinions and voice them whenever I have the urge to. The opinions are often shallow and sometimes wrong, but I want to demonstrate that a ordinary bloke in Singapore can have an alternative opinion and voice it loudly even to the establishment press. And I am still not in Whitley Rd detention centre. I have not heard the midnight knock of goon squads and I am still economically active in a competitive business!
The moment everyone is not afraid of being rebutted for one’s views and give as good as it gets, is the day that true democracy will arrive on our shores. It is too easy to say that “ The Gahmen will take away your job or your promotion will be affected etc”. All this is fear mongering that is not useful and immature.
Shimure, thanks and see you around.

Anon 4.05: Yes it is a Sgporean’s right to complain but we hope that we would not stop at complaining but also doing something active to make right the wrongs that we are complaining about. Sgporeans should do more for ourselves and our fellow citizens around us. I mainly speak out because I feel grave injustice done to our poorer and less educated Singaporeans. Also the rulers have too much power that they have taken all of us for granted. Please encourage all to think about the type of Singapore we want for our children and act on it. The rulers do not have all the solutions. 4 million brains are better than 50 PAP inner circle brains ( even if these are all highly educated ones)


gayle said...

the ACJC girl was indeed Gayle Goh, and she is indeed at Cambridge. though on scholarship, she is very much her own person with her own mind and intends on remaining that way :)

- Gayle