The Sedition Act needs a revision

"Under the Sedition Act, anyone found guilty of promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population of Singapore can be fined up to $5,000 or jailed up to three years, or both, if convicted."

in brief

Let me ask you this. If someone cries out, ‘racism!’, would that person be guilty of ‘promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races...’? It is a slippery slope indeed when we do nothing about racism and allow everyone to get used to the racially hierarchically ordered status quo that thus results; allow time to turn the characteristics that are thus engendered to become 'identity' and 'culture'; and then go after those whom highlight it for ‘promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races.’ In such a case, what such a person is actually guilty of is creating hostility between those whom have gotten used to their respective positions within a discriminatory status quo and those whom haven’t.


The reason why I’ve often stated that racism and fascism ought to be dismantled the moment the slightest vestiges of its thereafter looming and debilitating perspectival infrastructure is erected, is that, over time, various races would become accustomed to their relatively advantaged and disadvantaged position and began to exhibit respective traits. In other words, in a society where various races are 'preferred' vs. 'less preferred', the former will over time began to exhibit traits that are distinguishable from the latter. Then it becomes ‘culture’. At this point, due to identification of a particular set of people with said culture (i.e. americans with capitalism or the chinese with confucianism), the critique of the culture becomes the critique of the race. For instance, if a particular set of people are identified with a culture, and then thereafter discriminate as a consequence, to take issue with the latter is to take issue with the former. That is when it can come across as racism where, in truth, one is taking issue with a culture or policies that promote discriminatory tendencies.

The Sedition Act can be a dangerous one for the progress of egalitarian harmony as it can keep people quiet whilst one culture and associated 'race' is allowed prominence and dominance over all others. If used irresponsibly, it can see those who attempt to get rid of discrimination being hauled up for promoting hostility, where, in truth, the person is not guilty of anything else but taking issue with a harmony based on a non-egalitarian status quo that is yet to be taken as normal by both the advantaged and disadvantaged, or which already is. In this case, it is the actual perpetrators of the discriminatory conditions whom get away.

There is a world of difference between the existence of 'social harmony' and the realisation of 'egalitarian harmony'. Maintaining the former can only be justified if egalitarianism is true.

There is no need for such an Act if the people know how to exercise empathy in the face of others' suffering discrimination. However, where this is absent, as is the case in Singapore, the law steps in and both racists and those who attempt to address it are lumped together. It is a lose-lose situation for anti-fascists/racists.

Here is a scenario

Let’s pretend that the British National Party came into power in the United Kingdom by appealing to the economic interests of the people. Over time, there are efforts to ensure that the ‘whites’ are advantaged over all others; that the ‘whites’ are always the majority; they are given special education; they are presented as professionally versatile in the media whilst others are kept to their traditional roles; minorities are fragmented throughout the country to prevent the formation of ethnic enclaves; the culture of the 'whites' are celebrated with great pomp whilst that of other's are kept to traditional enclaves or kept at low key.....

Wouldn't the ‘whites’, over time, get used to such a status quo and expect things their way always whilst discounting all difference as inconsequential? All other cultures are relegated to the periphery of the public imagination. Wouldn't they began to exhibit the arrogance that always accompanies the advantaged? And especially if this goes in tandem with the ignorance or simple 'tolerance', as opposed to 'appreciation', of other cultures over decades? Are not preceding generations taught that value lies in their own culture as opposed to that of others?

And, over time, all those aspects of the culture of the ‘whites‘ that do not augur well for the continuation of such a status quo also disappears as the elements of any culture either conflict with the status quo or are redefined or disappear with time unless the people are resilient from the outset. That is why we ought to forward the skeptical eye in the face of 'ancient cultures' with relatively continuous histories as they are perfected in delivering the conditions that created them.

Thereafter, if one was to stand up and criticise the ‘whites’ for their arrogance, and the culture they practice for promoting discrimination and self-absorption, would that person be guilty of ‘promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population’? Would the critique of the ‘whites’ not be an accurate one given that they would inevitably have acquired those traits that distinguish them from other minorities?

Other scenarios

And how about speaking about the class divide. About the growing gap between the rich and poor. Would that mean that the person speaking about such things is guilty of ‘promoting hostility between different races of classes of the population’?

Or how about the anti-colonial movements of the past that attempted to evict colonialists and gain independence. Were they guilty of ‘promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races or classes of the population’? Or were they, like all of the above, attempting to address a situation before everyone got used to it and the means by which they contended with it without questioning the overarching status quo became ‘culture’?

And how about the feminist movement? Weren’t they guilty of ‘promoting feelings of ill-will’ between men and women? And weren’t they right to criticise the class and race of men for traits that, as mentioned, necessarily become a part of the culture of the relatively advantaged? Were they ‘racists’ for critiquing men as a sector and class?

Whom are to be indicted here?

Those who seek to advantage one group over others; those who promote a system that necessarily leads to class divisions; or those whom speak out against it even though most have formulated a culture of doing one’s best within such an iniquitous status quo? Bringing up any issue can ‘promote ill will’ between the advantaged and disadvantaged. But if we just allow the ‘promotion of ill will’ to identify the errantry, then we do so at the price of getting rid of a possibly overarching and extremely iniquitous status quo.

I can go on citing numerous examples, but suffice it to say that if the Sedition Act was in place since the days of yore, the blacks would still be in chains, the ‘Son of Heaven’ would still be reigning in China, the Colonialists would still be maintaining their concessions in China, women would still be stoking the hearth and spreading ‘em as and when men demanded their 1 minute of pleasure, some Indians would still be burning widows, and everyone whom had sought to address these conditions would have been guilty of promoting the said ‘ill-will’.

Before we haul anyone away for doing so, if we cannot at the same time prove beyond any reasonable doubt that we are not simultaneously maintaining non-egalitarian conditions by doing so, it is we whom ought to be hauled away.

As for those whom get arrested for overtly insensible racist remarks

We should refrain from doing so unless we can prove that we did not contribute to the basis for it by keeping quiet about an overarching racist status quo which inevitably produces people whom might be inclined to do such things.

If we maintain the said overarching non-egalitarian milieu, we ought not to be surprised that whilst there are some of the advantaged race whom would do better economically and academically as a result, and which, to some, might comes across as a vindication of our policies, there would be others whom would be inclined to cast slurs. It is not their fault, but the fault of those whom maintain the overarching non-egalitarian milieu that leads us to reduce others to their most visible attributes as opposed to the detail. By taking them to task, we could actually be taking away the more blatant and abrasive manifestations of our own policies. Till we can prove this is not true, those who cast such slurs are as much a victim as those whom bear the brunt of their diatribes.

Just imagine a scenario where a 'white' gets arrested for calling a black slave a 'nigger', or a black, in moments of anger at the way he is treated as a lesser being, shouts out, 'you white bastard!'. Should either the white or black be arrested here, or those who maintain the conditions that leads to the enslavement of the blacks, and the ire of those whom have yet to get used to their chains?

The Sedition Act needs a revision here, lest it inevitably confuses the progressives with the regressives due to the contradistinction of both from the majority whom have gotten used to it all.




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