Thursday, July 29, 2010

International Burn A Koran Day

Oh chickadees. Haven't we been over this before with the whole "Draw Mohammed" fiasco? Haven't I already explained why "protests" like this are really just thinly veiled excercises in xenophobia and racism?

Obviously I need to go over this again.

By violating objects and ideas that are held sacred by marginalized populations with an eye to upholding your own privileged hegemony you are doing harm. You are doing harm by normalizing and celebrating violence (for the violation of the sacred is a form of violence) against an entire population of people. You are doing harm by courting a negative reaction from this population that will then add to the fire that caricatures Muslims as reactive and unreasonable. You are doing harm by using your position of privilege to publicly deride an already marginalized population.

Sure, I realise this time this display of ignorance and prejudice is being organized by a fundamentalist non-denominational church in Florida (that has previously joined with the Westboro Baptist church, a punchline in and of themselves, to protest homosexuality) so commenting on it is like shooting fish in a barrel, but the Poultrygeist over here just sent me a link to the goddamn Facebook page for the "event" and over 1200 people have liked it.

Thank you humanity for this current fail that I may use it as an education tool. Hopefully. And I pray to whoever the fuck cares to listen that this time MY LESSON WILL STICK. Yours in faith, Cat.

P.S. If you are tempted to leave a comment about how no one has the right not to be offended and this is all about free speech, please read the comments on the "Draw Mohammed" post first, as I've spelt out a reply to that quite clearly. If you want to continue the conversation, by all means, but just make sure you read that first. I really don't like repeating myself.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reminder: say no to censorship

Recent events like the arrest of Alan Shadrake and the ban on Martyn See's film are reminder of how live the danger of state censorship of dissent remains. Don't forget to sign the Arts Engage paper to show your opposition to these oppressive tactics.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

No You're Racist, and Sexist and I'm AWESOME

You may have noticed a cute new webpage floating around the internets called "I Write Like" (not linking). It's a page with a text box where you have to copy and paste (or compose on the spot) a few paragraphs, press a button and you'll get a something you can paste on your blog or Facebook to let everyone know which famous writer you write like. (In case anyone was wondering, I got Margaret Atwood - YAY! - and Dan Brown - kill me now.)

If you've heard of the website, you may also have caught wind of the kerfuffle around the fact that when it first launched, there weren't any female writers in the database of writers you could resemble. A week or so later, there are now 3 female writers (to 37 male writers) all of whom are lily-white. Now I understand that this is just a silly-for-fun website for people to feel briefly thrilled that their name can be used in the same sentence as a famous (or infamous) author (sorta Nicholas Sparks vis-a-vis Cormac McCarthy style), but representation matters, even in trivial things.

Representation matters because our actions are shaped by our environment. Our environment primes us on levels so far below our consciousness that even if we are asked about our motivations, we come up with narratives that, while consistent with how we view ourselves, have nothing to do with reality. A website that uses only white, initially all-male writers to represent how the internet writes, well, the implicit message isn't even all that subtle there.

So people start to comment. Some people cut and paste female writers' texts into the boxes and lol-sob at the male writers they are called instead. Eventually tea berry-blue wrote to the guy who runs "I Write Like". She describes the disheartening and miss-the-point exchange well, but what I want to talk about specifically is this:

Thanks for your reply. I’ve added more writers into the database
recently. But I *absolutely* will not add people into the database due
to their race or gender. I will not search for lists of white, black,
Asian, Hispanic, or any other types of people that you _took care to
differentiate_. All people are equal to me, and equality means not
looking at skin color or different types of chromosomes.

I think the question is closed.

Dmitry Chestnykh
I Write Like
In other words, it's the I don't think people are different...and since you seem to, YOU'RE SEXIST and also racist.

Honestly, if everyone was so damn equal, why did you only have one kind of person represented? If everyone was all the same to you, then your sample should have approximated what the sampling of writers out there was really like. Include writers like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, Candace Bushnell, George Eliot, A. S. Byatt, Zadie Smith, Helen Fielding, Monica Ali, Stephenie-frikking-Meyer, Jhumpa Lahiri, Miriam Toews, Tamora Pierce, Holly Black...I could go on. That's just off the top of my head and includes a nice sampling of award winning authors, classics, pop fiction, all women, some of colour. NOT THAT HARD. If gender and race were non-issues for this person, then why the glaring omissions?!

It's because it does matter. And I want to make it very clear that I'm not blaming Dmitry Chestnykh for it in the least. Like the rest of us, he grew up in the same damn world we all did. A world in which whiter is better and where men are main characters. I was talking about priming earlier yeah? Well, we've been primed our whole damn lives to not notice that despite the actual diversity of the world around us, the white male is always the assumed default (Tasha Fierce breaks down the assumed default even in activist circles here). A world in which the only people who don't notice race or gender are the only ones who are the default, and therefore are privileged enough not to. It is also, ironically, a world where we are taught that racism and sexism are bad and that you are a bad person if you're racist or sexist. So people are scared to talk about race or gender. First because any time a light is shone on privilege it does get pretty damn uncomfortable. Secondly because it's as though noticing that people are different qualifies you as some sort of reprobate.

But of course everyone notices race. It starts when we're children, mainly because our parents don't talk about it. It's the same for gender too. Noticing it and talking about it and discussing the deleterious effects of it is how we can fight this shit. It's the opposite of being racist or sexist.

Let's recap. We're not all bad people just because we've grown up drinking the Kool Aid. We're not bad people for noticing differences and diversity. It's not racist or sexist or any-other-ist to make an effort not to under-represent entire populations of people. People that exist in this amazingly diverse and challenging world of ours. The same people whose lives are made worse because we are assumed to be uninterested because we're not talking about it. And while it can be awful to get called out, particularly if you already make efforts to not be racist or sexist, listen because we all have something to learn. Don't just fling it back and start name-calling.

Update: Shakesville's SKM Biblio-vore whose blog can be found here did a quick experiment on "I Write Like", plugging authors' actual works into the engine and seeing what comes out. Interesting and insightful!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I'll Be There For You

While you're at school, life is delineated into neat chunks bookended by expectations that need to be met. Assignments and projects with set deadlines, exams to be completed on un-moving dates. Always something to shoot for, always something to move toward. This is piss-poor training for real life, but it's the only training we get.

So I'm not all that surprised that once we leave school and are technically free agents (although if you asked me, I'd assert that true freedom doesn't strictly exist and that our actions are bounded by our circumstances and environments, but that's for another day)we still continue the slow, slightly cyclical grind of trying to get to that next milestone and mark off the next thing on the big to-do list of life. As a result we get on this hamster wheel of mundane routine, an opiate of sorts, locking us into a pat, comfortable life getting us to accept the status quo. Combine this with the undue importance placed on the individual (Barbara Ehrenreich calls this "the cult of the individual" near the end of this illuminating and intoxicatingly animated speech) and what we have is an entire population of people trapped in their single-minded pursuit of the next hurdle. Individually ensconced in the same patterns of thought that got them there in the first place. Embedded deeply in the Matrix (or what we like to refer to around here as the kyriarchy).

Distracted by the small things in front of us, it's damn difficult to look up and see the institutional injustices and when we do see them when they're splashed all over the news in an effort to erase them from our public consciousness *cough* (not that it was really there in the first place - which of us learnt about Operation Coldstore in history class? It should be right there alongside the emergence of Singaporean government. Quite a glaring omission, amongst many others) it's so terrifying and ugly and disheartening that it's easy to bury your head right back down in the sand, re-mire yourself in the day-to-day reaching for the next-thing-in-life.

Many of my friends don't want to talk about the things we talk about on this blog. They don't want to hear that hospitals discriminate against fat people - staff in this example (in the interest of your own mental health you may want to avoid the comments on that) or that being oppressed can cause entire populations to birth pre-term and low birth weight babies. I can't really blame them. Outrage is upsetting and the realization that you as an individual is ineffective against these large institutional forces can really ruin your day, your month or even your year (sorry).

Yet I continue to start these conversations. I subscribe to many, high output blogs that chronicle the march of the kyriarchy on our personal rights and freedoms. I hang out with the rest of the animals on this blog and in between watering sessions, which I must note does include a substantial amount of mirth, and discuss these things at length. I do this because this is how us the individual will affect the changes we want to see. If we get enough people talking about it, enough people upset, enough people aware of the gross injustice perpetuated daily just because that's the way things are then things will change. It will be gradual, halting, frustrating and sometimes seemingly futile. But it's not. I'm a firm atheist, but I do have faith in this.

Don't keep your head down, eyes blinkered to the next expectation you feel you must meet. Look up, look around, get mad, join the movement. Reassess what's important to you. You may benefit from the status quo in some measure. We all do, everyone possesses some privilege in some form (admittedly some more than others) and that's the lure of it. That's the bait in the trap we keep falling for. Ignore it. Unplug from the Matrix. Let's get in some ambulatory robots and talk about the things that matter.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The public is interested

More sober heads than mine have already discussed the pointlessness of the ban on Martyn See's film of Dr Lim Hock Siew, who spoke of his detention without trial for almost 20 years. (Transcript here, film here.) Distributing a film of an elderly, mild-mannered man giving an account of his personal experiences has now become a criminal offence.

Ostensibly this has taken place because the film is "contrary to the public interest". According to the mighty MICA:
The Singapore Government will not allow individuals who have posed a security threat to Singapore's interests in the past to use media platforms such as films to make baseless accusations against the authorities, give a false portrayal of their previous activities in order to exculpate their guilt, and undermine public confidence in the Government in the process.
My main question is, what exactly is the public interest served here?, but in order to ask it, I need to back up a bit and look at some fundamentals. They had this man in custody for almost 20 years, and they did not convict him of any crime. MICA talks about "exculpating guilt", but guilt for what exactly? Even the people who detained him didn't manage to work that one out.

But let's assume (gingerly, trying not to wrinkle our noses at the implausibility of it) that Dr Lim Hock Siew was once a genuine "security threat", supposedly because he had links to supposedly violent Communists or somesuch. If so, what is the public interest in restricting the present day circulation of the film? If detention was justified, let the government justify it; if his account of what happened was false, let the government contradict it. They've got all the records, right? They haven't flushed important paperwork down the toilet somewhere?

If we posit that the government was completely right to detain him, there is no possible harm in sharing this information now. It's not as if there is sensitive, ongoing operational security work against these violent Communist groups, which would be jeopardised by public discussion. (If there ever was.) I mean, yo, newsflash, PAP: the Berlin wall fell 20 years ago. Grab someone off the street and talk to them about "the alienation of labour" or "the internal contradictions of capital" and they will reply leh kong simi? The government cannot seriously be claiming that public discussion of the long-decomposed carcass of a defunct historical "threat" is somehow "against the public interest".

Remember, we've been giving the government the benefit of the doubt here. Even if Dr Lim is spouting total B.S. (and I don't think he is lor), the "public interest" doesn't make any sense, since the government can just whip out their thousands of detailed documents and prove to us, incontrovertibly, that they were right. "Public confidence" would not be "undermined", but strengthened.

And if he's not talking B.S., if the government stuck unconvicted citizens into prison for years on end and it was all about "saving face" and people underwent months of solitary confinement and women were force fed with tubes until they vomited and their vomit was cleaned off the floor with their own pants, might there not be a rather large public interest in the public hearing about it?

The film raises questions which any government should be prepared to answer, like, "Hey, man, why did you lock that guy up? And did you torture him while you were at it? Just, like, wanting to check, you know." And that's the whole point of the ban. It's meant to be a ban on questions. Shut up because we know best, and we don't even have to prove it. By "public interest" they mean the public should not be interested.

Well, I damn well am. And we should all be. Find out as much as you can about the detentions and let's question them until their ears bleed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Transcript of Dr Lim Hock Siew's speech on the ISA.

Ex-political prisoner speaks out in Singapore

Posted on Youtube, 15 November, 2009.
By Singapore Rebel (Martyn See).

Video description: Dr Lim Hock Siew is Singapore's second longest-held political prisoner.

From the video:
[A founding member of the ruling People's Action Party, Lim was accused of being a communist and was arrested without trial in 1963, and had his detention prolonged by the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew until his release in 1982.]

[On 14th of Nov 2009, Lim made his first post-detention speech in Singapore during a book launch.]

[The day coincided with the arrival of US President Barack Obama in Singapore for the APEC Summit.]

My contribution to this book is very modest. Because of my ill-health, I've not been able to write too much. It comprises mainly of a statement which I made when I was in prison in 1972, after 9 years of incarceration.

As you know, I was detained in Coldstore Operation in February the 2nd 1963, and I was the last one to come out from the batch of detainees almost 20 years later. Now this statement mainly stated my stand on my detention.

After 9 years of incarceration, they wanted me to issue a statement to firstly support the so-called democratic system of Singapore, and secondly to renounce politics. I told them that these two demands are self-contradictory, because if there is parliamentary democracy, then I don't have to give up politics. So they said, "You must say something to show repentance other wise Lee Kuan Yew will lose face."

For me this not a question of pride, it's a question of principle.

In the first place, if a person has to save his face by depriving somebody else of his fundamental rights, then that's not a face that's worth saving. So the, the main democratic right is a fundamental constitutional right of the people of Singapore. And no one should be deprived of their right, and held ransom to extort statements of repentance and contrition. So the whole thing bogged down to having to issue a statement of repentance, which I refused.

Subsequently, I was detained for another almost 10 years, after that statement was issued. So a total of 19 years and eight months, longer than a life sentence. Life sentences will be released after 13 years, after the initial one-third remission, but for no charge, no trial, I was detained for longer than life sentences.

A lot of hullabaloo have been said recently on the right of political detainees to appeal to an Advisory Board. I want to tell you about my experience in this Advisory Board.

After about one year of detention, I was asked to the prison main gate at about 4pm, and a statement of notice to say that I had to appear before the Advisory Board the next day, and I was given a two fool-scap paper of so-called charge sheets. I said I wanted to keep these sheets of paper so I could prepare for my next morning's appearance. They said, "No, you cannot keep it. Just read it and we'll take it back."

I said I want to inform my lawyer about this. They said, "No, you have the right to inform your lawyer, but you cannot telephone him now." I said, "In that case, how do I contact my lawyer?" He said, "That's the law."

So the next morning I was called to the High Court in handcuffs and all that to appear before an Advisory Board comprising three persons. A judge called Judge Winslow and two other persons. One is a certain Elias, I think he's a lawyer, and the other one a Chinese gentleman whose name I cannot remember.

So, on these so-called charge sheets, there were a lot of blank spaces. I asked Judge Winslow what do these blank spaces mean? He said, "Oh, these are charges which are so sensitive that they can be shown only to the Advisory Board but not to you."

I said, "How the hell can anybody defend himself against a charge that's not even revealed to him?" I asked him for advice, he just said [shrugs shoulder]. I said, "Is this a mockery of justice or what?" He said, "This is the law."

You see, the whole thing is a judicial farce. I mean, it's incredible that anyone has to face this kind of mockery, this kind of so-called justice, and the fact that a High court judge is being put as the chairman of this Advisory Board gives the public an illusion that there is judgement, there is justice. And I told him that if I were a High court judge, I would not lend credence to this mockery by my presence.

Then this Elias threatened me with contempt of court. I was very happy when he with contempt of court, because after all I was already in prison, so threatening me with contempt of court and al that makes no difference to me.

By the way, in my 20 years in prison, I was detained in practically all the prisons in Singapore, except of course the female prison.

In the end, the judge said, "No, no, let the doctor have his say, there's no question of contempt of court." So I gave a three-hour statement to debunk all the so-called charges. One of the charges was in fact a false charge: I was charged for being one of the right Fajar students who were charged for sedition. I said, "As a matter of fact, I didn't have the privilege to be one of the eight. In fact, I would be flattered to be one of the eight, and that I was not one of the eight. So why should I be imprisoned for allegedly being one of the eight, when these eight were acquitted without being called, and acquitted and defended by Lee Kuan Yew himself, who is now detaining me?"

He said, "This is the law."

Everything is the law.

So recently you have heard all this so-called rule of law. Now there is detention without trial by ISA [Internal Security Act], a law which makes a mockery of the concept of rule of law. It is a law that is outside the rule of law. Once you are detained under the ISA, you have no legal defence whatsoever.

I tried the habeas corpus twice. On one occasion I succeeded on the technical error on the side of the government--they did not sign my detention order. It was supposed to be signed by a minister, but it was delegated to a civil servant. So on that account the court has to release me on a technical point. So when I was released, there was the Special Branch waiting for me outside Queenstown Prison. I was re-arrested one minute later. It was a mock release. And for that habeas corpus, I was punished and sent to the most hideous of all detention centres, the Central Police Station head office.

That was a place that is not fit to keep animals let alone human beings. The place was so dark, so stinky and so ill-ventilated that you cannot stand inside for more than 24 hours, but I was locked in there for 24 hours a day. And the whole place was infested with bugs. I had a lot of bugs for company. No reading material and the light was so dim that I could hardly see the crease of my hand. So immediately the five of us went on hunger strike, and my ulcer bled and I had to be transferred to hospital. That was the so-called habeas corpus right there you have. Try it at your risk, or be severely punished.

The second time I went for habeas corpus case was when they tried to force me to do manual labour. That was in 1972. They said all detainees should do manual labour as a programme of rehabilitation. I was supposed to do carpentry. So this superintendent told me that it was good for you as a doctor, you try to become more dexterous with your hand. So I said, "You do not have the qualifications to enter a medical college, and here you are telling a doctor what is good for post-graduate education. Are you over-reaching yourself?" He said, "This is the law. You have to be paid 8 cents a day." So we all went on hunger strike, and some of us went on hunger strike for three months in order to frustrate their attempt to make us labourers like criminals. I went on hunger strike for three weeks before they came in and said, "Okay, we exempt you from that."

And the women detainees in Moon Crescent Centre went on hunger strike for 130 days, and they were forced-fed. Some of them vomited after being fed milk by the tube inserted forcefully into their oesophagus. One girl vomited and the superintendent forced for wardens to carry her and wiped the floor with her pants. This is the kind of treatment meted to detainees. All these of course suppressed by the press, but this is the thing we all had to go through.

Now all of us had to go through detention in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement according to Lee Kuan Yew himself is a very bad form of torture. I will read to you what Lee Kuan Yew said of solitary confinement: "The biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli. That is real torture." Lee Kuan Yew, January 2008.

Although he knows it is real torture, he had no compunction in meting out this real torture to all detainees without exception. Some of us had to undergo this real torture, not for one day, two days, but for six months. Now under the law, there is a protection for even criminal prisoners from this kind of torture. A criminal prisoner when found guilty of infringing prison rules will be sentenced to solitary confinement for not more than two weeks, because of the obvious mental health effects. But for political detainees, there is no protection.

And Lee Eu Seng, the general manager of Nanyang Zhao Pao, was put into solitary confinement not once but twice, and it is to his credit he withstood that kind of real torture. TT Rajah, a lawyer who was detained for two and half years, was put under solitary confinement for six months. Twice. Said Zahari was put into solitary confinement four times in his long 17 years of detention. It is to our credit that we did not back down despite our difficult ordeal. We stood our ground and held on to our integrity.

Today, they are asking us to be magnanimous. What does magnanimity mean? Only those who have suffered have the moral right, the moral standing to be magnanimous, not the culprit. The culprit can seek forgiveness, if they admit their mistakes and apologise for it. Not for the victims of this torture to seek forgiveness. We are the ones who have to be magnanimous, and we are prepared to be magnanimous provided the culprits admit their mistakes and seek our forgiveness.

In my statement which I released to the press in 1972, through my wife Beatrice Chen, and which was of course suppressed by the newspapers, but was distributed a lot to all student organisations--I said the proper way to settle our case is that you must release us without conditions. Unconditional release. Moreover, you must compensate us for our long detention and also apologise. I said I'm prepared to forgo these two last conditions of having to compensate us and also having to apologise to us because I don't believe an arrogant man like Lee Kuan Yew would concede easily. On that question of release unconditionally--that we stand firm, I stood firm and had to suffer for two decades. That is the price that we had to pay for our integrity.

In Singapore, we have a situation where the government leaders said they have integrity that has to be sustained by the highest pay in the world, but yet they demand from political opponents and detainees an integrity that has to be sustained by the longest imprisonment in the world. This kind of two types of integrity, to compare them is to compare heaven and earth. Why should anybody has to sacrifice so much just to sustain his integrity and his beliefs? And the government have to reward themselves with so much high pay. This is the immorality of the political situation in Singapore today.

Now, detention without trial is not a peaceful action. It is an act of violence. They come to see you not in the daylight with an invitation card. They come in the morning, 4am. That is the time when decent people sleep, and when political terrorists and tyrants strike. And when you are detained, you are subjected to all kinds of mental and even physical torture. This is not only unique for the 1963 batch, it was also practised in many other batches of detention: 1972, and as late as 1987. When Teo Soh Lung and her group of so-called marxist detainees were subjected to mental and physical torture. ... And women lawyers can be subjected to torture. But when these women lawyers came out and issued a statement to describe how they have been tortured, they were again detained and compelled to withdraw their accusation.

What type of rule of law is that when the accuser can be punished by the accused against the government, and compelled to withdraw their accusation? Is it not a rule of law justice turned upside down? Now this is a situation where even the Law Society dare not utter a word of protest. They are so impotent after what they had done to the Law Society in 1987.

Now, Poo Soo Kai has written a very good article on Operation Coldstore. In it, he has revealed a lot of declassified British archive documents, showing how the British and Lee Kuan Yew conspired and collaborated to crush the opposition before the 1963 General Elections. The whole aim of this merger was to crush the opposition before the 1963 elections.

And today, the PAP is standing on high moral ground, demanding human rights in other countries, even demanding the realise of political detainees in Myanmar. But precisely on what moral ground are they standing to have this demand? In examining their past records, they are standing on a pedestal that is leaking with worms and vermin, Let them repent first their own dismal record of human rights and then you may have the moral right to cast aspersions on other people's lack of human rights.

Poh Soo Kai has also written the last chapter of this book [The Fajar Generation], about the future of Socialism. Many of you may ponder what is the relevance of Socialism in this era. after 50 years when the club was formed, Socialist movements all over the world has suffered a lot of setbacks and even defeats, and some wonder whether we are still relevant. The recent economic crisis, the recent financial crisis, has once again exploded the corruption and immorality of the capitalist system, and feel that human beings should deserve something better than a system that is generated by green and by corruption.

Now some of you may have heard that when you are young you are idealistic, when you're old you are realistic. Now this is the kind of rubbish that is used by those who have either lost their ideals or have sold their ideals for self-interests. Each should not wither one's ideals or convictions. If anything, it should only consolidate and make it more resolute. If age has anything to do with it, it is only by way of expression and application of these ideals and convictions having the benefit of a youthful experience. And a life without convictions, without idealism, is a mere meaningless existence, and I'm sure most of you will agree that as human beings, we are worthy of a life much more meaningful than just that.

Thank you.

[Dr Lim Hock Siew is currently 78 years and is a retired physician.

[He remains a staunch socialist.]

[Lee Kuan Yew remains in political office, and now holds the title of Minister Mentor.]

ETA - 11:53pm: to download the video; it'll be illegal to own it in Singapore in about six minutes time.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's not like people are dying or anything

Forum contributor Tan Lek Lek is gravely worried about a "current obsession with banning lorries from transporting workers". (Whose obsession exactly? Some things, my little chickadees, must remain mysterious.) My sober Magical mind was disturbed by this news. Obsessions are dangerous things, best avoided. I mean, taken to the extreme, they can result in people dying, you know?
Many who are pressing for a ban on using such vehicles to transport workers do not understand the practicalities of operating a small business.
Yeah, think of the practicalities! That's important stuff. I mean, it's not like people are dying or anything.
The immediate consequence of restricting worker transport to buses or vans for small construction and service companies is a sharp spike in costs, as these firms are forced to buy vans or small buses and hire additional drivers.
A spike in costs? Oh shit. We can't have that. I mean, it's not like people are dying or anything.
Second, the vehicle population will swell by a few thousand buses and vans.

Assuming that there is a small job that requires five or six workers with some materials to be transported, the company will have to ferry the workers by van to the site and use another lorry to transport the tools and materials.
That's telling them - road congestion, that's a major problem! I mean, it's not like people are dying or anything.
The van and driver will remain idle for a long stretch until it is time to pick up the workers in the evening.
See how bad it gets? There could be IDLENESS! We can't risk it. I mean, it's not like people are dying or anything.
Are Singaporeans willing to pay for such a sharp increase in costs?
Yeah, seriously, get a sense of perspective, it's not like people are dying or anything.
Can Singapore businesses remain competitive?
Precisely. Business competitiveness is the real meat of the issue. It's not like people are dying or anything.
And what does it say about productivity when transport vehicles and drivers have nothing to do for such long stretches daily?
Exactly! Vehicles and drivers sitting around, low productivity figures, now that's what we should be concerned about. I mean, it's not like people are dying or anything.

I was going to tag this "Bullshit" - but let's give Tan Lek Lek his due, he doesn't bother dressing up these mercenary reckonings with any even superficially human veneer.

See Humans Not Cargo for updates.