Tuesday, November 06, 2007

be vigilant?

...some random thinking, spurred by this poster seen on and around the MRT:

while i often tell my mother (who's still visiting, returning from Thailand tonight, we head to Malaysia tomorrow for a long weekend) to not worry about me in Singapore, as "i'm safer here than you are in the US" (proven by recent events), i found this small piece of a larger government ad campaign quite interesting.

Singapore's means to attaining a relatively safe society, are accomplished in a very controlled fashion. the fines and/or punishment for ANY crime whatsoever are infamous (after all, as many novel souvenirs say "Singapore is a FINE city") and quite severe (
let's not forget Michael Fay).** but does that lead to a safer society? well, i've seen 10 year olds riding the MRT into the late hours of the night, so sure, no doubt.

**[a brief tangent: most of South Asia + the Middle East take it to an extreme - the penalty for possessing and/or trafficking illegal drugs is DEATH - no ifs, ands, or buts. versus the US, Europe, and/or Latin America, where drug-related crime + violence is rampant. in the US specifically, drug-related charges merely lead to jailtime, and jails are becoming overcrowded with particular disenfranchised segments of the population that seek out the commerce/comfort of illegal substances to make ends meet. i'm not saying one is better than the other (but read between the lines), but the results DO speak for themselves.]

but how safe is it really here in Singapore? to the poster's point, nature abhors a vacuum. what's more interesting though, is this PERCEIVED notion of "absolute safety" that is indirectly perpetuated in the media by the government. YET such notions are countered by advertising similar to that which is seen here (that's the more interesting point). while i find the TV + print news here to be FAR more comprehensive and world-inclusive than that of the US (not a difficult task), the one thing that IS lacking is any honest critique of the local society and/or goverment. yet crime IS happening here, it just goes largely unreported. word of mouth carries it, but only to a moderate degree.

to be clear. it IS actually super-safe, clean, and nice here (and i'm not just saying that because i don't want the government to revoke my work visa :). but this lack of, or more specifically, discouragement of critiques (which leads to a perceived "safe" society), leaves many citizens here apathetic. and that is the more dangerous thing for which we should be vigilant.

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