Is ‘constructive’ anger towards the PAP possible?By Clement Tan Jun 04, 2010 7:32AM UTC
An anonymous comment raised two important issues, which I thought might be worth discussing here.
In the first instance, the person said that given the way the media is in Singapore, “if being anti-PAP (People’s Action Party) bring(s) about a critical appreciation of history, so be it.” I would like to say that being anti-PAP is merely the first step to developing a critical appreciation of a place like Singapore. And that’s important because reality is often more complex than clear cut anti-PAPisms.
This leads me to his/her second point, which questions why should being critical or praising the PAP be such a point of contention, or be a basis for the discussion about Singapore history. My short answer to that is this: because it affects our basis for political action, or just plainly, the way we live in Singapore.
Being anti PAP for the sake of it won’t elicit the appropriate kind of emotions that would sustain the basis for our actions, because anti-isms might over time lead to frustration and anger. Sure, “anger” isn’t an entirely “negative” emotion. Our indignance about a social issue, or the state of oppositional politics in Singapore, could push us to form an NGO attempting to advocate for the social issue or join a political party other than the PAP.
But when anger is not harnessed “properly” — and we keep bashing the PAP — it could lead to frustration and a sense of helplessness… and people could overtime decide that it’s better not to care because it’s futile and/or too much effort. Of course, I am fully aware what I am saying can be perceived solely as a “theoretical ideal” and all that… but I cannot imagine how one can lead an existence so full of unresolved angst towards the system.
Finally, the anonymous commentator is right: everybody HAS to make up their own mind about the PAP, but equally important for me, is how our reactions should be informed in that we should also see how our reactions compared with others. Our own reality is merely one of many in the Singapore collective: surely the views of others have to matter as much as ours. If we only insist on being anti-PAP, then how are we different from the very subject of our anti-isms?