We hold in our hands, the most precious gift of all: Freedom. The freedom to express our art. Our love. The freedom to be who we want to be. We are not going to give that freedom away and no one shall take it from us!"
~Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider
People in Singapore tend to accept the Government's orders and whims without making a fuss (or, at least, too much of one), people like me aside, of course. Why? Because, well, the Government said so, and the Government is in charge. Any dissent is quickly and efficiently located and neutralised through public debate, lawsuits, or the dreaded Internal Security Act.
In our authoritarian, neo-Fascist state, the Government is all-powerful. No one has yet to successfully challenge it, and not for want of trying. The People's Action Party's so-called success in the latest elections are over-rated: only 19% of the population of Singapore voted for it. The 66.6% they keep harping about only refers to valid votes, and not of the population as a whole.
Despite this, the authority of the PAP reigns supreme...but authority is an illusion. It is nothing more than a perception of power, by both the powerless and the powerful. The less empowered believe that their superiors have more power than them, the more powerful ones believe that they have power over everybody else, and nobody disagrees. Every society is shaped like a pyramid, with the country's elite on top, and everybody else below, in steadily increasing numbers. This trend can be seen everywhere in the world, from America to Japan; one just needs to look carefully. The only variant is the height, breadth, and length of the pyramid itself.
This triangle itself is nothing more than perception, of course. Should the disempowered believe that they, and not the social elite, hold the power, then society changes. They will exercise their will to power, overthrowing societal norms and reforming the country, and society, placing the leaders of their revolution at the top. We've seen this before, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the People's Republic of China.
This cycle, as history has shown, continues. Not even Soviet Russia or Communist China could stop this from happening: the party elite, military heads, and secret police were invariably at the top, and everybody else is below. Communism and socialism has failed. History's class struggle to subvert authority merely results in the establishment of a new kind of authority. The USSR eventually collapsed, and the PRC was forced to reform in order to survive. New leaders took over, and led their countries into the present.
Both nations' former governments' encrouchment on the rights of the people are long documented. The same applies here. In Singapore, we have allowed the Government to curtail our right to free speech and expression (no public speeches may be made without a never-issued police license; no political films may be made), our right to freedom of assembly (any gathering of more than four people for a purpose is considered illegal without a license), and our right to freedom of religion (Jehovah's Witnesses and the Falungong are banned here). Thus, we have effectively allowed the Government to break its own Constitution. We have done this because we believe that they, being the authorities, are doing the right thing, or that they wield enough power to silence dissenters in a public or private fashion. We have thus surrendered our right to live as free human beings to an abstract headed by three men: our Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Authority, being an illusion, has no substance. It is enforced by the population who swear allegiance to the leaders, but not the leaders themselves. That is all. The people themselves provide their leaders the means with which to strangle themselves with. We cannot let them this happen, not unless we have foresaken our inherent rights, the freedoms that we all possess.
Freedom, like authority, is nothing more than thoughts translated into action. If you believe that you are fundamentally a free person, your actions will reflect that, and you will be free, if only in your mind. Because freedom is a thought, you can never lose it unless you give it away, and wholeheartedly surrender yourself to the powers that be.
Freedom and authority, naturally, are in direct conflict. Both must give way to the other, to form a synthesis that can work on the micro and macro level. However, when authority gets out of hand, then it is the right and duty of the people of any nation to exercise their inherent freedom to self-determination, their freedom to decide their leaders, and destroy the authority. From there, a new form of authority comes about, one that is hopefully a synthesis of the concepts of freedom and authority. The closest we can find is a democracy, wherein the government draws its authority from the people who freely elect them.
We should never accept authority just because it is authority. We have to keep questioning our leaders, to demand our rights when they're taken away from us, to retain the right to reform our own country, to recognise that they can only take away our freedom if we give it to them. We cannot let this happen, not if we dare to call ourselves human beings. We must never, ever, let the authorities dictate to us what we should do, not unless they can provide legitimate reasons for their actions. If not, we must demand explanation from the authority, and, if neccessary, confront it. We cannot sacrifice the very essence of our being for the authority. On the political level, we must, at the very least, retain our freedom to decide what kind of government we want to give our freedom away to. That, at least, would be a worthy funeral for freedom.
Authority, though, provides a form of stability and peace. The battle for freedom, and to maintain it, had always been long and bloody, to a greater or lesser degree. Many people in Singapore tend to surrender their personal freedom for the sake of stability in Singapore. It can be justified, but not at the expense of freedom. Freedom is the very essence of a human, the ability to decide for himself or herself how to act, what to do, and how to think, and that, more than anything else, sets us apart from the animals of the wild. These three freedoms have created history, from the French Revolution to the Boston Tea Party, from the founding of America to the independence of Singapore. Can we afford to trade the fundamentals of being human for peace? Never. If we do, then we deny our right to living as a human, and become nothing more than dogs to ephemereal masters.
Authority and freedom, being contradictory, are the antithesis to each other. After both come into conflict, Immanual Kant's theory of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, if true, would come into power, and the end result is democracy. This, however, can only occur if the people recognise their inherent freedoms, and do what is morally right: to decide whether the authorities have a legitimate reason to even be in power.
Singapore is derived from the Malay words 'Singa' and 'pura'. Translated, it means 'Lion City'. Lions are proud, brave, majestic, and free animals. I only see a population of mice in the city of lions...and, Heaven forbid, only a few with the hearts of lions.