Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Crucial Years

"Let us get down to fundamentals. Is this an open or closed society?" demanded Lew Kuan Yew in the Malaysian Parliament on 18 December. "Is it a society where men can preach ideas - the novel, unorthodox, heresies, established churches and established governments - where there is a constant contest for men's hearts and minds on the basis of what is right, of what is just, of what is in the national interests? Or is it a closed society where the mass media - the newspapers, the journals, publications, TV, radio - either by sound or by sight, or both sound and sight, feed men's minds with a constant drone of sycophantic support for a particular orthodox political philosophy? That is the first question we ask ourselves.

"And let me preface my remarks with this: that it is not only in communist countries where the mass media is used to produce the closed mind, because the closed society must produce the closed mind. I believe that Malaysia was founded, if you read its Constitution, as an open society, constituting peoples of various communities, of various religions, of various languages, of varying political beliefs, in which the will of the majority will prevail, and in which a large dissenting minority will not be crushed and intimidated and silenced.

(line 40, pg 227 to line 11 of pg 228 of Lee Kuan Yew, the Crucial Years, by Alex Josey)

"And in this Chamber the same technique - not the big men, they are gentle figures, but from the small fry, the hatchet men - howls of vituperation and abuse. Is this the open encounter? Is this the democratic system in which ideas compete for ascendancy? Not brawn or the strength of one's pharynx, but ideas - they cross frontiers, they have brought men into space - and if we try to keep our men rooted, glued to the ground, fixed in an orthodox political society which resists change, the world will pass us by. One day it will come down like a house of cards. It has not the resilience, the sturdiness, the stamina to survive.

(line 40, pg 228 to line 3 of pg 228 of the same)

It is an unspoken word. The Press know it, the public know it. Everyone in the coffee shops speaks of it. But to us in this Chamber it is taboo. Why? Make-believe! But for how long? Even the make-believe is wearing thin. I say let's pause and ask ourselves ... I am talking of the principle of the open society, the open debate, ideas not intimidation, persuasion not coercion."

(line 18 to line 25 of pg 229)


Juzzie said...

oh, oh, I spot a literary device! ^^

Irony, irony. The purpose? To further political aims and goals!

I'm no anti-authoritarian, but seeing this is really quite odd.

Demel said...

the bastards