Letters from a Distant Country Called ‘Catherine Lim.’

November 7, 2007

Recently, I read somewhere Catherine Lim has joined blogosphere. It seems her motivation for doing so stems from several failed attempts to get her article published in the MSM. As usual this development has generated a litany of consternations in blogosphere – some have labeled it, as yet another attempt to control the information supply chain. Others feel real or imagined. This is simply a ‘thought control’ exercise.

This throws out the question what are the possible drivers which has led to this curious development? Is it really such a wise proposition to deny someone like Catherine Lim a voice in the MSM? 

No one denies every information provider needs to balance content with readership demand. Such constrains can even be seen as part and parcel of the business process. However, according to Catherine Lim the reasons put forward by the MSM not to run her ‘open letter’ to the PM was due to the absence of “anything new” in her article. As true as that may be. What cannot be discounted is Catherine Lim isn’t exactly anyone and this hardly suggest what she has to say counts for squat. On the contrary, I for one and many are very interested in what she has to say – only because Catherine Lim happens to be one of the pioneers of the liberal movement in Singapore (is there such a movement? You have to ask why I am even struggling to find a term that best suits her).  

This of course raises the question: shouldn’t she be accorded a special locus to air her views? It begs the question what exactly is the MSM trying to accomplish by denying Catherine Lim a voice? To paraphrase, what’s at the heart of this strategy (assuming there is one in first place)? A few possibilities come to mind (and for legal reasons, I have been advised that I need to qualify myself, they remain, ONLY possibilities and not statements of fact.)

The first, by denying her a right to voice her opinion. Many of us especially the younger generation will lose a line of sight of the chronological events, leading up to how and where the socio-political scene came to where it is today. That’s to say, we wouldnt’t be able to connect the dots. This assumes of course where we are today in the socio-political quadrant is essentially a function of what transpired historically. As Darkness once put it so eloquently, everything has a causal link:

“Nothing comes from nothing. Everything has an origin and if you really want to understand something, you really need to go all the way back to mug up on its history. Even something as mundane as tying shoelaces has a historical lineage. If you look at the Americans, they prefer the criss-cross knot. While the Europeans favor the parallel style of setting their laces – I say look again, this time screw on your time machine hat – and really look!  That’s because the forefathers of the latter fought in muddy trenches in Verdun or some place where people think its a good idea to charge into a machine gun battery. Every soldier knows when your leg is swells to the size of a football,  it’s easier to remove the boots, by cutting the laces with a bayonet when they are perfectly lined up –that’s where parallel lacing came from! That’s what I mean by historical context.”

This raises the nagging question: whether it’s possible to believe the recent loosening of public discourse to even allow journalist like Mr Janadas Devan to write a controversial column criticizing Prof Thio’s Parliamentary speech could have emerged without the likes of Catherine Lim challenging the cause for a more liberal and open society in the first instance? It’s all too easy, to lose sight of the chronological events and to credit either the government or even the MSM for this recent display of openness and tolerance – I don’t wish to embellish the account, no one denies the restraint and openness shown in the recent S377A debate certainly signals an encouraging shift. A clear sign that we may even be moving ahead and finally making progress towards a more liberal and tolerant society – after all who would have considered the MSM could even take and run with a taboo subject like homosexuality one year ago?However, it’s all too easy to jump to the conviction what made it all possible was simply because someone-on-top-OKed-it. That sort of fairytale alters considerably the narrative of how we actually arrived at this level of civil maturity. It leverages on the ‘tried and trite’ narrative; if our lot has improved, it’s only because the regime has made the world a better place and it has absolutely nothing to do with likes of pesky Catherine Lim prodding it from time to time with her dainty umbrella. That social and political improvements, always comes eventually if one waits long enough. In this homily sugary narrative of ‘the good life,’ the machine, system or great helmsman always knows best; if the good in the world outweighs the bad, it’s won over by the slimmest margins and someone paid the ultimate price for it. Well, I don’t buy into that bullshit – that’s only true, if you believe for one moment, the impetus for change is naturally stronger than the impulse to resist change at every opportunity and turn. In truth, the math is stacked firmly against you, roughly at deader than dead odds of 10,000 to 1. Reality suggest it’s the reverse, governments, institutions, firms and even the seamstress who makes a living out of hand sewing couture clothes will tend to resist change for one simple reason – it serves the strategic objective of preserving the status quo ante along with all the elements which lends reason and sense to the oligarchies of power. FACT: The motivation to resist change is always higher than the impulse to embrace change. I suspect that could be why the ‘tried and trite’ narrative needs to be constantly nourished like those blood thirsty Aztec deities, as it justifies keeping the system and everything that goes along with it, dogma, ideology and even the personalities i.e the necessary price has to be paid to generate the good life. Nothing comes for free. 

What else can account for that tenuous purchase on our collective psyche? After all since we became independent as a nation, so much of our welfare has been placed on the altar of the party who has successfully delivered the good life.

In all fairness, they have done a pretty good job of weathering the odds and even delivering the goods – but it still doesn’t answer the nagging question: how did we really reach this watershed in our socio-political awakening?This leads me to my main plank: if the voices from our distant past aren’t allowed to ring out from time to time, to remind us where we used to be and how we got here. How do we even begin to ascribe a sense of scale to progress or even begin to account for it? At best, that can only create blank spaces in our socio-political narrative. At worst, it skewers the picture and leads to an under appreciation of how long and arduous a journey we have once traveled as a people and nation. This is especially cogent for the younger generation who may not have the benefit of hindsight. That’s the real price of denying the likes of Catherine Lim a voice.

If the role of the MSM is to purvey quality information, then it cannot just take a ‘presentist’ view where it assumes things just happen like the story of the man who walks over the knoll and ka-booom, the story starts from there! No such thing! – events just don’t pile up on each other and things just don’t happen, and even if they do, they usually have a causal chain which requires the MSM to take stock of the broader history. I would even argue if the MSM aspires to be taken seriously, then it must be able to present a holistic account of the before, during and after narrative. Where did it all come from? Who started the ball rolling?

Whatever the reasons for not publishing Catherine Lim’s letter. One thing remains tragically true, we will never know the ‘truth’ on this occasion, not from the MSM at least, as it came to us all through the new media.

(By Scholarboy & Astroboy / Politics / Socio-Political – EP 99592628 -2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2007)  

Breaking News from Dotty: The Brotherhood Press Will Cover the Beijing Olympics

“Dotty, This will give us an opportunity to interact closely with gamers who are experimenting with what I call garage technology. Much of it has been developed in rooms where clothes go to die, or in labs during the 3rd shift, when all their supervisors are asleep, so don’t expect high resolution coverage and fancy stuff, what we are trying to accomplish isn’t as important as building the core competence to work as part of an international team trying to do something incredible difficult with just $2 – so it’s a bit like trying to sail around the world in a tub. It will be a challenge, but we will adapt and overcome because there is no money, no one has any idea how to proceed and some of us can’t even understand the other guy on the otherside of the conference call – apart from that everything is coming along very smoothly – the boys will deliver the goods – on that I am very certain, I am just there for the ride. I am starting to realize, they don’t need me any more and if I hang around, it may do more harm than good, so maybe it’s time for me to seriously consider retiring and getting on with my real life.”

Darkness 7th Nov 2007

13 Responses to “Letters from a Distant Country Called ‘Catherine Lim.’”

  1. green rover said

    I am really quiet shocked darkness is considering retiring. He is such a young man and yet, he speaks as if, he is an old man.

    I know he has been playing around with the idea for some time, but I always believed, it was just a joke.
    He seems serious this time.

    Great article, puts it all in the right perspective.

  2. ceo said

    Hi,

    I shall certainly miss Darkness, he will go only bc power corrupts absolutely, the bro are just one big monkey tribe, go means go and pls switch off the lights on yr way out, cruel even you might say, before him, there were others, they too stepped forward, gave and when the time came, they all left bfr they were pushed out, Darkness is wise, he couldnt have survived so long, if he didnt know how to read the signs. He knows how to read the writing on the wall. He knows it must be time.

    A new monkey will step forth. Now that they have opened up their ranks to females, perhaps even a she monkey.

    We live in interesting times.

  3. hellokitty said

    CL should be allowed to air her views.
    Thats good.

    On darkness, I am not surprised, it has been nearly 5 years. In net time that is an awfully long time.

    He has taken so many hits, left, right and center. He is probably just tired. I dont believe a man or any man for that matter can weather so much.

  4. hellokitty said

    At least he set everything and this is a red eye site. So many of us feel quiet safe. I believe this is a very good start. The readership is growing and he has more or less relied on the same strategy, produce, produce and produce.

    The rest as usual doesn’t really matter. Blogosphere will fragment, we will have our own corner, own writers and own readership and they will have their corner, writers and readers.

    There is finally peace.

  5. koalabear said

    Great. A tribute to a fine lady. They just want all the credit. If they dont get it they are not happy. Anyone who tries to remind them, it wasnt them, they will erase, delete and censor and they wonder why no one ever takes them seriously.

    This is what I call the anatomy of stupidity. As Kennedy said, you can fool ppl sometimes, but you cannot fool them all the time.

    The game has got 10,000 times more complicated as Bambi Darkness would say.

  6. dotseng said

    TLH received a threatening mail. This doesnt portend well for the pro-repeal movement.

    A very interesting piece.

    btw, I seem to get alot of mail on which is the most popular read. They are as follows:

    (1) Ville Lumiere (still No.1 after 3 weeks! This is really quiet extraordinary)

    (2)The Terrible Cost of Saying ‘No’ To The Gay Community

    Another thing, many ppl have asked me why some of them cannot dock on this site. Pls check your anti-virus protocol, whatever that means according to KOHO. The long logging time is bc, they have incorporated a 3 stage protection system on this site. It will also mean, they know exactly who you are and how many times you have logged in etc

    I believe the are expecting someone who they really want to talk too to drop by. They have told me, it will be a very interesting conversation.

    Do have a productive week

    Dotty

  7. dotseng said

    Hello Valued Readers New and Regular Ones,

    I have fab news for all of you. First we have just crossed the 15K mark today! Which isnt bad for just roughly 2 weeks and bits work.

    I have been receiving alot of mail on the SLF changes, dear dear is it really so hard to switch over accounts. Do try.

    That’s all and I have been told, the boys will be arranging better things to come. So stay tuned!

    Happy Reading

    Dotty

  8. Tim said

    Fantastic Dotty, I expected better, but as darkness would often say, it’s a start, a very good start indeed.

    I hope it will go from strenght to strenght. Thx

  9. Tim said

    IMHO this is a positive development. One of my concerns is blogosphere is fast resembling a market place, this site will go a long way towards rationalizing the readers by developing nodes away from the traditional reading crowd. The hope is it will be able to stand alone as an outpost site.

    Is this the strategy of the BP?

    Personally, I welcome it. I must also add, the admin here has been excellent. There’s not a single case of personal attack against the BP which characterized every site they have camped in previously. Most of the riff-raff have been weeded out, that’s always a welcome.

    I wonder how was this done? Very good work and do keep it up. All I see is blue skies ahead a very favorable prospect.

  10. Darkness said

    People are not stupid. You cannot pull a man by the nose and say, hey read this, or read that. You can certainly try, but that can ONLY work IF blogoland is either the Soviet Union or has plenty of good stuff to read.

    The truth remains it is neither. Most of it is shit or basically saying the same thing like a broken record. Who in their right mind wants to spent his time wadding in shit water? Dont believe me go to Mr Brown and see for yourself, so there is NOT alot to read out there and if you believe, there is alot then you are just incredibly dumb. And if there is NOT alot to read out there, when someone produces, it will always create a demand.

    So am I surprise that so many have decided to come here. Bear in mind 99% of the hits comes from google! So what are people doing?

    That is something you need to seriously ask yourself. What we are beginning is see is the first steps when ppl begin to define what they want to read.

  11. Darkness said

    We were in the Intelligent Singaporean for a very long time, nearly a year. In net time that’s an eternity and during that period, we produced on average of 3 to 4 articles a week.

    So many read and when it suddenly stopped, do they stop reading. No such thing. They will find us and read again, it doesn’t take alot of effort either, all you have to do is type in Brotherhood Press in google and everything just comes out.

    So to say ppl will only read something, if it is aggregated, linked or recommended is simply unrealistic – you cannot stop a man from reading whatever he wants any more than you can stop a baby from crying.

    That is what I have always believed, this is simply a confirmation of that. The rest you can throw into the garbage heap.

  12. Chronicler said

    AB,

    Why do we keep losing or destroying the torque wrench? You know, I dont want to sound like I am gripping, but those babies cost nearly $200 per piece and we have worked through at least 3 this year alone!

    Kendo, we have been getting kicked out wherever we go – no point searching for another place.

    I suggest we change the time, 5.00 am is just stupendously crazy.

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