Friday, November 11, 2005

Paris burning

One of the biggest news these past two weeks or so has nothing to do with natural disasters - but they are disasters all the same. Paris has been burning, literally, with thousands of cars torched and public places such as schools damaged due to rampaging young French people of African descent. One would have thought that the statement that these youths are trying to make, if at all there is one, would have been made by these acts of destruction, but no, it continues and is spreading to the rest of Europe.

While I understand that these people may have genuine grievances, destroying property is hardly the right way to address their grievance. Well, yes, it will serve to highlight their plight - one of poverty and discrimination in a land of (supposedly) plenty (so I read) - but they will not gain sympathy at all. Instead, it has attracted others, who have raised the art of destruction and evasion through the use of handphone sms and all, to coordinate the burning and destroying. Hold on, did I mention handphones? Now how can anyone be deprived if they can own handphones? How can they be poor? I wonder what's happening?

I suppose that Europe is experiencing a wake-up call and they need to be deliberate about social issues that different peoples of different races present. Singapore has been very deliberate in this instance - often criticised by the 'West' for its suppressive policies, but they have worked to a certain extent in preventing the spill-over of disenchantment onto the streets. Issues are addressed proactively, as in the case of the jailing of bloggers who had written derogatively of other religions.

Like the Chinese say, lets keep (the shameful) things in the family to itself - "jia chou bu ke wai yang".


IndCoup said...

The pronlem in Singapore is that Singaporeans have no creative ability whatsover, as they are conditioned to think in a certain way by the authoritarian sing govt.

Epilogos said...

Well, I wouldn't go so far as to imply that S'poreans are robots which can only do what they are programmed to do. I believe there is increasing freedom to express and accept divergent views - and creativity is not entirely absent among its peoples. We are encouraging our young people to think differently, and think out of the box. I know because I teach.

The social and cultural environment is not as repressive as those in N Korea or Myanmar, for instance.

Politics is a different animal, however, and cannot be talked about in the same breadth. Well, lets watch how the next General Election (most likely in early 2006) pans out.