Monday, July 25, 2005

Unrelenting Terror

Terrorism reared its ugly and destructive head again in Egypt's Sharm-el Sheik yesterday. Again, the target is where western tourists congregate. Again, the majority who died are not the western tourists, but the innocent locals who are just trying to earn an honest day's living. Again, its the Al-Queida organisation or group affiliated to it that is claiming responsibility. In July alone, they have bombed and killed in London twice and now the third time in Egypt. Where next? I can understand the heightened state of alert everywhere. Singapore will be no exception as it has been firmly behind the US in its war on terror.

Don't these terrorists know that for every person you murder, someone else would have lost a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, grandson or grand daughter? That a source of income and livelihood is lost and life is adversely affected? Yes, you might want to hasten your journey to heaven, but there are still people on earth who want and need to live. Can a heaven-bound journey be certain if the means are through murderous death and destruction?

On a similar note, it is interesting that the US government is now stressing that the war of terror must be fought along the hearts and minds of people. This is the same way that communism in Singapore and Malaysia was defeated in the 1950s - 1970s. It had to take 20 years or thereabouts to resolve the problem with the communists. It will probably take just as long to eliminate the terrrorists acting in the name of Islam.

This war on the hearts and minds must involve the Muslim nations, who eventually hold sway. If sanctuary is denied, if sympathy is witheld, if weapons are siezed, it will go a long way. But more than bombs, if youth are put onto the right path, to see terrorism for what it is, if they can be given opportunities away from such destructive missions in life, it can go a long way to eradicating this modern scourge. That is the responsibility of the teachers, the community and the family.

Can hate persist for long? Can killing become a way of life? Does suicide achieve anything? Will murderers go to heaven? The answers are obvious.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Peanuts, peanuts, everywhere.

Peanuts - the most explosive word in the English vocabulary in Singapore right now. SMS messages composed in English and Chinese are flying off everybody's fingers declaring the worth and value of Peanuts. For example, I received an SMS, in Chinese, that suggested that the next time we donate to Singapore's National Kidney Foundation (NKF), we should send peanuts since its not of inconsiderable value. I do not know the originator of this chain-sms. It is just being passed from one to the anyone who owns a handphone. Handphone ownership rates in Singapore is very high.

In the office, its a 'charged' word. You need to be careful when you use this word because it is linked to a comment made by the wife of a very senior political leader within the last month about how being paid $25K a month in salary is peanuts. The problem is, the person in question is running a charity, not a commercial corporation. People have very strong feelings about their hard earned money going, un-intendedly, into somebody else's pocket instead of directly to the cause for which it was intented. This word is now bandied about with much amusement for some, and with barb and ridicule by others.

The lesson to learn, especially when you are a public figure, or closely related to one, is to watch what you say. The most innocent of words you utter can boomerang on you in the most unexpected of ways, and possibly haunt you for some time to come. Look on the bright side - you could have created a new 'word' - or at least new meanings for an erstwhile commonplace word. History, and Philologists, will remember you for it.