Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Time Out For A Reality Check

In 1995 Fidel Ramos - he called Contemplacion a heroine - was so frustrated when Goh Chok Tong failed to grasp the uproar in the Philippines caused by the execution of Flor Contemplacion, he bundled a stack of local papers and couriered them over. There it was, splashed in large font on the front pages, the name of our sovereign nation prefixed by a four-letter word expletive. Our sheltered prime minister, and most Singaporeans, were shocked and awed by the wanton rage of a foreign people. It was never understood that Contemplacion could be a cause célèbre for Filipinos to vent their frustration over the helplessness, abuse, and mental stresses that many overseas workers face around the world. The Alex Boncayao Brigade, a Communist terrorist group in the Philippines, threatened to punish Singaporean and Filipino officials.

Which is one good reason to stop finger pointing about right and wrong.

"The Act of Killing" just won best documentary at the 2014 British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) awards. Based on the mass killings of 1965–66 that followed Suharto's overthrow of Sukarno, it tells the story of gangsters Anwar Congo and Adi Zulkadry. It was a time when anyone opposed to the military dictatorship could be accused of being communist, and murdered. Anwar is revered as a founding father of the right-wing paramilitary organization Pemuda Pancasila that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers. Jusuf Kalla, Vice President of Indonesia (2004 to 2009) and potential candidate in the upcoming Indonesian presidential election 2014, is on screen extolling the spirit of Pancasila Youth, "Gangsters are people who work outside the system... The word 'gangsters' comes from 'free men'. This nation needs 'free men'... We need gangsters to get things done."

At the reenactment of the Kampung Kolam massacre, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport Sakhyan Asmara has this to say of the filmed violence, "Don't erase it! Use it to show how ferocious we can be! In fact, we can even be worse! So, think of it as a simulation of our rage - if anyone disturbs our country."

Pancasila Youth has 3 million members. Their leader Yapto Soerjosoemarno has a clearer message, "All Pancasila members are heroes. From exterminating communists - to fighting communists and left-wing extremists - and those who want to destroy our country... We Pancasila must take a stand. They say Pancasila Youth is a gangster organisation. If we are gangsters - I'm the biggest gangster of all!"

The scariest part about the movie is that American director Joshua Oppenheimer's co-director had to remain anonymous, couldn't appear at the BAFTA awards, because of the secrecy needed to protect him. As the last scene fades, and the credits roll, you will note most of the staff involved in the production are also named Anonymous.


  1. Never mind.
    Our PAP Ministers are very brave.
    I'm quite sure they will challenge the Pancasilla members.

  2. Kudos to you for reminding these boy scouts pretending to be soldiers of the danger they put this little red dot in by their relentless show of bravado. Their continued barrage of propaganda about Konfrontasi will backfire. The latest sly dig by the PM putting out a photo of MacDonald House flying the Singapore flag cannot be missed by our neighbours. Since when was the building a government building and therefore allowed under the law to fly the flag?

  3. They want to play with patriotism and nationalism cards but do not understand the ground and sinkies. Sinkies are by nature meek, gentle, bochap and kiasi. The ground is the nation is so diversify with all sort of people from every corner of the world but show no loyalty to the special little red dot. 50 years of nationhood and the failure of unity is showing.

  4. It is very wrong to say sinkies have no loyalty to the Land.
    It is that most sinkies find no reason to love their rulers. In fact, the grandest of them all is now branded a traitor and betrayor. What the hell will be his underlings?

  5. What are Pancasilla members but low mortals, compared to our very dignified ex-Generals/Admirals Ministers? All their members' combined wealth cannot exceed our Ministers' annual income.

  6. Who's the biggest gangster in Singapore?

    A former Singapore newspaper proprietor, now retired, was having an audience with Lee and apparently not toeing the line. Lee leaned over, grabbed him by the collar, and said "I'm a thug, you're a thug, and as one to another, you'll do what I say."
    - James Minchin. No Man Is An Island, 1987

  7. You do know why the people involved in the movie had to remain anonymous in the UK - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2001/aug/01/indonesia.comment

  8. I just wonder the next time the indonesian haze is back, what is our "hawker, foodcourt or restaurant" Minister going to do ... kneel down & beg the Indonesians for forgiveness and admit that the current Parliament showing is only a wayang?

    Why can't our Ministers be just more pragmatic instead of harping on some historic naming which is obviously not an issue with majority Singaporeans ?

    And if we are really that 'concerned' about the deaths of innocent civilians in the bombing and the sufferings of affected ones, what about the sufferings of those affected family members whose loved ones are jailed without trial under the guise of one Operation Coldstore ?

    Why haven't they instead show their sincerity to convene a Commission of Inquiry to seek the ultimate truth instead of allowing the unsubstantiated rumour of them being alleged Communists to continue to hang in the air especially when the alleged masterminds are still alive?