|Scene from Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing"|
In the commentary track of the Director's Cut of the movie, Oppenheimer revealed that he did not want to film the gangsters making their rounds collecting protection money from Chinese merchants, he did not want be an accessory to the extortion. His Indonesian crew told him, "Pak, you must film this, it happens everyday, in every market." Co-commentator Werner Herzog chimed in, "It's frightening, because they are always smiling, both the extortionist and victim, to this transaction, with a lot of smiling."
Not many motorists smile each time they pass an ERP gantry - Everyday Rob People - the scam that does nothing for relieving traffic congestion. One bright young lawyer once argued in court successfully that it was illegal to charge for usage of the public roads when Road Tax is already collected. So they amended the law to make it legal. Such was the inglorius start of the Central Business District (CBD) scheme, which expanded to Restricted Zone, and current Electronic Road Pricing.
There's good reason to be unhappy about the latest round of S&CC hikes. Sembawang already has an accumulated surplus of $11.6 million in the town council kitty, and another $20.4 million had been transferred to the sinking fund. Since it is sitting on a current surplus of $3.2 million, what danger is there of running a big tab and crossing over into deficit? Even if that happens because of some investment in toxic financial instruments, isn't the accumulated surplus money meant for a rainy day? You don't want to get started on the sinking fund. Under section 34 of the Town Council Act, upon issue of a writ of election, 80% (100% if the party that wins is a different party from the incumbent) of the accumulated surplus disappears into the black hole of the sinking fund. With the stroke of a pen, 80% of the town council collection goes poof at every election.
Someone should organise a screening of Joshua's movie at Hong Lim Green. That way, we get to see who are the real gangsters making the rounds.