Sunday, May 8, 2011

PAP is not invincible

Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party swept back to power as expected in the most hotly contested general election since independence, but the opposition made historic gains in what they called a landmark vote. The PAP secured 81 of 87 seats in parliament – meaning, that the opposition was able to wrest six seats. In 2006, the PAP won 82 of 84 seats. Change did visit Singapore after all and PAP’s share of the popular vote slipped further to 60 percent.

Singapore may be one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing countries in Asia, but groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch say the government restricts political freedoms and clamps down on dissent. It is any wonder that the opposition could make inroads this time around. Even Foreign Minister George Yeo was defeated – he was part of the team that lost a five-member constituency (i.e. Aljunied) to the opposition Workers’ Party. Congratulations, Singaporeans for voting in change!

I came across this Thursday posting on – the Dorothy arts collective created these molded plastic green army men and called them "Casualties of War" – seemingly inspired by the crime, misfortune and neglect experienced by a battalion of soldiers who had returned from Iraq to USA’s Colorado Springs.

In fact, in July 2009, Colorado Springs Gazettea published a two-part series entitled "Casualties of War" where the focus of the writings is on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, who since returning from duty in Iraq had been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. Returning soldiers were committing murder at a rate 20 times greater than other young American males! Another separate investigation into the high suicide rate among veterans published in the New York Times in October 2010 revealed that three times as many California veterans and active service members were dying soon after returning home than those being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Isn’t this frightening? War is not just about fighting and dying on the battlefield. The horrors of war never leave the soldier – so much so that even when he (or she) returns home, he/she will still find out that war still brings suffering and dying to his/her doorstep. Indeed, PTSD (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder) can come knocking on every soldier’s door.

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