Saturday, February 25, 2006

*On Political Forum and Lax Values"

Dang, I wasn't identified by name or even by faculty. Instead I was one of the 2 students who were dismayed at the administration's handling of the fee hike issue.

Actually, that wasn't even my point or my questions.

Here's what (sorta) happened. A PS student (he was identified in the report) asked why the WP wanted to abolish the EP because hey the opposition could go after the position yada yada. I don't think he read the Republic of Singapore Constitution because um, you need to disassociate yourself with any political party as per article 19(2). Yes, it is at the date of his nomination and yes, you can't escape from the fact that the qualifications also require you to have some ties with the ruling party. But that's more a matter of implementation and reform than for the abolishing of the EP.

So that was actually my second question i.e. given the weakness of the ballot box as an external political check (what about the inter election years), the weakness of the westminster system (fused executive/legislature) and the EP fulfilling a number of functions (anti-corruption, protector of our fundamental liberties, ensuring the integrity of the civil service), why not simply reform the system.? If you were wondering, I didn't get much of an answer out of Mr. Gomez who argues that there are other channels (very PAP answer if you ask me)

BUt back to the first question I posed. It wasn't simply about the mishandling of the fee hike issue by the administration. It was in response to the exhortations of the panelist for greater participation in politics etc. So the question I posed was more along the lines of why the heck are we then ignoring what is essentially a democratically elected student representative body? Even granting that they are suppose to represent the student clubs, the fact remains that individual faculties have faculty clubs and people do vote for their NUSSU representatives. I should know because I ran and lost. =P

So putting that aside, let's turn instead to an issue that's dear to my heart, sex education, values and morality. So here's a rather amusing letter from Ms. Lynn Chong Fui Lan, "Sex video: what's wrong with youths?" I was lucky that I wasn't drinking anything at that time anyway. I was going to give the usual snarky response when I figured that with a little work there was a deeper argument to be made.

Other than the obvious non-sequitors and religious chuvanism, here's the one single issue that bears more commentary.

My five-year old son is able to argue with me issues I find difficult. He said exactly the same things: "I have done nothing wrong. Everyone does it."

I tell him that even if the whole rude, he does not have to be. As a Christian, I refer to the Ten Commandments and prick the conscience, mine and his, and explore what is right and wrong.

Outwitted by a 5 year old? Heh. But seriously, reasoning with a very young kids is next to impossible and if ever I had a child, I fear I might end up doing the same thing although I hope not to.

So why not we put this into a proper context and ask the real issue: are societal practices moral?

I think both the letter writer and I agree that society is no final arbiter of morality (though they could make things very dicey for you if their notion of morality is law). This is what is commonly termed positive moralty or ethos, the ethics of a particular society. So the question then becomes, how do we decide whether a particular practice is good or bad. And that's really where 'critical morality' comes in, the Morality we use to criticise and evaluate positive morality.

In Ms. Lynn Chong's case, she refers to the Bible. Although I have to wonder where in the Bible does it say the Abrahamic God forbids pre-martital sex or the taping of it. Especially in the 10 Commandments mind you. The difficulty of this approach is that it relies on the existance of the particular god and the bible as being divinely inspired by that god. So in effect it says it is wrong because my god said so. Which effectively means that if I don't subscribe to your religion, it means nothing to me. Especially if my religion says otherwise.

This is where I should dovetail into a discussion of utilitarianism and consequentialist morality and the difference between act-utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism but I still have an assignment due. So I'm just going to point you here, an earlier essay I wrote. Have fun reading =P


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