Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fragrant Prince

For background, click here.

The arrest of Fragrant Prince leaves me with a vague sense of unease. Yes, he is wrong for posting racist comments. Yes, his writing is shallow and self-absorbed. Yes, his ideas are poisonous, and have no place in a civilised society.

Yet, I am still incredibly uncomfortable with the circumstances of his arrest. From what I've read of the comments on and Cowboy Caleb's blog, it's not really his racism that got him in trouble, but his arrogance.

Fragrant Prince didn't help his own case - his apology smacks of the same semantics as DPM Wong Kan Seng's apology for the Mas Selamat affair. "I am sincerely apologetic for the recent events that happen" isn't an apology. Rephrased, it might as well have been "I'm sorry I got caught".

Yes, Fragrant Prince's racist comments was probably criminal. On the other hand, had he been less arrogant and more popular, I think the blogging community would have been more inclined to "give chance" and not report him to the police.

I am not comfortable with this. It is bad enough that the blogosphere goes on the occasional witch-hunt against high-profile targets like Dawn Yang. A police arrest takes this phenomenon to a whole different dimension.

I think that given the circumstances, reporting the arrest was the right thing to do. I am also not defending Fragrant Prince. What I am uncomfortable with are the implications - that popularity might be a pre-screening criteria for justice. That is the inherent flaw of mob justice, and something that I'll write against, be it for Fragrant Prince, Dawn Yang or anyone else.


-ben said...

From what I see, it's a double-whammy of mob mentality clamoring for heavy-handed paternalistic government authorities to step in. As an (admittedly imperfect) example, look at the last series of posts on Mr Wang's "Thank You For Reading My Blog, Aljunied Town Council Members", where some netzens advocate the view that it is the government's job to cultivate and promote civic consciousness and graciousness in its citizens.

Yes, his ideas are poisonous, and have no place in a civilised society.

I am not sure if I subscribe to that. Yes, I am aware that there's no free speech in Singapore. But on principle, shallow and moronic that Fragrant Prince is with his racial baiting, I fail to see how it is worse than Krishnasamy Bhavani, Press Secretary to the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, taking a dig at mr brown (Lee Kin Mun) via his child:

As for means testing for special school fees, we understand mr brown's disappointment as the father of an autistic child. However, with means testing, we can devote more resources to families who need more help. (Source)

If the government means to lead by example, then I don't see anything wrong with our radio DJs / opinion columnists / bloggers taking a swipe at the wife of a certain, highly-respected, politician's bout with stroke in the manner of Michael Savage. Read the summary on the scrolling window, then listen to the audio clip. (As for the comments left by liberals whining about the Savage's cruelty and lack of civility, the left seemed to have conveniently forgotten the curses levied by their ilk at Jenna Bush on her wedding day.)

Unless, of course, one believes in the ancient proverb that what Jupiter may do, the ox may not.

White horse, anyone?

Stay well, KC :-)

Khayce said...

Well, thing is, I don't think it's a clamouring of government intervention. More like "Oh, here's a person I don't like, he gave us an opportunity to use the law against him, let's use the law against him."

That's the part I don't like. I'm not convinced people were civic-minded when they reported him to the police. I'm fairly sure it was because he was a bit of an arrogant asshat, that just happened to break the law.

As for the point about Fragrant Prince's ideas, there's a reason why I used the words "ideas". :) The issue here is NOT free speech. The issue here is a toxicity of a shallow, xenophobic and racist idea that he has expressed. Such ideas have no place in society and are utterly deplorable.

The free speech issue doesn't come in here - I'm not commenting on whether the Sedition Law should be there or not (you probably know my views on those by now though).

Be well Ben.