Smokescreen And Red Herring

Very few things irk us more than contradictions. Contradictions such as priests molesting young boys, or people conducting atrocities in the name of Islam or female pastors in skimpy clothes gyrating to suggestive songs in the name of religious outreach. The problem is that life is so full of contradictions. That’s why there is so much unhappiness in this world, so many complaints. And in this internet era, so many trolls. They feed on contradictions.

Government policies are not free from contradictions either. Take the ERP for example. It is meant to regulate traffic flow but when all the roads leading to the CBD are littered with ERP gates, this policy just doesn’t make sense though it does make cents, loads of it. The government will try to brush all this contradictory policies as the need to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the country and people. But we still see them as the government’s unabashed act of milking money at the expense of the people.

Recently the government decided to impose a ban on shisha, the reason being smoking is bad for health. Fine, so does eating mutton soup. And in its reaction to some of the criticisms, the government brandished the `we are a responsible government not afraid to impose unpopular policies blah blah blah’ card. Again fine, except that cigarettes are being sold openly all over the island. If smoking is bad, why are cigarettes being sold?

If you look at the cigarettes packaging, there is a warning accompanying a revolting picture of a patient suffering from some kind of smoking-related disease to send a message that smoking is dangerous. That it is life-threatening. That it is deadly. In fact, the message is so clear and succinct to suggest that cigarettes should be included in the Poisons Act.

So the question is; what sort of a responsible government would allow poisons to be sold openly to the people? The answer is the type of government that sees tax revenue as more important than the health of the people. `Hey let’s ban arsenic and mercury tainted cosmetics and shisha because there is no money to be made there. But let’s allow cigarettes because that’s our money pot. How else could we afford to pay for the Pioneer Generation Package?’

Is this a fair assessment? Maybe not. But that is the general feeling that we got from this policy.

And now there is an increasing attempt by the government to demonise gambling. Online gambling sites are being blocked. Measures are being instituted to fight problem gambling. Ok we got it. Gambling is bad. But you have queues snaking in and around NTUC supermarkets of people buying lotteries and placing bets on horse-racing and football matches. That’s alright because `hey that’s our money pot. How else could we afford to pay for the Pioneer Generation Package?’

Our view is that, do not go overboard in demonising something to such an extent that the only way out for any responsible government is to ban them outright. Indeed revenues are important for any government to function but not at the expense of the people’s well-being.

Smokescreen cannot hide the bright glare of the sun. And red herring cannot swim in the deepest ocean.


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