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Artificial Dynamism Reloaded June 21, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

My learned friend Aaron has told me to go easy and stop churning out posts lest I burn myself out. In fact I share the same thought as him. However with funny articles and issues cropping out the temptation to type is too strong to resist.

For those who do not know, Ned has always been a firm proponent of the idea that the current so called opening up of society is mostly artificial and that such artificiality do not  a vibrant sociey make. However it appears that there are people who do not share this view.

In the aforesaid CNA article, Stanford University professor Paul Saffo has this to say regarding creativity in Singapore:

Asked if restrictions on political expression would impede the development of a creative culture and Singapore’s aspirations to become a global media hub, Stanford University professor Paul Saffo said on Wednesday: “Singapore will continue to be hard on itself and keep asking searching questions like: ‘Are we creative?’ Of course, you are.

“There are lots of new media products, there’s lots more money in the industry,” he added.

From the above, it can be seen that the good professor is saying that curbs on “political expression” do not result in a lack of creativity in the media arena. I do agree with his statement. Political expression has little to do with creativity in the media; however the same cannot be said for the fostering of creativity through the education system! Whether there is creativity will depend very much on whether the society is willing to be open to alternative ideas (which need not be political), the education system (which is currently too focussed on rotelearning, though to be fair to Mr Tharman there have been attempts made to deal with the issue) and so on.  Furthermore, observe the question that was put to Professor Paul. In lawyer speak, it could be a leading question for there could only be one answer given that political expression has nothing to do with creativity IN THE FIELD OF MEDIA.

The later part of the article is suggesting that curbs of expression notwithstanding, Singapore can still become an arts hubs and that the arts in Singapore will flourish in the future. But then lets take a look at the background of the person who said it.

MDA chairman Tan Chin Nam, who heads the panel, said it was a “stereotypical view that there is no creativity and expression here”. In fact, a ” renaissance” has been taking place in the arts scene over the last five years, said Dr Tan, who is also the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts.

“We are seeing a very vibrant arts sector. With the establishment of the Esplanade, we are seeing a lot of new spaces being provided for creative talents to express themselves.”

And with increased Government investment and new infrastructure such as the integrated resorts coming up, there would be an “explosion of entertainment activities and creativity”, he said.

Added MDA CEO Christopher Chia: “‘Creative’ is as good as how you apply it to objects you can do something with.”

The bold portions speak for themselves. It is inconceivable that people who hold such positions will gainsay the official line and that is what is happening here. And just to burst the bubble, wasn’t Crazy Horse supposed to help the Arts flourish in Singapore too? And pray tell where is Crazy Horse now? And with the point about more spaces seems to be non sequitor for having a physical space does not necessarily result in more space for talents to express themselves unless there is relatively freedom of expression of different schools of thought in society.

 Furthermore, this line is particularly noteworthy:

Acknowledging that “technology would come to terms with the environment”, Indian filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who lives in Europe, nevertheless said that it “works the other way round too”, with new media influencing political culture.

So the New Media has the potential to influence the political culture. And what is one component of the New Media? It is the internet. It is a known fact that the internet so far has managed to escape the iron blow of censorship from the authorities. Therefore it would not be wrong to say that the internet is relatively free from “restrictions on political expression” and therefore one cannot take what Mr Kapur has said to conclude that creativity is independent from restrictions on expression.

Therefore, it appears that the viewpoint espoused in “Artificial dynamism” is still valid. And there is historical precedent to show that free expression does result in a flourishing of the arts and a curb of expression results in stagnation. But that will be a story for another day.



1. Molly - June 21, 2007

Whether curbs on political does or does not stifle creativity, and even if it boosts creativity, there is no excuse for curbing political expression.

Interesting enough, the answer to the age-old (OK, I’m exaggerating to be creative) question is never “We don’t curb political expression!” although some politicians seem to have claimed that people are free politically.

2. Ned Stark - June 22, 2007

Well, officially they do not curb political expression, they just enjoy their right of suing everytime they feel they have been defamed:P

3. Molly - June 22, 2007

Oh sorry, sorry. I forgot.

They don’t even curb semi-political filmmaking. They only investigated him. And told him to surrender all his tapes (i.e. he was allowed to express himself as long as the product of his expression doesn’t get circulated).

4. دانلود نزم افزار - November 19, 2011

That was a truly good read!

5. La thailande - November 25, 2011

This makes perfect sense to anyone.

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