April 5, 2017 – 10:25 am

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Amos Yee has followed 1,200 $ingaporeans who surrender their citizenship every year.

In 1967, Keith Richards was 23 and Mick Jagger was reaching 24 when a British judge sentenced the pair to jail for drug-related offences. The reaction from The Times of London was an editorial from William Rees-Mogg, the paper’s editor.

The editorial was published July 1, 1967.

Rees-Mogg’s editorial influenced the perception of the new creative class as people who should be accepted despite their differences. Years later in his memoirs Rees-Mogg recalled: “I remember being struck by the fact that Jagger used the classic John Stuart Mill On Liberty argument: that you are entitled to do anything which does not affect somebody else adversely. He argued that that is the test of the permissibility of human action.”

The headline in the Times editorial “Who breaks a butterfly (upon) a wheel?” is a quotation from Alexander Pope’s “Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot” from January 1735. It alludes to “breaking on the wheel”, a form of torture in which victims had their long bones broken by an iron bar while tied to a Catherine wheel. The quotation is used to suggest someone is “[employing] superabundant effort in the accomplishment of a small matter”.

A fuller version of Pope’s text:

Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
Yet let me flap this bug with gilded wings,
This painted child of dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose buzz the witty and the fair annoys,
Yet wit ne’er tastes, and beauty ne’er enjoys…

By taking a lighter touch against Mick and Keith almost 50 years ago, their jail sentences were reduced to a conditional discharge, the Rolling Stones were given the opportunity to prosper as artists. Billboard reported in 2007 that the Stones’ A Bigger Bang tour earned half-a-billion US dollars over a period of six months (click here). The Stones are the envy of every nation who want to profit from their homegrown creative talents.

Once again the British press has come out to comment on a butterfly broken upon a wheel.

Published March 30, 2017.

The Economist likened Amos Yee as “crude, insensitive and confrontational” like many teenage boys. His fault was to upload a video just a few days after the death of $ingaporean strongman Lee Kuan Yew that called him a “dictator”. As the Economist pointed out he also mocked Christianity for “around 30 of its 519 seconds”. He was arrested, charged for insulting religion and obscenity and sentenced to two weeks in a mental asylum and two weeks in an adult prison. He was similarly jailed again the following year.

Amos Yee, unlike Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, was just 16 years old. And he’s had enough.

Good riddance? You had better think twice.

Note: As of 2010, the non-citizen population of $ingapore stood at 1,846,013 out of a total population of 5,076,732. The total number of citizens in 2010 was 3,230,719 or 63.6 per cent.

The number of Singaporeans giving up their citizenship averages 1,200 each year according to a report in 2012. Source here.

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In the anonymous freedom of surveys, away from the glare of the National Conversation, more than half of us apparently do not want to be here, reported the nation-builder press in October 2012.

A Mindshare survey carried out early this year found that 56 per cent of the 2,000-odd polled agreed or strongly agreed that, “given a choice, I would like to migrate”.

Migration specialist Brenda Yeoh, dean of the National University of $ingapore’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is not surprised and is hardly alarmed.

“The percentage would be much higher than the reality of emigration (because) then, there is the reality check (of) resources and emotional ties to family. So it shouldn’t send the nation into a massive panic about 50 per cent of our population disappearing,” she says.

Even so, there is a world of difference between actively wanting to be in $ingapore, and simply being here because you can’t be anywhere else.

If more than half of $ingaporeans harbour some suspicion (no matter how idle or misinformed) that life elsewhere might be more relaxed, more enjoyable, more vibrant - just more - it does not bode well. Read the rest here.

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