Please Stick to Stroking Pussies

Some MPs (Members of Parliament) are clearly retarded. Without gerrymandering and the harebrained GRC (Group Representation Constituency) concept, many of those retards will never get elected into Parliament.

And don’t get me started on NMPs (Nominated Members of Parliament)! The NMP scheme was cooked up by the government to give the impression that contrary views are being heard. This was politically useful during those days when there were no opposition members of Parliament. Every year, a new batch of NMPs will be put into Parliament. (Ordinary citizens can nominate themselves.) Every year when this happens, it is worth remembering the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a given task are prone to overestimate their ability at that task.

Put simply, humans are notoriously incapable of objective evaluation of their competency levels.

The cognitive bias was first identified by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger in a 1999 study.

With politicians, intellectual humility is an aberration, not the norm. Many of their “solutions” then lead to the Cobra Effect, a term used to describe a situation where the solution to a given problem makes the problem worse.

I looked at the nine NMPs just sworn in last month and when I saw a couple of names, I shook my head. (I have worked with one before, and I know people who have had unpleasant experiences with a couple of others.)

I also shook my head when I heard an MP – a real MP, not an NMP – some time ago, asking for smoking near windows or in balconies of homes to be banned.

(Yes, many Singaporeans still harbor the spastic mentality that if they dislike something, the government should just ban it.)

Sure, the government must constantly be seen to have the interests of citizens at heart. A Government Parliamentary Committee’s call for a ban on residents smoking at windows or balconies of their homes – to lessen the effects of second-hand smoke on neighbors – is purportedly, a recent example. It shows that the government cares. Hallelujah! Pwaise the Lward!

However, decisions pertaining to health matters should and must be science-based.

Despite all its supposedly noble intentions, government officials have to support and substantiate the numbers they arrive at when establishing the harmfulness of second-hand smoke. MP Louis Ng, (shown stroking a pussy in the photo above) chairman of the GPC for Sustainability and the Environment, said 383 people in Singapore died due to second-hand smoke in 2016. “That is about one person dying every day. We must do something,” he said. Was he previously the headline writer of tabloids, I wonder? These numbers are said to be obtained from the WHO study Global Estimate of the Burden of Disease from Secondhand Smoke 2016.

I have looked and found difficulties locating the numbers cited. The understanding is that this study is based largely on estimates using data provided by the countries themselves. Why does Singapore appear not to have our own research showing the same numbers, since all the data used in the WHO study is supposedly provided by the Singapore authorities.

Data integrity is in question here.

It is also important to delve into the emotive, if not, practical reasons, why people smoke at windows or balconies.

They do so because they want the smoke to be blown outdoors. I don’t believe there are people who do so because they intend to deliberately blow smoke into their neighbors’ homes. This is also why people choose to barbeque at their balconies, not in their living rooms with all windows closed.

Banning smoking at windows and balconies to prevent smoke from drifting to neighboring houses forces smokers to smoke indoors with windows closed. This would result in family members suffering from increased exposure to indoor second-hand smoke.

(Research done on second-hand smoke exposure has always defined it as living at home with a smoker or smokers.)

Several official websites, including that of the American Center for Disease Control, states that long term exposure to second-hand smoke at home increases the risk of lung cancer by 20% to 30%. Common sense tells us that if this was remnant smoke that has travelled a distance from a neighbor’s home, the risk would probably drop to an insignificant level. (That is likely why no research has been done on the increased risk of exposure to second-hand smoke outdoors.)

Long-term exposure to second-hand smoke indoors would by far be more harmful than exposure to second-hand smoke outdoors or from smoke wandering in from a neighbor’s house.

In any case, Ng seems to be trying to smoke us as he embarked on a crusade to be an anti-tobacco Nazi, never mind infringing on the rights of people.

In Parliament, he said that while a ban on smoking at windows and in balconies might seem intrusive, there were already laws in place to police (italics/emphasis in bold mine) people’s behavior at home, such as Section 27A of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, where one cannot walk around nude, even in private while exposed to public view. He wrote “Being naked in your own home doesn’t kill your neighbor but second-hand smokes could.” Sensationalism at its best. Ng has missed his true calling. The National Enquirer and UK tabloids beckon!

Given the current technology, and the privacy laws of the country, it would be challenging to track down smokers who deliberately blow smoke into their neighbors’ homes without deploying rather draconian or intrusive methods. Does Ng prefer to live in a police state? Does he expect police SWAT teams and elite crack teams from our armed forces to break down doors and raid homes in surprise attacks? Also, ill intent must be proven in a court of law. And of course, such blitzkriegs and lightning raids and storming of people’s homes would affect the privacy of innocent neighbors and must be taken into consideration. Of course, Ng doesn’t seem to care about these things. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, right?

Smoking is already prohibited in more than 32,000 locations, including covered common areas right up to the doorstep of homes.

What more does Ng want?

Yes, whiffs of smoke emanating from a neighbor’s house are unpleasant, smelly and annoying indeed. But what’s unpleasant, smelly and annoying is no less unpleasant, smelly and annoying than fumes from motor vehicles, the widespread public burning of incense during the Chinese seventh or “ghost” month, or a neighbor cooking curry or frying pungent belachan, or loud music from a Malay wedding or creepy sounds of religious rituals performed at wakes and funerals. Banning the source of such unpleasantness is hardly a move that is science-based, nor does it foster the cultivation of a society that should be tolerant and understand the idea of “live and let live” which is the glue that has held Singapore together thus far.

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