The extremists among us

APRIL 12 — We live in strange and dangerous times. The ghosts of Fascism Past have not just returned; they walk in plain sight in the White House. 

Yet stranger still is the spate of recent kidnappings in our own country.

Where is Pastor Raymond Koh? Where are the other four disappeared?

How could grown adults disappear without a trace, leaving no clues only hushed whispers and a growing, gnawing fear of a darkness we cannot name as yet.

The latest victim, Peter Chong, left an odd Facebook status recounting how he was warned by a stranger that he was being watched. For him to disappear so soon seems hardly coincidental.

I make jokes often about our strange parallels with Russia ― of Stalin's Russia and yes, now with Putin's Russia.

Authoritarianism is what it is, whatever its shape, wherever it happens. The suppression of expression, the persecution of creatives and activists, of anyone who dissents.

It is no longer funny, now that people are disappearing and their abductions are being seen not as random acts of crime but not-so-subtle warnings.

The intention is fairly obvious ― to cause disquiet, to stoke fear and mistrust. The perpetrators could be anyone, really.  Perhaps even private, organised groups with their own agendas.

We do not know who they are, but they know who we are. And that is unsettling.

What would be terrible is if this fear leads to a state where we become overly paranoid about our neighbours.

Where we start believing that either they're secretly watching our moves, and reporting us. Or we start reporting other people just to keep ourselves safe.

What do we do then? How do we not go madly paranoid or insanely suspicious? We must go on with out lives, aware of the ever-present dangers. Take a little extra care, be a little more watchful and vigilant.

It does one no good to cower in fear of tigers in the jungle. We just need to remember to bring a torch.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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