Political Writings is going to the UK for three weeks to broaden his understanding of western democracy.
No doubt PAP leaders will seize upon the August UK riots as further justification why there cannot be freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of speech in Singapore, and why the ISA must remain.
Some fence-sitters will be moved to agree with them, and accept the Faustian bargain of the PAP.
Unfortunately, it is entirely the wrong conclusion!
Riots and civil commotion do not start because a society allows peaceful demonstrations and freedom of speech.
Indeed, riots cannot be prevented even if a regime disallows peaceful demonstrations and controls the media.
The recent Arab Spring protests in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria and other Middle East countries underscore this point.
Nearer home, there were the recent Bersih protests in KL in June. Before that, there were various Red-Shirts/Yellow-Shirt demonstrations in Bangkok. And going further back to 1998, it was riots and public protests in Indonesia which brought down the repressive Suharto regime.
None of these countries are noted for freedom of assembly or freedom of expression.
The conclusion to be drawn is very simple.
Riots happen not because a country allows its people peaceful demonstrations. They happen because there are deep issues which are not dealt with.
Such issues could be corruption, income inequality, political differences, racial tensions, etc.
In fact, one could even hypothesise that countries which allow peaceful demonstrations and freedom of speech tend to sweep less things under the carpet, and thus they have less protests that cause violent political change.
I shall attempt to validate my pro-forma views above during my UK visit in the next three weeks.