ISA and the panopticon: the anatomy of fear

By Sim Kwang Yang

I was a little taken aback when a close and respected friend complimented me on my courage in my writing.

I was surprised, because much as I searched within myself, I felt no courage in me when taking on the most contentious issues and the most powerful politicians of the land.  Then I realise why I don’t feel brave at all.  I don’t have to be brave because I feel no fear, as long as I am careful and fair.

That does not mean I am such a fearless hero.  I too have my phobias.  Being broke is my greatest fear that has pursued me in my entire life.  My other fear is dying slowly a long, debilitating, and painful death, while being broke!

Then I realise we are all moulded by our fears, and we do not know much about our fears.  So I checked up some quick resources on the Internet. One site – — has this to say:

“Fear is a powerful and primitive human emotion. It alerts us to the presence of danger and was critical in keeping our ancestors alive. Fear can actually be divided into two stages, biochemical and emotional. The biochemical response is universal, while the emotional response is highly individualized.”

Like all psychological mumbo-jumbo, it is not very enlightening.