Sunday, January 7, 2007

Singapore. The arrogance will be their fall

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It shall be my way, or the highway. That, I think is quite clear to the average Singaporean whom Lee Kuan Yew had previously described with derision as "digits". These digits, as he calls them have to be ruled, and he rules them with an iron hand, with some help from his family members and cronies who make up the Peoples Action Party, the government in power since 1959! He isn't interested in any ideas from his people. He has them all, and there is no need for any advice from anyone. But if you happened to challenge him, then it is quite different. He will use all the organs of power, the police, the judges, the Sikh lawyer who does his dirty lawyering work, all these will be deployed, the law abused, and the offending party promptly silenced and improvised.

But the problem is, this style no longer works. You see, in the earlier days of Singapore, when poor immigrants came to Singapore from the poverty stricken countries of China and India, they only wanted a job and food to feed their family. They were grateful if Singapore could provide this. Their needs were basic. They were not looking for luxuries such as freedom and participatory democracy. And to a large extent, Singapore gave them these basics. At the time, what was needed was a government that could provide jobs. That was all.

But unfortunately, Lee still has his mind in the early days. He thinks that as long as he could provide jobs, the people will be contended. It didn't matter that they too had a head on their shoulders. Lee still thinks that only he has such a thing as a head.

But now, this style of authoritarian rule cannot work. People are being educated. Even if the education is deliberately kept to the bare minimum, to prevent people from thinking too much, still it is an education. And they are being educated more than their simple humble forefathers.

And with this education comes the demand for rights. The demand for more participation in the running of their country. But Lee refuses to allow their people any participation in it. Surely this is unacceptable. They are citizens. Not sheep. They have a right to speak. To say what they want. To object, if objection is necessary.

But this participation, which is a good thing, is not possible in Singapore. The newspapers are owned and controlled by Lee. Only news sweet to his ears is published.

Radio and television is also owned and controlled by him. Nothing objectionable to him will be said.

The courts have judges who are corruptly placed by him, to do what he says. The law is abused and the rule of law absent.

The unions are controlled by the government and union leaders are government appointees. Workers have no rights to negotiate their best working conditions.

Workers have no right to strike. Strikes are illegal and strikers will be jailed and lose their jobs and livelihood.

All professional organizations are government controlled. An accountant who complained about the corruption within the government will be punished and bankrupted.

The Peoples Action Party, Lee's party in government has 82 of the 84 seats in Parliament. Therefore to all intents and purposes, it is a one party state. 2 miserable seats are held by 2 equally frightened and intimidated opposition politicians. Lee has chosen, hand picked these 82 Members of Parliament. None of them have any political experience in their own right. Their only qualification is their blind obedience, like willing poodles, to their Master Lee in Parliament in making laws, however repugnant to the well being of their people. Therefore Lee's Parliament becomes nothing more than a rubber stamp, with men and women just going along with whatever their masters decided.

For any right thinking self respecting Singaporean, if there is still such a specimen left, this is quite unacceptable. Wait a minute, he will say. Look here, I am a citizen too. I pay my taxes. And whether you believe it or not, I too have a head on my shoulders. And in it, there is a brain. And it so happens that it works. Therefore as a citizen, I demand that you listen to what I say.

Unfortunately, for such a citizen, Lee does not allow participation. You can only participate, he says, provided you agree with everything that I say. But you are not allowed to question what I do with public funds. You are not allowed to have an independent press. You are not allowed the basic rights of a human being citizen.

This puts off many educated citizens who find Singapore a boring place. Surely it is boring if all that you can do is go to work each day, and just go back and watch television and do the shopping and listen and read government propaganda from the state controlled media.

Lee should understand that the people are not what they were in 1959. And if he continues to stubbornly think that that is so, it can only mean his downfall.

The reality now is that citizens are migrating en masse. Foreign investment is falling. The Singapore judiciary's corruption has been exposed. The birth rate is falling below the replacement rate. Singapore's attempt in bringing foreign workers to make up the shortfall is not working because only third rate workers who are not accepted anywhere else come to Singapore. Since they can earn slightly more in Singapore than their home countries. None of these foreigners take up citizenship in Singapore. They prefer if given the chance to emigrate to the USA or to go home.

The bad image of a heartless authoritarian, lawless and arbitrary country, governed by dictate has already taken root in the world. It is too late for Lee to change the situation even if he wants.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you are right 110%