Ladies and Gentlemen,
I was in Singapore from Nov 1 to Nov 9. East coast Malaya from Nov 9 to 12. Nov 12 travel from Wakaf Bahru/ Tumpat Thai border to Singapore on Malayan Railway Eastern Line. Departed Singapore 5.40 pm Changi, SQ2 Nov 13. The following my observations.
Every morning Singapore I wake up and turn on TV Channel News Asia. Steven Chia and a diminutive woman who keeps nodding her head at regular intervals, almost to outdo TV's "noddy the horse" read the news followed by Jennifer Alejandro to read the business news. Alejandro on her part introduces herself phonetically as Olihandro for some reason when it should be pronounced Alejandro as spelt (J being pronounced as H in Spanish, unlike in Portuguese were it is the same as in English). Alejandro is simply Alexander in English.
The point is this. These TV newsreaders unlike their other Singaporean citizens, do actually speak English and not Singlish. Second they appear to have an education commensurate to their reading the news. Third they appear to be very westernized with westernized mannerisms, effusing confidence replete with the jokes and the small talk which is expected of any newsreader in any western country.
But one thing makes them very different from any western newsreader. The fact that they are quite prepared to surrender their destinies to the whims of a despot. Any western newsreader being unwilling to do.
It strikes me as odd, very odd, that such apparently educated self confident young men and women, such as these western style newsreaders would be quite prepared to act their parts in a so called first world country, yet are prepared to live, presumably out of fear, in circumstances where they have no rights at all, and all rights belong only to the Lee family.
It is not only them. The greatly experienced SIA pilots on all the legs to Singapore and back only spoke an atrocious form of English, as we know Singlish, which is in fact English with a Hokkien accent. I am quite sure that listening to them, any English speaker from any part of the English speaking world, hearing it for the first time, would be hard-pressed in being convinced that it is actually English. But what was even more astonishing was the fact that all of them had an English name before their Chinese name, like Robert Chong and so forth. One will wonder why these people are so determined to have English names when they have so much difficulty in speaking it. Why are they so desperately trying to hide their Asian identity? And if they are so ashamed to be Chinese, should they not try a little harder in trying to speak English for a change.
The taxi driver from Changi Airport to my hotel had many complaints. Not enough money. Taxi company charging too much. Difficult to survive. To my question why he did not do anything about it, his answer was that it was useless. He did not wish to openly protest as the government will retaliate and cause him and his family harm. He was afraid. He cannot do anything to change his bleak prospects. He is resigned to the fate the government has for him. A pathetic case, just as the sad cases of each and every Singaporeans that we meet. A country consumed in fear.
Dying for good Indian food, I head for Tekka Market. There I meet an Indian foreign talent, a civil engineer. He is a Singapore Permanent Resident. He lives alone in Singapore. His wife and children live in India. He has been in Singapore for 6 years. He is not interested in being a Singapore citizen. As too many Indian students are going into software engineering, there is a shortage of civil engineers in India, he claims. He claims he can make as much money now in India as in Singapore. He told me he cares 2 hoots for Singapore. He will go anywhere in the world where he can make money. Then he will go home to India. He is Indian, he reminded me.
At the market I meet up with Uncle Yap. He paints an even grimmer picture of Singapore. He says the government does not pay CPF because they have run out of money. This is evident in their laying off many workers in government departments. And these, even the highly educated ones, according to Uncle Yap, end up as security guards and taxi drivers. He even said that there was a PhD driving a taxi around. The foreign talent policy, according to him is deliberately carried on by the government to suppress the wages of Singaporeans to remain competitive. If true, very distressing news for all Singaporeans.
A friend of mine, Jagir Singh Towana. Ex police officer. Spent entire career in the Singapore Police Force. After retirement, one would have expected him to live in comfort and leisure. No not so. Despite ailing health, he has had a heart bypass operation, he has no choice but to drive a Mercedes Benz taxi as a relief driver to the licensee. This is another example of the dark side of the Lee Kuan Yew's first world country.
Another old friend Gurunathan is busy running around as a real estate broker. He claims he has no time to see me as before. He has to run around making money to pay for his HDB flat. According to him, the HDB did not care whether you had food. Their flat must be paid for first! So even though he retired from Telecoms many years ago, despite every muscle and limb hurting, if indeed it did, the man has to still run around the length and breath of the island, hoping to make a deal to pay for his flat and food on the table.
We have Bala and Thanabal, the former in his 60th year, and the latter 57. Both have all sorts of ailments. Bala has severe diabetics, suffered a stroke and now has a liver condition. Thanabal a lifetime smoker has had a "balloon" medical procedure in his heart. Both are ailing. Yet both, with all their strength have to work. This Lee Kuan Yew's first world country is not prepared to lend them a hand.
Yet neither Bala, Thanabal nor Gurunathan would dare to even mention the word "protest". They are terrified to even mention the word. Terrified at what Lee Kuan Yew would do to them if they even so much so as raised a whimper. This is the example of Lee Kuan Yew's first world citizens in his first world country.
I spoke to my friend Nazir Mohammed Khan. He is the grandson of carpet dealer Amir and Sons along Orchard Road. This man had a lot to say in complaints. He had stories like how Lee Kuan Yew and his family forced the then owners of Goodwood Hotel to sell it to them and other interesting pieces of information; whether true or not only God knows. But in the end, he will refuse to do anything even remotely of registering his complaints in the open. On a fear register of 1 to 10, you could consider him nine. Now since he knows that I write this blog, he has refused to meet me at all!
I saw my friend Sambasivam of MediaCorps Tamil Section. He was my old friend. Same complaints as usual of the government censoring the media. But as expected he is not prepared to do anything about it. Again, the all encompassing fear.
I sometimes find it hard to accept the fact that in a country with such an educated population, why do they not realize, as everyone can see, that if sufficient numbers show their dissatisfaction, the magic words being sufficient numbers, the government is powerless to punish everyone. And it is not too hard to galvanize sufficient numbers. Surely this is possible.
But as to why they do not see what I can see, is a problem that beats me. Especially why Mr. Steven Chia, the Channel NewsAsia TV newsreader, that outspoken, classy, sophisticated Western educated confident young man wishes to live his life in submission beats me.
And on the whole, the average Singaporean appeared to be classic Kaisu characters. Greedy, selfish, money driven, generally angry and impatient. A vast contrast to the people of Kota Bahru.
The men and women of Kota Bahru were very different. First, I have never seen so beautiful women, Malay women, anywhere in the world, not even in England Germany or California. They were beautiful, gentle, gracious and generous. Truly so. Not the forced type of gentleness seen on airhostesses on Singapore Airlines Flight No. SQ2. Not only the women but everyone I met in Kota Bahru had this class and style about them. A true humanness lacking among Singaporeans.
Not too long ago, I read Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim. Conrad too has the same good impression of the people of Kota Bahru that I have.
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