Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Straits Times, the state owned and controlled newspaper in Singapore reports on Jan 04, 2008 the story "Young PAP steps up efforts to woo overseas S'poreans, new citizens"! I certainly find this difficult to understand; especially when they had intentionally and systematically driven out thousands of Singaporeans, over the last 40 years.
Some like Tang Lian Hong, Tan Wah Piow and Francis Seow; they drove into exile. For them the choice was either a Changi Prison cell or escape. So they chose escape.
Many others, they deliberately drove out, by policies and laws more at home in North Korea than in a civilized country. Laws requiring a permit to even to speak! Permits required to assemble. Permits to print newspapers. Laws that any self respecting human will find difficult to accept. By deliberately, intentionally enacting such laws fit for some Orwellian 1984 country; has not the PAP deliberately driven out normal human beings who are able to leave? And they have done just that. Emigrate.
They now live in the hundreds of thousands in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA. These are the best most qualified Singaporeans. Graduates. Skilled people. Lawyers. Doctors and Engineers. Articulate. Well read. Proud. People prepared to take a risk. But more than anything else, people who are not prepared to live under the yoke, the yoke of tyranny.
The Straits Times report says Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, a Minister in Lee Kuan Yew's government, whose pay by the way is nothing less than $3.7 million a year, is managing this project. This project is to; as the report claims; "woo" overseas Singaporeans (as if they were trying to make love) back to Singapore. Although no one Minister in this government, or any government, should be paid $3.7 million; if there was one case where good money is being thrown at incompetence; it has to be in Dr. Balakrishnan’s case.
For a long time, it appears, he does not appear to have any definite idea, plan or policy. He says one thing today and exactly the opposite tomorrow. Leaving Singaporeans under this dictatorial rule, not only oppressed, but thoroughly confused!
He knows very well that even today, it is this government that is driving capable people away. Driving people away by thrusting a dictatorship down their throats. And he is himself a party to this. Denying Singaporeans their most basic of human rights; which happens to be the main reason why people leave. Reducing Singaporean’s lives to that of a poodle. A life of compliance. Compulsion and rigid government does not go well with educated capable people.
And in introducing these unpopular Communist Chinese or Fidel Castro style policies, he has been successful beyond his wildest dreams in causing a massive brain drain to the West and Australia.
Yet knowing all this. Knowing that it is he himself with this government that has driven thousands of people to other countries, he is now trying, he claims; to “woo” (what a word!) them back! An odd man indeed! And a thoroughly confused, $3.7 million a year, man! And confusing everyone else too!
Had I been Captain Haddock of the comic Tin Tin, I would have said “Ten thousand blistering barnacles”!
People do not leave Singapore because they want a bigger car. A bigger house. Or more money. They want to live their lives the way the want. Not being told where to live. What to say. What not to say. What to read. What not to read. They don't want to leave their lives entirely to the mercies of Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan or his boss Lee Kuan Yew. They want to have some control too. Not possible in Singapore. So they leave.
Someone has to tell Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan that he is wasting his time. Someone has to tell him that he should introduce some democracy to Singapore first. Then call Singaporeans and some may come.
You will recall, a couple of years ago, Dr. Balakrishnan was concerned in Singapore students not speaking out. Through fear. He wanted more spontaneity. So he went around schools, lecturing schoolchildren that they should speak out more. Until they turn into jars or their mouths get stuck ajar, or some other stupidity like that.
But just after uttering this remark, you must have heard that Martyn See, the Singapore filmmaker was hauled up for interrogation by the police for making the movie Singapore Rebel, an interview with Dr. Chee Soon Juan. In this case, this Balakrishnan was not encouraging more speech. Just the opposite. He defended the actions of the police. According to him Dr. Chee should not have made the film. Even though there was nothing improper in the film at all. It was not seditious, libelous, revolutionary or incendiary. Totally harmless, being just an interview with Dr. Chee.
But we all know the true reason why Balakrishnan; this self proclaimed defender of free speech in his encouragement to students to speak out; did not like the Singapore Rebel. It is because it praised a political opponent, Dr. Chee Soon Juan.
So what are we to make of this? He wants schoolchildren to speak without fear. And what are they to speak about? Are they permitted to criticize the government? Obviously not, since Martyn See, who was not even the criticizer was silenced merely for having interviewed a government critic!
So what are we to do Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan? Do we speak up or do we not? Perhaps he should list out exactly what can and cannot be said. Something like a Singapore speakers manual; which details the bounds within which your speech can extend.
This is what Vivian Balakrishnan has to understand. Overseas Singaporeans are the most capable among Singaporeans. They have education, ability courage and above all, self respect. That is why they left Singapore. If they were nothing more than people without principles, they would have stayed behind and got jobs like that of Vivian Balakrishnan with good pay. To parrot his master's voice; Lee Kuan Yew's voice.
Overseas Singaporeans have found out the pleasure and joy of living as free men and women. They are not going to come back to Singapore. Don't waste any more taxpayer's money in, to use the words of the Straits Times; "woo" them back to Singapore.
You, Balakrishnan, has to change your mindset. So does the government.
But I think many Singaporeans will return to Singapore after all, and it will not be because Balakrishnan asked them to. It will be because the Lee Kuan Yew is dead. And when he dies, I believe many overseas Singaporeans will return.
And when they return, I think Balakrishnan will leave Singapore. And when he leaves, he will either be unable or unwilling ever to return.
This is the bad news for you, my dear Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan.
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