Ladies and Gentlemen,
The state owned and controlled news media of Singapore, Channel News Asia of February 1st 2008, carries and article "MM Lee says Singapore must find fourth generation of leaders soon".
He says it is necessary to discover such leaders before the next general elections, and if not, Singapore will be in deep trouble. We know Singapore is a strange place with some strange laws, but this one beats them all. I mean a government going out looking for political leaders!
I have never heard of any incumbent government which has to go searching for leaders! Should not leaders have identified themselves yet, if indeed they are leaders? Does not the definition of the word “leader” mean that they have shown their ability to lead? And what sort of a leader is someone who is not prepared to even show himself! Certainly not a leader. And if Lee Kuan Yew has to go out now, with a deliberate plan to search for them; when they themselves are afraid to even show themselves; what sort of leaders are they anyway?
Should not someone tell Mr. Lee Kuan Yew that political leaders have got to at least identify themselves? They have to have shown political leadership. People have to know who they are. They should by now have got the support of the people. Without public support, no one can be a political leader.
Should not someone tell Mr. Lee that things are not done the way he wants? He cannot just go around the country and choose a few educated people, anoint them leaders, and order the population to obey them forthwith. It is not the same as employing a CEO of a company. Singapore is not a company, it is a country. People don’t just work in Singapore, they live there. The bottom line is not just increasing profits, it is the betterment of life; which means better social conditions, economic conditions, better education, a more thinking people, in other words being able to live as complete human beings. Countries require leaders, not managing directors which Lee is trying to find.
He talks of optimum size of Singapore. What does he know of optimum size? Should it not be the people to decide their population? His arrogance never changes. It is him deciding everything including the size of the Singapore population, and it is this arrogance of "I know best" attitude which is ruining Singapore.
He then talks about talent pool being scarce in the globalized world. And for once, he admits that even his grandchildren will probably decide to leave Singapore to live elsewhere; admitting there is huge suction pump like situation, which continues to make Singapore’s able and capable leave Singapore as quick as possible. He admits for once that capable Singaporeans are leaving Singaporeans in alarming numbers and those already abroad are refusing to return.
He was wrong in his belief that capable Singaporeans are attracted to foreign countries by big financial institutions and legal institutions. No this is not true. They leave Singapore because of the appalling state of the political situation. Where there is no human rights. Where you cannot live as free men and women. Where one man, Lee Kuan Yew is constantly talking and giving his unsolicited opinions where no one cares. And why should anyone care when it is only he and a handpicked few that have the right to decide all aspects of people’s lives?
No, the educated leave Singapore because they have passed the stage where only bread and butter mattered. They are not prepared to live their lives in absolute silence and obedience to one man. If it is God, it is understandable, but Lee Kuan Yew is not God and total obedience is unnecessary. And since Lee demands total obedience, they leave for places where Lee no longer can preach to them.
At at the rate Lee Kuan Yew is going on, he will only have the dumb illiterate old women to preach to. All the others would have gone to Australia by then unless Lee Kuan Yew wakes up and realizes that he himself is the reason for this impossible brain drain. It is not because of superior financial and legal institutions in Australia.
Lee Kuan Yew has made many speeches on this subject of brain drain; educated capable Singaporeans leaving Singapore’s shores, never to return. But no other country appears to have the problem that Singapore has. Australia is a net recipient of immigrants, that is, an overwhelming numbers of foreigners want to come to Australia. Australians themselves have no desire to leave their country. Why is that?
New Zealand is a net recipient of immigrants. An overwhelming number of people the world over want to live in New Zealand. But New Zealanders themselves stay in New Zealand. Some may work in Australia for some time, because of the special political relationship between New Zealand and Australia, which in many ways is almost one country. But they remain New Zealanders and proud to remain so.
The same situation in European countries and Canada and South Africa. Others want to go to live in these countries. Their local populations do not leave; like in Singapore.
Now let me tell you the real trouble that Singapore is in with their skilled population. Between 1999 and 2007, the number of lawyers in Singapore only increased by 400. For a business center like Singapore, at present, it only has 3,400 practicing lawyers. And as we speak more and more are leaving the profession and despite various carrots and enticements, the lawyers are not taking the bait.
In order to stem the high rate of resignations from the Singapore Civil Service and with diminishing numbers of new applicants, the government in their desperation had no choice but to increase their wages; hoping more money will make them stay. Sorry to say, it did not work. Despite increased salaries and wages, ever increasing numbers are leaving the civil service.
The same sad story with all the other government services. Lee Kuan Yew is finding it increasingly difficult to attract and retain able capable and dedicated people in government positions or the professions.
The reason for this almost universal dislike and disinterest with Lee Kuan Yew and his Singapore, is not because of money. After all pay scales are good. Much better than any of the neighboring Asian countries and in many instances even better than Australia or New Zealand. No, it is not the money. It is Lee himself.
For educated capable people, it has almost become a disgrace to be called Singaporean. A country which beats his criminals with a cane for offenses, where you do not have any of the basic fundamental rights which a free people naturally enjoy, and the pain of having to listen to Lee Kun Yew day in and day out, claiming that only he has a cerebral capacity and others have no capacity at all; zero.
Well big boy, you can have the stage to yourself. Very soon, you will have no audience left. And you may find yourself speaking to yourself, ad nasium.
And now my advice to Lee Kuan Yew. At the moment there are no leaders in Singapore except for a handful. Dr. Chee Soon Juan, JB Jeyaretnam, Gandhi Ambalam, Chee Siok Chin and John Tan are leaders. Leaders because they inspire others; because of the sacrifices they have to make in standing up to you; and the courageous manner in which they remain undeterred despite your daily punishment. They have remained undaunted standing their ground in spite of the relentless persecution they suffer. These are leaders. Not the sort like Jeffrey Palmer or Hri Kumar SC who will do whatever you want as and when you demand it. Hri Kumar is not a leader. He is a poodle. And you cannot expect educated Singaporeans to listen to him, even if you wanted them to.
Let me tell you this Mr. Lee. Leaders have to voluntarily come out and lead. People do not miraculously turn into leaders just because you want them to. Leadership does not come about that way. You should stop your leadership search because you are wasting your time.
If you want the educated to stay, keep your mouth shut for once. Let Dr. Chee Soon Juan have his say. Stop your defamation actions. Stop abusing the law. Stop restricting the press. Allow free speech and expression. Realize for once that others are not as stupid as you think. Listen to the people. Allow democracy. This way you will stop the brain drain overnight; but you cannot do this. If you did what I ask, you will no longer be Minister Mentor. You will perhaps be in the dock in the High Court facing corruption charges.
And lastly let me tell you one more reason, even if minimal, for the exodus out of Singapore by the educated. It is this blog that I write, Singapore Dissident. It is being read throughout the island. I am constantly reminding Singaporeans about the pathetic lives they lead under your dictatorship. I keep saying they should either stay and fight, or leave. And it is effective in both these ways. Many Singaporeans have bravely come out in the open showing their opposition to your dictatorship. Such a phenomenon could never have been even imagined in the past. At the same time many have chosen the path to leave.
Lee Kuan Yew should realize that the situation is now hopeless for his government. It is getting worse by the day. There is still time to salvage the wreck by his government speaking to Dr. Chee and other real opposition leaders in Singapore ( I do not include Low Thia Khiang, Silvia Lim or Chiam within the meaning of opposition) to see how the present hopeless situation can be improved.
In the meantime, this blog will go on, and the exposure of the true Singapore will continue.
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