Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Letter to the SDP

Dr. Chee Soon Juan
Secretary General
Singapore Democratic Party

February 05, 2008

Dear Dr. Chee,

I can see the continued destruction of Singapore before my very eyes. The list is too long but a few can be mentioned, such as, the denial of the rule of law; the total disregard of the Constitution, such as the segregation of the Malays and Indians under HDB policy, such as the illegal importation of millions of Chinese from China to deny the Malays and the Indians equality in citizenship; the indiscriminate importation of foreign workers deliberately intended to destroy the livelihood of Singapore workers; the deliberate policy of not educating Singaporeans fully so that they will be forever kept ignorant of the injustice done to them; the consequent massive flood of educated Singaporeans overseas resulting in unacceptable levels of loss in skilled people; the unacceptable income disparity between rich and poor; the beatings of prisoners as part of their punishment called caning; the highest rate of legal executions of any country in the world; the unacceptable levels of suicides; the ministers paying themselves $3.7 million dollars a year and calling it a salary! I can go on but I must stop. The list is too long.

In other words, Lee Kuan Yew is behaving as if he is the law unto himself. As if the Constitution never existed. As if he can do anything he wants.

If any citizen of Singapore stood by as he continued on his merry way, Singapore will be totally destroyed. It will no longer be recognizable as the Singapore that anyone knew. As you are aware, the legal profession having been discredited, with a corrupt judiciary and the absence of the rule of law; lawyers are leaving the profession as we speak. The Civil Service despite large pay increments and other perks as inducements is continuing to see massive resignations and no new entrants.

Having said all this, I understand you yourself having agreed with Freedom House, the international monitor on democracies that democracy cannot come about in Singapore though the ballot box. Lee Kuan Yew and his son have both admitted themselves that they have "fixed" the system so they continue to win.

Since waiting for the next elections is useless, since it is going to be the same arrogance from Lee Kuan Yew, or if he is dead by then, from his son; surely there is common ground here that only one thing and one thing alone can work to bring about change; and that is physically demanding it from the dictators. Since we all know that there is no dictatorship in the world, so far as we know, that peacefully handed over power to someone else.

I have been in the Workers Party from 1984 to 1991 and contested 2 elections, Tiong Bahru in 1988 and Bukit Merah in 1991. During these years, I have seen the Workers Party cater to perceived or imagined preferences of the citizenry. For instance since JB Jeyaretnam was an Indian and Singapore is predominantly Chinese, whenever he appeared in public, he arranged to be surrounded by Chinese, to allay any impression that the Workers Party was an Indian Party. During the later part of his career in the party, there was constant talk that Mr. Low Thia Khiang should take over since he was Chinese, and will be appreciated by the Chinese majority instead of an Indian. Even for photo ops, there was usually a magical chairs merry go round where the races were rearranged to show more Chinese. When I look back, I say all this was wrong. We are all Singaporeans. What difference did it make whether you were a yellow Chinese with slit eyes and no facial hair at all, or if you were an Indian with a sharp nose and hair all over your face? What difference did it make? None.

My point is this. In whatever that men do, the governing rule is what is right and wrong. What people think in the immediate future should make no difference on one's judgment.

And let me come to the point. Since we both agree, I hope that elections never got rid of any dictator, the answer lies; you guessed right as to what I will say; the answer lies in protests. Protests against an unjust regime are both legally and morally right. In fact not protesting against these outrages makes every local Singaporeans an accomplice and collaborator with Lee Kuan Yew as he continues to destroy Singapore.

I personally know that there are many who may say that Singapore should be changed the conventional way, that is through elections. That protests and such things are not within the Singapore psyche. That Singaporeans are more civil and gentle people. That if there are protests all foreign investment will leave Singapore and we will be turned overnight into beggars.

None of these questions should even come anywhere near the equation. The answer is very simple. Should something be done to stop the rot? And can that something be contesting elections as usual. And if you already know of its inefficacy, then what is the point of doing it. I say public opinion does not matter. What matters is what is right and wrong. That alone should be guiding principle, because doing the right thing always ensures success in the end. Otherwise, you will be no better than the present toothless Workers Party.

Today, the situation is prime for protests. It is perfect. You have more grievances that what you need. These grievances cut across racial lines, income groups; in fact these grievances affect every Singaporeans.

What you must do is to deliberately make Mr. Wong Kan Seng realize that he has become helpless. By deliberately breaking these laws unjust laws such as the assembly and speech laws designed specifically to keep Singaporeans without a voice. The dense population of Singapore which equates such places as Gaza and Hong Kong, makes protests especially effective. The concentration of people is so great that one message spoken once will be heard by at least 100 people along Orchard Road. This is the reason why Wong Kan Seng is terrified of the word protests. Its effectiveness is exemplified in countries such as Singapore.

Of course there is the danger of arrests and other forms of intimidation by the government against protestors. But I believe even now that too many protests have happened that criminalizing it is becoming counterproductive. I recall a number of protests organized by the SDP in 2007, for instance the Burmese protests, the Istana protest, and so on. I have not read in any news media that the police have taken any action against any of the protestors.

If Dr. Chee Soon Juan and his friends are deliberately going to defy these laws, and if the police are going to arrest him, try him in the Subordinate Court for 2 months, levy a small fine which he will refuse to pay, go to jail for a week; come out and do it all over gain. You see it is this government that is losing its respect, its time and money; Dr. Chee loses nothing. Instead he gains international respect and admiration as a freedom fighter. And if a few can join him and with a few more as time goes on; you will have another Intramuros Manila Filipinos who ousted the dictator Marcos.

Moreover, Lee being an octogenarian or whatever name he may have, he will die soon. That too must give an added impetus for the movement for change.

The good news. Singaporeans are very suitable for democracy. Over the years they have become a civil people. A law abiding people. A gentle people. They are not like Pakistanis or the Afghans who are out to kill. Singaporeans will not kill anyone. Such people are best suited to democracy. And for making them a gentle people we can thank Lee Kuan Yew for that. But having thanked him, we should ask him to step aside. Right now.

So my dear Dr. Chee. Please do something. Talking about electoral reforms within 4 walls are good but not enough. What is needed is physical action.

Thank you.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law


Anonymous said...

good luck.

Let's be frank. Everyone knows Singaporeans do not have it in their blood to do such a thing. In other countries, sure, go for it. In Singapore no way. C'mon, why push or instigate a city-state of disinterested self-absorbed whiners into doing something for themselves when they look to the government for a handout?

Singaporeans will never act, much less react. Believe me, I am on your side.

The only way Chinese and Singaporean Chinese people will see and feel freedom and perhaps then yearn for it is if they experience it. Unless they leave Singapore and study overseas things will never change. My friend, there are three classes of Chinese in Singapore. The imports which you can write-off if you think they will help. The locals who study in Singapore, and the locals who have studied abroad.

The locals who study in Singapore are so far behind the locals that study abroad there is no comparison. As a result, they fall into the trap of "ricebowl" mentality just like their mainland China brothers. Therefore, you cannot expect a Singaporean educated in Singapore to do any better than a Chinese import when it comes to passions such as freedom. Although I hope I am wrong.

You have one hope in numbers large enough for physical protest is the Singaporean Chinese who has studied overseas. It will have to come from them. They are the numbers that can bring about freedom and change. Although, the problem with this is that once they have left and tasted freedoms, many will not return.

The Indian and Malays are another hope, but you will need all of them. And this is the reason I believe you have policies regarding the make-up of race in government housing. The government calls it promoting racial harmony. I see it as a way to never let the minority rise up in a free and fair election.

Malays and Indians seemingly have more desire for freedoms and fairness, but lack numbers. Their futures and their children's futures lie in the hands of the Singaporean Chinese who has the ability to push aside his ricebowl, look his countryman in the eye, and stand shoulder to shoulder with him.

Again, what I say may look racially motivated against Chinese, but it is not; in fact it is a call and a plea to them. Singaporean Chinese have an incredible amount of power. With great power comes great responsibility. And that responsibility is to free Singapore not just for themselves. It's for their children, and their children's children. What greater gift in life is there than for a man to be free? Again, this is not anything racial towards Singaporean Chinese, if anything, it is a call for you to realize your power, and for you to know you have the power to make 4 million smiles a reality in truth... not one of government propaganda.

Singaporeans, moreover, Singaporean Chinese... Lee Kwan Yew does not have the power, you in fact have the power over him. If you think he has any power, it is because you gave it to him. Singaporeans gave it him. However, it is also your right and within your power to take it back if you see fit. Lee did Singapore well, but it is time for him and perhaps the whole PAP to go. As with almost all men who lead, the sequence is power, money, greed, and the belief of being untouchable and even above the law. Now ask yourself, do you think any of your leaders have reached any or perhaps all of these stages? The power is in you. Once you believe this, understand this, and know this, there is nothing to fear.

Tiger Woods, he is the world's greatest. He is the greatest because he has the passion. He is the greatest because he has the tools. He is the greatest because he realized in order for things to get better, he needed to switch coaches. He needed to replace the man that brought him to the top. And guess what, although he replaced his leader, his coach, the man who got him to the top, he is still number 1. He did not fall, his game did not go into chaos... so why should you think the same if you make a change for Singapore?

When governments and newspapers spew out rhetoric and propaganda, you must think critically and see through it. The Singaporean Chinese has an unbelievable amount of power and it can do so many good things for so many good people. The government knows this and knows you can plug in almost any Singaporean (just as Tiger Woods plugged in a new coach) and progress and prosperity will continue perhaps on a broader scale. Their only tool to hang on to power as they "look for a leader" is to instill and chain you to fear. Break that chain!

Be smarter, be brave, be the one who helped open the gates of freedom and prosperity for all... or, face the ongoing reality and continue to live in fear and live with a peasant ricebowl mentality.

Which life do you choose and more importantly which life do you choose for your children? Which life has all the true riches and true rewards? Do you want another bowl of rice, or would you want to own the whole entire rice farm? Can you envision this? If you can, or if you have the desire, you know what to do. The power is literally in your hands. One old man with a hatchet stands no chance against 4 million voices.

There is a saying, "The pen is mightier than the hatchet."

The Chinese Singaporean along with his Malay and Indian brothers have the power, the skills, and the numbers to make history. If you do nothing the only history destined for you is the influx of mainland China Chinese who will undoubtedly make life worse for the true Singaporean. Take back your country, take back your government, take back the freedoms stripped away from you.

...these are my opinions and are not meant to hurt or offend. If so, my apology is publicly stated here and now.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous,

Thanks for well written post. I agree with what you say, except for this. The circumstances in Singapore can only mean that it is going to be more democratic. No matter what, the tide is against this regime. 2007 saw much more protests that ever in the past. Each year, the numbers of people questioning this government are increasing. As you say, those Singaporeans studying abroad are more likely to be assertive. And that is exactly what will cause this government to fail, as more and more are studying abroad, and many return. Even those studying in Singapore are greatly exposed to external happenings, since Singapore is becoming day by day a more and more global city.

We should take heart. The situation on the ground is against this government. With the speed at which this country advances, it can only mean that among the 4 million, more and more will demand justice.

An English educated sophisticated people is not conducive to repressive governments. This is a fact.

Singapore will become a totally different place within a few years. A better place.

Gopalan Nair