Letter from Joe Seck, April 26, 2008
dear Mr. Nair,
U raise some interesting points in your blog. The problem with S'poreans is that they have not experienced enough pain yet. because the buses run, the phone works, they have a roof over their heads (albeit an overpriced one), the electricity works, they have some job, etc. they think their lot is ok. They do not want to rock the boat and jeopardize this. They do not realise that things can be a lot better. Because they do not want to lose what they have, they tolerate the restrictions on them. In a situation like this, there is nothing you can do for them. Until they have suffered some form of widespread unemployment, or loss of the roof over their heads.
Your analogy of Aghans is not really the right one. Afghanistan is a shit hole with poor medical facilities, low life expectancy, poor economy, poor infrastructure, death and war everywhere. Even immigrating to S'pore would be substantial upgrade to their lot in Afghanistan. The appropriate comparison would be Taiwan or South Korea. Where an established industrialized country overthrew the KMT, and the military junta respectively.
But let's say that your wish does come thru, and there is a groundswell of democracy in S'pore. Do u really think the PAP will let it play out and chance losing power? They will suspend all pretence of democracy and impose martial law before it comes to that. Why? The reason is that the PAP are so corrupt, in particular the Lee and Kwa families, with graft, conflicts of interest, etc. going back decades. Any new opposition government would immediately investigate them, and jail and the loss of their holdings will be a very real possibility.
I think its quite naive for you to say that they should get embolden and demand their rights and all that. The reality is that there will be blood in the streets before the PAP will relinquish power. And are the people prepared to go that far given their current docile state? Doubtful.
Singapore Dissident's reply
Dear Joe Seck,
Thank you very much for your comment on my blog post of April 24, 2008. These are some of the questions in the minds of some Singaporeans and you give me the opportunity to answer them.
In your first paragraph, your argument is that; because Singaporeans have the benefit of basic necessities of life without undue hardship, they will not dare to take the step of demanding change. This observation of yours was correct perhaps even 10 years ago, but no longer now in a large section of the population. For the uneducated illiterate peasant of the 1960s your argument is entirely correct. Without education, skills, and English, what else can they do? Half a loaf is better than none.
But no longer in the Singapore of 2008. You have a large section of young educated skilled articulate well traveled Singaporeans. To them it is not enough that the trains run on time. In addition to that, they want to be free. And they can afford it. They are entitled to it. They are demanding it. It is this growing number of articulate educated affluent young people who will not be satisfied with half a loaf. They want it all. And if you are one of them, as I can see you are, join them at the coming petition signing occasion of Tak Boleh Tahan at Toa Payoh on May the 1st, 2008. Contact the SDP.
As to your second paragraph, I think you have misunderstood my reference to Afghanistan . I was referring to the fact that I have met people from A to Z of countries in the world. The reference to Afghanistan was merely to highlight this point, and not particularly in reference to the character and politics of Afghanistan . For the alphabet A, I could have used Australia or Antarctica , instead.
But not to dismiss the Afghanis, my point as to the Afghans remains correct. I was not referring to the poverty or backwardness of the Afghanis, but their courage and self respect, much more than Singaporeans. For instance, if Hamid Kharzai paid himself $3.7 million a year in salary; unlike the Singaporeans, the Afghans would not have tolerated it for one day.
Coming to your third paragraph, your prediction that the PAP will not walk away peacefully in the event of political defeat may be true, since Lee Kuan Yew appears by all accounts to have lost his bearings and his son does not seem to have any at all. If the PAP did what you suggest in that eventuality, and I would not be suprised if they did, it would be the most idiotic, self defeating, self destructive act they could ever have done.
All this talk of marital law and so on may work in a remote self sufficient agrarian country like Zimbabwe or Cambodia . Larger countries, not a small island with 4 million people who rely on international trade for a living. If as you suggest, Lee in his desperation did what you suggest, he and his family will be the only remaining humans in the island of Singapore . And that is unlikely to be beneficial to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, his wife and children and all his relatives and great uncles.
Thank you Sir.
April 26, 2008