Friday, April 18, 2008

Totalitarian countries such as China and Singapore can never aspire to reach the levels of free democracies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Despite the high rate of economic development in totalitarian countries such as China and Singapore; one thing is certain. No matter how much they try; their suppression of free speech and expression, an essential element for the rise of nations; will prevent them from ever overtaking free liberal democracies of the world.

Suppression of free speech gives them an initial advantage; to execute public policies and projects faster than in democracies; because time is not wasted on public debate and criticism. This permits better focus; drastically reducing time from conception of public policies to completion; whereas in democracies, time consuming public debate and participation slows the speed at which public policy is executed.

Although execution of policy is more more efficient and speedier in dictatorships, their eventual work product will always remain inferior to that of democracies. In democracies, because of the mutual respect that the governments have for their people, and the people for their government; the government and the people are in a healthy partnership, both committed to their country and striving for its betterment. Both considering themselves equal partners in the common objective to advance their country.

In democracies, the government correctly realises that the people are an asset in their work of governance, and not an impediment, like they are looked upon in Singapore. Democratic governments believe that the people being intelligent and rational have valuable contributions to make in governance; in new ideas, in criticism, in approval, in approbation. Therefore these governments count themselves lucky when they have a better educated population as they can now benefit from a larger pool of ideas and wisdom. In democracies, the people and their government are two prongs of the whole, each complementing the other for the common purpose of advancement of their country.

That is why in free societies there is constant debate, constant exchange of ideas, a free press, free expression, society puling together, society pulling apart; but all the time advancing through the input of the people and the government and moving ahead, perhaps a little slower but constantly moving ahead nevertheless.

And the end product of this dialogue, dissension and co-operation between the rulers and the ruled, will always be a much better product than ever totalitarian societies can achieve. Since the final product has had the benefit of much greater input of ideas and science from the entire population.

Totalitarian governments like Singapore on the other hand do not have the benefit of public debate on matters of policy; causing them to remain in a state of permanent handicap as compared to democracies. In totalitarian countries like Singapore, the population who may have better ideas and better methods on government policy are denied the opportunity of uttering it. Such governments, in their arrogance, believe that they alone know best about everything, and therefore, there is no need to consult the people. And by doing so, they effectively deny themselves a wealth of new ideas and alternative viewpoints, which could have benefited the country immensely.

The reader by now knows that Singapore is a totalitarian dictatorship under the perpetual rule of the Lee family, since 1959! Not dissimilar to Cuba under the Castro family, or Zimbabwe under the Mugabe family. In Singapore the government, instead of respect for its people has only derision and scorn. Lee Kuan Yew had made that very clear when he declared in Parliament that he considered Singaporeans his "digits". Needless to say one can hardly have respect for a "digit". Indeed even if you try very hard, it is impossible to respect a "digit". And since you are no better than one, in Lee's eyes, you cannot expect him to listen to you.

In Singapore, every newspaper, TV station, radio station, magazine, any publication of any sort is entirely owned and controlled by the government, which has unashamedly said that the Singapore media is a tool for "nation building". Another way of saying that what it publishes is government propaganda. You guessed it. Just like the North Korean, "Pyongyang Inquirer" daily.

Therefore in Singapore, deprived of the input of an entire population, the government decides on policies and their execution entirely upon a select number of government ministers and civil servants. A very small brain pool, without the benefit of the ideas of the population as a whole. In addition to the government not benefiting from the views of society, this looking down by the government upon their people and treating them like them "digits" causes a number of other negative consequences.

For one thing, the educated among Singaporeans feel insulted by their government's choosing to silence their views, causing them to disengage from participating in government policies and inducing indifference and apathy about politics. They begin to feel being treated no better than children, by a government which thinks it knows best about everything; as if they know nothing at all. They feel a sense of alienation in their own country, with government ministers showering praise upon themselves through their state controlled newspapers on a daily basis; and as if the ordinary Singaporeans never mattered at all!

In this situation, as in Singapore, the government has no respect for their people, and the people have no respect for their government. In the end, the people, unable to feel a sense of belonging in their country, with arrogant rulers like these, either withdraw completely from government participation or they leave Singapore permanently to settle elsewhere.

The reason why countries such as Singapore refuse to entertain the views of the masses through public debate must be obvious by now. If Lee allows free dialogue, there may be people out there, with better ideas, and this may result in their being overthrown. This selfish fear, prevents them from allowing debate, even though they know that shutting out debate is damaging to interests of the country.

Democracies on the other hand work entirely differently. Having been elected into government through free and fair elections, they have both the respect and moral authority to rule; unlike in Singapore where the government remains in power by rigging the elections. Where fear causes the government to keep the people at bay; hoping that they will always remain "digits".

And because of this unhealthy relationship between the people and their government in Singapore; the complete lack of support from one prong of government, their people; means that forever, these governments will continue to be deprived of the thinking and ideas of an entire population; thereby reducing the pool of ideas from which to choose for better governance.

Democracies with better educated people will always be one step ahead because they have much more resources from their partners in government, their people.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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