Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tehran, until recently, was on fire, as could be seen splashed across TV sets across the world, men and women protesting in the thousands against the recent national elections which secured President Ahmedinijad another term of 4 years. Why is it, that young Iranian men and women today, bravely challenge the establishment, demanding democracy, publicly protesting despite the dire consequences to their life and limb; whereas the people of the tiny island state of Singapore are so afraid to do anything at all throughout their history, despite glaring similarities? They both live under dictators, Ahmadinijad in Iran, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore. They both are denied their human rights. They both stand to to be tortured and jailed if they criticized their government (in Iran much worse than in Singapore). Yet the Iranian young man stands out like a lion whereas the Singaporean lives as a terrified mouse.
You know the painful facts in Singapore. When the small island's government ministers pay themselves the highest salaries in the world, 5 times what the American President gets, the poorer sections of the people are unable to feed themselves 3 meals a day, why do they not protest these injustices?
Why do they not do anything when they are denied the right to peaceful protest, a right guaranteed under the Constitution? Why do they not do anything to stop the abuse of the law for the government's political ends? Why do they stand idly by and watch when their fellow citizen, Dr. Chee Soon Juan is persecuted before their very eyes by Lee Kuan Yew's agent Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean in ordering him to pay $400,000 in fines, for mere criticism? Why did they not do anything when the late JB Jeyaretnam was hounded in the courts for 3 decades by imprisonment, impoverishment and bankruptcy and finally death? Have they no honor, no shame, no decency, no human compassion, no nothing?
Do they not have even one percent of the manhood of the young Iranian in Tehran? I have always wondered this.
I too was a native Singaporean. Born there, went to school there. But thankfully I was never like the submissive locals. I was, to use the example here, another troublesome Iranian, thank God.
In the 1980s while a lawyer in Singapore, the Attorney General defended the Singapore President's decision (based on his advice) that JB Jeyaretnam was not entitled to a pardon for his criminal convictions firstly because he was not given an opportunity to be heard at Jeya's appeal in England and secondly because he had not shown remorse for his crimes. The Attorney General Tan Boon Teik lied when he said this. As a man, and a citizen of Singapore I felt a burning need to expose this lie. Keeping quiet would have been unforgivable cowardice. I realized of course the dangers involved in my challenging the Attorney General. But regardless, I had to do what was right. I had to challenge him on his statements. You know what happened to me after that. I was falsely accused of unethical conduct, and suspended from practicing law for 2 years by Lee Kuan Yew's courts. I had earlier left Singapore for good.
In my decision to challenge the Attorney General, I was behaving no different than the young Iranian men who had taken to the streets in protest. Just like them, I too knew the dangers of challenging the Lee Kuan Yew government. I might have been arrested, I might have been disbarred from law or a number of other things could have happened to me. But regardless of the dangers, I had to act. Just as the Iranian young men and women who protest, it simply was the right thing to do.
Last year in May, I went back to attend the Lee Kuan Yew vs Dr. Chee Soon Juan defamation trial. It was nothing more than a show trial. A farce. Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean, the presiding judge was prostituting her office, shamelessly abusing the law by awarding her benefactor Lee $400,000.00, believe it or not. It was a shameful travesty of justice. After observing the disgrace, I had published it to the world in this blog on May 31 2008, for which I was immediately arrested and held in the island, and eventually sent to prison for 3 months. All in all, I had to spend 6 whole months in Singapore. Sure, there was no need for me to criticize her. No one was forcing me to do it. I also knew that I may be arrested and all sorts of harm could befall me. But just like the young Iranian man who protests in Tehran knowing he is inviting danger, I went ahead to write my blog. To the fearful average Singaporean, my actions were crazy just as he would have thought the actions of the Iranian protesters. But there are people, like me and like the Iranian protesters who feel that certain actions are worth taking because it was simply the right thing to do. The average Singaporean who lives in fear, does not appear to understand this. For them, living in fear of authority is a thoroughly normal and acceptable way to live.
Only yesterday the Singapore state controlled paper the Straits Times reported that 70 young Iranian students from National University and Nanyang University Singapore protested at Singapore's Hong Lim Park, in support of the protests in Iran despite knowing that not only them but their relatives in Iran may suffer harm. Yet they do it, whereas no Singaporean would have even imagined it.
And it is this cowardice and fear that the Singaporean dictator uses to remain in power; pay himself any amount of money he wants and deny the people even a modicum of self respect. As the saying goes, if this is what Singaporeans want, then this is what you get.
And the whole mindset of the tiny island nation is weird. According to the dictatorship of Singapore, I am a criminal. So was the late JB Jeyaretnam who had opposed Lee Kuan Yew. Dr. Chee Soon Juan, Lee Kuan Yew's bete noire, is not only a criminal according to him, he is also a cheat, a thief and a thorough miscreant and hooligan! Another criminal, according to the Lee dictatorship was Francis Seow another of Lee's dissenters and so was Tang Liang Hong who escaped to Australia.
The good law abiding people of Singapore, according to the Singapore dictator, are the ones who quietly live in their government owned apartments without complaining about anything, and quietly going about their daily lives as non entities.
If you have lived in Singapore for long enough, Alice In Wonderland would not be very funny any more!
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