Sunday, August 22, 2010

Singapore's copying China doesn't work.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The similarities between Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore government with the Communist Chinese republic are striking, except China is huge and Singapore a tiny speck. But the point being missed is, Communist Chinese style authoritarianism may have worked in Singapore, but I don't think much longer.

Just like the Communist Party of China, Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew too believes his PAP will rule forever; as he constantly harps on the need to renew his party leadership in government.

Even though Singapore is supposed to be a parliamentary democracy, he doesn't consider the happening ever of a change of government. For him it is PAP forever, just as the Chinese Communist Party in China.

But the 2 countries are completely different. It is like comparing apples to oranges. China has never claimed to be a democracy, and the Chinese too have not even dreamed of any other government there except the Communist Party. For them, it is understood that they will work hard, get recognized by the Communist Party leadership and advance in their careers.

Singapore is very different. Even though Lee's PAP has been in power since 1959, in theory at least Singapore is supposed to be a democracy. At the back of their heads Singaporeans may aspire not only for material wealth but also for their freedoms. So it is not so easy for Lee Kuan Yew to go out and attract the best to join him in government. Those who can afford to live independent lives, either because of their job skills or because of the personal wealth may refuse to join a government which they see as repressive and authoritarian. They choose either to leave the island or to refuse co-operation with the regime.

Today Singapore's seemingly insurmountable problems seems to be exactly because Lee's using the Chinese model simply does not work. Singapore's one major headache is the brain drain, which is easy for Singaporeans with their English language but impossible for the Communist Chinese without English and without exit visas.

Second, the Internet is one major pain in the neck for Singapore. This blog Singapore Dissident would not exist without the Internet. China simply blocks any offending Internet material entering China. But Singapore even though they would love to do it, simply cannot, which is why blogs like mine are hurting the Lee Kuan Yew's supremacy very badly. The only thing he could do is to have me killed, but until then he has to contend with this blog, and that hurts.

With Singapore's tiny population, when you alienate the educated and skilled, you have a major problem; insufficient work force talent. In China on the other hand, you have a burgeoning supply of educated and skilled people.

Recently they arrested Shadrake for writing a book they did not like and he will be tried next week. But any punishment meted out to him would in fact cause another backlash from those who already are finding living under such authoritarianism uncomfortable. With a tiny population getting even tinier with brain drain, it is going to be very hard for Lee Kuan Yew.

On the other hand, had Shadrake written a book critical of the Chinese in China, he would have got no sympathy from the government nor the people. Their mentality simply does not permit criticizing authority.

Lee Kuan Yew is facing today the same problem every other dictatorship has faced and will face, which is the inability to make necessary changes to suit the times. What he has today is a system that tells the people to support him because he can provide jobs and a living. Unfortunately today, that is not all what Singaporeans want. But not realizing it, he destroys not only Singapore but his own survival, pun intended being 88 years old.

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

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Anonymous said...

He is 86 years old only.

Anonymous said...

The big difference between China & Singapore is that the Chinese leaders do not forcibly pay themselves million dollar salaries.
They do not resort to any
imaginable sources to squeeze money from the public like COEs, ERPs, GSTs, admin fees for using Medisave to buy medicine, licence fees for almost anything under the sun like fishing, sea burial of ashes etc., exorbitant parking fines, late fees etc etc. Of course it is not difficult even for the dummest dummy to figure out that all these money are used to pay the million dollars salary to the greedy old fart and his gang and to fill up the big hole caused by the Temasek & GIC investment losses.

Anonymous said...

Dear Gopalan,

The chinese public has no record of democracy. Their way of complaining is still very much the same as during the days of the monarchy - The complainant goes to Beijing to hand over his/her petition letter.

Singapore is moving backwards by tightening the grip on the country's freedom at the time when Malaysia is moving forward towards more accountable govt. See this documentary. (