Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Singapore Dr. Chee Soon Juan's $20,000.00

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you are aware, Lee Kuan Yew's courts had ruled that unless Dr. Chee Soon Juan, the opposition Singapore Democratic Party leader came up with $20,000.00 by the 20th of February, 2011, today, as his court ordered punishment for speaking without a permit in Lee's Singapore, he must go to jail for 20 weeks. Lee's nefarious plan, just as all his others to demolish the opposition was to position Chee's jailing to coincide with the general elections so he will be hampered in leading his party at this crucial time.

As Chee did not have the money, he appealed for donations on the Internet with the help of other online organizations and in the nick of time, managed to get the money. Of course Chee is happy, his SDP is happy and so are all the others who feared for his party and the opposition had they been denied his leadership at the hustings.

But really is this a great achievement? Is this a sign that Singaporeans have now picked up the courage to stand behind him, his party and the cause of freedom. I hate to dampen any one's jubilation but going by the figures, I am not really sure.

Remember all Chee needed was $20,000.00. It wasn't $200,000.00 or $2 million, a paltry sum not only by Singapore's standards an island flush with money but an island of 5 million people which includes, allegedly, some of the richest people in the world. But even this sum was hardly forthcoming because even at last week's count only $5,000.00 was collected and I understand only yesterday, did it pass the required mark.

If it was so difficult to collect even this sum in an island such as Singapore, I think instead of jubilation one really has to begin to worry. It does not appear that there is overwhelming demand for democracy or for real change.

And the election results are so predictable, that bookmakers would go out of business if they took bets. I can tell you what the results are going to be. First as predicted almost every seat goes to Lee Kuan Yew's PAP. Second, if they took all the seats without giving the opposition any, it will look bad as a one party state. So for window dressing, Low Thia Khiang and Chiam See Tong will keep their seats. But since the international community is demanding more democracy in the city state, it is necessary to allow a few more for window dressing.

Who then is good for window dressing, someone who would merely give speeches and go away. I think Kenneth Jeyaretnam fits the bill. By letting him enter Parliament, it is a win win situation for the dictator. First Lee will ride the high horse and claim generosity and magnanimity by saying he let the son of his arch nemesis enter Parliament, and therefore he is fair, just and all those criticise him as a greedy brutal corrupt tyrant have all got it wrong.

Recently the Australian, James Gomez has been proclaiming his intent to contest the Singapore elections. In Lee Kuan Yew's books he is not a constructive opposition person but a destructive one. That is because the Australian really means business, not the Kenneth Jeyaretnam sort who will not rock Lee Kuan Yew's boat and Lee does not does not want such people at any cost. Even before he steps into the ring, the Australian will be branded a liar cheat and what not and that is the end of him, like it was in 2006.

You see Singaporean politics is a game, which Lee Kuan Yew plays with all the chips in his hand. He controls the newspapers, the courts, the media, the unions, the civil service, everything. With that sort of power neither Chee, or anyone else doesn't stand a chance.

That is why sometimes I wonder why all this excitement in Singapore about elections when everyone knows the opposition doesn't have a chance in the world. It is going to be the same again for another 5 years and I am not sure how many more 5 years thereafter.

That is why I have always repeated my mantra which I have done now for a long time. What the opposition has to do is to rock the very foundations of the island through mass protests. There are many burning issues that opposition politicians, real ones that is, can manipulate to move the masses. Playing by Lee Kuan Yew's rules at elections is not going to do it. I am not suggesting that the opposition boycott it. What I am saying is that elections should be merely a side show of a side show. The real action should be on the streets of Singapore in man's God given right to peaceful protest.

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

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1 comment:

mycroft said...

Like you, I too was of the view that Dr Chee should not under any circumstances legitimise the kangaroo judge's sentence by paying the fine but I have since reconsidered. The success of this appeal purely by word of mouth and online (because the state-controlled media simply blacked out all publicity, no surprise there) is astonishing and DOES mark an important turning point in the dialogue between Singapore's nervous citizenry and the opposition. And for this to occur during CNY and while the spin machine was furiously ramming the latest episode of Fatuous Last Words of Our Great Leader, Vol 101, down everyone's throat is doubly inspiring. To be honest I never thought it would come about. You can fool some of the people...

Recall that Dr Chee and Ms Chee could not even raise the trivial sum of $2000 for a Legal Defence Fund in 2008 to appeal the defamation verdict in their contest against the Lees and you will appreciate the significance of this event. Enough ordinary people are now willing to step forward (including K. Jeyaratnam but not, as far as we know, Chiam or Low) to put their money where their mouth is. Since we both understand the God-like status of filthy lucre in the red dot, it speaks volumes that many willingly parted with some of it for the sake of Dr Chee.

What a difference a year or so makes. I believe the frightened worm is, finally, beginning to turn on its tormentor. It isn't happening as swiftly and decisively as we would like to see but realistically, you do not overturn a 16-20% electoral margin at a stroke, short of a Tunisian or Egyptian-style revolution.

The govt-controlled 'prostitutes and running dogs' (as David Marshall famously called the media) has always played a crucial role in shaping public perceptions as it does in every autocracy and Lee has used it skilfully to demonise the SDP. But now he is non-plussed with the arrival of a medium which cannot be as easily manipulated and which stymied his carefully-laid plan to put Dr Chee into suspended animation for the duration of the 2011 election.

So yes, on balance, it's better that Dr Chee be allowed to spend his intellect and great experience managing a resurgent SDP than wastefully make a political point by insisting on being locked up as Lee must have calculated he would. Like all autocrats LKY has misjudged the moment and it is always most satisfying to give the old tyrant's ear a hard tweak in response, isn't it?