Ladies and Gentlemen,
In earlier times Singapore was an English speaking former British colony, with the rule of law, the English language and equality between the races. Also it's people were protected from indiscriminate immigration from abroad as it is now. If matters were left alone, Singapore would have found it's own direction. It's lingua franca and customs and practices would probably have been more Western than Asian, and the different races would have been able to develop under their own steam. Perhaps today, Singapore would even have been predominantly Malay instead of Chinese and there would have been a much larger and more vibrant Indian community with all races equal and mutually cordial.
Singapore was indeed the Gibraltar of the East as the British used to call it.
Today Singapore is very different. Over the last 50 years Lee Kuan Yew an ethnic Chinese himself has had other plans. He was dead bent on making Singapore not a multi cultural country but a predominantly Chinese city with Chinese language, culture and traditions at the expense of Indians and Malays.
People were encouraged to speak Mandarin, radio television and other media were told to increase Chinese broadcasts while that of Indian and Malay was suppressed. Over the last decade plane loads of Chinese immigrants from Communist China were brought in to make sure that the Chinese population is increased even further while that of others declined.
Today we have about 78% or 80% Chinese population while that of Malays have declined to something like 13% while the Indian population has shrunk to no more than 8%. If current trends continue, these figures are going to decline even further to perhaps 10% and 5%. Even today it would be wrong to call Singapore a multi racial country. It is in fact a Chinese city with a miniscule Indian and Malay minority.
The opposition parties especially the Singapore Democratic Party and the Reform Party shows off their highly talented Malay and Indians members and aspiring politicians. In the Reform party, the chief himself is a non Chinese, part Indian and part English, the son of the late JB Jeyaretnam himself.
In today's Singapore which is predominantly Chinese, I wonder whether these non Chinese are wasting their time trying to achieve political office. With a divided racial city where the Chinese are in the overwhelming majority, regardless of how good you are at making speeches (in English that is), none of these people have the slightest chance of succeeding. In the first place, most of the Mandarin speaking population would not even have understood you and even if they did, why should they vote for a non Chinese person whom they know little or nothing about (remember the state media gives no coverage to opposition politicians).
If they ever had a chance, it has to be in a group constituency where they are elected by virtue of their Chinese colleagues being elected. In other words, a Malay or Indian political aspirant can only hope to play second fiddle to his Chinese Singaporean politicians, even though he has the highest possible qualifications.
True, it is often said that that JB Jeyaretnam, a non Chinese opposition politician not only won but increased his lead the second time. But the circumstances then were very different. I know because I was there. JB Jeyaretnam (he only speaks English) never spoke alone. Whenever he did, it was with his colleague in the Workers Party Low Thia Khiang next to him. Low spoke first in Chinese and then JB Jeyaretnam. It was Low telling the Chinese to vote for the Indian! If Jeyaretnam won, the credit goes as much to Low Thia Khiang's brilliant Chinese oratory as to JB Jeyaretanm's speeches in English, which I suspect many didn't even understand.
The phenomenon of the late JB Jeyaretnam is unlikely to be repeated. For one, Singaporeans today are made up more of foreign Chinese imports who know nothing of Singapore's history let alone anything about JB Jeyaretnam. Being recent immigrants they would understandably vote for the Lee Kuan Yew's PAP to show their appreciation. And as we speak even more Chinese immigrants are being brought in making it progressively more difficult for the non Chinese oppostition politicians.
Looking at the hard work being done by these Indian and Malay men and women on the ground, highly trained British and foreign educated dedicated men and women, I have to say it breaks my heart. In a normal playing field, they would have deserved to win hands down. Among them we even have PhDs and Oxbridge graduates. Their qualifications are excellent. The only problem is their ethnicity. They are not Chinese and that is an impediment in a Chinese Singapore.
I do not have any solution for them. Sadly, the only thing I could say is that it is their own fault. Malay and Indian leaders did nothing and stood idly by, while Lee Kuan Yew went about aggressively for an entire decade bent on turning it into a Chinese city. Well, as the wise man said, if you do nothing,this is what happens. It is too late now.
They can of course now attend crash courses to learn Chinese. But doing that would demean them instead of instilling confidence as it would be seen as an acknowledgment that Singapore is indeed a Chinese city, not an English speaking one.
This is my advice to PhDs and foreign trained non Chinese professionals who are working with the opposition to bring about change. I congratulate you. However as the racial cleansing in the island continues, you really don't stand a chance. What you have to do is to aggressively stop the rot. Take to the streets, peacefully and demand that you are treated as equals, stop the immigration of anymore Chinese and demand real equality for all. Unless you are prepared to do this, I am afraid, you are probably wasting a very valuable life.
Attorney at Law
Disbarred from practicing law in Lee's Singapore, imprisoned and refused entry to the island for criticizing Singapore's judiciary in this blog (see blogpost May 29, 2008 Singapore. Judge Belinda Ang's Kangaroo Court)
Actively practicing law in California and in good standing at the California Bar.
Member in good standing as a lawyer in England and Wales (Barrister).
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