Ladies and Gentlemen,
Underneath the veneer of shine and glitter of the state controlled propaganda, Singapore is struggling to keep going.
One thing the Singapore Lee ruling family will never give up is their state controlled press. Singapore Press Holdings, Media Corp and Channel News Asia control all newspapers in the island. All TV and radio broadcasting is also directly controlled. This enables them to paint as glorified a picture as they need for readers both locally and abroad.
On an almost daily basis, there are reports of the government increasing the handouts they give to the poor (there is no social welfare to speak of), of new streets being built, of assistance to the elderly and so on. But as quick as you have read of them, you never hear of them again, leaving you wondering whether in fact was that all true or just words to make the Lees look good.
For instance, you have heard periodical reports of campaigns to encourage childbirth, campaigns to be more polite, campaigns to speak more Mandarin. But after that we are never told whether any of this has worked. Have there been more babies, have people become more polite or have they flushed their toilets.
But the truth underneath the propaganda is not very encouraging, which you will never know in a city state which has the monopoly on the truth.
First, this sort of a society which is content merely to wait for the government to decide everything is a weak society, incapable of achieving greatness. After all slaves are not the best for creativity.
In Singapore the only civic participation among the people is limited to asking what the government has done for them. The only discussion you see is the complaints against the increase in prices of bus fares, taxi fares, overcrowding on trains or an escalation in utility costs.
Although they are tax payers, they don't seem to mind the Lee ruling family paying themselves and their friends millions of their dollars, no complaint at all about the law courts abusing the law to silence critics, none about their inability to even peacefully protest.
In fact it appears as if they have allowed the Lee ruling family a blanket license to make any laws and do anything they want with them, as long as the bus fares are not increased, utilities fares are not increased, taxes are not increased and crowding in trains are remedied.
One can only conclude that a Singaporean is a weird specimen of a human being. They speak English or a form of it, they go to discos like anyone in London would do, they drink in pubs and make merry just as anyone in Sydney would do and they even talk of football just as anyone else would do. But their similarity with their counterparts in the West ends there. They have a mortal fear to question Lee Kuan Yew's salary, or the lack of basic human rights under which they live.
The Lee ruling family have paid themselves millions through corruption (a salary of $3.7 million a year can only be called corruption and nothing else), totally denied the rights of their citizens under the Constitution but yet not a single human being has been willing to as much as squeak. In fact, as far as I can make out, there has not been a single protest against any of this for the last 40 years.
A people who are willing to live like this are clearly lacking desirable qualities. They are afraid of the Lee ruling family which prevents them from complaining. They know that anyone caught publicly agitating will not only be punished, but deprived of a livelihood and permanently hounded and harassed. Not wanting to suffer the same fate, they live their lives as they do, in half.
They outwardly pretend as if they are like anyone in London or Rome, but in fact the courage or independence you would expect of a Londoner or a Roman is cravenly suppressed. The weakness in the quality of Singaporeans works against the country's progress and they lose out in global competition.
Those who are aware of the weakness and lack of spirit, and unwilling to live in this boring and submissive life leave the island in massive numbers. This brain drain is a major problem which the government faces because it simply is unable to get enough people to enter the essential jobs that are being made vacant by this flood of emigration.
There are many Australians and others from the West who are willing to spend a stint or two working in Singapore, but unfortunately the Lee ruling family is wary of accepting them in any large numbers, since they may bring with them ideas of freedom and independence which the Lees do not want. People with independent minds may cause a threat to the Lee ruling family by demands of freedom and human rights as they are accustomed to in the West.
Their only safe course is to bring in immigrants from countries who themselves have been enslaved by their own dictators, such as Chinese from China, Burmese, Malaysians, Sri Lankans and Indians from India, as these people unlike Australians are unlikely to question the authority of the Lee family. Unfortunately for the Lees, although they are easier to subjugate and repress, they at the same time are far inferior in skills to those from the West whom they rather have. As a result these third rate individuals with only a fraction of the skills that someone from the West would have had, continues to hamper and stymie the progress of the island.
Singapore has the lowest birth rate in the world and a fast aging population. We have seen repeated pleas recently from the government to encourage greater childbirth to no avail. At the same time the large proportion of the population who are old are dying off, leaving them no choice but to continue bringing second rate poorly educated and poorly skilled foreigners from neighbouring countries to take their places.
In a recent newspaper report we were told that recent immigrants themselves are leaving, as many as 300 or so per year, giving up their passports and heading for home.
As long as the Lee ruling family are determined to remain in power, deny the human rights of their subjects, violate the rule of law and continue stealing millions of tax payers money, the people will leave, there won't be any children and people will die off.
Which is why in Singapore, beneath the propaganda of the state controlled press, it is not looking very good at all.
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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