Let not the gleaming skyscrapers and the clean roads lull you into thinking all is well in Lee Kuan Yew's
First let us not forget what the island is. It has no more than 2.5 million local born Singaporeans. The island is crammed beyond imagination, perhaps one third the size of
You would have thought this alone, a tiny miniscule society, is bad enough, and any great pressure from any direction would end up in this tiny island's economy and existence completely destroyed.
And yes, the island is suffering from pressures from all directions, bad enough for a country with millions of people like
Now let me list the bad news. First you have a continuing falling birth rate. It is one of the lowest in the world with its population unable even to replace themselves. The reasons for this are numerous, both social and economic. The locals are unhappy because they live under a dictatorship with no fundamental human rights to speak of, such as freedom of speech or expression. They have lost faith in their legal system because it is corrupt by being a mere mouthpiece of the government. The elections are rigged so that only government politicians get elected. There is what appears to be a minuscule opposition in parliament but they are no more than agents of the government party, no more than mere imposters.
Then we have the problem of poverty. The income gap between the rich and the poor is one of the highest in the world. There are several reports that show the island to be the fourth most expensive city in the world, even more expensive than
The suffering of the poor is heightened by the fact that there is no social security money available. And to make the plight even more intolerable, the island does not have a minimum wage law. The reason the government puts out for this is competition. They claim that unless they have cheaper labor than
The island is run more like a large company, and its newspapers, all state controlled function more as a newsletter. Everyday the islanders read of the latest government polices and changes that have been enacted. The citizen’s duty is to just follow and obey whatever is decided. It can be equated to Communist Chinese wall poster which the Communists stick up daily on public street corners for its people to read what has been decided for them.
A recent survey held in the island last year showed that more than half the people surveyed would emigrate to the West if they can. An earlier survey of students also said, alarmingly for any island with only 2.5 local born people, that they have no loyalty to the island and that they would rather study in the West than in
In fact the rate of emigration to the West, particularly to
Having lived in
To make it worse, Lee Kuan Yew, the man who is supposedly putting all this together is in his nineties. If he drops dead, which is very soon, there will be a vacuum, chaos, unrest and even violence. But it seems, the government does not have any plans to avert this impending catastrophe. Frankly, I don't envy them. There is simply nothing they can do. They have driven themselves into the bog and there appears no escape.
You may well ask if you did not know how is it that I can write this criticism and still get away with it. Well, it is because I am writing it from
A Singaporean by birth in exile
Attorney at Law
Tel: 510 491 4375