Monday, January 28, 2013

Singapore politics, by invitation only

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On Saturday, Workers Party's Lee Li Lian, a 34 year old sales trainer won the by election at Punggol East. Dr. Koh Poh Koon of the ruling PAP, Lee Kuan Yew's party lost. There were 2 others who stood Kenneth Jeyaretnam who got just 353 votes and Desmond Lim who just got 153 votes in a constituency of 30,000 and are therefore obviously inconsequential.

But an observer from outside unaccustomed to Singapore’s unique politics would, if they saw these candidates, wonder why are they the only ones available in an island which boasts a first world economy and style.

One would also wonder at the caliber of the candidates as to why, the island only throws up people such as these. Are there no others more qualified leaders out there who care for their country?

And then it would slowly dawn on you that all this is just make believe. It is not really a first world country at all, but a mere tin pot one party dictatorship run by the Lee Kuan Yew family for the last 50 years.

The problem is this. Under the veneer of normalcy, Singapore is actually a one party state where there is an underlying blanket of fear throughout the island of ever challenging the ruling party with the past clearly in the minds of their citizens of defamation actions, criminal charges and victimization of anyone who dares to stand up to the dictatorship.

As for the ruling party, just as in Communist China's one party system, you have a long line of eager aspirants joining the ruling party in the hope of being recognized and given jobs at astronomical salaries and lucrative careers. The problem is not everyone wants to sell their souls this way and as a result the government itself scouts the island for young educated individuals to stand for public office.

For instance no one had ever heard of Dr. Hoh Poh Koon even just a few days ago, when the government suddenly thrust him to the media with notice that he is representing the ruling party at the polls. Since he has lost, perhaps we may never hear of him again. Lee Kuan Yew's politicians are, as you can see by invitation only.

As for Lee Li Lian of the Workers Party, she is just a Sales Trainer. She is not a lawyer, or highly educated professor of any sort, just a Sales Trainer at 34 years of age. Listening to her speaking, it is not impossible to mistake her for the salesgirl at the local supermarket.

So once again, not knowing Singapore, you may think is this all the sort of people that the opposition politics attracts. Is this the sum total of the first world country Singapore’s talent?

Obviously not. Of course there are highly qualified professors, lawyers and intellectuals out there. But they are all afraid to step up because such a step can be very serious to your health, your pocket and even your liberty. Why, because Lee may get you and lock you up or bankrupt you, there is no telling what can happen to you.

As far as Lee Kuan Yew's ruling political party, politics is by invitation only. As for opposition politics, only those who have the supreme courage of putting your head into a tiger's jaws will play.

Many who had in the past been charged, harassed and victimized like I have left the island and live in the West. Some have stayed behind for their personal reasons but still live in fear of what they will do to you. But those who have stayed behind by and large prefer to leave opposition politics alone except a few like this courageous 34 year old Sales Trainer Lee Li Lian.

Of course there is a steady stream of candidates for the government team but many are unsuitable for not having the necessary qualifications being mere opportunists.

This unfortunately is Singapore politics and these are their leaders in Lee Kuan Yew’s island of Singapore.

Although there could possibly one silver lining that comes out of these elections, it is I believe too little too late. It is a small island with 5 million of which half are foreigners. As such the place is a little too tiny and there is obviously insufficient talent. What is worse, out of this small number, Lee Kuan Yew has successfully chased out of his island, many like me who refused to be victimized and persecuted.

The hope is this victory for the Workers Party may embolden others who may come out of their shells and show a little backbone and courage and participate in the island’s future.  

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 4375


Anonymous said...

Under the "veneer" of normalcy indeed....just like in all the GLCs.

WP supporter said...

You are no different from PAP with your elitist inclination.Only lawyer and professor can be good MP.You are implying Singaporean are stupid to vote for Ms Lee who does not have high academic qualification.There are many successful people like boss of Mustafa,Sheng Song worth hundreds of millions with very little education.They manage thousand of employees including many with higher qualification.Which PHD or lawyer had done that?

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

"You are no different from PAP with your elitist inclination.Only lawyer and professor can be good MP.You are implying Singaporean are stupid to vote for Ms Lee who does not have high academic qualification".

You miss my point completely. My point was to highlight the dearth of interest among the highly edcuated and skilled to enter opposition politics there. I am sure you would also agree that if the desire the serve the people is there among both the highly educated and Sales Trainers such as Miss Li, surely one with a thorough understanding of the law and principles of government, which Miss Li obviously lacks, would have been better suited.

Also engaging in personal attacks against me doen't serve your cause either.

Unknown said...

MS Lee do have high academic qualification and she graduated from Curtin University of Perth. Except that she major in Business and not Law.

Anonymous said...

So now its how educated one is to be able to lead ?

Once upon a time all it took was passion and a little bit of common sense.

Once upon a time, grassroot and MPs knew their people by-heart ... I mean each one of them down to their children ... because they took pride in what they do and they did their rounds often than not covering each corner of their ward.

Now, its not "meet-the-people" but people-meet-you ! And round only occur when election. Excuse about the population growth than and now won't work ya.

Just shameful...