Monday, January 14, 2013

Singapore's Punggol East By Elections, an inept fragmented irresponsible opposition

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A brief background on Singapore. It is a tiny island at the tip of the Malay Peninsula.

It is just 26 miles on the horizontal radial and 16 miles on the north south radial.

In it live no less than 5 million people, half of whom are recently arrived foreigners mainly Chinese as a result of the one party government's massive immigration policy, because of the huge brain drain from the island, extremely low birth rate and a dying older generation.  

For such a tiny island with such a tiny population, one would have thought that a mere handful of political representatives would have been sufficient but not in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore.

By the way Lee Kuan Yew has been single handedly or through his family running the place as if it was his own since 1959.

This he has managed through silencing his opponents through his well known defamation law suits before his compliant judges, contempt of court and other criminal charges.

As a result the island has been effectively de-politicized.

By and large anyone who is interested in a political career would choose to do it by joining Lee Kuan Yew's party, the PAP, just as in the former Soviet Union, you would have joined the Communist Party.

Only a fool or a diehard martyr, like the late JB Jeyaretnam or today’s Chee Soon Juan would be willing to embark on such a suicidal purpose as to challenge Lee.

JB Jeyaretnam had been repeatedly sued and bankrupted and effectively branded a criminal and removed.

So was the fate of Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party but the ultimate fighter that he is, he hasn't given up and his party will be contesting the coming by elections.

Workers Party is one of the opposition parties contesting. It is a red herring of sorts.

At this moment, we are not sure if whether they are the genuine product or are they merely a front for the PAP.

Since they had won the Hougang Constituency about a decade ago and last year the Aljunied GRC in 2011, they have 6 members in Parliament.

But the question is whether they have done any good regardless of whether they have 6 or 16.

For the last decade or so since their leader Low Thia Khiang has got into Parliament, the cause of freedom and democracy in the island has not progressed one inch.

Day in and day out, during parliamentary sessions, you can see him making fiery speeches which are fully televised.

But that is all that happens, just speeches.

He doesn't see the need; it appears, to really make any change at all.

In fact since he has got into Parliament, the Lee Kuan Yew government has become more repressive, not less.

Today even a single peaceful protestor can be thrown in jail without more.

Which is why many like me question the bona fides of this man.

It seems to me that he is there on a private handshake with the dictator Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee must have realized that if indeed the people are going to be so silly as to vote for an opposition, and then why not give them a fake one.

This way, Low Thia Khiang and his men are safe from defamation lawsuits, prison time and bankruptcy while they sit comfortably in Parliament while Lee is secure in knowing that his seat is not under threat.

Remember, Low nor anyone in his party has ever been sued for defamation of character unlike JB Jeyaretnam or Chee Soon Juan.

A word on Low Thia Khiang personally.

I know him.

I was in his party from 1984 until my departure from Singapore in 1991.

He was second to JB Jeyaretnam who was then Secretary General.

JB Jeyaretnam needed him and relied on him for obvious reasons.

JB Jeyaretnam was not Chinese and Singaporeans by and large didn't understand a word he said, they being Chinese.

So Low came in handy.

Low is Chinese educated, very much influenced by the politics of Communist China.

He has no idea of the Western sense of Parliamentary democracy.

He considers himself some sort of a champion of his people helping them from the injustices of the Emperor, so to speak.

His main concern in speaking up for the poor for better services.

He has no idea of such things as human rights, the right to free speech, expression and assembly, the bedrock of the European or Western philosophy of democracy upon which most developed countries depend.

Low's approach to politics is no different from what you see in Communist China today where a local community leader pushes the Chinese Communist government for better treatment for his people.

Just as in China today, no one is trying to unseat the Communist Party; they are only trying to get better treatment.

Similarly Low Thia Khiang has no interest in unseating Lee Kuan Yew.

He is only there to argue for cheaper bus fares, lower prices for food and cheaper electricity.

But even in this he stops short of just making speeches.

It never crosses his mind to take the next step and order a peaceful protest outside the palace of Lee Kuan Yew's son.

He does not seem to appreciate that before anything, you must first empower the people.

If they remain slaves, they would perpetually have to be begging for crumbs from the government, as he does now.

Then we have the Singapore Democratic Party, and their leader Chee Soon Juan.

He realizes, no doubt, that parliamentary elections in Singapore cannot do much.

Lee has made sure that for such a tiny island, it has no less than 87 Members of Parliament of which 81 are his minions.

There is no way that this by election with one seat or even a full general election would result in a change of government.

In the past, Chee, the most knowledgeable among the opposition, had held peaceful protests for which he had been repeatedly arrested and jailed.

Now, he has given that up entirely.

I believe his party members have convinced him against it.

I think that was a big mistake.

Lee by his own admission has said that he has engineered a political system in the island where he simply cannot fail.

It is like this.

There is no independent press.

He controls the media.

He appoints judges and makes them obey him.

He criminalizes free speech, expression and assembly.

Every single Singaporean lives in an apartment owned by his government.

Almost three fourths of Singapore companies are owned by his government.

This means literally the entire livelihood of a Singaporean depends on him and his government.

With the wide network of secret agents, every move of a Singaporean is monitored and kept under surveillance.

In such circumstances, it is almost impossible for any Singaporean to vote for an opposition candidate.

Opposition candidates are by and large of poor quality, lacking an education, lacking leadership and lacking the English language. Understandably so.

When the risks of arrest, harassment and victimization are so great, you have literally to be a martyr to enter the fray.

For instance, I left the island in 1991, not wanting to be another Nelson Mandela.

And to make matters worse, there is no co-operation among them.

Chee of the Singapore Democratic Party had approached the Workers Party for a joint effort so as to avoid multi party contest.

He has been rebuffed.

There is the Reform Party with JB Jeyaretanm's son who has also tried to approach Workers Party. Same result.

As for the SDP and the Reform Party, other than writing articles in their respective blogs, they do nothing else.

Since they are not allowed to run mainstream papers and are in constant fear of being sued for defamation, most Singaporeans never hear of their policies if they have any, since Singaporeans are by and large not interested in what they say anyway.

In any case, even if they had something interesting to say, it is still useless since they cannot do anything for the people.

The reins are still firmly in Lee's hands.

As if this is not bad enough, another party Singapore Democratic Alliance has said they too will contest.

As if that is not bad enough, 2 independents, one Zeng Guoyang, a person generally believed to be of unsound mind and 70 year old Ooi Boon Kwei, some sort of a comedian who breaks into song at every opportunity have also indicated they will contest.

I, as well as many, have no doubt that these are Lee's plants, intended to split the vote to make sure that the opposition have no chance in the world. 

Democracy has no chance whatsoever in this case.

With the Workers Party being a PAP agent, it would make no difference if the Workers Party won, since a vote for them is as good as a vote for the PAP.

As for the Chee's SDP, Reform Party or any of the others there is simply no chance in the world.

In fact I believe that the Singapore Democratic Alliance as well as the 2 clowns who are standing as independents are serving the PAP in this exercise as pretenders masquerading as opposition. 

And the electorate too is no help.

By and large they are an ignorant lot who have no idea what democracy means.

Of course there were many highly educated and politicized but they have mostly emigrated abroad not wanting to live in Lee's one party dictatorship.

The educated discerning responsible Singaporeans live in Sydney, Melbourne and the other capitals of the free world.

The ones left behind are by and large ignorant or are those who derive their livelihoods serving the Lee Kuan Yew administration.

It is unlikely they would want any real change in the style of government.

Although in the last general election, the Low's Workers Party won some seats, we know that does no good at all.

It only serves to perpetuate the Lee Kuan Yew administration. 

What is going to happen is a 5 cornered fight, with a powerful PAP on one side and a fractured irresponsible opposition on the other.

The cause for democracy has no hope whatsoever.

On the one hand you have not only a disunited opposition and what is worse, an opposition which actually is serving the PAP.

There is simply no hope for the opposition the way they are going

What needs to be done is first to empower the people.

And for that you need a catalyst.

And that is peaceful protest.

Even a one man protest will encourage others to join.

A trickle will become a flood.

And when the government uses force to subdue peaceful protestors that is when you see the seeds of democracy being sown.

That is when you will see true opposition leaders sprouting.

Not some of these disunited ignorant clowns that you see in today’s Singaporean political opposition.

Please see

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


Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous,
I have a few issues with you.

One, there is no such thing as a Western style democracy or an Eastern one. What we understand today by modern democracy is one that arose from ancient Greece which devolved over centuries to what is understood today as a body of philosophy under certain set of rules that form the basis of a good system of government.

There is no body of democratic philosophy from ancient China or India or Africa that we can rely on today. So that deals with your argument of Western sytle democracy.

As for your contention that Low Thia Khiang is doing something for his people, this is a secret which I would like to know. Tell me, what has he done under the difficult Lee regime as you claim which Lee would not done himself?

As for the American connection, what makes you think that the CIA and the State Department know any less about Singapore than both you and I combined know! And if indeed they did not know and eventually did, what makes you think that they would want Singapore to be any different than what it is now. Why do you think that they supported the Shah of Iran for decades even though he was torturing his people everday? Why do you think they supported Marcos, the most corrupt and repressive dictator in the Philippines.

Let me give you some free advice. As far as Singpaore is good for Nike, Microsoft, and Hewlett Packard, the Americans will be very happy with Lee Kuan Yew and family. The dollar is the bottom line. I hope you appreciate the good advice I have given, entirely free of charge.

Gopalan Nair said...

The following was a comment I received wihich was accidentally deleted. My response to him is in my above post

"Singaporeans do not want Western style Democracy because they have seen the state-run newspapers and TVs demonize democracy as a bunch of crazy people protesting violently, setting fires and creating unrest.

What Singaporeans are not educated on is what democracy is and why human rights is important. It is after the 10-year general education that the fortunate few will study some form of this in the GCE A levels General Paper or university.

Low Thia Khiang makes a good MP because he is doing something for the people in a difficult LEEgime.

Otherwise, you will see more mental illness sufferers, more poverty and more PAP corruption.

Dr Chee is a fighter, but he does not have the support of Singaporeans who are still comfortable in the LEEgime.

This LEEgime can go on for a long time because the support base for a freer Singapore have left the country for good.

What Singapore need is a circuit breaker, when Americans discover PAP bluff and sink Singapore financially. Singaporeans, robbed of their CPF, will wake up and demand accountability and transparency. To do this, they will want democracy and human rights - the freedoms which are denied to them by Lee Kuan Yew."

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Gopalan Nair,

Near the end of your blog post, you said:

"Even a one man protest will encourage others to join.
A trickle will become a flood."

But earlier on, you also said:

"Today even a single peaceful protestor can be thrown in jail without

When the risks of arrest, harassment and victimization are so great, you

have literally to be a martyr to enter the fray.

For instance, I left the island in 1991, not wanting to be another Nelson


What happened to "leading by example"?

Shouldn't people such as yourself have stayed back in Singapore to lead

by example?

Or are you all just cowards, as cowardly as the vast majority of

Singaporeans in Singapore?

I think you should be aware that it's not just the current Singaporeans in

Singapore who deserve blame; it's also the cowardly quitters, who should

have practised what they preached by leading by example, who deserve


Both kinds of cowards are really just two sides of the same coin; the main

difference being that one side lives in Singapore, while the other lives

outside Singapore.

If even those Singaporeans, who are intelligent enough to know that the

only chance the PAP can be overthrown is by peaceful protests or non-

violent resistance, are not brave enough to put their theory into practice,

why should they expect any other Singaporean to do such things when

most Singaporeans are not even aware that such things might work, let

alone being brave enough to do them.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous,Jan 15, 0930,

Your argument is illogical. First I don't have to lead anyone by exmaple or otherwise, for leaving the island. I have my own reasons for leaving and am writing from California about people who are still there in that island. You can't have the cake and eat it. If you live in Singapore and are concerned about your life, then you should do the right thing and stand up to the regime. At the same time, you can leave if you want as I did. In fact thousands are leaving the island as we speak. I am writing as an observer of Lee Kuan Yew's dictatorship and the people that willingly live in it, I suppose, as you do. Don't compare yourself with me. I don't live there. I am telling you what a miserable palce that is and why those in that island should, if I were them, do something about it. I am not sure if you understood what I have just said but if not, why don't you seek some help in understanding.

The smart people have left and are leaving the island. i don't call them cowards. There is nothing cowardly about a person who prefers to live in freedom. Millions of Germans left the Nazi Regime. I don't think anyone calls them cowards. At the same time, many stayed behind and resisted, many having paid the ultimate prize of death for doing it. They are not cowards either.

You may not be a coward. There is another name for you which out of courtesy, I will not say.

Anonymous said...

PAP is playing money politics.

The Singapore Govt recently announced a massive plan to expand the island's rail network by 2030.

What about improving the reliability of existing lines & get rid of all those bloody disruptions first?

Does the timing of the announcement sound suspicious?

Aryan- Dravidian said...

In response to the post that called Mr Nair a coward. Do understand that a mere 4% of locals from a certain race were responsible for standing up when the other 79% were guilty of deafening silence and inaction. Where would opposition be without JBJ's valiant efforts, sacrifice and vision. His current "successor" in the WP is an insipid,incoherent, insouciant pretender who speaks English as if he has marbles in his mouth; to such an extent I call him the "Marblebro Man". The very reason you have a by-election as M Ravi and humble Vellamma ( as clueless as she was) had the guts and gumption to fight for it. Please understand the best combat unit in the SAF is NOT those pathetic Oriental peace-time pansies but Lt Adnan and the Malay regiment who showed legendary courage. How did the Japs kill ONE MILION of a certain race in Nanking without so much of a resistance? Would they even have ATTEMPTED that in India?? It was the same Jap regiment who were emboldened in Nanking that came down to Sg. The yoke of bravery does NOT lie on the shoulders of the minority but we have carried it with pride and dignity, while a certain majority have lied and plundered the country to the sad state it is now. So please get your facts right before you call ANYONE, esp from a minority race here in Sg, a coward.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Aryan Dravadian,
It is untrue that the Chinese did not put up a valient defence against the Japs in Nanjing. They did. But the Japs had far greater military power both in the air, land and sea.

The courage of Jap soldiers is undoubted. But you don't win wars on courage. You win on advance military technology.

That was true then, and it is true now.