Ladies and Gentlemen,
Many in Singapore have written to me that Singapore is now in a historical cross road of almost existential proportions.
Lee Kuan Yew is 90 years old and apparently is gravely ill. They say it is anytime now that he will call it a day from this world. As for his son, we know that he has had cancer before, and according to reports, it has returned.
And in fact some say, the situation with the son is so bad, it is open to question whether he goes first or his 90 year old father.
You might also have noticed that unlike what everyone thought of a dynasty in the island, with Lee Kuan Yew, then his son the Prime Minister, and then his grandson; the grandson heir apparent is nowhere to be found. Are we to assume that he has given up on the Chinese Emperor dynastic ambitions altogether or is it because he can read the writing on the wall; that it simply won't work anymore.
It would appear no doubt that Lee Kuan Yew has done a very good job on Singapore's appearance. He has built all those motorways, cleaned up the place through draconian fines and imprisonment, built all those skyscrapers and made sure the telephone always worked and there was clean running water.
But what is remarkable by any account is his building all those high rise shoebox pigeonhole apartments throughout the small island to house his citizens except for the fact that he repeatedly distorts the truth by calling them purchased when in fact they are all 99 year leases and those who dwell in them mere renters.
So much for the infra structure. It very strange that for a man who is attributed with such great vision and foresight, it had never occurred to him that the country needed leaders and without leaders there will be chaos, in fact there will not even be any Singapore after him! His idea of leaders are not leaders at all, they are mere bootlicking overpaid bureaucrats.
His government is in fact based on an entirely unsustainable model and entirely reliant on one man Lee Kuan Yew who unfortunately is not an inanimate object that can last forever.
If Lee goes Singapore goes with him. This is why. He has a government made up entirely of scholars who do not represent anyone. Young students who study hard are given overseas government funded scholarships, who upon return promise to work in his government for a length of time.
As Lee controls everything including parliamentary elections, these former scholarship students are invariably elected since any real opposition is roundly destroyed by defamation or contempt of court charges.
Once in Parliament, the state controlled newspapers are ordered to show them prominently and their speeches and their ideas. If you thought about it for one moment, it must dawn on you that these instant politicians, or scholar turned politician, don't represent anyone, least of all you. And the last person in the world whom you would expect to lecture to you are these characters.
And it is impossible to call them leaders because they obviously are not. In fact were it not for the fact that Lee Kuan Yew is around, no one would even care to take a second look at Teo Chee Hean, Lee's sidekick.
But since Lee controls everything that moves in the island, you simply cannot tell Teo off as you would anywhere else because Lee's police attack dogs will get you and charge you for defamation of character.
So you end up in a situation like this. On the one hand you have Singapore's supreme authority, 90 year old Lee Kuan Yew whom many believe is the very reason why the sun rises.
Second you have his son whom he anointed Prime Minister who naturally wields great power, not on his own but vicariously through his father.
One rung below you have the numerous Teo Chee Heans and the Vivain Balakrishnans who run around under the legs of both Lee and his son, looking very intelligent but more importantly obedient with powers to tell off any Singaporean who may have other ideas.
And then you have the rest of the population, whose job it is to do their work, keep their mouths shut, live in the pigeonhole apartments that Lee builds for them and work in the jobs that Lee gives them and quietly like obedient schoolboys live what is left of their remaining lives in Lee Kuan Yew's island.
But here lies the problem. What happens when the 90 year old Lee Kuan Yew finally goes to his maker. What happens then?
Do we all rally around his son, the new Lee Kuan Yew as their new supreme leader to take his father's place, and will all these former scholarship students turned Ministers this time rally around the son and worship him as the new Prophet of God?
And will the Singapore police attack dogs who so faithfully arrest and jail anyone who criticizes the Supreme Leader do the same in the name of his son? Or will the thus far loyal police force decide that they will not put up with this baloney anymore and refuse to obey?
You may have noticed like I do that Lee Kuan Yew appears almost to have a deliberate plan to make sure that none can ever achieve any leadership status. No single person in his government other than himself can claim to have any following among the people.
Teo Chee Hean does not stand for any particular political ideal or opinion. His job is nothing more than merely carrying out Lee's orders. I am sure you will agree that Teo is not going to have 20,000 people standing up to cheer him when he appears. Except for the fact that the state controlled newspapers publish his photo, no one would have even recognize him otherwise.
On the other hand Singapore had many leaders who were passionate about Singapore, great patriots, and who showed great potential. But every single one of them without exception was mowed down and destroyed.
JB Jeyaretnam was a leader who wanted to improve workers rights and democratize the island. He was expectedly removed with fake criminal charges, defamation actions, imprisonment and bankruptcy.
There was Tan Wah Piow a student leader in the 1960s who spoke for the underdog and the workers. He was convicted of rioting through the Kangaroo judge Sinnathuray. He managed to escape to England.
Chee Soon Juan today leads his party, a very much moderated person who no longer hold protests and demonstrations. He is never mentioned in any state controlled newspapers and is a victim of Lee's Fifth Column with his reputation maligned and a subject of ridicule odium and contempt.
There are others, far too many to be mentioned. There is Teo Soh Lung a former lawyer who had worked so hard for a better Singapore. For her troubles she was arrested under the ISA without charge, held in solitary confinement, tortured and abused and after her release, her law practice destroyed. After having contested the last elections in 2011 and lost, she has literally gone into obscurity. Had she been given a chance, I can see her in active politics and serving Singapore famously.
My case too was not very different. In the 1980s I joined the Workers party under Jeyaretnam whom I greatly admired. I stood for 2 elections, 1988 and 1991. For my troubles, I was repeatedly charged with law practice professional misconduct violations, and placed in disciplinary proceedings for asking then Attorney General Tan Boon Teik to explain himself of his position regarding Jeyaretnam. I was also charged for contempt of court in 1991 for suggesting that the manner of appointment of Sub Court judges should be removed from the control of the Legal Service Commission and made independent.
Not wanting to ruin my life and that of my children in an island where Lee can literally do whatever he wants, I left for America.
In this manner Lee destroyed every single Singaporean who had any interest in Singapore's future. And at the same time, while these victims were being destroyed, the entire island was silenced with an understanding that it is very dangerous to have political ideas in Singapore. And at the same time it was very clear that the only ones who were allowed this luxury were these scholarship students handpicked to serve Lee Kuan Yew and any others who may join his party.
Today it can be very correctly said that Singapore has no independent leaders. The only leader is Lee Kuan Yew. And among the entire population, there is no one out there, other than Lee Kuan Yew, who is able to claim that he has any support from anyone on the ground.
In this precarious state of affairs can anyone imagine what will happen when Lee dies? Will his son become the new Lee Kuan Yew and will all the others rally around the new King? Or would they say enough is enough and refuse to play second fiddle. And then what? Will new leaders suddenly sprout from the woodwork? And how can this happen when there are none?
I am sorry to say that here lies a system, a prime example of one that will completely fail, and even descend into chaos, even mayhem.
And it is Lee Kuan Yew's greedy deliberate and selfish plan to keep all the power to himself that has resulted in this untenable situation.
In fact this 90 year old dictator showed a reckless disregard for the interest of Singapore when he took no attempt to develop a civil society to ensure that while he built his magnificent skyscrapers, he also cultivated and nurtured a civil society where people with diverse opinions were allowed to co-exist and take over after he is gone. He will sadly leave behind an island bereft of leadership.
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 8525