Friday, December 27, 2013

Singapore one party state. Signs of losing grip on power

Ladies and Gentlemen,

     I would have thought that any government expecting to remain in power must have the respect and mandate of the people. One that rules without legitimacy or law but by brute force, terror and repression may last a little while, but unlikely for long.

     This is what Lee Kuan Yew's government is facing in Singapore. It is a government that relies on fear, threats and repression to rule. Not by force of law but by the misuse of it. Their grip on power  is beginning to unravel. You already see the growing dissatisfaction brewing under the surface.

      There have been increasing numbers of bloggers criticizing both the government and the judiciary causing them to react with increasing frequency of libel actions, contempt of court actions and criminal prosecutions. As more Singaporeans stand up to the injustice, they would have to prosecute even more people in the hope that criticism is somehow silenced, something we know will not happen. In fact history tells us, the more you repress your people, the more they rise.

     For one thing, no people would be prepared to accept a government that is openly corrupt. In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, his son and all cabinet ministers pay themselves millions of dollars which they call a salary. This is corruption and the people are angry. But if they complain they are sued, charged with criminal offenses and jailed. By the illegal use of force the people are prevented from stopping this corruption.

     It is natural for people to criticize their legal system if it is seen as corrupt or their government is seen as incompetent. In Singapore however people are not allowed to exercise their natural human right to complain. If they criticize the legal system they are immediately charged for contempt of court for scandalizing the judiciary. If they complain about the government or any minister, they are sued for defamation and jailed or bankrupted. By the illegal use of power and law the people are prevented from exercising their lawful right to criticize.

     It is natural for people to peacefully protest their grievances in public. There is nothing wrong with a man peacefully protesting what he feels is wrong and to make known to others his grievance. In Singapore he is denied the right to do this.

     Under Singapore law, he can only protest at a particular location called Speakers Corner but it is useless to do this there, since you are not allowed to protest at the location of your grievance, thereby completely negating the purpose.  For instance if you were dismissed from Sembawang Shipyard, you can only protest your dismissal at Speakers Corner, some 20 miles away!

     The people have a right to have access to an independent press. In Singapore every single news media is state owned. Instead of reading news, in Singapore you get propaganda or carefully censored news. News which they feel is not in their interest is conveniently not published. On the other hand, they deliberately use the media to vilify and defame their critics.

     The people have a right to free and fair elections. In Singapore the elections are rigged. Candidates representing the government invariably win. In fact the Workers Party which claims to be opposition is actually today nothing more like a branch of the government itself and works for the interests of the ruling party, not the opposition. As a result, effectively Singapore has no political opposition. It is a one party state.

     People are threatened before elections not to vote for the opposition. The government secret security agencies all have information about each and every resident in the island who are carefully monitored and kept under surveillance. Before elections they are threatened to vote for the government or else. Big Brother is watching you.

     The police have absolute powers and act purely at the orders of the government. They are poorly educated and the lower ranks are mostly comprised of poorly educated Malays. They have no knowledge of such things as the rule of law and willingly carry out any order of the government in the belief that it is their job.

     The average person is not safe from police harassment and arrest. The law is easily misused to target anyone with views contrary to that of the ruling party. And when you are victimized and persecuted, you have no recourse under the law because the judges are corrupt and beholden to the ruling party. A known government critic knows even before he steps into the courtroom that he is guilty.

     Singaporeans are under the Constitution entitled to an independent judiciary. Unfortunately  the government has made sure that all judges are beholden to them and make decisions that always favor the government and are always against political opponents. This happens like clockwork. If the people complain and criticize these Kangaroo judges they are charged with scandalizing the judiciary and jailed.

     Today Lee Kuan Yew's son is Prime Minister. But Singaporeans have no respect for him because they know he was simply put there by his father, not through free and fair elections. As a result he does not have the respect of his people. In fact many consider him effeminate like a woman, as shown in his mannerisms and ways, and some see his smile similar to that of a clown giving him the name Clown Prince.

    All this is wrong and unacceptable. As a result of their actions the government of Singapore is simply illegitimate. They are not ruling according to law, but simply by brute force, fear, compulsion and repression. Singaporeans are supposed to have rights under their Constitution but the Lee Kuan Yew and Son government of today simply denies the people their rights.

     As people become more educated and informed, as Singaporeans have become, they are beginning to question each of these wrongs. They are not prepared to allow their Ministers to get away with a salary of $3.7 million a year. This is downright corruption and they will not stand for this.

     They are not prepared to remain silent when they see injustice. As a result more and more people are speaking up and criticizing the government and their judiciary and to stop this growing trend the government has began to charge and sue more and more people for their criticism.

     The problem with this government is that they know that paying themselves millions is indeed corruption. They know that rigging elections is wrong. They know that people have a right to criticize. But since allowing legitimate criticism would also mean they would lose their control over Singaporeans, they have no alternative but to sue anyone who criticizes so that no one will, because as long as no one dares to criticize or protest against them openly, they would still, hopefully, be able to cling on to power.

     Unfortunately for them, it is impossible to keep a population silent through repression and misuse of the law for too long. As long as the people know that the government is abusing their power as the Lee government is doing, they will, despite the danger of criticizing, still do it, because they have that right.

     And with time, as the amount of criticism and protests will inevitably increase, the government would have to use more and more force and repression to silence them. This is obviously counter productive for the government. As they increase the repression, even more people would stand up against them.

     The wheel towards more freedom is turning against this government. With time, you will see even more criticism, even more protests, even more agitation. The government should realize that what will save them is justice and doing the right thing. By abusing their power as they have been doing, the groundswell of agitation and criticism would only increase and result in their very early downfall. That much is certain.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

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