Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let's call him X.
I have known X since 1980 when I returned to Singapore after my studies in England. I was working at Straits Trading Building at Battery Road doing my law pupillage. I met X by chance at lunch at the back lane food stalls between the river and Battery Road. The food stall no longer exists, made way for modernization.
X is an Indian, Kerala Malayalee. Strangely he does not speak any Malayalam and only a smattering of Tamil. He is a high school graduate. He is an ethnic Indian Singaporean, one of the small percentage of Indians in Singapore comprising 10% in a population of predominately Chinese with 75%.
X did his national service in the army of 2 years and went to work in a bank in downtown Singapore. The bank in Chinese owned, as are all local banks.
Since banks in Singapore do not ordinarily employ Indians but only Chinese, he was lucky to get a job as a Security Officer, one of the only departments which take non Chinese. The other jobs available are as drivers to the senior ethnic Chinese staff.
Ethnic Chinese are not employed as security officers or drivers as they are seen superior to jobs like that, which are given to Malays and Indians, Singapore's inferior classes.
One could not call X a very courageous or enterprising person. Considering himself lucky for the job, he worked in that bank for over 30 years now, his only job, finally being promoted to Chief security officer. The other security officers who work under him are all Malays or Indians.
Realizing his prospects would improve if he, an Indian, married a Chinese woman, he did so. I understand he has now 3 or 4 children but he will not say. Since I have joined the Singaporean political opposition, he considers it unsafe and unwise to associate anymore with me, as it could jeopardize his job in the bank. It is unsafe for anyone in Singapore to associate with anyone showing tendencies to political opposition. It is very dangerous to associate with me, a leading known outspoken target of the Lee Kuan Yew government.
X knows fully well, the government is a fraud, it is undemocratic, a violation of the Constitution. He knows all that. He particularly knows that it is a dictatorship and he personally hates the regime and what it has become.
However not having the courage to do anything about it, he has all these years, his entire career, lived a life suppressing what he really believes. Outwardly, not only is he a "no comment" person, meaning he will say "no comment" to any political question put to him, he is a card carrying member of the ruling party organizations such as Peoples Association or Residents Committees. This open support for the ruling administration has secured his career with the bank.
Financially you could say he has done reasonable well. Over the years of serving the bank, his salary has progressively increased, of course not to the extent the Chinese are paid. Presently being more than 65 years old, he has technically retired but is still working in the same job on a yearly renewable contract.
X has not joined any opposition. He has not joined any protest. He has never openly expressed any political opinion. He has never been in any demonstration. He has never publicly criticized the Lee Kuan Yew administration. X has not proclaimed himself to be a democrat. He has not openly said he is a fascist. X is not a nihilist. He is not an anarchist. X is not an arsonist. X is not a fatalist. X is not a skinhead. He is not a white supremist. Neither is he a black supremist. X is not a sailor. X is not a flier. X has no aspirations to sail the world. He has no aspirations to get lost in the African jungle. He has no aspirations to climb K2 from the South Face without oxygen. In other words, unable to put it any other way, X is simply a bore. In fact X has been a bore his entire life.
Some years ago I called him on the phone. He told me he admired me, I suppose for daring to challenge the Old Boy and leaving for the USA. All that takes courage and adventure. Lately I have been trying to call him. If I were to identify myself he would say he is not in. On occasions in the past, I had spoken to him by concealing my identity. I have since stopped doing this, as it is not proper to do it.
I wanted to talk to him to discover what goes on in the ordinary Singaporean head.
This is what people become in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore. Out of necessity, it makes them humans without a spirit. Human without any independent opinion. The need to survive turns them into sheep only capable of doing what they are told and behaving the way they are told. They have to hide what they truly think and outwardly engage in Doubletalk, or Lee talk regardless of how disgusting it may be. Can you imagine an entire life having to be lived this way!
X need not have lived the way he did. He could have stood up and called Lee Kuan Yew a liar and a cheat. He could have been arrested and sued for defamation and hauled before Kangaroo courts. He could have stood on a soap box outside his bank and spoken on the virtues of liberty and John Stuart Mill. Or if he thought otherwise, could even have narrated the history of the Ottoman Empire from 1453 to 1917. X could have gone into exile and returned and been thrown in jail. He could have lived a purposeful life. He could have had an exiting life. Despite all the hardships and troubles, X could have still said it was a life worth living.
X could have said,
And out spake brave Horatius
The Captain of the Gate
To every man upon this Earth
Death Comest Soon or Late
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the Ashes of his Fathers
And the temples of his Gods
But not for X. He was content to have lived his boring uneventful life without any independent opinion. I do not know anything about X's children, a cross between Indian father and Chinese mother. I suppose they too would live the boring uneventful lives of their father, what else can they do?
This is a Singaporean Indian's boring miserable uneventful life under the supreme ruler Lee Kuan Yew and now his Son.
Attorney at Law
Fremont, California USA
A Singaporean in Exile
Tel: 510 491 8525