Thursday, April 3, 2014

What's holding Singapore back is its absence of democracy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For any society, including Singapore in order to progress, the people have to know that they have rights, they are treated equally and fairly, that their Courts would protect them when these rights are violated, a sense that anyone can achieve their dreams through hard work and tenacity, no matter who you are.

And in order to ensure this, is why the founding fathers of Singapore (I don't mean Lee Kuan Yew) wrote the Constitution enshrining these rights and any law that violates it would be struck down by the Courts which are the guardians of the people.

This rule ensures that no tyrant can usurp power and trample the rights of citizens. This rule ensures that supremacy lies with the people, not with some government because the government is supposed to be accountable to the people.

The Singapore Constitution guarantees the citizen's rights, the right to free speech, expression, assembly, the rule of law and freedom of the press.

In the early days, in the 1950s and 1960s, Singapore was a democracy with the people's human rights secure. Any citizen could walk with his head high knowing that he has rights, that the Courts will protect his rights and through hard work and dedication, no matter who you are Malay, Chinese Indian or anyone else can reach the pinnacles of success. What mattered was who you were, not your political affiliation.

In a democracy with rights, the citizens are proud of their country, they work for their country, sink roots in the country, have families in the country and have real hope to achieve success in their country. They are prepared to live and die for their country.

And then comes Lee Kuan Yew who thinks he knows better than any Constitution. Systematically he unravels all the democratic institutions. He hijacks the press bringing all the newspapers under state control.

Instead of the press being a guardian of the people's rights it has turned into printed matter no different from a company bulletin or you could say, state propaganda.

Instead of it's duty to highlight the people's grievances, you have laudatory self aggrandizement of how good Singapore is on a daily basis.

Its shameful pages are nothing more than state press releases telling you what new laws have been legislated and how many pedophiles, up skirt cameramen and rapists have been sent to prison.

The Courts are turned into Kangaroos. Instead of being a guardian of the people's rights, one of their main purposes is to declare that government critics have been found guilty of defaming the rulers and have been fined a million dollars and bankrupted.

The average man whose rights have been violated has no avenue for redress. Beside the fact that to bring suit in the courts is prohibitive running in hundreds and thousands of dollars to file an action and litigate, there is no hope of success against government agencies before handpicked compliant Kangaroo judges.

You will not only lose, you would be made to pay crippling costs which will surely bankrupt you. The law courts have become totally inaccessible to the average citizen.

It is bad enough that the ordinary man has no hope of success to remedy the wrongs by the government, critics of the government such as Chee Soon Juan has no hope whatsoever. The moment he appears, he has lost even before he steps in the courtroom. He will be judged not on the basis of his claim but on the basis of who he is.

Government connected ethnic Chinese are preferred over the Malays and Indians even though they too are citizens. They get the best government housing flats, they get the jobs and they get the goodies. The Malays and Indians can do nothing about it other than suffering in silence.

The government is literally a farce. This is how their rulers are selected. Instead of the parliamentary system where political parties are free to appoint their candidates at elections, as required by the Constitution, Lee Kuan Yew uses the feudal Chinese Emperor Scholar system. In Chinese history, in the Ming Dynasty as well as the others, scholars who have passed their required exams are selected by the Emperor to rule over the peasant masses, who are supposed to obey them.

In Singapore Lee Kuan Yew and his son and the other high government officials select bright young students and send them on government scholarships to prestigious overseas universities.

Upon their return they are fielded at elections every 5 years in circumstances where they will invariably win; because the opponents are defamed, maligned and vilified in the state controlled press, subjected to defamation actions and threatened with arrest resulting in their understandably withdrawing their nomination.

In addition, the state security apparatus goes from house to house threatening the citizens to vote for their candidate. This is either overt or covert.

This is why for nearly the last 2 decades, no credible opposition has dared to stand against Lee's Peoples Action party. They know that running is tantamount to suicide.

You can imagine what this sort of a political atmosphere has over the people. For one, no one has any faith in the legal system, resulting in no one going to the Courts, unless of course you are a government official.

There is no longer the assurance that individual rights are sacrosanct because the government can do anything they want to you with impunity.

There is no faith in the press because you do not know whether what you read is real or fiction.

There is no longer the realization that through hard work anyone can reach the top. For success you need something else other than hard work. You need the recognition that you are a Lee Kuan Yew bootlicker, a Lee Kuan Yew ass licker, a sycophant and a groveller. You have to be a card carrying Lee Kuan Yew toady.

Because a great many educated Singaporeans of all races do not want to subject themselves, their families and descendants to this life of ignominy, they leave for the West. In Australia, you don't have to eat humble pie and play second fiddle to Lee Kuan Yew or anyone else to succeed.

If Gopalan Nair had failed in Australia or United States, not that he did, it would be because of his own fault, and not becase he was not in the good books of Lee Kuan Yew or any other tyrant.

Singapore could have been a great country, a great democracy, where Chinese Indians and Malays would have made their country proud.

We were particularly lucky because we have a hardworking Asian population, with a strong work ethos, who prize book learning and educational achievement not to mention the fact that we have the benefit of the wisdom of law and government derived from hundreds of years from Great Britain.

In fact we are even luckier than the Asian economic giants such as South Korea or Japan because we have something they do not have, the English Language.

Had we been allowed to continue as a democracy, we could have been the Jewel of the East, the Gibraltar of the East, a vibrant successful city state with great hope for the future, far more successful than what we are today.

Thanks to Lee Kuan Yew's stupidity in turning the island city state from a proud democracy to that of a Ming Dynasty scholar ruler system, despite the glittering skyscrapers that line the waterfront, it is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme government, where foreigners are allowed to come en masse and do anything they want to make a buck while locals with no hope or no security, continue to flee to the West.

To top it all, Lee Kuan Yew is now moribund, 92 years old, dying and ready to kick the bucket while no one in the island knows what or who or how the city will become the next minute thereafter.

As for me, the only reason why I can write this without having to spend several years behind bars is the fact that I am safe in San Francisco California. Lee can't expect to arrest me here since this is a democracy. Had I been in Singapore now, I would probably be within the cells at Central Police Station where I was in 2008, after writing a critical blog which Lee did not like.

Singapore is rushing headlong into oblivion. And there is no turning back. Lee is faced with a Hobson's choice. A sort of Catch 22. If he tried to introduce democracy now, he would be unseated the next minute. If he continued the way it is, it will self destruct very soon.

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

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