Friday, June 6, 2014

Singapore and China. 25 years after Tiananmen

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Day before yesterday, June 3, 2014 marked the 25 years anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen, China. The incident and the time till then of both China's and Singapore's history are uncannily similar.

Chinese thinking is to crack down hard on any dissent to their rule. In Tiananmen Square, when protesters challenged the government's authority, they were brutally crushed. In the entire long history of China, any attempt to challenge the authority of the one party Communist government will and must be crushed. Otherwise in Chinese thinking they will lose face and consequentially power.

Singapore did not have a Tiananmen but it did have JB Jeyaretnam, Chee Soon Juan, Chia Thye Poh, Lim Chin Siong to name a few of Lee's challengers. Although not shot to death like in China, every one of them was completely destroyed, and permanently removed from politics except for Chee Soon Juan, who has been sufficiently tamed to suit the Lee government. Just like in China, no one should be allowed to challenge the authority of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, his son or their ruling PAP, and get away with it. If they did, they would lose their Chinese face, in this case, Singaporean Chinese face, and consequently their authority and that simply won't do. 

Both China and Singapore religiously follow the principle of the infamous political strategy of killing the chicken to frighten the monkeys.

This is how it works. You take a government opponent, and then you mercilessly destroy him before the eyes of the entire country. In Singapore's case, the punishment is almost always defamation law suit running into hundreds of thousands of dollars, bankruptcy, dismissal from professional employment such as lawyers license, vilification in the state controlled newspapers and denied employment.

While doing it, you give his punishment wide publicity with photographs of him widely spread out in the state controlled press.

In fact, curiously, the government in fact needs political opponents occasionally to play the chicken role. Only with their help, can the monkeys (meaning the citizens of Singapore) be sufficiently subdued, intimidated and obedient. This way, by slaughtering one chicken, Lee's helpless political opponent, you conveniently silence an entire population.

The Chicken and Monkey lesson worked very well in post Deng Hsiao Peng's China. The Chinese have been sufficiently intimidated and cowed. There hasn't been another Tiananmen incident since then. In Singapore it has worked well too. For a long time both before and after men like JB Jeyaretnam, there hasn't been any real threat to Lee Kuan Yew, his son or his PAP.

And then there is the carrot, both in China and Singapore. In China high ranking Communist Party members are given lucrative positions in employment and government. Many of them have become millionaires as a result. Singapore is no different. PAP support is a prerequisite to bestow lucrative jobs in the legal and every other profession. It is well known that only those supportive of the PAP establishment can ever hope to rise in Singapore.

But the one greatest weakness in this sort of reasoning is the presumption that as long as the government provides better jobs, better housing and better infra structure, the people would quietly obey them. Put in another way, the government will provide the jobs and the houses. In exchange the people have to accept their authority unconditionally. You have seen this playing out in both China and Singapore. In both countries, standard of living has risen exponentially. But the authorities in both countries have come down hard on those who question them.

If we are to accept that human nature is such that citizens would want a greater say in how their country is run no matter how rich they become, then crushing that desire portends trouble in both countries, only much worse for tiny Singapore.

China has nearly one billion people and the West needs China for business no matter how repressive their country is. Without China, American and Western business will collapse even if they are massacring their people daily. Therefore China will still survive despite their human rights abuses. True, many would leave their country for the West seeking more freedom, but this will not materially upset their ability to function, with a billion people in reserve. They can silence the Internet, they can prevent travel, they can do anything they want and still function.

Singapore on the other hand has simply no hope in the face of mounting desire for freedom. The island is too tiny. It has no more than perhaps 2 million local citizens. It has the lowest birth rate in the world and the highest emigration rate. Half of the people in the island are foreigners. It cannot silence the Internet even if it wants to, since this will hurt business which is it's mainstay. It cannot prevent free travel either. And worst of all, unlike China, Singaporeans know English, the passport to a life in the West.

And what is worse for Singapore is this. If Lee goes down hard on his people, all it takes is for a few foreign companies to pull out of Singapore to cause a total collapse of the economy. It is far too small.

If Lee Kuan Yew felt he could play the Chinese chicken and the monkeys game in Singapore, he is terribly mistaken. It simply cannot work in a tiny place which relies on international trade. Secondly he was gravely mistaken in thinking that normal rational human beings would be satisfied with good jobs and good housing alone. A dog might be quite contented but human beings are not dogs.

Unless and until Singapore's Lees understand that the Chinese style is simply not suited to a tiny island like Singapore and unless he realizes that the sooner he treats Singaporeans like human beings and not "digits" like Lee senior once called his citizen's, the island is on tailspin free fall and recovery is simply impossible.

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


Anonymous said...

Corruption in China. Corruption in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans, Lee Hsien Loong controls you. You are not free people.

Lee Hsien Loong is the Prime Minister. Lee Hsien Loong is also the Chairperson of the GIC. Lee Hsien Loong's father is the Senior Advisor in the GIC and the previous Prime Minister of Singapore. Lee Hsien Loong's wife is the CEO of Temasek Holdings. GIC and Temasek Holdings uses our CPF to invest.

Lee Hsien Loong's brother used to head Singtel. Singtel is also controlled by Lee Hsien Loong's wife, via Temasek Holdings. The minister in Lee Hsien Loong's office heads the union. Public housing is controlled by Lee Hsien Loong's government. The heads of the largest banks in Singapore are also directors on the board of GIC.

Effectively, Lee Hsien Loong controls everything in Singapore. Lee Hsien Loong controls the PAP which controls the government, the investment firms, your retirement funds, your homes, the banks and your savings, the unions and your labour, basic services and your payment.

Anonymous said...

Lee Hsien Loong, truly a military legend.

Our Supreme leader Lee Hsien Loong was born in 1952.

Enlisted in SAF as a Recruit in 1971.

Disrupted his OCS training and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1971.

Went to Cambridge on a President's Scholarship and graduated in 1974. Returned to SAF as a Lieutenant.

He was then promoted to Brigadier General in 1983 (he also disrupted to do a Masters degree at Harvard in 1980).

Basically he served 8 years of active service in the SAF, in which time he was promoted from Lieutenant to BG (that's six ranks).

The ranks of CPT to COL all have two grades each. Meaning that he was promoted NINE times in eight years.

Truly a military legend . Patton, Pershing, Mountbatten, MacArthur and Powell are all left trailing in his wake.

Anonymous said...


* Leekuanyewism is a religion founded by Singaporean citizens. Believers of Leekuanyewism are generally referred to as Leeligionites.
* The main figure of worship in Leekuanyewism is none other than the Supreme Leader, Lee Kuan Yew himself. According to Singaporeans, Lee Kuan Yew is the greatest man to have ever graced the planet, turning everything in his path from dust to gold.
* The Grand Empress Dowager, Lee’s mother, Chua Jim Neo is one of the peripheral figures of worship, due to her part in conceiving one of the most omniscient babies the entire Universe has ever seen.
* The Empress Dowager, Kwa Geok Choo, the late wife of the Supreme Leader, is also another peripheral figure of worship. That is attributed to the fact that she conceived the Great Successor, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s current Prime Minister, and son of the Supreme Leader.

Anonymous said...

Here are some of the simple rules of living well in Singapore.

1. Tremble and Obey.
2. Do not question
3. Do not make any comments.
4. Zip your mouth.
4. Just continue to Pay and Pay.

Totally submit yourself to your masters by the above surviving rules and you will be okay.
Then you will never be jailed, fined or caned, get sued or made to suffer or even get killed in a hit and run traffic accident for the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

This Singapore dissident doesn't understand Chinese history and Tiananmen Incident at all.

If the incident had not been cracked down and Chinese government had been thrown down, China would not become 2nd economy in the world today.

From a utilitarian point of view, the handling of Tiananmen Incident is absolutely right. While it is the students' rights to protest against corruption, the corruption was unable to be solved at that time even in theory. Even today, it is a difficult question for China.

If this Singapore dissident is able to prove himself as a useful person for Singapore, I am quiet sure that the PAP government will hire him and make best use of his capability. Unfortunately, this dissident is not of that caliber so the only way he can satisfy himself is the name of advocating DEMOCRACY with his postings again and again.

Do something real to contribute to Singapore, otherwise, you is unable to be accepted by most people.

Read more before you put up your posting! You are making yourself ridiculous because of your ignorance and arrogance. I wish you were an American in every way.

Dare you make my comments on your posting open to the public?

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous who said

"This Singapore dissident doesn't understand Chinese history and Tiananmen Incident at all."

It appears your understanding of history is different from mine.

The former Soviet Union, Communist country like China was the most successful economy in the postwar era. But just look at it now, one of the weakest economies in the world.

China may be making strides now, but imprisoning people, shutting them up and turning the entire one billion of them into a huge sweat shop for the Americans is not a success by any means.

Just like communist Soviet Union, it will not last. Force, compulsion and repression always produces short term results. In the long term only democracy sustains. A people without a voice never produced sustained greatness.

As for your claim that China is the second biggest economy, I am disappointed it is not the biggest. What did you expect. It has one billion people. US the biggest economy only has 300 million.

As for the Chinese GDP, it no way shows the standard of living of its people. The vast number of the Chinese population are either at the poverty line or below it. The only ones benefiting are some who have gone to the cities and the Communist Party money launderers.

Whereas instead of talking about the second biggest economy, you should ask how people live. The Australian economy may not be large. But it's people live much better than the average Chinese. And it is because it is a democracy and not a Communist one party state.

If there was no crack down at Tiananmen, perhaps there would have some disorder. But from that disorder, no one knows if China would have risen far more successful than what it is now.

As for your assumption that I would have wanted a position in the PAP, you must be blind. What do you think I have been doing for all these years? If you did not know, I have been fighting them. Sorry, I don't want to join them.