Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Singapore Model after Lee Kuan Yew is unsustainable.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is something inherently wrong with the Lee Kuan Yew model of government. One look at it tells you it is not sustainable nor durable beyond him. Now since he is dead, the island is headed into political chaos and uncertainty. Large countries with large populations and economies can withstand such upsets and may recover. But for Singapore which is almost totally reliant on foreign capital for jobs and business, I see very little chance of this. 

These are the reasons why.

For any country which wishes smooth and seamless change of governments, you first need the most obvious thing. This is a respect by the people for their leaders and a belief that their leaders are there to protect the interests of their people.

In Singapore, most ruling Ministers are not leaders of anyone. Very often they were not even elected. They are just scholars who have been handpicked to rule over the people. Just like the Ming Emperor did. But it was all right for the Ming Emperor to do this. But Loong, Lee Kuan Yew's son cannot do this in 21st Centaury Singapore. It will not work.

Moreover unfortunately this mutual respect between the people and their citizenry does not exist in the island. Firstly you have a government that is openly corrupt by paying themselves millions in salaries and kickbacks, $3.7 million annually each to be exact. You also have shameless nepotism from the Lee family giving their friends and relatives jobs and money to the former President SR Nathan who is equally corrupt and steals millions and gives cushy jobs to his children and relatives. This is what one would call unashamed nepotism and corruption.

Although the people can see this unapologetic corruption and nepotism by their leaders before their very eyes, there is nothing they can do because Lee Kuan Yew will sue anyone in his Kangaroo courts if you said anything. Singaporeans have no respect for their legal system because their judges are equally corrupt by misusing their judicial office to destroy his political opponents.

In addition you have the secrecy of the island's wealth funds where many Singaporeans believe that their money is being systemically stolen by Lee Kuan Yew who has since died and now by his family, particularly his son who is the Prime Minister. But the people are not allowed to mention any of this because if you do, you will be sued and destroyed.

In Singapore therefore Lee Kuan Yew has put a system in place where common sense tells you the system is corrupt but yet, you are not allowed to complain because the Kangaroo courts will get you and destroy you. There is no respect by the people for their government, but the government gets away with it because the island people are intimidated and afraid to take a stand.

So far while Lee Kuan Yew was alive, given his jailing of his opponents like Chia Thye Poh for decades, the people were simply  afraid and accepted such a life.

But now we have the son, who does not have the stature or authority of his father. In fact most Singaporeans have no respect for the son at all, since they consider his only qualification as being his father's son.

But for the son of Lee Kuan Yew, Loong to continue in power he is forced to continue doing  the same as what his father did, in other words he has to instill fear in his people to prevent them from complaining about his corruption, his nepotism and his abuser of authority. And this is what he is going to find difficult to do.

It is no longer possible for him to strut around the island like a dictator as his father, because he does not have the authority of his father. Secondly it is not natural for any leader to expect his people to obey him when he is clearly misusing his authority, like Lee's son Loong is doing.

It is obvious that it is easier for a leader doing the right things for his people with a moral authority to rule and harder for someone who is clearly abusing his peoples rights with repressive measures. It is going to be difficult for Loong, Lee Kuan Yew son to demand his people's support while at the same time denying human rights, being unashamedly corrupt to the tune of millions and using the law courts to deny his people's legitimate interests.

On the other hand even if Loong decided to ease the repression and stop being corrupt, this will still be the end of him because if he allowed free speech and peaceful protests, people will begin to openly criticize him which will result in his being unseated him from power almost immediately.

So for poor Loong without his father it is simply Hobson's Choice or Tails you lose and heads I win. If Loong decides to continue like his father, there will be protests in the street. If he decides to give his people freedom, he will be discredited and lose his moral authority to rule.

With the scenario being bad as it is, the next question is whether there is anyone or any organization is able to take over. Unfortunately for Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew made sure that no real leader is ever allowed to take root in the island, because he was afraid he may be unseated. So from the late JB Jeyaretnam to every other possible leader were all destroyed through the Kangaroo courts leaving no one except perhaps Chee Soon Juan left with any credibility, authority, leadership and experience.

Very soon, since Loong has no choice but to continue as his father with an iron hand, the people are not going to respect him, and not respecting him, they will take to the streets. A weakened Loong will find himself unable to arrest any protester, because it will only lead to more agitation, and not doing so will only encourage even more protesters. This will lead to even more civil unrest and instability.

With a large sector of the economy reliant totally on foreign investment, you will see an outflow of capital of these foreigners. It is obvious why they have invested in a tiny island like this, because they want stability and a good return on their investment. If there is instability they have no desire to risk their investment in such a tiny island without any hope for future long term political stability.

With foreign investors leaving, so will the locals with their money. A tiny island such as this with a tiny population so reliant on foreign investment simply does not have the ballast to withstand even a tiny storm. As there is no real political leadership in the island able to take the reins and command the respect of the citizenry, I am afraid this island is heading towards both political and economic collapse.

In the end the only legacy that Lee Kuan Yew would have left would be empty skyscrapers and a leaderless clueless society of people not knowing which way to turn.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525
Email: nair.gopalan@yahoo.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/singapore.dissident


Anonymous said...

Dont worry, Singaporeans believe and survive on fairy tales.

LKY fan club is thriving.

Ji Xiang said...


Here in China the state-run media is currently busy praising Lee Kuan Yew.

You might be interested in the recent entry in my blog on what Lee Kuan Yew's authoritarian legacy means for China.