Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Singaporeans should understand a simple truth. Without fundamental freedoms there is no democracy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singaporeans are going to the polls in the near future, according to the island's state controlled newspapers. The entire media in the island is state controlled. Like North Korea it is illegal to print or publish any independent news.

But polls and elections would do no good, if democracy is what Singaporeans want.

Every country which claims to be a democracy has a set of rules known as the Constitution. It is this document that lays down and enshrines the rights of the individual and the duties of the government. Every law that is enacted requires compliance to the Constitution failing which it should be struck down. The idea is the fundamental belief that the government is accountable to the people, and it is the will of the people that decides laws. The idea also is that human beings have a right to think and formulate opinions and it is through a clash of ideas that a country moves from strength to strength. Where ideas are tested by debate in the open where the superior one defeats the others thereby improving society in the march of time.

For Singapore on the other hand, this has not been the case. Lee Kuan Yew for the last 50 years had his own ideas of government. The Constitution to him was irrelevant. He and his colleagues were the know alls and the end alls of governance. It is he that will decide and the people are not qualified to even think. You can imagine a dictatorship or autocracy where the leaders lead and the people just obey.

Such things as the right to free speech and expression, if allowed, would mean that the people can question him. Since this does not fit into his world view of governance, he simply removed these constitutional guarantees. Since the Constitution allowed the amendment of the Constitution on a 2/3 majority in Parliament since he had 2/3, he simply abrogated all those fundamental rights.

In fact, the very basis of his managing to get 2/3s was itself fraudulent. Lee Kuan Yew never held free and fair elections in the island. Every single election was rigged to ensure only his men can win. This is done through intimidation of voters, threats, defamation actions, spying, surveillance  and loss of livelihood to those who dared challenge him.

Therefore having obtained the 2/3 majority in Parliament through fraud, he then goes ahead and amends the Constitution to deny every single fundamental right.

Today it is illegal to make a public speech or hold a peaceful assembly except in a small square of grass no more than 100 meters square in a secluded part of down town Singapore. Government police cameras monitor every speaker's move and speech and one has to register to speak with the police and if any proposed speech is not to their liking, they simply arbitrarily deny it. If you went ahead and spoke anyway, you are arrested and brought before Kangaroo judges who are waiting to please the Lee Kuan Yew government by throwing the book at you.

The frequent and repeated defamation actions against anyone who criticizes the government leaves the ordinary citizen terrified of open criticism, lest the police get you and you are bankrupted by the Kangaroo judges as so often happens.

In this atmosphere of fear which the Lees have successfully ingrained in the minds of the ordinary citizen, the ordinary Singaporean today is unable to ask the question whether it is right and the courage to go ahead and do it if it is right. They have been terrified into submission.

In the end, unless the ordinary Singaporean is prepared to use his head and ask the question "What is wrong if I make a public speech in downtown Singapore away from that stupid designated patch of grass? Who am I hurting if I did this? What right has this government to make such stupid laws to say that the only spot that I can make a speech is at the government designated piece of grass patch? "

If the answers to these questions are in the negative, then one has to do it because it is right. And if this repressive regime wants to arrest me, they can go ahead and do it. And what is more, I should be willing to make repeated speeches in violation of their silly laws challenging to repeatedly arrest you.

Until and unless the average citizen is willing to do this and reclaim his right to free speech, expression and assembly, Singaporeans are simply wasting their time in going in for these useless elections. They should remember that any government would want to retain these powers because it is easiest to rule this way, just as Adolf Hitler ruled with ease this way over his Germans.

The first thing to do is not argue about issues such as an influx of immigration, high cost of living and overcrowding. The first thing to do is to demand your fundamental rights because without it, you will never see democracy.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont California USA
A Singaporean by birth
Now American citizen
Tel: 510 491 8525

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