Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Lee Kuan Yew's Singaporean dictatorship taking its toll on the island, its people and it's future

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The universal truth is this. People all over the world want to be free, and Singapore is no exception. This is inherent in human spirit. Human beings are not happy when told by their dictators that they cannot speak freely, cannot complain freely, cannot protest or cannot question authority. And the universal truth always is, when dictatorial governments try to control the lives of their people, they rebel, refuse to co-operate, refuse to respect their governments, refuse to give their best, and when possible, leave their countries.

This is what happened to me. I was born in Singapore. I was a Singapore citizen. I was deeply involved in local politics. I went to school there. I joined opposition political party. Contested general elections, was part of the local population, fraternized with them and tried to change their government with what I thought was a better way to live.

But then I realized that it is impossible to be free in the Singaporean dictatorship. They don't allow it. The laws prevent anyone from speaking openly, from challenging authority, from writing and publishing what I want, to protest in public. In other words, I cannot be free in Singapore. When I realized this, the question was, do I live the rest of my life unhappy under a dictatorship, which controls every aspect of your life, or do I leave for another country that allows me to be free?

There can be no doubt what the answer is. Without any question, it was better to leave and live somewhere else where you can be free. And that is exactly what I did. I packed up my bags and my belongings and headed for California United States, where I am now a citizen.

I think today's dictatorial government of Singapore somehow appears not to realize this. It is not the glitter, fancy airport, shopping malls and glass skyscrapers that attracts one to his country, but the ability to be free that does.

It is the dictatorship that drives native Singaporeans away from their country, suppresses the birth rate which is the lowest in the world, and greatly lowers the competitiveness, inventiveness, entrepreneurship and productivity of the state. And the constant fear of the dictatorial government under which they live results in widespread island wide medical diseases and poor health caused by the extreme stresses and tension in their daily lives.

It is inventiveness, innovation and productivity that spurs a country forward. These qualities create change. And change is essential for any society to advance. Otherwise they are stagnant. In Singapore it is impossible for anyone to feel safe with an independent mind. If your thinking comports with the state's ideology, then you are fine. But if you are seen to have ideas opposed, you are not allowed the light of day. Your ideas are not published in the state controlled monopoly media, you are harassed, kicked out of your job and no one will ever know or hear about you.

As examples of the government's modus operandi, take the case of Chee Soon Juan, JB Jeyaretnam and myself, Gopalan Nair. All of us had ideas contrary to that of the dictatorship. We stood for free speech, free expression, the right to peaceful assembly and opinion. So all of us had to be silenced, branded criminals and denied any chance to be heard. We were all permanently silenced within the island.

So what sort of people make up the island population today after 70% of them voted for this government in the recent elections? They obviously are people who appreciate the dictatorial form of government where people are denied free speech and expression and peaceful protesters are arrested and jailed.

But what about the rest of 30%? I reckon the entire 30% are no longer in Singapore and can be found in distant places such as Australia, New Zealand, United States and Canada. And I have no doubt that increasing numbers continue to leave because they don't wish to live in a dictatorship. So as more and more people leave, the knowledge that one's life can be far better in a democracy is spread to others, who in turn themselves leave. There can be no doubt that life in a democracy where you can think and speak the way you want without fear of arrest and imprisonment is far superior to life in any dictatorship such as Singapore. In the battle between democracies and dictatorships, democracies always win and dictatorships always lose.

As the best citizens are ones who can think freely, educated and are able to bring diverse opinions into the marketplace of ideas, it is usually these people who are in a position to leave. As a result dictatorships like Singapore lose the very citizens they need the most, their brightest. I have a college degree in law and able to bring diverse and independent ideas into society. Since Singapore dictatorship will not allow me to exercise my independent thought and contribute to society for change, I decided to pack up and leave, just as thousands of others like me leave. As a result of the island's determination to continue as a dictatorship, I have taken my skills, knowledge and experience to Fremont Northern California. Instead of serving the local community in Singapore where I was born, as a lawyer I now represent clients in my new community of choice in Northern California. Instead of Singapore, the place of my birth benefiting from my training, experience and knowledge, it is Northern California that benefits.

And while here in the US, I continue to expose the Singaporean dictatorship through this blog for the benefit of those who may think otherwise about the island. In this way I continue to play my part in damaging the dictatorship government of Singapore.

In the same way, Singaporean lawyers, doctors, scientists, teachers, biochemists and skilled people in every sphere pack up their bags and leave because they find it disagreeable to live a life under a dictatorship. As a result these Singaporean professionals serve their adopted communities in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada which benefit by their presence while the island of their birth the Singaporean dictatorship suffers a devastating loss.

Such a lack of skilled people on a permanent growing rate through mass emigration to the West cannot sustain this Singaporean dictatorship. The democracies of Australia New Zealand USA and Canada are the net beneficiaries of this movement of people from the dictatorship and Singapore continues the net loser. As a result Singapore continues to lose out on inventiveness, innovation, entrepreneurship and competitiveness. Which is why it's productivity is among the lowest in the world today and no attempt by the government is able to raise it. So as long as this dictatorship  government of Singapore is unable to realize this truth, the island will continue to see it's progress fall and slip further backwards, while the net beneficiaries, the world's democracies will continue to enjoy a net gain in every respect.

Because people inherently yearn freedom. It is part of human spirit.

Finally Singapore today is a boring place totally lacking in vibrancy. People living in fear of the Singapore dictatorship government are incapable of being vibrant. For a vibrant society it needs to have courage. Instead of courage, what you have in Singapore is island wide fear. Fear of arrest, fear of defamation lawsuits, fear of being thrown out of your jobs and fear of bankruptcy in the dictatorship Singaporean government if they are displeased.

* If you like what I write, please spread the message of this blog, Singapore Dissident. The more people are made aware of this dictatorship, the more the cause of freedom and democracy is served. Thank you.

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

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Why do people like Singaporeans Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng take this harassment lying down

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The latest incident of harassing anyone who criticizes the Singapore government is the case of Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng. Please see Singapore state controlled newspaper article here

According to the story, they were not supposed to have suggested their choice of candidate before the recent by elections this year. According to Singapore laws there is such a thing as a "cooling off period" which is the day before the polls when it is illegal for anyone to support any particular political election candidate. I am not sure to what extent they wrote in Facebook their candidate of choice but even so, this appears to be a very minor incident.

But this dictatorship government in their high handed manner, bent on silencing any and all dissent, have made a mountain out of a molehill, repeatedly detained them at police stations for questioning, ransacked their houses and confiscated computers files and videos, demanded several other persons to submit to police interrogations on the guise that they are collecting evidence, and generally behaving like gangsters for one purpose alone, that is to terrify the entire island population into submission through fear which they have already done.

One would have thought that the last people in the world who would submit willingly to Singapore island republic's authoritarianism are people such as these. Teo Soh Lung is a lawyer and a democracy activist who served time in jail for challenging the island dictatorship. Roy Ngerng was a blogger who was sued by the island's dictator Lee Hsien Loong and has been ordered to pay several hundreds of thousands of dollars in monthly instalments. Both of them have shown themselves to be intelligent, politically aware and have tertiary qualifications.

With professional skills such as they have, there is no need to accept the repression thrown at them. They are, compared to other less educated and less qualified citizens, in a best position to say No. To say, I am not going to take this anymore. Take the case of Teo Soh Lung. Although I am not privy to her personal circumstances, from what I know of her, it shouldn't be too difficult for her to stand up and resist. She was a good lawyer, but the harassment she suffered resulted in her having to give up her law practice. In her present state, of having nothing much more to lose, it is an easier choice to make for her to fight the regime instead of meekly submitting.

In the case of Roy Ngerng, he too has a college degree and used to work for a Singaporean hospital. As a result of his criticism of the regime, he was thrown out of his job and now works privately. In his case too the state has been ruthless and vindictive. Why does his blood not boil and say I refuse to submit to this nonsense any more like Peter Finch in the award winning movie "Network".

The obvious actions that comes to mind is for them to publicly protest. Deliberately break Singapore's illegal laws that criminalize peaceful protests, invite them to arrest them and embarrass them in the world stage as a repressive one party totalitarian state that denies their citizens fundamental human rights. Revenge should be honorable in a case like this and they should be prepared to face whatever this illegitimate government would throw at them. In the end, if the government goes through and does arrest and punish them, the fallout in the democratic world would hurt them even more.

Alternatively, if they are not prepared to go through the trouble, then clear out, emigrate. Pack their bags and go to the West. There is no doubt every single western nation would give them asylum.

But I notice, very strange indeed, that they just stay back and take this nonsense from the government, lying down. And what are we supposed to do, blame this government and proclaim how bad they are. To take an extreme example, it is like a North Korean tortured by Kim Jong Un willingly taking the punishment but yet refuses to leave the country even though he can!

I don't think it is necessary to sympathize with Teo Soh Lung and Roy Ngerng. It is not as if they are helpless, they are clearly not. They are intelligent capable people. They can stand and fight but they choose not to. They can emigrate but they choose not to either. Instead they wish to stay behind in Stalin's Russia or Lee Hsien Loong's Singapore and take the bullying. They are grown adults with a head on their shoulders. If this is how they wish to live, who are we to say otherwise.

The worst thing in my mind is to give Lee Hsien Loong, the present Singaporean dictator the satisfaction that he can abuse you and get away with it scot free. And what is even worse, the knowledge that you are willing to let him.

When I was in Singapore, I too was being persecuted for fighting for freedom and human rights. I could either have stayed back and fought the regime, through peaceful protests and free speech. On the other hand I could have left. I did the latter.

My advice to them is to do one or the other. Either stand up and fight or leave. Don't just willingly hang around for them to push you around. You don't have to . And it is not necessary.

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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Has Singaporean teenager free speech advocate, enfante terrible Amos Yee, signed his own death warrant

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There can be no question on the principle. Amos Yee has the right to speak his mind. That is the law and that is the Constitution. And no dictator such as Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kuan Yew's son nor any other bigwig thug strutting around that tiny island of Singapore like a prize rooster bullying anyone in his way has any right to stop him.

I support Amos Yee on that principle. Having said that, is all the other stuff that he says really necessary. And for what purpose?

By all means, call Lee Hsien Loong any number of names you want. He deserves every single insult thrown at him, the corrupt multi millionaire rascal. But my question is this. Why insult Muslims and Christians? What purpose does that serve? You may disagree with some of the seemingly illogical verses in the Muslim Holy Book that Allah created the world and everything in just a few days, but there happens to be millions of Muslims around the world who really believe this. So why not let them be? In any case what satisfaction would you derive by insulting the Muslims or for that matter proving your point on the right of free speech, and be murdered in the process.

But have you really thought through the consequences of your action. It is a fact and quite obviously so that there are Muslims around the world including in Singapore who are very hurt by your actions. For some, according to their interpretation of their Book, to kill or maim and hurt someone who insults their religion is not only a right, it is their duty for which they are rewarded in Paradise upon death. So what is there to stop any Muslim in Geylang Singapore to beat you up or even kill you by the justification that a few years in jail or even execution is a small prize to pay for the Paradise eventually waiting for them.

Bing killed or maimed for standing on free speech principle doesn't make much sense to me.

I remember the British Prizewinning author Salman Rushdie. After he wrote the Satanic Verses, he went into hiding for fear of his life and the British police actually supplied around the clock bodyguards, at government expense, to protect him. Will Amos Yee have to go into hiding too and will Lee Hsien Loong, the Singapore dictator whom he continues to insult on a daily basis send bodyguards to protect him! I think it is very probably the reverse! After all the insults, I suppose he would celebrate when Amos Yee gets the polishing.

And to a great extent he has already made himself a prisoner in his own island. It is not Lee Hsien Loong that has done that to him. He quite literally dare not come out of his apartment, lest there is a Singapore Malay Muslim waiting with a dagger round the block to cut his throat. Although they have confiscated his passport, even with one he could hardly travel. For one thing, he should never go to Peshawar Pakistan, Baghdad Iraq or San'a Yemen, unless he intends to commit suicide. In fact he can hardly travel anywhere in the world, not even to the US. Here in California as well as any other part of the US there are many waiting for the opportunity to go to Paradise, with the help of Amos Yee.

One can of course stand on principle but one should of course also use common sense. And one should face reality. I can if I want exercise my right of free speech by standing in the middle of Baghdad Square Iraq and insult Allah. I should know what will happen next, no need to even thick twice. And to a large extent Amos Yee has done just that. Through the Internet, it is probable that the worst terrorists in Baghdad have already got wind of this teenager's escapades. Will they wait for him to go to Iraq to finish him off or are they sending someone right now to Singapore for this purpose?

And has Amos Yee considered his future life in Singapore  assuming he has one? Lee Hsien Loong and his bully government are a cowardly vindictive lot. They will make sure that he gets no help whatsoever even to survive. Let me tell you the obvious. It is good that he lives with his parents. If not the government housing authority HDB where 90% of the islanders are housed will not provide accommodation. He will have to live on the street in a tent! Second employment. No one will give him a job. Not the government nor any private employer. They are all afraid the government will punish them if they did. And then of course he can try to emigrate. It is certain he will obtain asylum in any third country. But besides worrying if someone will kill him, what sort of work can he get? He is reported to be a dropout without any trade. He knows how to make YouTube movies. He can go straight to Hollywood California and try his luck but what guarantee is there that he will succeed?

And another thing closer to home. He can't even go to Malaysia. It is a majority Muslim country and I have no doubt they are waiting patiently for him.

I am afraid this young man has rushed headlong into his free speech crusade without actually thinking through his actions.

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