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