Ladies and Gentlemen,
Everyday one reads in the news of Singapore island's failing economy. It's oil and gas industry is failing due to falling gas prices. The biotech industry is failing through competition. Casinos are losing money as the Chinese have no money. Singapore Airlines is losing traffic and is flying half empty running losses of several billions. The money laundering business is failing as developed countries are clamping down on tax cheats. The commodities market is lost because technology no longer needs a hub as a conduit and sellers are sending their goods direct to the consumer countries. The bad news continues to flow with no end in sight.
Why is Singapore island not able to extricate itself from these failures. The global events are of course one factor. But far more important is the mentality of the average Singaporean, someone who throughput his entire life has been conditioned to just follow orders from above, unable to think for himself and be independent. And this brain washing and behavior training has been assiduously, systematically trained them like dogs to merely obey, incapable of fending for themselves.
Lee Kuan Yew since the beginning of his rule in the 1950s had determined that the best society for him to rule over is one that simply obeys and does what he is told. He totally discounted the most important aspect of any society, that is, the ability to think and progress oneself through ideas and innovation.
In order to achieve his model citizen, a person who will work hard, do as he is told and simply obey, he put a system in place to achieve this. Through the decades, anyone who showed the slightest inclination to have ideas of his own was immediately destroyed and punished. Although there were only a handful of people in the tiny society which was Singapore who showed any spine, every single one of them was mowed down and destroyed, firstly to remove them as a threat to his power and secondly to send a strong signal to everyone else that it is suicidal to try to have views in opposition to the state.
First we had Chia Thye Poh, a critic of the Lee Kuan Yew Administration. He was conveniently branded a Communist and jailed for 31 years, even longer than Nelson Mandela, to remove him as a threat and to teach a lesson to everyone in the island on the futility of any opposition. He was finally released and today lives out the reminder of his life in obscurity.
Then we had JB Jeyaretnam, a lawyer and opposition politician. He too was repeatedly sued for defamation of character, jailed and bankrupted. He was effectively removed from politics. He has since died.
Then we have Chee Soon Juan, a former professor at the University of Singapore. For his temerity to criticize the leadership, he was sacked form his job, repeatedly sued for defamation and bankrupted. He has since tried to stand for political office but has failed miserably because the majority of Singaporeans refused to vote for him out of fear. He has been effectively removed from politics.
In my case since 1984 I had been a critic of the regime. For that, while a lawyer in Singapore I had been repeatedly charged with trumped up lawyer disciplinary charges. In 1981 I was suspended from practicing law in the island for 2 years although it didn't effect me personally since I had already left for the United States. In 2008, being an American citizen, I returned to Singapore and while there I wrote a blog post criticizing his corrupt judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean for abusing the law to punish Chee Soon Juan. I was arrested and sent to prison for 3 months. I had said that "Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean had prostituted herself in being nothing but an employee of the government and the ruling party". After I returned to the US, I had written another blog in similar terms to describe the judge Judith Prakash for sending 3 young men to jail merely for wearing T Shirts with a picture of a Kangaroo in judge's robes. After that the Singapore Law Society began disciplinary proceeding against me in Singapore. They disbarred me from practicing law in Singapore in absentia. Not that it bothers me since I live and practise law in California.
Every single action aforementioned by the Singapore authorities was done for one purpose and one purpose alone, which is to intimidate every single Singaporean not to criticize the administration and as a warning as to what will happen to you if you did.
Today looking at the Singaporean society, they have achieved their purpose beyond their wildest dreams. What then is Singapore today. It is an island literally without a Constitution. Every single constitutional human right is denied giving the rulers absolute power over their citizens. The right of free speech is denied. Anyone wishing to make a speech in public is required to have a police permit. There is no right o to peaceful assembly. Anyone wanting to organize a peaceful assembly in public requires a police permit. And by the way, even if you applied for a permit you will not get it. No police permits have every been issued to anyone to criticize the regime.
There is no free press. Every single newspaper or news media has to be licensed by the government under the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act. In fact even the possession of a printing press is illegal without a government permit. The judges are all minions serving the state. Any case where the litigant challenges the power of the state is immediately struck down and the litigant harassed and victimized. In other words the people have to live as slaves, nothing but slaves.
And what today is a Singaporean? He is one who out of fear is incapable of forming any independent opinion over the way he lives. He is resigned to live in total fear of the state in total submission.
Especially in a tiny society such as this, without any natural resources, the only asset is the people. And especially in a tiny society such as this, the only way to advance and succeed has to be through the ingenuity of the people, to form opinions and ideas, to be able to fend for themselves, to create new enterprises through ideas, to form a niche in a certain area and to compete and advance in this global society through one's ability. That unfortunately is not possible by such a society who are trained to believe that the only way to survive is to not rock the boat, to be another number in society waiting to be told what to do and waiting to be given a job by the state.
For anyone with an mind of his own, such a life is distasteful. You live a life realizing that you are powerless and only survive because of the kindness and generosity of the state. And when the state has run out of ideas as it is now, the people are powerless to do anything about it, waiting for the next order from above.
When I was living and practicing law in Singapore, I was told a joke about Singaporeans by a former judge Mr. Rajendarn who was very quickly removed from his post, very probably because he had shown some independence of spirit. The joke went this way. Once they wanted to know how Americans behaved. So they put 2 Americans and one girl in a lonely island. When they went to check on them 3 months later, they found that one American had killed the other and ravished the girl. On another occasion they put 2 Englishmen and a girl in that lonely island. When they went to check 3 months later they found both men had killed the girl and ravished each other. Subsequently they had placed 2 Singaporeans and a girl in that lonely island. When they went to check after 3 months they found nothing had happened. When asked why they didn't do anything, they said they were waiting for further orders!
It is simply not possible in this day and age for any society, especially a tiny one such as in Singapore to be governed through central planning. The Singaporean leaders today simply cannot sit in their cozy offices planning what industries to create, what jobs to be dished out. It no longer works that way. No matter what the Singaporean leaders plan and execute, global conditions change so fast that you simply cannot stay ahead. The only way for a tiny society such as this to advance is through each individual thinking for himself how he wants to live, and how he should make opportunities to survive for himself and his community. The engine for growth is the individual himself, not some government bureaucrat sitting behind closed doors and planning what is best for you. Besides being a very distasteful way to live, it is impossible for human beings to advance through their own ingenuity and ideas in this sort of existence.
You can compare Singapore with bustling cities such as London San Francisco and New York. Every day its citizens throw up new ideas and new enterprises, not because their governments had done this for them, but because they themselves have come up with these ideas. London is full of all sorts of businesses and activities. They have world reputed banks, restaurants, businesses, new ideas that is the marvel and envy of the world. And the reason for this is that an Englishman is free to do as he wants, without his government punishing him for ideas not in conformity with officialdom. Like a river flowing down from a mountain, no matter what the obstacles are in its way, it will still find a way around and continue to progress. This is not possible for Singaporeans, since they can only sit back and wait for the their government to tell them what they should do next.
Unfortunately for Singapore, the rulers have no intention of giving their citizens any freedom for obvious reasons, because if they did, their grip over them will loosen. And if that happens, they would be overthrown. So the only way for them to remain in power is to make sure their citizens continue to live as slaves under their complete grip.
And unfortunately for Singaporeans, even for the sake of argument, that the government does decide to loosen their grip, the citizens simply cannot escape from their mentality cultivated over decades where they simply are told to obey. So whether one likes it or not, no matter what, the island will continue to decline economically only because you have a society which is incapable of deciding for themselves.
Attorney at Law
Fremont (San Francisco) California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525