Thursday, February 8, 2007

Singapore. Why Singaporeans must rely on themselves for change.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singaporeans must rely on themselves for political change and not on foreign countries to do it for them. Although one is happy to hear that the EU, the European Parliament, Sweden and other countries who cherish freedom, criticizing Singapore for the lack of it, ultimately if change is to come, it has to be brought about by the Singaporeans and Singaporeans alone.

There are many worse places than Singapore. There is Burma. There are the various dictatorships around the world. There is Zimbabwe where Mugabe illegally confiscates white farmer's land to give it to blacks. But none of these countries, despite the displeasure of America and Europe, have really suffered for their bad behaviour. The principle that appears to be followed is non interference in sovereign affairs and the self-interest rule that when there is business, never mind human rights.

The only countries that has seen the real effect of US displeasure are countries such as North Korea, Cuba and Iran. But any disadvantage in international commerce and trade that these countries have suffered is not because of human rights violations, but because they pose a military threat either to the US or it's allies or because they threaten US and European business interests. Had these countries not posed any military or business threat to the US or it's friends, the US would not have taken any steps against them whatsoever.

Coming to Singapore, it is most unlikely that what the Lee Administration does to its people by way of repression will cause either Europe or the US to provide any real support for the cause of freedom in Singapore. It will be the same old story all over again, that they will not interfere in internal affairs of sovereign countries, and, although they will not say so, they will not want their trade with Singapore to suffer. So it will be business as usual with some interspersed rhetoric on the importance of upholding human rights.

Therefor the responsibility for any change within Singapore must come from you or none at all. Keeping in mind that Lee Administration will never voluntarily hand over power under the law, any change has to come from protests of Singaporeans and civil disobedience of Singaporeans that compels the government, at some point, to submit to justice.

If there are any protests, it is likely to be from intellectuals on human rights and not from the poor clamouring for bread as can be expected of impoverished countries, of which Singapore is not. Among the over 4 million people there, there has to be educated and intelligent people, who love their country and hate where Lee Administration is taking it, a total dictatorship. It is these intelligentsia who will feel the need within them to do something for their country. They would come to a point where keeping quiet and doing nothing and permitting Lee and Company to rule at will as they do now, is no longer an option. And it will be these intelligentsia that will be the catalyst for others to join, and before long, there will be a nationwide movement for change. When this happens, Singapore will turn into a democracy.

I think it is the responsibility of the opposition political parties to arrange these protests and begin politicising the population. If they provide the initial support, the idea of protests will take root and spread. And in doing this, they will be morally correct, as their actions are necessary for the ultimate salvation of the country.

I have read that the British Parliament has taken up the issue of human rights violations in Singapore with the Commonwealth Secretary in the British House of Commons and Prime Ministers of Europe have handed protest notes against human rights violations at various Singapore consulates across Europe. All very good. Thank you. But on the ground in Singapore, it will not do much good.

Ultimately, only one thing is true. Only Singaporeans can bring about change in Singapore. No one else.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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