Friday, June 8, 2007

Singapore government's dilemna. Attempting to do the impossible.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It appears what Singapore is trying to do is a contradiction in terms. An impossibility. Lee Kuan Yew is trying to keep the people subservient to his authoritarian rule. At the same time, he is wanting to make Singapore an international city, which exposes it to liberal ideas of freedom and democracy. These 2 conditions cannot exist together. As people become more exposed to democratic ideas from the west, Lee Kuan Yew cannot expect them to keep their mouths shut without objection to everything he orders. This is an impossible situation. And in this situation, Lee's attempt to keep an iron grip on his people must fail. This must be so.

In fact, if Lee can continue to keep the people ignorant and blind to outside influences, he will. An uneducated and ignorant people are easier to control. Easier to control peasants than executives. But even though Lee would prefer to have a peasant population such as in the villages of Cambodia, he cannot. Singapore has lost it's position as a cheap labour economy for foreign multi nationals such as neighbouring Indonesia. Cost of living has climbed. Therefore whether Lee likes it or not, Singapore has to produce high end, value added products which requires greater education to produce. The ubiquitous multinational offices in the modern high rise office towers in downtown Singapore require secretaries who are educated and computer savvy. Such a workforce in Singapore with at least a high school education will be exposed to the global political scene. They will become aware that in other places, people have rights. And they will be begin to question, why they have none. This threatens the authoritarian rule of Lee Kuan Yew.

It is not possible in a country such as Singapore which is so connected to the world, to keep the people ignorant of what goes on outside. Their interaction with the large number of foreigners who live and work in Singapore makes it impossible for Lee to hide the truth from them. As time goes on, more and more people will realize that all is not in order in Singapore. It is only a matter of time that there will be public dissatisfaction and disaffection. Unless the government is prepared to make necessary adjustments now, it is as sure as day and night, that at a point in the near future, there will be public outcry for change. And that is a good thing.

One can already see the signs of it now. A number of young people have come forward and engaged in a number of public protests such as the Freedom march. This is the first time in history that young people in such numbers have come forward to publicly show their dissatisfaction.

The increase in this disenchantment with Lee Kuan Yew and his government is, as you can see, due to various reasons. As mentioned, the greater education and sophistication among the young is one factor. Then you have the greater interaction with the large number of foreigners who run multinational companies in Singapore which increases the realization of the people as to how it works in the west, causing them to question why they have to live the way the do. Then again, you have the Internet which is a tremendous boon to the cause of freedom. The state controlled press can no longer control the minds of the people to believe that all is nice and rosy in the paradise island Singapore, as the state would want us to believe. This causes the state controlled press to lose credibility, thereby making it even more difficult for the government to convince people on the truth of their policies. And then you have the massive brain drain from Singapore made up of the educated and discerning. And they send messages back to their relatives and friends in Singapore, telling them how good life is in the West and reminding them of how miserable the lives Singaporeans live. This causes even more disenchantment among the locals.

And then, there are blogs like mine and others who repeatedly keep reminding Singaporeans that they are living as slaves, and urging them to do something for change.

Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Cabinet Minister in Lee's government recently stated with some bravado that he is not concerned about individual blogs because in his words "those blogs have a readership of one, the writer!" I would like to tell Dr. Balakrishnan that the evidence is quite different from what he believes. This blog "Singapore Dissident" started in Dec 06, has to date more than 1600 hits, just on my profile. The hits on the blog therefore has to be much larger since those regular readers who have already seen my profile would not need to read it again. The conservative estimate therefore has to be since Dec 2006, the readership must have increased to several thousand, not bad for a span of just 5 months. So Dr. Balakrishnan should know that blogs can be dangerous to the well being of Lee Kuan Yew and his ruling PAP and to Dr. Balakrishnan. Not just a readership of one, the author.

Singaporeans have lost faith or trust in the very organs of government. They are aware that the judiciary has been discredited. That the civil service is no longer independent. The state controlled press is nothing more than a propaganda sheet. They are aware that they can no longer get justice in the courts, because justice depends on who you are, not whether your cause is just.

I have a stake in the future of Singapore just as any other Singaporean. It was my father who came from India and built Singapore, just as the million or so immigrants from China, India and the Malays who built it up. Singapore belongs to us, as much as it belongs to Lee Kuan Yew and his family. I do not believe that Singaporeans will allow Singapore to be taken over by the Lee family much longer.

I think the time has come for change. If not immediately, it will come soon.

I have said in my earlier posts. The style of the other opposition leaders such as Loh Thia Khiang and Chiam See Tong cannot hope to change the government through elections because the people have lost all power. Since all power rests with Lee and his government, elections become meaningless. If Lee desires, he will rig the elections. There is nothing to prevent that from happening.

One basic requirement for change is the need for the people to take back that power. They can only do it by deliberate and intentional opposition to the regime. I think the people are already aware of the need for such deliberate action. The seed for change has been sown. It is only a matter of time when the numbers of protesters will increase.

When that time comes, Lee will have to listen to his people.

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

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