Sunday, December 30, 2007

Democratic action in Singapore

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This post is my views on how and why Singaporeans should demand a democratic Singapore. I am sure most of you already know the problems. But please allow me to list it out here. And how we could possibly move ahead.

First of all, no one should hold their breath for 2011, the date for the next general elections in Singapore. Freedom House, the international organization monitoring democracies internationally has correctly said, Singaporeans cannot expect to change their government through elections.

The government is determined to remain in power forever. Just as dictatorships around the world in history. If by chance, many opposition candidates are elected, they will stuff the ballot boxes and declare victory anyway. If not they will come with trumped of charges, after the elections, of various forms of impropriety against the opposition politicians and remove them from office, as they had done to JB Jeyaretnam after he was elected to the Anson seat in 1981. The pattern of the Lee Administration is well known. If you are not a threat to them, such as Low Thia Khiang and Sylvia Lim of the Workers Party and Chiam See Thong of the SDA, they will leave you alone. However if you happen to be another JB Jeyaretnam or Dr. Chee Soon Juan, then you will be promptly removed.

Of course you know how Mr. Lee Kuan Yew removes his opposition. High Court Judges, Ministers, Police Commissioners, top Civil Servants are bribed with mind boggling astronomically high salaries to become nothing more than Lee Kuan Yew's servants; to willingly do his dirty work to eliminate the opposition through illegal means. For these lavish salaries, they are bought over. They will do anything Lee demands of them. They will finish off the opposition by false charges, illegal court judgements and finish them off one way or another.

Lee will ensure that Parliament remains the rubber stamp that it now is; and as it has been for the last 40 years! If men like Dr. Chee and JB Jeyaretnam enter Parliament, it will no longer be Lee's rubber stamp. And Lee does not prefer that.

This is the sad situation in Singapore whether you like it or not. Lee Kuan Yew has got you in a vice from which there is no escape. If you do nothing, you are doomed to spend the rest of your lives, waiting for the handouts that Lee will throw at you, if he pleases, while he and his friends in government will continue to steal millions of dollars of your money. Yes, your money.

This is what you can do. Keep in mind that any action you take has a cumulative effect. A positive multiplier effect. Even the distribution of one leaflet to one individual is enough. The receiver will repeat the message to others, and in degrees, at least sections of the population becomes emboldened.

There is no need to do any political activity through any political party; if that is what you prefer. On the one hand, you can do it through political parties like the Singapore Democratic Party. Political activism through political parties is of course preferred. But it is not a requirement. On the other hand, you can do it alone or among friends, if you prefer. As and when and where you like it.

One method is to print sufficient leaflets to distribute at busy places. The leaflets can encourage the people to protest. You can mention matters such as the unacceptably high salaries or theft being committed against the people by the ministers. You can mention the lack of a free press. The demand to be able to assemble. The demand for an independent judiciary. The leaflets can refer to the Singapore Democratic Party and their contact particulars. It can also request volunteers to distribute them at other places. Hopefully this way, Singapore island will be inundated with leaflets. And if you persist in this, you may well be able to move things. But regardless of whether you move things forward immediately, your actions alone would have made some dent in the illegal edifice of the Lee Administration. Also while distributing leaflets, you can wear a placard or poster over you body with the words "Down with Lee Kuan Yew" or "More Freedom Now" or any other catchy phrase you prefer and with a cry "Freedom now" etc.

And mind you, according to the Penal Code of Singapore distribution of leaflets is not illegal.

Another thing that is good is to get your friends together wearing the same T Shirts of similar color with a catchy slogan such as "Freedom now" and march long Orchard Road. While marching, you can also distribute leaflets.

Important thing to remember is to constantly inform others of what you have heard such as by sending out these messages of mine to others, Emailing others, and constantly spreading the news of your agitation.

As for distributing leaflets and holding marches and other political activity, I suggest you do not publicise it before the activity. Any publicity of it will attract undercover police to harass you and disrupt your activity. Get a cameraman there while you are involved in the activity. After the activity, post it on the Internet as a video or in pictures, preferably on Dr. Chee's web page Singapore Democrat. This way others will know what you have done; they will hopefully be emboldened and do the same just as you did. The idea is to get more and more involved in some sort of political protest. This will bring about change.

I understand that the government cannot block the Internet in Singapore. They have tried and failed. Whether they like it or not, they have to accept the overwhelming criticism against them on the Internet. With more and more Singaporeans becoming Internet savvy, they are unable to stop the hatred against them on the Internet spreading.

Remember, now it a situation of them and us. Them, being the moneyed millionaires who are Lee Kuan Yew and his chosen friends in government. They take millions of dollars. They are the only ones happy with this dictatorial regime. Then there is us. That is, the overwhelming majority of Singaporeans like you, who are not millionaires, and can never hope to be. You live at the pleasure of Lee Kuan Yew. And you will starve, if Lee Kuan Yew wishes it. Many of you are nearly in that position now. And without any rights.

Now the ground is ripe for change. The people of Singapore hate this dreaded government. If you act now, you will succeed.

Thanks for reading.

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


Anonymous said...

democractic action will fail in singapore ... catherine lim spoke about the climate of fear ... it is real. it is in the mind of the people.

lky has a model in strongman robert mugabe in zimbabwe. the economy is in a shamble, hyperinflation, hyper unemployment but he is still in power.

how depressing.

Gopalan Nair said...

Hello Anonymous,
Robert Mugabe is clutching at staws. He is going very soon. Singapore will change even faster. Singapore is an interational city. It is not Salsbury (Harare). You can already see the change happening. Open your eyes. Speak to Dr. Chee. You will be suprised to see the extent of democratic agitation. If you want to be part of the action, join the others in agitation.

cheer up. It is better than you think.
Gopalan Nair

Anonymous said...

Spore's political situation is beyond salvage. The Old Man has destroyed whatever that had made Spore & the people great. Spore is already beyond hope while the future (despite IR)is bleak. Dr Chee Soon Juan & JB Jeyaretnam are to be commended for their courageous efforts to make the people aware of their democratic rights & to oppose the FamiLee. But it is in vain & where is the support? CSJ has only a small band of hardcore supporters while JBJ cuts a lonely figure post-Workers Party. The last few election, we have seen tremendous public attendances at opposition rallies, but on polling day, the status quo is maintained. This has happen far too many times!
The reason lies with Spore's origins & insidious govt policies which have accentuate the racial differences & cultivated a cultural divide. The Old Man fears English speakers. Sporeans who were born before or around 1965 remembered a time where the racial identity was blind - Chinese, Malay, Indians & Eurasians played together & became friends. The common factor which allowed this to happen was English - everyone spoke English. The kampongs & villages were a melting pot of racial harmony & communal relations were great. Post-independence, Old Man's social engineering policies started to bite. A minor digression - Most Sporean Chinese originate from Southern China & their forefathers came to seek fortunes here after political upheaval & economic uncertainty in China. From father to son, the message passed down thru generations was not to meddle with politics but focus on your own future - career, job, work or business. Material comforts are important but politics unwelcome! Old Man was smart but he's not a brilliant chap. He was more of a Street Gangster, not a Strategist. He was Baba (of Nyonya-stock). How could he understood Chinese culture & thinking? He was monolingual & could not even read nor write Mandarin then. Yet he implemented policies which had tremendous racial & cultural impact on Spore. 1st, the bilingual education policy which impacted heavily on English speakers & created deep racial divisions. The Eurasian were the 1st to suffer & they were forced to emigrate in the 1970/80s. The Anglo-Indians felt the bilingualism effect, they, too, left. The English speaking Chinese remained but were excluded from higher education due to stiff bilingual requirements. However, English speakers were middle & high income, they could afford to send their children to USA, Canada, Australia, NZ or the UK in the 1970s/1980s. The local institutions could churn out local graduates in numbers but many were weak in communication, reasoning & writing skills. English speakers with their overseas degrees return & help Spore with the next growth phase (1986 - 1996) - Electronics (post- IBM PC); Banking/Securities Trading, etc.
This group understood democracy & human rights from their time overseas but fortunately for Old Man, they were too busy with their careers to bother with politics.
The problem with bilingualism is that psychologically-speaking, the brain works only in a monolingual channel; either in English or in Mandarin. The severe requirements of bilingualism require that Mandarin takes priority over English. That is no coincidence that although English is spoken in Spore but spoken English has declined. "Catch no ball","You see me no up","You no friend me" are meaningless phases that are literal translation of Chinese dialect and Mandarin. Foreigners won't understand but only locals do. The P65 generation (Post-Independence) & Gen-X, although they speak English but amongst friends, they used Mandarin to communicate.
The Old Man's policies pander to the majority of Chinese speaking Sporeans; traditional & conservative (>65%). No coincidence that the recent election - 66.6% voted for the FamiLee. They are his power base! Why did CSJ fail while Chiam See Tong & Low Thia Kiang succeeded are for the same reasons - Chinese speaking Sporeans. This majority don't understand democratic principles & human rights. Old Man channel huge funds to Channel 8 & U - Chinese language programs, promoting media celebrities and expensive serial programs to keep this group happy. Underneath, they insidiously transmit & glorify Chinese & Confucian values i.e., respect for authority, passivity to govt, family, filial piety, conformism, avoid inquisitiveness, etc. Channel 5 locally produced English programs by comparison seemed infantile & silly. Why? Because Old Man deemed this group dangerous. Censorship targets at this group since most if not all, democratic, human rights & liberal materials are written in the English language. Few, if any, are in Chinese.
The HDB program & HDB racial quotas have divided Spore into racial enclaves. Rarely interracial friendship or interactions are seen in Spore today. Eastpoint in Simei is predominantly Malay while Tekka Square is Indian. Old Man's forced infertility program has hurt Spore replacement numbers & economic potential (foreign Talent scheme was just a stop-gap measure)
The Asian crisis 1997/1998, Global Tech crash 2001/2002 & SARs 2003 had hurt the English Speaking group badly. In addition, Old Man's son & his stupid securities trading & banking liberialization policies destroyed many jobs in those industry. Furthermore, PSA's mistake in underestimating Maersk Line costs huge job losses; SIA which retrenched many staff during the 2003 SARs crisis when no other airline did the same; HDB with its unsold public housing stock like wise. Between 1997 to 2004, English speakers were being hammered from pillar to post.
They no longer felt secure & were being let down in Spore; they had felt the blunt of the economic environment and compound by inhuman govt policy (liberialization) & terrible business decisions (PSA/ SIA/HDB). Those with qualifications & means began a quiet exodus in emigrating overseas. In 2002 NDP, then-PM Holy Goh made his silly & unwarranted speech, "Quitters vs Stayers" and instead of convincing them to stay, actually caused a stampede of Sporeans to leave. He publicized the emigration issue. Many migration agents came out of the woodwork in Spore to provide migration services ironically thanks to Holy Goh. The problem is the group most likely to assert for political participation has already deserted Spore. That is why Spore cannot be salvaged. The govt caused a terrible brain drain to occur.
This will bring Spore many, many future problems. 1st of all, they were educated, highly skilled, speak & wrote good English and their children will benefit their adopted nation. They are and will be irreplaceable. 2ndly, the foreign talent scheme is only a stop-gap bringing boatloads of PRC, Indian, Filipino, Vietnamese, etc. The bottom line is English continues to decline affecting service levels in tourism, shopping & servicing. Already, local non-Chinese are complaining about service staff unable to communicate in English. A foreigner commented after his Tiger Airways flight that he could not understand the English announcements made by the cabin crew & thought it was a foreign language. Also, recent problems with Tiger Airways flights were not effectively addressed by management staff - instead stranded passengers were left high & dry. The business organization is suffering from sclerosis - an inability to coordinate and is breaking down at the critical end. An elitist govt cannot hope to function nor operate if sclerosis is affecting/hardening all its branches downwards. Like Stephen Hawkins, a brilliant but totally paralyzed scientist, Old Man suffers from sclerosis of his mind - become harden (inhuman policies/climate of fear) and uncoordinated (lost touch with the ground). So what if he has millions to last a few lifetimes, he has lost his chance for integrity, respect and admiration years ago and these will be priceless unlike money.

Gopalan Nair said...

Reference Anonymous who wrote "Singapore political situation is beyond salvage".

Thank you. Very insightful and well thought out comment. You are right.But, having said this, the peculiar Singapore situation makes democratic change inevitable. It is city based on international commerce. No matter waht, outside influences on the city is unavoidable. No matter how much Lee wants to try to keep Singapore compliant, the Singapore situation works against a dictatorship. The prognosis, despite the eralier generations compliant mentality is good. The younger generation cannot be stopped.

If you like champagne, this is the time to pop the cork. For a freerer more spontaneous Signaporean.

Gopalan Nair
Fremont, CA

Anonymous said...

MM's family also threatened by brain drain

Grandson Li Hongyi, who is studying overseas, advises his younger brother not to accept scholarship. -ST Jeremy Au Yong

Fri, Jan 11, 2008
The Straits Times

THE problem of brain drain has hit close to home for Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

His grandson Li Hongyi, who is studying economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States on a Public Service Commission scholarship, recently advised his younger brother not to accept a scholarship.

His younger sibling, Li Haoyi, had just scored 43 out of a possible 45 for his International Baccalaureate exams.

Both are sons of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

MM Lee, without identifying the grandsons by name, related what Hongyi said in a recent letter at a dialogue session on Friday: 'He has written to his brother who has just got his Baccalaureate results, and says, 'Don't take a scholarship'.

MM Lee spoke about how Singapore was now losing talent because its English-educated population was marketable.

'Our problem now is we have an educated population, educated in English which makes them marketable,' he said.

'Way back in the 1960s we were net gainers because the wealthy countries, mostly whites, excluded Asians. So Malaysia's Chinese and other Indonesians stayed here. Now they leave.

'They go to Australia and New Zealand, Canada, US, and big open countries. Our students are now being harvested from the top colleges in the US,' he said.

As for his own grandson, it seems that despite the brotherly advice he received lately, Haoyi is thinking of applying for an Infocomm Development Authority(IDA) scholarship.

MM Lee spoke candidly about a chat he had with Haoyi over lunch at his house on Sunday, revealing that he had to ask his grandson what IDA stood for.

He was told it was the Government's agency for information technology.

'He doesn't want to work in any other,' MM Lee said.

'I said, 'Why not broaden your experience?' Anyway, I hope he does apply and he will come back.
Don't know why the Shitty (Straits) Times posted the above Old Man's comments about his own royal family affairs. The 1 message that comes out loudly is that despite his grandsons' privilege lifestyle & access to expensive, tax-payers funded US Ivy League education, they have NO desire to live & work in their grandfather's domain. They would rather live in a free & democratic country instead of Spore's stifling environment. They are not the only ones - a lot of the ministerial cabinet's children are studying/living overseas & may not be coming back to Spore. Old Man's own family is starting to fall apart after the 3rd generation. His dominance over his grandchildren will never be as strong as his iron will over LHL, LHY, LWL. His children maybe in positions of power but they are really his zombies controlled by Old Man - having given up their dreams for his decreed life of power, comfort & wealth - but is that what they want? Wealth & privilege in a controlled environment can never compensate for a rich (non-material sense) and fulfilling lifestyle in a free & democratic environment even for an elite member of society.
The sad thing about Spore's elite is that their children have or are ready to get out of Spore at the 1st instance despite their privilege & wealthy lifestyles. Old man can say what he thinks but the sad truth is that his own Spore is disintegrating and collapsing before him.