Monday, December 24, 2007

The unintended negative consequences for Singaporeans under dictatorial rule.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is always best in any society to allow the people a say in the governing of their country. This way, ideas clash, new ideas are thrown up, and society advances, because everyone is thinking, and everyone contributes. Each citizen feels important. That his views matter. He is interested in his country. He wants the best for it. This way the country advances. Everyone benefits.

Sadly, not so in Singapore. Since in Singapore, we have a superman. At least that is what he thinks. I am of course referring to Lee Kuan Yew. As far as he is concerned, only he has a brain. And with it he will govern. He will employ or co-opt other successful people into his government with inducement of high salaries. These men, who are after money, join him, and primarily they will carry out his ideas and policies. Everyone else in the country is required just to comply with his orders. After all they are "digits" as he has referred to them. It is not necessary for them to think. All they have to do is to obey.

But you see, this sort of top down government will always face unintended obstacles. Reason being, they do not have the benefit of the thinking of everyone in the country.

These are some of the multitude of difficulties faced in this dictatorial form of government.

First, many years ago, Lee felt that there were too many people. Singaporeans, he said should have only 2 children. They complied. The government succeeded beyond their expectations. Result, too few children. Now, the government wants more people. The population is shrinking. So they are asking people to procreate more. But they are not taking the bait, despite all sorts of inducements. The government set up a matchmaking department. It resulted in a total failure. With all the stresses that Singaporeans face, having babies is not a luxury they can afford! So, they import immigrants from India and China.

The Malays on the other hand have had no problem having babies. They have at the least maintained the replacement level of reproduction. Since Lee Kuan Yew wants Singapore to remain a Chinese country, he is left with no choice but to bring in increased numbers of Chinese from China to keep up with the Malay numbers. Sadly for Lee, it appears that even the Chinese immigrants have no desire to remain permanently in Singapore, or to have children.

So it appears that Lee's plan of Singapore being Chinese permanently will not work. It is going to revert to being a Malay country as it originally was. I say to the Malays, congratulations and go for it. Have as many babies as possible, and show this old Lee that he is not superman after all.

Then the double whammy hurting Lee Kuan Yew. Singaporeans are emigrating. This is despite the daily propaganda being put out by the state controlled press, that Singapore is in fact the best spot in the world. All the coaxing and persuasion does not appear to work. The educated are leaving.

Singapore has about 3,000 lawyers. This small number has remained constant and is even declining. For a commercial city of 4 million, you need 4 times this number. But no use, the lawyers are leaving the profession and new ones are not joining. Why, because Singaporeans realize that there is no rule of law, that Lee abuses the law for his private ends, the law has become into disrepute and no one wants to be a part of it.

To encourage more to stay in the profession, Khattar Wong and Partners, a government connected law firm has offered both money and incentives for new applicants into the profession. Alas, again, no one is interested. It is true, after all, that once a legal system loses it's respect and credibility, as in Singapore's case, it is difficult to recover.

The Chief Justice and Mr. Jayakumar, the Minister for law both hoped that Singapore would become an international legal hub for the settlement of disputes, something like London. Unfortunately, Singapore is not London. London has the rule of law. England knows it. The world knows it. At the same time, the world also knows that the Singapore judiciary is routinely used by Lee Kuan Yew to sue and bankrupt political opponents. No; foreigners are not coming to Singapore to use their legal services.

And the pathetic state of the law, or the lack of it, in Singapore, was clearly made known to the world when the International Bar Association held it's annual meeting is Singapore. If ever there was any one left thinking that Singapore had the rule of law, that person has found out the truth, thanks to Dr. Chee Soon Juan. He succinctly made it very clear that the rule of law does not exist in Singapore; that the law courts are there for the pleasure of the Lee Administration. And those international lawyers have taken back to their countries, this knowledge that Singapore lacks the rule of law.

Lee told the world that Singapore is going to be a biotech hub, among the various other hubs that it was or was aspiring to be. A transport hub. An education hub. An arts hub. Etc Etc.

Alas none of it is happening.

Biotech has failed in Singapore. Not one but several international world renowned scientists who were lured to Singapore with grandiose promises have all left, the last being the creator of Dolly the cloned sheep. I suppose, they felt it uncomfortable to be doing scientific research in a country that denies its citizens their human rights.

As for the education hub, Warwick University, a British university decided it wanted nothing to do with Singapore. Reason, no fundamental human rights or freedoms. You cannot be educated, they said, unless you have freedom.

The transport hub was also another failure. Kuala Lumpur is much cheaper and better. Moreover the whole idea of transport hubs is dead. No reason to fly from Taipei to Singapore and then on to Chennai. Now you can fly direct to Chennai. The Boeing 777 has seen to it.

Arts hub? You must be joking. How does one have art, without freedom? Are you going to perform and keep looking over your shoulder to see if Lee Kuan Yew is upset! Arts hub died even before it was born.

Lee Kuan Yew recently attended some college in Singapore to meet the students. As expected there he gave his, I am sure he was thinking, his earth shattering speech. The students of course quietly listened. At the end, he asked them if there were any questions. None. They as Singaporean students are terrified of him. How could they ever have such courage even to ask a question! What happens if Lee did not like the question? The end of his career! So danger lurks. Best not to ask any question. Safety lies in not being heard, and if possible not being seen! Mind you, this is Singapore.

I understand the electronic industry in Singapore has died a natural death. Costs too high. They are manufacturing now in China.

I also understand that Singapore has got its 10th millionth visitor. So perhaps this is where Singapore’s future lies. A great big amusement park and shopping center. So perhaps Lee Kuan Yew should now open more colleges to train people in the hospitality industry.

At the same time, I understand Singapore is investing it's money, or rather the people's money in various investments abroad through Tumasek and the GIC. In order to do so, they need a constant infusion of money. Problem is, the money is running out. CPF is now refusing to pay as promised. The government is constantly increasing the prices of its HDB 100 year leasehold premises to exorbitant levels; I suppose to squeeze more money from their citizens.

But in the end, this will not work either. There will come a time when the people will just not be able to afford servicing their exorbitant rents they pay for the leasehold premises.

So you see, it is one problem after another. Just because this government thinks they know best, and your opinions do not matter one bit.

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


Anonymous said...

Merry X'mas!
The problem with one-man rule with a "Father knows best" attitude - it leads to macro-disasters many, many years later. The "Stop at Two" policy is being felt now with not enough native Singaporeans for critical areas like academia, defense & entrepreneurship. An elitist educational policy also leads to a "Dumbing" down of Spore - tertiary education is ration to 10-15% of student population & the best reserved for an elite group of scholars or well-connected eugenics ones. LKY's eugenics education & birth policies caused a tremendous uproar but betrays his elitist ideologies & leaning. Despite Sporean students being quite intelligent & disciplined - they have done well overseas - such deprivation of higher education opportunities have resulted in great economic loss to Spore. USA is a prime example of educational opportunities available to all levels - a greater % of college- educated population results in greater economic output - Yahoo, Google, eBay, Youtube - they are all start-ups from college-educated entreprenuers.
Entreprenuerism have declined considerably after 4 decades of LKY rule. In its place, state mandated manufacturing became the norm - hard disk drive, semi- conductors & now, biotech. The sad thing is since the technology doesn't belong to Spore - it results in regular clock-work dislocation & relocation to lower cost countries. The reason why entreprenuerism is discouraged in Spore is the fear that wealthy entreprenuers may championed opposition to challenge the PAP. Govt-Linked Companies (GLC) were started to crowd out private sector companies to remain small & medium enterprises (SME) to further reduce this risk. Many scholars became indentured labour to govt or GLCs as well-paid workers. They formed the sub-elite group of a 4-legged kind!
Spore's "Hub" concept is fast disintegrating as global resources are becoming scarce. With high fuel prices, traveling & transportation become expensive. Instead of "Hub" concept, the world now will focus on concentrating around plentiful local resources & self sufficiency. Also, the Greens/Global warming movement will invariably reduce manufacturing growth with carbon trading. The Hub concept relies on cheap traveling/transportation costs and on manufacturing & trading growth - factors which are becoming irrelevant. It is no coincidence that Dolly's creator is moving back to London - center for biotechnology & allocating only 33% of his time to Spore. In an era where commodities are becoming scarce & concern for climate warming prevails, the outer-lying hubs will be the 1st to die - Spore being one. Spore tourism may have already peaked - carbon trading will make air travel more expensive. Spore casinos will be a failure - Macau already have a 1st mover advantage over Spore & also closer to their PRC market.
With manufacturing becoming ostracized by carbon trading/green movement - focus will be on resource rich, lowly populated countries like Canada, Australia, NZ, etc. & bio-fuel programs which would put focus into agriculture. Spore with its wastefulness - 3-4yr car lifespan, 24/7 shopping - wasting aircon/lights/electricity, enbloc scrapping condo buildings before their economic life - faces a gloomy future. Like a speeding car rounding a blind corner, its one-man rule will be severely tested! Spore may one day revert to Msia as more native Sporeans migrate leaving behind a re-adjusted population mix of foreign-born citizens and underprivileged natives.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
Unfortunately, you do not get the NewPAPer. They have already begun to advertise for whores to 'escort' business. Not any old whores mind you, but whores with degrees. Last weekend's NewPAPer had a 2 page, inside cover article on how much money a graduate social escort can make, up to $500 an hour (not including sex). I'm sure this is the government's subtle enticement to buffer up the social escort trade for all the foreign businessmen that will come into singapore when the IR opens. I felt entirely disgusted when I read the article. It was so blatant. I'm sure many a young girl will be attracted to the easy money that the NewPAPer proudly declared a social escort can earn.
It is so sad to live in Singapore. I truly can't wait to leave.

Anonymous said...

Dear Insens,
The Spore govt has quietly identified social escort biz as having big potential alongside IR/casino biz when it opens in 2010/2011. It could be Temasek has incorporated a Social Escort company & invested in the business. In line with their recruiting policies, they required a basic degree as a prequisite. Also, NUS/NTU may one day start a Social Escort diploma programme to upgrade the industry as a proper career for Singapore women as well as foreign talents from PRC, Msia, Vietnam, etc. They may arrange for social escort industry attachment to Macau, Las Vegas and even casino cruise ships. SIA stewardess may even have a secondary career as social escort after they retire. This would allow them to extend their high earnings and expensive lifestyle which in turn contribute to CPF.