Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Adolf Hitler and Lee Kuan Yew

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today, the 3oth of January 2008, is the 75th anniversary of Adolf Hitler forming the government in Berlin with his appointment as Chancellor in the Reichstag, Berlin, 30th January 1933. So I thought of Lee Kuan Yew. Are there similarities?

In 1933 when Hitler formed the government, Germany was under the yoke of the West. The Treaty of Versailles signed at the end of the First World War in 1918 humiliated the Germans. They were required to pay reparations to England, their navy was ordered reduced, air force curtailed, the Rhineland was off limits and the Reichmark, the Germany currency was not worth the paper it was printed of.

For this defeated humiliated people came a Hitler who told them it was time to rise again. Time to be proud again. Time to throw up the unbearable yoke that was put over them by the victors Britain and France. And he told them he would do it.

Although he did not win outright at the elections, he managed by skullduggery and violence to force President Hindenburg to swear him in as the Chancellor. And so began the Third Reich. And true enough, Hitler did manage to make Germany the strongest mightiest and economically strongest and most powerful European country from 1933 to 1939 and beyond. From shambles, Hitler managed to make Germany the most powerful country in Europe.

And Lee Kuan Yew? In 1959, Singapore was nothing more than a backwater and a sea port. Unemployment was high, poverty was all around and people did not know which way to turn, or what was to come. But Lee Kuan Yew becoming Prime Minister in 1959 did turn the country around. From the sleepy shipping harbor that it was Lee Kuan Yew and his policies managed to turn it into what it is today, an international city.

So the similarities and the abilities between the two are striking. From great adversity they managed to turn a difficult situation around. But, just as Hitler, Lee Kuan Yew will eventually fail. For Germany the failure was due to military defeat. For Singapore, it will be because the basis of his policies have lost their appeal in this modern age.

In 1959, it was easy for Lee to tell the people to support his policies without complaint. It was a time when people were just trying to survive. With heavy unemployment, with poverty and little hope, the people of Singapore were prepared to pay any price, sacrifice their rights and liberties in return for a better life; in return for bread and butter.

So for a long time, he forced every Singaporean into resettlement into HDB flats, he controlled the unions, he denied civil liberties, he kept wages low in order to compete with other low cost countries, he invited Western countries to set up assembly line factories with cheap labor from Singapore, he controlled the press with propaganda, he denied assemblies and protests. In other words he controlled people's lives for one purpose and one purpose alone; that is for economic development. The Singapore people who were predominantly poor allowed him to control their lives any way he wanted; as long as he managed to lift up their lives economically.

But the problem now is different. Singaporeans have now reached a certain level of education. A certain level of sophistication. They are no longer the impoverished coolie of 1959. They cannot be expected to tolerate those restrictions imposed on them such as in 1959. But the problem is, Lee Kuan Yew feels he can still make Singaporeans obey his orders like before. And this is where he will fail.

Singaporeans of today are not those of 1959. Today they expect a little more than just food on the table. They expect some liberties too. They expect a right to criticize the government. The right to speak. The right to assemble. The right to a free press. The right to live like Europeans, as they have the means to do so.

Very soon I expect more and more Dr. Chee Soon Juans to appear in Singapore. As if one is not bad enough! You can see this happening already. And just as Hitler fell, having been defeated militarily, Lee Kuan Yew too will fall because there are too many Dr. Chee Soon Juans. Who refuse to roll over, just because Lee says so.

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


Anonymous said...

Another thing, both Adolf Hitler and Lee Kuan Yew admired the british.

Both had beliefs in that eugenics theory bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Nothing wrong in being a British. I am one. Today, Britain can boast as a land of justice. We do not have emergency laws. English law has been copied in most of the commonwealth and beyond. Wake up 'Anonymous' and drop this prejudice.

Anonymous said...

British, it's not his fault he is prejudice.

Living under Lee Kuan Yew has probably taught him to hate. He is conditioned to hate because he has no happiness in Singapore because he has no say in his life. And like almost all Singaporeans, will lash out on one another or someone other than Lee Kuan Yew because he is afraid. it's quite the norm in Singapore, everyone knows that. Why do you think they live in a kiasu way?

I have seen Singaporeans call Gopalan a traitor, and not a patriot. Little do Singaporeans know that a true patriot is not one who agrees with his government, but one who questions it and fights for it and the freedoms of those who cannot fight for it.

If Singaporeans fight the fight that stands before them today, it means freedoms for their children tomorrow. If they do not stand up for themselves today, their children will have to make thier own choice tomorrow. Will they be afraid like their fathers of today, or will Singapore at last have its first true generation of men who will honor their children's livelihoods and freedoms... a new man in a new Singapore.

And they will wonder why their fathers did not fight for their most basic human qualities... the right to speak. Their right to speak WITHOUT a permit, and the the right to speak with one's mind, one's heart, one's passions. Why is there a need for a permit to speak... unless it is truly Lee Kuan Yew that is afraid of his people. I believe so. And he will use the rhetoric of red herrings and slippery slopes to say someone might say something that will get others upset and cause chaos, therefore we need order. And instead of building a society of civil people, he will shut them up and label them troublemakers and threaten them with a rusty hatchet.

There is a saying for little noisy barking dogs. "It's bark is worse than it's bite," or something like that. Well, how do you shut up a dog because you do not want to be pestered with its wants or needs or if you arre afraid of it and don't want it to bite you? You muzzle it. Just as a bad master would do, YEW muzzle a dog to keep it quiet. Tell me Singaporean, are you that dog being muzzled by your master? Should any man have a master?

Take any prejudices and racial remarks with pride for they only want what you and I both have and know... FREEDOM. And FREEDOM, is something all the money in Singapore cannot buy. And it something the current policies will not allow to flourish. Singaporeans, what is your greatest fear? Lee Kuan Yew, or brining a child into this world who will live in fear just as you do?

Braveheart, 300, Singapore rebel, or the Bee Movie (where basically bees, will work until they die and will not question)... which movie would you star in?

Anonymous said...

"The right to live like Europeans", why that reference? what's so great about europe, the whole of europe? are you now living in europe mr gopalan nair?

Anonymous said...

I think that all dictatorships are outdated nowadays and are subject to get broken and be removed. You could see that recently in countries like Egypt, Tunesia, Lybia and many others. Even in Syria and Iran there is a big opposition especially of the younger generation who wishes freedom and democracy. People of the 21st century nowadays want to live in freedom and liberty and want to have the right to say what they think and feel and want a legal system of justice without any form of inhuman punishment, corporal punishment or even the mandatory death penalty. However, it always depends on the people how long they tolerate and accept such a system.