Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The disinterested Singaporean.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Anyone having spent any amount of time in Singapore would have discovered a startling characteristic of the Singaporean psyche. They have no interest at all in politics or public affairs whatsoever. Period.

They have no interest at all in how their tax money is spent. No interest in what new public projects are intended. None in how the train system functions. They couldn't care less how much the ministers are paid or indeed what they are even doing. No interest in whether the education system is working. No interest in listening to the next speech given by the Prime Minister. Nor for that matter by the Minister Mentor, his father.

The public have stated publicly, by their actions; if not in so many words; that as far as they are concerned the government, their ministers and the whole establishment can go to Hell for all they care. They are not interested.

A foreigner being confronted with this total indifference in the Singaporean about his country's affairs may ask, why? Why this universal indifference, disinterest, in their own futures; for their own country. The answer is quite simple. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew cares two hoots about what the people think.

Its like this, you see. The Minister Mentor has managed, according to him, to employ the most capable among Singaporeans, and paid them the highest salaries for any job anywhere in the world. Since he has these highly talented people, this illuminating brilliance; what need is there for the ordinary people to think and question government policies?

According to Lee Kuan Yew, the people's input in opinions, suggestions is unnecessary. Since the government has all the thinkers they need, what need is there for the man in the street to even think? It would have made no difference if they had no heads at all!

Therefore the people, have decided, naturally, that since his government is not interested in his views, it is useless for him to try to voice them. It will after all, fall on deaf ears anyway. So
understandably, over a period of time, Singaporeans have become what they are today. An entire society which has disengaged from any involvement in public affairs. They have removed their thinking caps. Today, Singaporeans go to work, they do their shopping if they can afford it, go home to watch television, they sleep, wake up the next day and follow the same routine, day after day.

Singaporeans do not know that they have a constitution. They do not know their laws. They do not know who their local MP is. They do not know what the HDB policy is. They do not know what the tax system is. They do not know if it is illegal to speak in public. They do not know whether it is illegal to criticise the Minister Mentor. They do not know if it is legal to complain against CPF policies. In other words the average Singaporean does not know very much about his own country. He or she lives for the next day waiting to be told what he has to do next.

And what is worse, they couldn't care less!

Such a country with an entire population who are unable or unwilling to question government policy; figuratively speaking, a country of children waiting for Lee Kuan Yew to tell them what to do next, is a country doomed to failure; doomed because it lacks a self correcting mechanism provided by the people engaging the government in decision making.

You have seen this country stumble from one mistake after another. You will recall many years ago, people were told not to have too many children. Today, there are no children being born.

The government introduced national service. This speeded up the brain drain with educated Singaporeans taking their children overseas to avoid it.

English was introduced as the main language. But it also facilitated the brain drain with people leaving Singapore for English speaking Australia.

The government legislated to own and control all newspapers and news media. What is left in the newspapers is just government propaganda. Today, the people have no faith in the newspapers. If you need the truth, look elsewhere. Look to the Internet. This is causes to heighten the brain drain to Australia among the educated.

The government controls the legal profession appointing their puppets in the Law Society. The government placed their puppets as judges. This has entirely eroded public confidence in the administration of justice. Resulting in lawyers leaving the profession and the country. And resulting in the people not resorting to the law courts and settling disputes privately.

This fact, that the people of Singapore are being led by this government; that there is no rule of law; that it is a country run by dictate; this knowledge has spread far and wide. Today foreigners are becoming increasingly reluctant to use Singapore for any purpose other than as a stopover tourist destination.

And while this country falters along under its own fiction of grandeur and opulence put out in the state controlled propaganda sheets or the Straits Times, the people remain completely disinterested in what ever is going on. This combination of a government which thinks it knows best and a people completely disinterested in whatever the government does; to put it mildly; is a recipe for disaster.

It is an explosive situation. An untenable situation. An unhealthy country.

Gopalan Nair
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914
Email: gopalnair@us-immigrationlaw.com

And if you like what I write, please tell your friends. This blog not only gives information, it dispels the government propaganda put out by this dictatorial regime.


slackalmighty said...

I’d agree in the main with what you’re saying about Singaporeans being generally disinterested, but I beg to differ on some points. As we’ve seen in the previous elections, there is a restlessness observable in online forums, alternative media sources, and blogs, such as your own.

It is my belief that the young, net-savvy, increasingly well-educated twenty-something-year-old Singaporean is becoming increasingly dissatisfied with what Singapore offers, and that will galvanise that strata to action. For some, that action is to move overseas, but even if 10% do leave, that’s 90% left in Singapore, and surely not all are pro-government stooges.

As I believe you have mentioned, times are changing, and the stratagems which worked a generation ago no longer as effective. The young are waiting to explode, and I believe that within the next five or ten years, they will explode. Radical change requires a critical mass, and spaces such as this contribute to that critical mass.

While apathy may appear to reign, it is my firm belief that times will change, and possibly very quickly, within the next decade. For example, in Ang Mo Kio constituency two years ago, the opposition garnered enough votes to be cause for a minor alarm. One election term ago, who would have thought?

I have heard the sentiment over and over. ‘I don’t care who I vote for, as long as it’s not PAP’. While that is reflective again of the apathy and disinterest you mention, at the very least, it is a step in the right direction (albeit possibly for the wrong reasons).

It is my belief that change is in the air. Look at Malaysia. Who would have thought? And now that our neighbours have made that change, it will affect us. It is a fortuitous turn of events that will surely inspire some, slow as that change may be.

Gopalan Nair said...

Hello Slackalmighty,

I wish I could share your optimism. You are right that the educated in Singapore want change and democracy. But you forget one thing. Lee Kuan Yew is determined not to give it to you. You can have as many elections as you want, one after another, as much as you please. But with the government controlling the judges, the courts, the newspapers, the legal profession, no opposition candidate will ever be elected.

Firstly, they will be eliminated even before the elections by arrests and the ISD.

Second, even if they were somehow elected, they will be promptly removed by legal action, I mean the famous defamation action.

Low Thia Khiangs and Syvia Lims may be elected. But they do nothing for the cause of freedom. In the words of Lee Kuan Yew, they are "responsible" oppostion.

I hate to hurl a damper on your hopes. Don't count on it. Lee's plans do not include you.

Dr. Chee knows it. I know it. So don't waste your time kicking tyres at general elections. What goes on there is a "wayang".

If you have brains, protest. Demonstrate. Physically demand change. But one thousand elections will not do you any good.

Malaysia is not Singapore. Malaysians have some sense of decency. A sense of fair play.

Lee Kuan Yew is a bully. The sooner you realise that the better. Wake up from your pipe dream.

Gopalan Nair

Gopalan Nair said...

Hello Slackalmighty,

I could not help but add this. If Lee Kuan Yew finds that all else fails, he will stuff the ballot boxes if he has to.

Please understand this. No matter how many Ang Mo Kios you have, nothing will change.

Unless you insist on it. And how you do that is within the expertise of Dr. Chee Soon Juan of the SDP.

If I were you, the first thing I will do is to speak to Dr. Chee.

Good luck
Gopalan Nair

Anonymous said...

Oh, don't forget. LKY also said that if there were any 'freak' election results, meaning, if the opposition won majority seats, he would send out the army. This shows that he does not really care about free elections.

Anonymous said...

During National Service, a favourite Hokkien phrase, "Bo Chap" is frequently used by NSmen. It means, "Couldn't Care Less" or "Don't Bother Me". It is ingrained within the NS system as the NSmen considered NS as a waste of time! They would rather have their 2-&-a-half years passed as quickly as possible. As such, they would try to "Keng" [avoid all responsibilities] or skyve as much as possible. Unlike Americans whom are passionate about their country/democratic system & would take to arms to defend it - Most Sporeans couldn't even care less if a foreign power comes to invade Spore. Already, the Mas Selamat Kastari escape have Sporeans asking more questions about the Govt's competency & demanding for Wong Kan Seng's head eg. resignation. They are looking for scapegoats instead of rally behind the govt to search for the escapee. When Selamat's mug shot was circulated via MMS to mobile phone subscribers, many were unhappy and irritated that their phone privacy were invaded by the MMS message - In short, they couldn't care less about the escapee & felt offended when asked to look out for the escapee! They felt that the govt clean up their own mess & not get them involved. Some even question the measly reward of $1,000 & even denigrate it as insufficient. There was no evidence of national concern, only blame shifting & quibbling over small matters!
Whose to blame for all these? The Old Man! He wanted absolute power, he got it! He wanted to be paid handsomely, he also got it! He didn't want dissidence nor political involvement, well, he got it!
At the end, the people adopted a "Bo Chap" attitude - couldn't be bother or couldn't care less about Spore. That is why they take up the position of armchair critics - every time the govt "cocks up" - a barrage of criticisms is fired from all sides. At the end of it all, Spore govt grows very defensive - hemmed-in from all sides. No one lifts a finger to help but is very quick to criticise if things go wrong. Spore has fallen apart - there is no national pride, people don't feel belonging to Spore & some are already taking matters into their own hands. The really clever ones migrate overseas lock, stock & barrel. Some parents lay the ground for their children by sending them to International Baccalaureate Schools in KL - avoiding Spore's inequitable & pressure cooker educational system. Spore's system is already showing signs of failing. When will it come to a complete stop?

Anonymous said...

The correct word to describe Singaporeans attitude towards their nation is indifference. The growing numbers of them migrating abroad attest to this assumption. When one doesn't feel connected to a place, they search somewhere for that connection. Life is not just about work, sleep and obey. Its about engagement. This is the very soul of being a human. To be constantly engaged in all areas of your existence.

To be made to feel that they are just a number in the populace who can always be replaced is just demoralising and hurtful. I pray for change and Singaporeans, you 'HAVE GOT WHAT IT TAKES TO CHANGE'.

Anonymous said...

It won't be long. He will be 85 this year. His father lived till 91. Six years more? Maybe...

In a household with an abusive and tyrannical father, the children will not grow nor move on until he passes away. The same may happen to Singapore. Maybe they will awaken and grown up when he is gone. Or maybe they will become despondent and lost. I don't know. I don't care. Singaporeans brought this upon themselves and they have the leadership they deserve. If they don't want to bring change, then who else do you want to blame?

If there is a God in Heaven, then surely LKY will be meeting the leader of the Opposition, in a far hotter place, without the benefit of air conditioning.

Well, when that day comes I look forward to personally watering his grave.

slackalmighty said...

There is only so much subjugation any person can take, comes a point where the people must explode outwards. We have seen this numerous times in the course of history: the French Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, the American War of Independence, and so on.

Singapore will either collapse and fall, or it will change (for the better or worse). The status quo cannot be perpetuated for much longer.

Change may not come soon, it may not be the change that we want, but it will necessarily occur. LKY's passing will be like the changing of the tide. Something will happen. It must happen. When dictators die or fall, chaos ensures (Caesar, Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Hitler, etc), and that turmoil is often the breeding pool of change.

But it won't be easy. Social action never is.