Friday, March 28, 2008

The great divide. The Lee Kuan Yew Administration and the people of Singapore

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Lee government of Singapore and the people of Singapore cannot be further apart from where they are now. And with time, something has got to give. Either the people would show their unhappiness in more robust ways than they do now, or this government has to accept reality and democracy. Whatever it is, the present status quo cannot last.

Lee Administration by their everyday actions have made it clear that they are not concerned about what the people think. If not, which politicians anywhere in the world, in their sane minds, would think of paying themselves salaries of $3.7 million per year each, which happens to be the salary of the Prime Minister of Singapore and his father Lee Kuan Yew, each! Despite knowing full well that every Singaporean is fuming mad about this shameless theft of Singapore's assets, they do it anyway, regardless of the people's wishes!

Then you have the poor. About a third of the population are earning less than $2,000.00 per month. Yet the HDB house rent has gone up to several hundred dollars a month; deliberately increasing food prices and denying any responsibility by blaming foreign countries for it; deliberately refusing to pay the old people their CPF retirement payments as required by law; totally neglecting the old and the unskilled Singaporean; deliberately lowering their wages by bringing peasants from Bangladesh and India who will work for $400.00 per month. These Indian peasants and others can live in their countries for $100.00 per month, therefore the $400.00 they get in Singapore is a windfall; whereas for the Singaporean, this is not a living wage at all.

As a result of the government's total neglect of the realities in Singapore, the poor are driven to suicide, living in void decks because they cannot afford to pay rent. On the other hand, these impoverished peasants from India and other places live rough; 25 to a HDB room; since their only concern is to send their entire salaries to their impoverished relatives in India and other parts of the Third World. Unlike them, the Singaporean has rent to pay, electricity bills, transport costs and children to send to school, all of which costs a lot of money. They cannot live on $400.00 per month. They cannot compete with cheap labor Indians. Not being able to survive, they are driven to suicide.

This government is not not only misguided, they are downright determined not to budge from their ridiculous philosophy, which is this. Their philosophy, which also happens to be a cunning way for them to deny any basic assistance to their needy citizens, is this. They say, conveniently for them in the circumstances; that any welfare payments to the poor will result in their becoming lazy and unproductive. Therefore no help will be given to those unable to support themselves.

The people know that this excuse, not to give any assistance to the poor, is not genuine. They see it as a deliberate attempt to ignore their plight. We have seen the world over where caring governments who provide a lending hand to the needy, does not necessarily create a dependant population.

Instead the people appreciate and are grateful to their governments, learning new skills and improving themselves and turning out in no time to be valuable proud upstanding members of their societies. Whereas, in Singapore, as the government is determined not to help anyone, the poor starve or are forced to wait at tables in HDB food courts, or reliant upon their children if they can.

This breeds bitterness and hatred in the hearts of the aged poor against this government; which in the end, will only cause further instability, lack of productivity and the eventual fall of this uncaring government. The French Revolution comes to mind. King Louis just like the Lees failed to understand his subjects.

This government fails to understand that it serves no purpose to tell an old uneducated Chinese woman of 58 to go out and learn new skills. She cannot. She is illiterate. It is too late for her. If the government does not help, she cannot be saved. She too is a human being. A Singapore citizen. The Prime Minister pays himself $3.7 million. Giving her a reasonable sum every month will not change anything. It will not result in the decline and fall of Singapore. He can pay a small portion of the $3.7 million. It will not hurt him even a bit. There is no compassion or even wisdom on the part of this government. None at all.

In the end, the government is helping the illiterate peasant from India. Instead they should be helping the old Singaporean woman.

And all these grievance cause a divide which cannot be resolved. The government and the people are at odds. The situation is untenable.

Who are the rich? They form a very small number. Just as in the military junta of Burma, they are all connected to the government. These are the Ministers, the judges, the presidents of large government linked companies, the top civil servants, the editors of the state controlled newspapers, the commissioners of the police and such like. The poor is the rest of society, made up of the ordinary civil servants, the ordinary policemen, the ordinary office worker and the ordinary factory hand. The former are paid millions. The latter are paid $2,000.00 or less a month.

And these Singapore poor are kept at bay, from attacking the rich, through fear. Fear of loss of jobs, fear of retribution, fear of libel suits, fear of benefit loss, an all embracing fear like a blanket which lies over this entire island.

But now you see cracks in this standoff. On March 15, 2008 at 2 pm, the Tak Boleh Tahan protest was successfully held by 50 determined people in front of the heartless Parliament House, which is responsible for their misery. It was a protest against rising food prices. These proud admirable courageous men women and children stood hand in hand, peacefully crying for justice while Lee's police came to arrest them. Undaunted, defiant, encouraged with truth on their side, one by one they went, dragged to waiting police vans in front of countless aghast outraged Singaporean passers by, without resistance, to be arrested and put on trial.

There is no doubt about it. These 50 are going to be 500 next. The tolerance level of the poor is has already reached. There is no doubt about it. The government of Singapore is no longer representative. It has begun to rule by force. Not by law. The time has come for action. And with action, there can only be one outcome. And you know what that is.

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

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