Thursday, May 1, 2008

Letter from Singapore National Serviceman Lee Yu Ming, May 1st, 2008

Reference my blog post of April 29, 2008, Singapore. Children growing in blinkers

Dear Mr Nair,

My name is Lee Yu Ming and I am from Singapore. I am currently serving my National Service but I cannot help but be apprehensive of every single moment of it. As it is most of our society has been packing up and leaving this country. In response, our government has been attracting more "foreign talents" to soujourn at our home. I cannot help but feel that I am but protecting these foreigners, and at a very underpaid rate. In other words I feel like a Gurhka. While it is perfectly possible for me to leave this place for western democracies and a system where my future children will not be oppressed and coerced as I have been for the past 18 years of my life, I find that it is our moral obligation to stay and try to change things. If we continue to allow this kind of treatment to go on, it will only slowly creep up and disintegrate us, even if it does not seem to affect us very much now.

For example, I am from a well to do family. While CPF regulations, increases in GST and inflation does not affect us in the way that it causes an uproar, I believe that it has caused catastrophic effects on the less fortunate people. These people usually are caught up with earning money that they do not really see the big picture, and are usually silenced by the little packages that the government serves out. This disease of political apathy is rampant in our society, and we really need people like you to return to change this place. It is important for people like you, who know their rights, to come back and not leave. For if there are no one to speak up for the people, and lead our people, we will simply degenerate as a society, which will then become stifling for all classes of society.

But herein lies the dilemma; do we impose our views on a liberal society upon our people? As it is they do seem pretty satisfied with their subservient lives. By pushing for change, reform and revolution, are we not creating a chaos that may in fact be detrimental to our people? I am in a sense confused. I believe this is what many people face, and they choose to leave this society as they believe it is not their business to fight an obviously losing battle against this government. How can we keep these talents? How can we spark the passion for liberty in those who still remain? I believe these are the questions that we all need to address in order to change this place to be a truly free place.

Thank you.

Dear Yu Ming Lee,

Your observations are correct. Talented Singaporeans are leaving in droves only to be replaced by foreigners not even half as talented. I respect you for your desire to stay behind and change things. Your observations on the less well off being disadvantaged due to inflation are also true.

If it is possible for Francis Seow, Tang Liang Hong, Tan Wah Piow, Edgar De Souza, Peter Lim, and many others to return, yes it would be marvellous. But I do not believe that Lee Kuan Yew has such a plan at present.

You do not have to spark any passion in anyone at all. Neither do you have to create anarchy and revolution. It is much more simple than that. All you have to do is to act according to what is just. So if you think free press is good, then say it publicly. If you think racial discrimination is wrong, then say it publicly. If you think freedom of assembly is a good thing, then say it. If people agree with you, they will join you. If not, they wont.

But what is wrong is for you to do nothing when you know of injustice.

So you see, it is simpler than you think. There is not going to be the Russian revolution afterall.

Since your views conform to that of the Singapore Democratic Party, you can put your actions where your mouth is, pick up the telephone and speak to Dr. Chee or Gandhi Ambalam or any other party member, tell them you are interested in fighting for justice, and join the team.

It is not as difficult as you think. You are, in Singpaore terms undoubtedly a brave man. Any other Singaporean national servicemen will shiver in his pants to write to me on your views. I salute your courage. Of course in the west, doing what you did would be no big thing. But in Singapore where people are careful even to breathe, you are indeed a brave man.

Gopalan Nair

Fremont, California
May 1st, 2008