Friday, March 4, 2011

Splitting Singapore's opposition and losing the elections

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As Singapore prefers to call itself Uniquely Singapore, they have proved it right on, more than once.

Unique indeed for the only place in the world to criminalise chewing gum, which tortures by caning even overstaying visitors, executing teenage drug addicts caught with tiny amounts of heroin after mock trials and jailing people for not flushing toilets.

With the national elections approaching, one can add another feather to their cap in uniqueness, a political opposition that is so adept not in winning national elections but in roundly losing them.

For tiny Singapore with a land area consisting only of 26 miles across and 16 miles vertically, with a shrinking local born population of less than 3 million, with unstoppable massive emigration further depleting their already shrinking population and an almost non existent birth rate, you may be gratified to know there are no less than 2 dozen or so opposition parties legally existing there.

For an outsider not well versed in the uniqueness of that island, this should be a very encouraging statistic, indicating a high level of political interest among the citizenry.

But nothing can be further from the truth.

For want of a better description, these political parties are uniquely Singaporean.

In other words, they are nothing other than white elephants, who have literally no members, no platforms or ideology which no one would have known about unless it was election time every 5 years when they suddenly sprout out from the woodwork, make a few speeches here and there, roundly lose the elections and their deposits, and then go into hibernation for another 5 years for the next elections.

For a man like me who is clearly interested in Singapore politics, you will be surprised to know that except for the leaders of the Singapore Democratic Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance with the lone opposition man there, Chiam See Tong, I not only do not know who the others are and neither do I care.

Except for the Singapore Democratic Party under the leadership of Chee Soon Juan, who we cannot deny is trying hard to advance the cause of freedom, and the other officers with him, frankly it is pointless wasting any time with any of the other parties.

We wish Chee Soon Juan well for not only being genuine and sincere in his cause. However frankly despite nearly 30 years having past since his entry into politics, there has not been any material increase in his support.

For one, there is no real change in those who make up his officers being none other than the same old faces, and except for Chee, his sister, and a couple of others in the committee, the others are merely workers who do what little needs to be done in the daily chores of the party.

Of course there have been a few new worthy entrants to the SDP, such as Wijeysingha who has a PhD in social studies, the son of the principle of my old school Raffles (not when I was there), but otherwise there is no real progress in the cause.

Although Chee is struggling under tremendous odds in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, no doubt about it and credit is well deserved and due, we cannot deny the same old faces at the same old parties and functions.

Of course we cannot forget the recent phenomenon of the Australian James Gomez, formerly of the Workers Party, who appears to have now become a stalwart member of Chee's SDP, writing political articles for them remotely from his home in Melbourne Australia, across the Coral Sea and another 1,000 miles beyond; but even with the Internet, it would be difficult for anyone to take him seriously in local Singapore politics.

I don't think the time has come, even today, for elected representatives to be chosen by a people across the oceans, internationally even with the Internet.

I suppose any self respecting Singaporean faced with such a question would have responded by saying that if Singapore was not good enough for him to live, he is not good enough to represent Singaporeans in Singapore either.

Simply holding a Singapore passport in Armenia or Australia is simply not good enough, which is what James Gomez is doing.

Chee's Party does put out an excellent website but surprisingly it has not produced any real progress at the base.

Except for Chee's SDP, the other list of so called opposition political parties in Singapore are neither political parties nor opposition either.

Recently we had 2 new entrants into this game of Uniquely Singaporean style opposition politics.

Chia Ti Lick, an attorney, who had all along been hanging around Chee's Singapore Democratic Party, and who happened to be my lawyer during my troubles with Lee Kuan Yew in 2008, woke up one day and suddenly, without any provocation whatsoever, proclaimed that he not only is going to form a new party but what is even more surprising, of the multitude of possible names in the world, he is going to call it the Socialist Front.

Now if that name is not a deliberate attempt on his part to persuade voters to keep as far away from him as possible, I cannot imagine what else was it's purpose.

Either Chia Ti Lick has completely gone off his rocker or he has never heard of the fall of the Soviet Union.

Socialist Front indeed.

The other new entrant to this game is Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the son of the late Jeyaretnam.

He claims to have studied in Cambrige, undoubtedly a good university, but it does not appear to have taught him any logic.

Surely his ideas are not any different from those of Chee's SDP, which is obviously the advance of democracy and freedom.

So then why not just join Chee, since Chee has already established his quite well, given the small size of the country instead of forming yet another political party and splitting the already minute number of opposition votes even further?

Except for Chee's SDP, about which I agree in principle, none of these other parties should ever been formed let alone be permitted to waste the time of the Singapore taxpayer.

Simply put, they are afraid to their bones as to what Lee would do to them if they questioned authority.

And this fear effectively paralyses them into doing nothing at all, except for a few days every 5 years at election time.

All they will do is to once again successfully split the already small number of opposition votes.

I am sorry but I have to say that this whole election process is simply 2 weeks of comic entertainment, nothing more.

I can assure you, under the present impossible circumstances, where every Singaporean lives in Lee Kuan Yew's government owned flats, from which they can be thrown out any time with or without cause; when the state controlled newspapers would only report one side of the story and not the other; when Lee's judges are anxiously waiting for orders to bankrupt anyone who dared to criticize; there is no way anyone will vote for them and even if they did, Lee would just ignore it.

And there is nothing you can do if Lee did just that.

You are once again going to have Unique Elections in Uniquely Singapore. If you are bored to death as I am, perhaps it is time for a Bacardi, or in the case of Chinese Singaporeans, a Mou Tai.

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

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Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are the only people in the world who will quietly accept it when told that the only way Singapore can survive is to let foreigners have their jobs, while they themselves live off their savings.

If the chance is not taken at this elections, it will be another 5 years and change may be impossible by then.

If a big majority is given, expect to:

-see Singaporeans losing their jobs while more foreigners work here.

-see the place packed with more foreigners, until it is impossible to live properly.

-see prices shoot through the roof.

Please do not commit suicide - vote them out!

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous Mar05,0737,
Do you really think Lee Kuan Yew and Company after running the place for so long, are just going to go away just because daft Singaporeans (according to him, not me) voted for someone else? Wishful thinking my friend. Get over it. It will not happen. You will sooner see Gaddafi giving up rather than Lee Kuan Yew.

Elections and the ballot box will achieve nothing in Singapore. What you need is a mass peaceful revolution, Tahrir Square style.

Anonymous said...

Elections will always be resounding victories to Lee Kuan Yew because the elections are rigged. Ask for UN observers for this GE.

Anonymous said...

A single party system is what I call political inbreeding. After 50 years of this crap, Singapore is now govern by a bunch of political retards. I don't question their academic qualifications However I question their morals. The founding generation of Singapore wanted to be in politic to SERVE the people to HELP built a future for a young nation with no resources. 50 years of inbreeding they are now doing it for the multi million dollar pay.


Anonymous said...

But Songaporeans are aftarid of the police, prison and state violence or intimidation. How to have protest?

Anonymous said...

What if we all just wear white t shirt and all gather at padang to have a Picnic of protest. No banner just thousands of frustrated Singaporean wearing the same colour standing in the very field our independence was announce all those years ago. Let's take this home people. I will gladly fly home for the occasion . Trouble is I might not fly out again lol.