Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Singapore, a country with Lee Kuan Yew's law, not the rule of law

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A report from, Singapore's state controlled newspaper, the Straits Times of June 23, 2011 titled "More seeking help from MPs" gives us an insight into how Singapore is run; not by the rule of law but Lee Kuan Yew's, the Singapore strongman's law.

This state controlled newspaper report (all Singapore newspapers are state controlled) reads "It is past 1am on a Monday night and Tiong Bahru resident Simon Huey has been waiting to see his MP for over 4 1/2 hours. Encouraged by reports about possible changes in housing policy, the first time HDB buyer thinks he has a better chance of appealing for a flat near his parent's home. Residents like him are behind the surge in numbers at the Meet the people Sessions across the island. MPs say their caseloads has increased by 15 to 100 percent since the general election, with some sessions ending at 4am in the morning!"

In all free societies in the world, complaints against administrative agencies such as housing, employment and state benefits are dealt with under a set rule of laws. For example, a person denied housing relies on the housing code for redress, and if not it's appeal procedure or even to the courts.

This way, every citizen not only knows he or she has equal rights over any other, he or she also knows exactly what the law is as regards any particular matter at any one time. In Singapore on the other hand there are no laws that cover the case of Simon Huey above. Instead he has to appeal to his Member of Parliament and beg for help leaving it entirely to his MP whether Huey should or should not be assisted.

In Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, instead of laws, there is something known as Meet the People Sessions. This is either a daily or weekly session when aggrieved Singaporeans line up outside their representative's office and beg for whatever they want. These representatives are by the way, by far, members of Lee Kuan Yew's ruling political party.

There may be hundreds of people lined up outside the MP's office this way, one asking for help in changing their government owned apartment, another asking that his dismissal from a government job be reversed, another asking for more money because he cannot afford to feed his family, another asking for his traffic fine to be reduced and a multitude of myriad polyglot of cases and scenarios.

In each and every single case at these Meet the People Sessions, the citizen is reduced to becoming no better than a beggar while the MP is something like a Lord, pleading for help, prostrate at the feet of his MP. Sometimes they are crying, sometimes they are shouting and sometimes they are hysterical. The policemen who are on duty at these miserable places try to keep order, and sometimes arresting the poor citizens who were unable to control their misery, and charging them in court, literally rubbling salt in his wounds.

And there are 81 or more of these Lee Kuan Yew Members of Parliament scattered throughout the island who attend daily these meet the people sessions for the majority of Singaporeans island wide.

Had I remained in Singapore and had ran out of money, perhaps I too would be one among the thousands lining up each day outside Lee Kuan Yew's member of Parliament asking for a handout, a better apartment or something else.

And unlike in democratic countries which are governed by laws which enables anyone to predict one's chances in any case, with Singapore's Meet the People Session, it is any one's guess whether you would be treated fairly unfairly or not at all. It also depends on who you are, what ethnicity you are (Chinese Malay or Indian, with Chinese being preferred) and whether the particular MP likes you or not.

You would recall the little girl (at least she looks like one) Tin Pei Ling being elevated to the position of a Singapore Member of Parliament even though she was only 27 years old. As I did not have many nice things to say about her in this blog, I would reckon that my chances of success for my grievance before her at a Meet the People Session would be zero.

This makes Singaporeans subject to the fancies of Lee Kuan Yew and his Ministers and Members of Parliament, not laws which apply to everyone equally as it is in all free societies throughout the world.

Another reason why Lee Kuan Yew prefers the vagaries and whims of his Members of Parliament rather than a set of laws equally applied is because this way Singaporeans remain beholden to his government and his Members of Parliament. Since ordinary people cannot solve their daily problems through the courts, as there is no access for them, the only way they could possibly do it, if at all is through the mercy of these agents of Lee Kuan Yew.

This makes the average Singaporean beholden to him and his government and theretofore psychologically makes them think that the only way they can survive is through Lee Kuan Yew and his government thereby making sure that only his government would remain in power in perpetuity.

As for the opposition wards, which total six in number, usually their grievances are denied for the simple reason that they are not Lee Kuan Yew government MPS, which clearly leaves them disadvantaged.

With this this sort of reasoning, Lee Kuan Yew will never put into place a set of laws that are applicable to all in matters affecting their daily lives, because having such statewide laws would make Singaporeans independent and less dependant on Lee Kuan Yew. Meet the people sessions enables Lee Kuan Yew to do anything he wants with Singaporeans as they line up each day with their myriad grievances.

Singapore is not a country of laws. It is a place where grievances are settled at Meet the People sessions with Lee Kuan Yew's MPs deciding what you should or should not have. It is a country of beggers, not free men.

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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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See the Misrule of Law a New York Times article on Singapore