Monday, September 3, 2012

Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore. The need to keep citizens in the dark

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore has a Constitution which guarantees citizens their human rights. But strangely, if you were to ask the average man on the street, if he knows about the Constitution, you will be surprised to know that he has never heard of it, let alone what it means.

A trip to the island’s national library law section will surprise you. There are no books on Constitutional law except for a couple or so which merely skim over the subject.

And here lies the dishonesty of the Lee Kuan Yew government.

You may want to correct my definition of Singapore by pointing out that it is his son that governs the island now and not Lee Kuan Yew, but just as almost everything else in that island which is make believe, so is the placing of his son by him as Prime Minister. Make no mistake; it is Lee Kuan Yew who is very much the dictator of Singapore regardless of who sits on the Prime Minister's chair.

One would have thought that a government which claims to govern under the power of a Constitution would have at least found it necessary to tell their people what it means. But here again is the mistake. Lee Kuan Yew has no intention whatsoever of obeying any Constitution because he thinks he knows best; what need therefore for any piece of paper called the Constitution.

And his belief is that the less the people knew about such things as rights, the better. It would be far easier to govern an ignorant people than people who thought they knew too much. Without knowing what your rights are, the government can do away with all that burden that Western democracies have, such as having to explain to your people your policies, and even worse, having to obey them.

If you look at the Constitution of Singapore, it has in fact all the rights that a free people are entitled to, such as freedom of speech, expression, assembly and the rule of law. But another careful look at it will show that every one of these rights is negated. Permits are needed to even peacefully assemble and any criticism of the Lee Ruling Family will result if a libel suit and your bankruptcy.

Lee's argument for the legality of such changes to the Constitution would be that the Constitution provides for this with a 2/3 majority in Parliament. Since Lee's Singapore’s have always had nearly all the seats at elections, these changes to the Constitution are technically legal.

But of course, just like everything else that meets the eye in Lee's Singapore turns out to be make believe, these elections themselves have always been completely illegal, because at every election, the opposition (I don't mean Workers Party style opposition) is routinely threatened, sued for defamation and even arrested making it impossible for them to run, leaving Lee's choice of candidates to be elected almost by default.

Since these elections are false anyway, these amendments to the Constitution by this phony Parliament are also false.

What we are left with today is a thoroughly intimidated and ignorant population who have no idea what all the fuss is about, since all they are concerned is 3 meals a day and to be left alone.

I have a security guard friend who lives in Veerasamy Road Singapore whom I have known since childhood. A few days ago, I spoke to him over the telephone complaining about Singapore turning into a police state where policemen can stop anyone anytime without rhyme or reason and ask any number of questions they want, or be arrested. Such police behavior is not allowed in any western democracy where they need probable cause before stopping anyone, the reason being the privy rights of the individual to ensure that the police do not become an overbearing force over it's citizens.

In fact this right is also stated in the Singapore Constitution just as it is in the American Constitution but the problem of course is that this security guard has never heard of it, and what is more, he was very upset about my trying to bring Western norms of freedom to his beloved island where there is 24 hours safety precisely because the police can stop you and arrest anyone they want anytime of the day!

And this security guard, with whom I have stopped discussing matters of this nature, which I should have realized would be a waste of time, since he obviously has no clue about such things as rights just as the vast majority of his fellow Singaporeans.

For him, it appears to me, each police action boils down to whether the officer acted reasonably; not whether he acted according to a set of rules. In other words, for him, if a police officer has suspected, without any rational basis whatsoever, that every Tamil walking along Singapore’s Little India is an illegal immigrant, he could do that if he wants. He could also stop everyone walking along the street to know if he had paid his taxes, whether they had committed any crime in the past or are they intending to, how old they are and how many children they had and where they lived. All these questions, according to him, directed at anyone anytime, are perfectly legitimate because he is keeping Singapore safe, unlike the crime ridden cities of the US (according to him) where people go around shooting everyone they want to any time of the day or night.

And I am sure he must be counting me a very lucky man to be still alive here in California after 20 years, with all the bullets flying around me!

This is total ignorance and Lee Kuan Yew has managed to keep almost an entire island of about 2.5 million local citizens at the same level of wisdom, or the lack of it, as this Veerasamy Road resident, who has taken the Lee Kuan Yew tale, hook line and sinker. 

Fascist regimes which find it easy to govern by keeping its citizens ignorant, as this security guard is, may for a time get away with it, but over a long period it will cause much more problems than they can solve.

For one, when the rule of law is denied and the people have lost confidence in their courts, they will take it out some other way, which they are already doing. Murders, robbery and other violent crime continues to climb since a large segment of the population simply cannot get justice, since government connected elites are either not charged or let off with small fines while the ordinary citizens gets the book thrown at him.

The same goes for monetary disputes and all other disputes. If you cannot rely on a government that does not believe in the rule of law, you simply either withdraw into your shell or just accept it, or you may take it out in a more violent way or you simply leave the island altogether if you can.

A reading of the local state controlled newspaper will tell you that crime is so rampant; it has almost become a crime hub. There are no less than 5 reports of loan sharks beating up their clients, robberies at elevators at housing complexes and the largest of them all are the fraud cases and cheating.

It is a very precarious sort of lifestyle. You never know when you are thrown out of your job, or when you would be arrested simply because Lee Kuan Yew does not like you.

In 2008 when I was in Singapore, you would recall that I was stopped by police because they claimed that I had knocked their police car. When I was accosted and asked for my name, I refused, not knowing who they were and in any case why should I tell them who I was. The next minute, I was arrested and locked up, and the charges were not that I had knocked their car but I had behaved in a disorderly manner and that I had yelled insults at them. They could have, if they wanted to come up with any number of charges, all plucked out of thin air. And the problem was that I refused to an admit guilt resulting in the case running a full 18 days of trial. At the end, you guessed it, I was found guilty. If the charge was that I broke into instantaneously singing the Blue Danube and dancing the Waltz, they would have found me guilty of that too.

If anyone of you reading this is aware of your rights and simply refuse to be pushed around by Big Brother, I am afraid you have a hard battle ahead. The vast majority of people have heads such as this security guard friend of mine and no extent of convincing will change his thinking.

The police officer feels he has a right to arrest anyone, the security guard thinks the policeman has that right, the civil servant feels that he ahs a right to deny privileges to Chee Soon Juan, a Lee Kuan Yew critic, and the judge feels it is his duty to bend the law to destroy political opponents.

It is a hopeless case.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont, California
Tel: 510 657 6107 or 510 491 4375

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