Friday, November 9, 2012

Lee Ruling Family's Singapore, a crisis of confidence

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since 1959, Lee Kuan Yew, and until recently his son, while he continues to rule by remote, has ruled the island Singapore as if it was their personal property. Despite their protestations to the contrary, it remains a one party totalitarian police state where everything and everybody depends on the patronage of this one family. Hence my reference to Singapore’s government as the Lee Ruling Family.

Today, the similarities with Communist China which is now going through their  elections, draws striking parallel to Singapore island.

In Communist China, there is no rule of law, just as in Singapore. There, the Communist Party decides what punishments are meted out in their courts to their critics. The same in Singapore. The punishments meted out repeatedly to Chee Soon Juan the foremost critic of the Lee Family in crippling million dollar libel judgments, the punishments to the late JB Jeyaretnam even more than Chee, the 3 month jail term to Gopalan Nair (myself) for writing a blog criticizing one of their judges for corruption and my disbarment in the island, are all decisions of the Lee Family; not based on any set of laws in the real sense whatsoever.  

In China, the government and the Communist Party are one and the same. Similarly in Singapore, all privileges and benefits are handed out by the Lee's Peoples Action Party and petitions for help are made to them, not through any administrative laws and rules. If you need help with your government owned apartment, you line up at one of the offices of the Party, just as in China, you go to the Communist Party office.

All leaders in China are created through the Communist Party. There are none who can be independent. Just as in Singapore, anyone aspiring to be a leader joins Lee's Peoples Action Party or one of their branch organizations such as the Resident's Committee. Loyalty to Lee's party and government is rewarded with promotions in their careers, opportunities to achieve higher office and even high political office. In Singapore civil servants are monitored to discern their loyalties. Those who contribute actively to Lee's grassroots organizations are rewarded and those who refuse sidelined or even dismissed.

In Chinese elections, the people have no part in it. Leaders are selected behind closed doors and their identities announced and they are thrust upon their people. In Singapore, it is no different. With the state control of all newspapers and media including all TV stations and radio, the only information one gets is that of Lee Ruling Family's People Action Party. Except for bad news, the Singapore Democratic Party, the island's only real opposition party is completely blacked out. No one knows anything about them, unless you deliberately make an effort in investigation. In any case, there is no incentive for one to do it, since any association with them can result only in serious harm to the person financially and otherwise. Much better to go to Lee's PAP because that can benefit you in many ways, for a peaceful secure and prosperous life.

Just as in Communist China, Singaporeans do not have a free press, no freedom of expression, no right to criticize and no opportunity to become leaders unless it is done through the Lee Ruling Family's Peoples Action Party.

Just as in China, in Singapore an ambitious young man or woman is constantly seeking recognition and approval by Lee’s government and party, as this is the sure way to success just as one would do in China with Communist Party recognition. An independent mind has no part to play in either Communist China or Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore; in fact it can be a serious obstacle to success.

But strange as you might think, despite the fact that Communist China has modern cities, even more modern than Singapore’s with high speed trains, beautiful glittering skyscrapers and modern amenities, somehow, both in China and Singapore a huge portion of the population, usually the well educated and successful, in fact you may even say the majority of people want no part of it, and are desperately trying to escape to the West!

Let us make no mistake on this. Singapore is a very modern city state. It has beautiful skyscrapers, an up till recently an excellent mass transit system, modern telephones and amenities. Yet its state controlled newspapers repeatedly report that even though its native local born population is tiny, not more than 2.5 million, almost every single young man and woman wants no part of it, and is urgently and desperately exploring the possibility of emigration to the West.

In fact the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, London and other major cities throughout the English speaking world already have huge (relative to the island's small size of 2.5 million native born) numbers of former Singaporeans, most of whom have already adopted the nationalities of their host countries.

Similarly in China, a large percentage of their millionaires have already illegally moved their Renminbi to the west and are no longer in China. If it was easier, there is no doubt that China would have lost all it's educated elite.

This sort of phenomenon, where human beings leave despite having a reasonable standard of living is surely because there is a now a crisis of confidence in both these countries.

In China, Hu Jintao, the President makes a speech recently where he decries the rampant corruption in his country. Yet only recently was Wen Jiabao, its Prime Minister reported to have corruptly amassed no less than $1 billion stacked away in foreign banks. This can mean only one thing that Chinese leaders are above the law and entitled to be corrupt but not the ordinary Chinese citizen. In Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew's government repeatedly prosecutes and jails anyone even for taking even a $1 in a bribe. Yet he pays himself and every single member of his family millions which he has declared as a salary! What is the average Singaporean to make of it? Only this. The Lee Ruling Family can be as corrupt as they want but not anyone else.

Almost daily, Singapore’s Lee government put out the mantra thorough their state controlled press proclaiming the rule of law. Yet Chee Soon Juan gets punished merely because he dared to criticize the Lees. What is the average Singaporean to make of it except this; one law for Singaporeans who obey, another for those who dare to question.

When a country says one thing and does another, it loses respect and there becomes a serious crisis of confidence. And this is what both China and its conscientious student Singapore are now suffering from.

The irony of people wanting to leave Singapore is not only tragic, it is painful to see. You hear of thousands of Singaporeans leaving every year to the West and cutting all ties with the island. As soon as they are eligible, they renounce their citizenships and become Australian. At the same time, I have received numerous enquires from Indians in India who want to settle in Singapore. Obviously what this means is this; Singaporeans who are desperately trying to leave the island know something about Lee's island paradise which these Indian Indians do not know. Whenever I get such queries, I usually ask them to check out North Korea first before trying Lee's Singapore Island.

Gopalan Nair
A Singaporean by birth in exile
Attorney at Law
Fremont, California USA
Tel: 510 491 4375

1 comment:

Snoopy Jnr said...

Only that in Singapore they pretend to be a democracy. Over 1/3 of the population voted for the opposition and yet they only have 5% of the parliamentary seats.

The GRC system will ensure that the PAP remain in power forever. Might as well save taxpayers money, declare Lee the Emperor and have a monarchy system.