Sunday, November 25, 2012

Singapore Island. Living in Denial

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let not the gleaming skyscrapers and the clean roads lull you into thinking all is well in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore Island. Underneath the glitter and the glamour, it is really not looking too good at all.

First let us not forget what the island is. It has no more than 2.5 million local born Singaporeans. The island is crammed beyond imagination, perhaps one third the size of London, with another 2.5 million foreigners, mainly Chinese from China to the chagrin of the other races of Malays and Indians, mostly Tamils.

You would have thought this alone, a tiny miniscule society, is bad enough, and any great pressure from any direction would end up in this tiny island's economy and existence completely destroyed.

And yes, the island is suffering from pressures from all directions, bad enough for a country with millions of people like Russia but for a tiny island with no more than 2.5 million locals, I see no hope whatsoever.

Now let me list the bad news. First you have a continuing falling birth rate. It is one of the lowest in the world with its population unable even to replace themselves. The reasons for this are numerous, both social and economic. The locals are unhappy because they live under a dictatorship with no fundamental human rights to speak of, such as freedom of speech or expression. They have lost faith in their legal system because it is corrupt by being a mere mouthpiece of the government. The elections are rigged so that only government politicians get elected. There is what appears to be a minuscule opposition in parliament but they are no more than agents of the government party, no more than mere imposters.

Then we have the problem of poverty. The income gap between the rich and the poor is one of the highest in the world. There are several reports that show the island to be the fourth most expensive city in the world, even more expensive than New York. Yet there are many who earn less than $1500 a month for a family of 4. They end up either not eating or eating one meal a day.

The suffering of the poor is heightened by the fact that there is no social security money available. And to make the plight even more intolerable, the island does not have a minimum wage law. The reason the government puts out for this is competition. They claim that unless they have cheaper labor than Bangladesh or the Philippines, they will lose out in the world. This according to them justifies their paying workers Bangladesh wages. Now anyone can see that if you pay Bangladesh wages in a city which is more expensive than New York, it is simply not possible to exist. But the government cares not. It is a government that does not allow citizen participation in how they run the island. If anyone protests too much they would be arrested, jailed and bankrupted through Lee's corrupt courts.

The island is run more like a large company, and its newspapers, all state controlled function more as a newsletter. Everyday the islanders read of the latest government polices and changes that have been enacted. The citizen’s duty is to just follow and obey whatever is decided. It can be equated to Communist Chinese wall poster which the Communists stick up daily on public street corners for its people to read what has been decided for them.

Singapore Island's parliamentary debates are shown on local TV. One look at the faces of the people's representatives, a misnomer because the people had no real say on who represents them, gives one the impression that they are all suffering from a bad bout of constipation. They all look very grim and serious, a look which is almost telling you that they will take no nonsense from you. As far as the people are concerned, on the whole, they care 2 hoots for these people or whatever they are speaking about since in the end, it makes no difference one way or another. They will still have to obey.

A recent survey held in the island last year showed that more than half the people surveyed would emigrate to the West if they can. An earlier survey of students also said, alarmingly for any island with only 2.5 local born people, that they have no loyalty to the island and that they would rather study in the West than in Singapore island.

In fact the rate of emigration to the West, particularly to Australia is staggering. Thousands of Singaporeans with their families leave Singapore for settlement abroad each year. And those who have settled abroad bring their relatives and friends over as well. And those leaving are those very ones the island most needs, skilled professionals, such as doctors lawyers and engineers, an intolerable situation indeed for an island that has no more than 2.5 local born citizens.

Having lived in Singapore, I have the distinct impression that the average man cares two hoots for his government or his island because none of what they think really matters. Lee Kuan Yew and his family who run the place think that they are the professional politicians and rulers, something like a King, they will do the thinking, planning and deciding while the average Singaporean is nothing but an idiot who is required simply to obey and comply; or somewhat like a military garrison where the commander will give the orders and the men will obey.

To make it worse, Lee Kuan Yew, the man who is supposedly putting all this together is in his nineties. If he drops dead, which is very soon, there will be a vacuum, chaos, unrest and even violence. But it seems, the government does not have any plans to avert this impending catastrophe. Frankly, I don't envy them. There is simply nothing they can do. They have driven themselves into the bog and there appears no escape.

You may well ask if you did not know how is it that I can write this criticism and still get away with it. Well, it is because I am writing it from Fremont, California, near San Francisco, United States. This Lee Kuan Yew government are a bunch of cowards who would have arrested me the next minute and tortured me as they did in 2008 in Singapore when I wrote while physically within the island. But now, they are unable to do anything officially because to get me, they would have to face an American judge, whom they know is unlikely to decide in their favor. They can of course get a hit man and finish me off, but I suppose they see danger for them in that too. So they do nothing, but get you only if you’re within their reach.

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


Bevan Tey said...

This is totally news-worthy. Could this be a possible marker for Singapore island?

Gopalan Nair said...

To Bevan Tay,

I certainly think so. Is it not the irony or ironies? Chinese from Communist China telling local Singaporeans to stand up for their rights! Lee Kuan Yew is all his wisdom (that is what the old coot thinks) forget that in Communist China, there are no less than thousands of protests each day all over the country. They are a country of protestors. What is Lee going to do now? Charge them with criminal charges like he would have done in an instant had they been locals? One law for Chinese foreigners, one law for local Chinese? Old dictator Lee is now in a bind. He is not thinking anymore. Next, locals will get into the habit.