Thursday, November 22, 2012

Singapore, a paradise for foreigners, a hopeless struggle for Singaporeans

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Someone unaccustomed to Lee Kuan Yew's uniquely Singapore might be surprised at the title of this post. What, Singapore, a paradise for foreigners and a hopeless struggle for its own people? Surely that can't be? But sadly it is.

This is what is happening in that tiny island of no more than 2.5 million local born people, and a shrinking number at that, with another 2.5 million foreigners and growing; total of 5 million.

In it, Lee Kuan Yew who is literally a dictator with his son whom he appointed Prime Minister because he was getting on in age, have been running the place as if it belongs to them. He tolerates no criticism because he thinks he knows everything, and this is the main root cause of its people’s problems.

Somewhere down the line, he decided that because the place is a tiny island with no resources, he was going to grow the economy and the GDP any way he can. So he invites  anyone in the world to come to his tiny island to start businesses and live there, with low tax rates and other advantages.

Of course if foreign businesses come in, you need the labor too. And to make labor competitive, he has to keep wages low. But here lies the problem. Singaporean labor is no longer low, a situation he himself had created by increasing housing costs for government housing (remember every Singaporean lives in apartments built, owned and managed by his government), increasing every other expense such as transport (which he controls) and every thing else you can imagine. So through no fault of the local born Singaporean, unless he is paid a certain minimum amount he cannot survive in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore. Costs have gone up.

So Lee Kuan Yew, in his brilliance ( I mention this with sarcasm) decided that as he needs cheap labor at any cost, he is going to allow unlimited numbers of mainly Chinese people from Communist China (he thinks the Chinese are superior to the local Malays or Indians) and a few others to flood the market with low cost labor.

In Singapore, unlike in other countries, unbelievably, a foreigner can he hired for a job regardless of whether locals are unemployed and displaced. In this circumstance, you can see that any employer, both government and private in the island would prefer foreigners to locals obviously because they can pay them less. A foreigner can accept less because unlike a Singapore born citizen, he doesn’t have a family to support in the island, he probably pays just $10 per month for a bed space in a room occupied by 10 others; he eats cheaply and spends less, hoping to send whatever he gets to his impoverished family in remote parts of China.

As for Lee Kuan Yew, naturally he has done well for himself in these circumstances as is evidenced by the fact that he pays himself several millions of dollars per year which he calls a salary, and so does all his family members and his politician friends. It has been documented that he earns 5 times the salary of President Obama. There is no other word for this but corruption.

The foreigners do very well too. The businessmen make money in Singapore with very little tax, and so does the hordes of foreigner cheap labor you see in Singapore. Multitudes of foreign maids, shop assistants, factory workers, salesgirls in malls, the airport, everywhere you look. You don't see Singaporeans working anymore; only foreigners in Singapore. And Lee Kuan Yew calls this competition because this cheap labor from China keeps Singapore competitive.

But for the local Singaporean there is sadly nothing to cheer about. It does him no good because he cannot find a job, as the foreigner has just taken it. Which explains why a large percentage of local Singaporeans cannot find work of their choice, underemployed or underpaid.

You may well ask, why then is there not a revolution. But revolutions and such courageous acts are beyond the ability of the meek and submissive Singaporean, because any attempt at this would mean being arrested by Lee Kuan Yew’s police, deprived of earning a livelihood and forever harassed and victimized. No this won't do. The plight of the local Singaporean is to simply accept anything thrown at him by the almighty Lee Kuan Yew and his family.

Of course he has a choice if he qualifies. He can leave for settlement in the West. Which is why the island is bleeding its people, as even more leave its shores principally to Australia.  

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

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