Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Singapore Island. The self inflicted labor crisis

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The problem with Lee Kuan Yew's tiny Singapore Island is not like that of most other countries, not a shortage of jobs but a shortage of people to do them.

In this Bloomberg article of Nov 02, 2012, headed
"Singapore managers turn deliverymen in labor crunch: Economy" it talks of Managers of a food business themselves having to deliver their products because they cannot find enough workers. Several other cases are reported in this article describing the severe labor shortage in Singapore of today.


It is, just as many of Singapore’s far too many problems with no answers, simply self inflicted.

Here is the problem with Lee Kuan Yew's tiny island. It always had a tiny population of no more than about 2.5 million people mainly reliant on tourism, some small industry and banking and insurance. Nothing much more than that. After all what could a small tiny population in a tiny island be capable of.

One would have thought any capable competent government would have realized the slogan "Cut your shirt according to your cloth" fundamentally important in Singapore’s case.

Not so in Lee Kuan Yew’s megalomania.

Lee Kuan Yew and his minions at the top thought, as always, that they alone know best about everything. You see there is no democracy in the island and contrarian view is shouted down, and the perpetrator arrested, sued for libel and bankrupted. There is only the voice of Lee Kuan Yew. And we all know that unless he is God, he can’t know everything.

That’s how it was in Stalinist Russia and so it is now under Lee Kuan Yew's one party state. What you have in Singapore is state central planning just as you had in the Soviet Union. And you know what happened there.

Well, Lee Kuan Yew and his friends who decided the way to principally enrich themselves, and a few crumbs for the people, was to expand the economy any way they can, and if possible into as large and that of the UK economy if possible!

But since Singapore had not enough people, the land area nor the skills needed for it, they opened the island to the entire world. Singapore was fair game for all. Anyone in the world could simply come to Singapore and set up shop and do any kind of business they wanted. Not only that, they can bring along as many of their countrymen as they wanted to work in the island.

So you have the setting up of the casinos, about which no Singaporean had any idea, the setting up of offshore banks hiding laundered money for foreign thieves, and small scale industry reliant on cheap labor. To work these businesses, they brought in millionaire bankers from Switzerland, Las Vegas croupiers and $2 dollars an hour cheap labor to work at the assembly lines.

While all this was happening, Lee silenced and destroyed any political critics, because he thought an intimidated work force is the most easily governed work force. He thought perhaps that if all opposition is silenced, foreign companies would come to invest in ever increasing numbers to take advantage of helpless cheap workers without a voice.

Unfortunately the old crafty Lee miscalculated on all scores. Instead of being intimidated, young English educated Singaporeans were repulsed and outraged by the lack of freedoms, free speech and the lack of rule of law. The already tiny numbers of educated from the already tiny population decided to leave in increasing numbers for settlement abroad, mainly to Australia. This put even greater pressure on the work force resulting in best and brightest, the very ones the island desperately needs, merely packing and heading out.

Over the years, and because of the speed and efficiency of mass communication and Internet, the world has become increasingly reminded of the repressive labor practices and denial of human rights in the island. There is no minimum wage which means workers both local and foreign can be paid anything that the employers wanted. There are no free and independent trade unions as they all protect employers, not the other way around. Last week Chinese bus drivers who had staged a peaceful strike for better wage and working conditions were arrested and jailed. So was another 2 just 2 days ago who perched themselves atop a crane and refused to come down until they were paid. They too were arrested and will shortly be sent to prison.

These arrests have sent alarm bells all over the world and Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore which he claims to have harmonious labor relations has been exposed as repressive regime which sucks the blood of helpless workers and jails them if they complain. This has resulted in even fewer foreign workers willing to come to the island to work, perhaps either staying home or going to other countries such as Malaysia which may treat them better.

Suddenly, as can be seen from the article, and as a result of other existing pressures from other sectors, the island simply does not have enough people to work. Presently at least one half of the people in the island are foreigners while the local population of just 2.5 million continue to shrink from massive rates of emigration, an almost non existent birth rate and an ageing population.

And now Lee Kuan Yew and his boys who thought they knew everything are in a bind. Either way they turn they are finished. If they increase the foreign labor force any further, there won't be any local born Singaporeans there anymore, except for Lee's toadies, minions, sycophants, bootlickers, and those without skills and incapable of leaving. It is not a population worth anything or capable of anything.

On the other hand, if he stopped further importation of people from abroad, businesses would simply close, thousands would be left jobless and the economy would crumple.

Singapore has simply got a bad name both at home and aboard and unless you are an opportunist without any principles, you wouldn’t want to call Singapore home. There is simply nothing to be proud about an island where a tin pot tyrant struts around his tiny chicken coop punishing anyone who so much whispers.

John Stuart Mill the libertarian had said, “A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes--will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.”

Lee has made dwarfs of Singaporeans. I am afraid nothing much can be accomplished by men who have lost their voice and grovel in fear. You simply cannot make them men anymore.

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


Anonymous said...

I am so glad I left that place. Tried to convince my friends and relatives, but they would not listen.
Said that I was an alarmist and disloyal.

Now when I speak with these friends and relatives, they all regret not having left LKY's prison-state many years ago. Now they are too old(35+ and up) and no western country wants old workers.

I no longer call these friends and family, as I don't wish to hear about their constant stream of complaints about life in LKY's prison-state.

Anonymous said...

Lee's son, Pinky Lee, tells us in 2012 that Singapore can support 6 million people.

This number might be a surprise to many. But, not to me.

In 2004, I was speaking a a government scholar, and he told me then that the PAP was looking at growing the population to 6 million. To support all this people, they were looking at building HDB flats that were 50 stories or higher.

In true Singapore fashion, the decision to increase the population to 6 million was made by Lee Kuan Yew and implemented by his indentured Scholars.

Gopalan Nair said...

To Anonymous Dec 12, 1002,
Incorrect about West not wanting 35year old and above. There are several avenues to move regardless of age. I would urge the reader to move if he can.