Sunday, August 11, 2013

Singapore's lack of a level playing field causes stagnation and decline

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A look at all the developed democracies of the world, both big and small, one thing you see in common, is their determination to ensure their people have trust in their government, a trust in the rule of law and the assurance that everyone has an equal opportunity for success.

This is what Singapore lacks. In essence, it's people have no respect or trust in their government, their civil institutions or in the rule of law. Just as the authoritarian Africa nations such as Zimbabwe or the Latin American Venezuela, to succeed in Singapore it is not how good or able you are but how good are your connections.

Almost every single large business enterprise in Singapore is either state owned or controlled by the state, such as Singapore Airlines. Every one of these organizations only accept workers who are either connected to the Lee Kuan Yew government or at least sympathetic to them. All of Lee Kuan Yew's family members including his son, the Prime Minister and all his relatives, both distant and close, are given lucrative jobs, directorships, and money while those outside have no chance to partake in the wealth.

The Civil Service, the Police Force and the Judiciary are no different. You can only manage to work and succeed in any of these organizations if you are politically on their side. Judges are specifically told to make sure that laws are bent to deny justice to anyone not willing to toe the line. On the rare occasion when you see a judge showing some spine, he is promptly removed. Civil servants similarly deny petitions of anyone who is not seen as supportive. It is one law for the connected, another for ordinary Singaporeans.

Just like in Venezuela, Zimbabwe or Sierra Leone, in Singapore, the elite connected to the government protect their sources of wealth by denying anyone who is not on their side any opportunity of enjoying it.

As a result of this uneven playing field, where the average citizen has lost any confidence in their legal system, where justice is meted out depending on which side you are on, or when you realize that you have no hope of success either in a career or in business unless you are one of them, it denies a large section of an already small tiny population any hope. They are put off and refuse to contribute their best to their country. And the value and input of these people which could have benefited the island greatly is simply lost as they have lost respect for the core institutions of their island and their government.

If you consider Singapore nothing more than an authoritarian Banana Republic as I as well as many other Singaporeans do, you are simply putting off many who could have contributed to Singapore with lively zest and a passion.

Let me give you an example. The Lee Kuan Yew dictatorship repeatedly parrot the claim that they are a meritocracy, when anyone with two eyes can see that this is blatantly untrue. Take the case of Chee Soon Juan. He was a highly qualified neuropsychologist professor with an American degree at the national University of Singapore. When he decided to enter opposition politics, Lee's government not only fired him from his job but also convicted him on trumped up charges resulting in his bankruptcy and imprisonment.

Tell me, what sort of meritocracy is that? Had he been a Lee Lee Kuan Yew supporter, which he refused to do, he would now probably be the head professor at the University or even been made president. This is not meritocracy, this is simply rubbish.

Every single person who has received any success in the island is because he supports the dictatorship of the Lee Kuan Yew regime. Anyone even if highly qualified and able stands no chance of getting anywhere in Lee Kuan Yew's island.

It is this disenchantment and lack of respect for the civil institutions of the regime that will result in stagnation and decline as time passes. For any nation success and progress requires a vibrant citizenry with new ideas and new ways of thinking so that it enables creative destruction, by which I mean better ideas superseding existing ones, which can only happen if it's people trust their government and their legal system. Singapore island lacks a level playing field for all which is deliberately slanted to favor those who support the Lee Kuan Yew's regime.

Unlike Singapore the people in other developed democracies have a strong respect for their government and their legal system. As a result no one is left behind with everyone given an equal chance at success without regard to their political affiliation or connection.

Unfortunately for Singapore, even if now the government decides to open the island to all Singaporeans, it is a little too late. Once the trust and respect is lost, it is almost impossible to recover. For instance no amount of persuasion by the government could convince anyone that Lee Kuan Yew's corrupt judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean of the Singapore High Court is impartial after what she had done to Chee Soon Juan.

And just like the worst autocratic regimes around the world, Singapore does not have a free and independent press. It's ranking in world for press freedom is lower than Somalia. As a result just as in these other autocracies and dictatorships, you don't really know whether to believe what you read and as a result the people are deprived of hearing any contrarian idea and opinion.

In Peru under Fujimori, he went around paying millions to newspapers to make sure nothing bad is said about him. In Singapore Lee did not have to pay any millions to any newspaper. He just passed a law, the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act preventing any independent newspaper. And worse than Fujimori, Lee just had the elections rigged to make sure that he had a majority in Parliament, a rubber stamp, enabling him to pass any law he pleases.

You can already see the damage being done to the island by this government which has lost all integrity and respect. It has the largest brain drain in the world and for an island which has only about 1.5 million native born citizens and shrinking, the local native born Singaporeans would be wiped out in no time. Second it's population on the whole is dying with the lowest birth rate in the world and the numerous attempts to increase it by financial grants and benefits has simply not worked. And as a result the government is now accepting third rate Chinese speaking immigrants thereby totally changing the identity, history, customs and heritage of the island.

This is why you see proud respectable democratic countries like Australia continuing on a path of growth and progressive change with new ideas continuously advancing whereas Singapore can only stagnate with these Lee Kuan Yew supporters who run around singing the government tune for the benefits it provides. Just like the citizens of the late Chavez of Venezuela benefited by licking his boots for a living so do Lee's citizens, or "digits" as he has called them.

Singapore has lost the respect of it's citizens. And this results in stagnation in the long run and certain decline, not progress and advancement. It lacks a level playing field for all citizens.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Singapore is living in the past, its best days are over.

Todays' problems have their roots in PAP decisions made decades ago. These decisions were made on the run with Yes-men with group-hugs.

Scholars and highly paid mandarins prized their pride and status above nation progress. Any criticism by bloggers were attacks on their failures. Instead of learning from mistakes, they shut the blogs. How to progress.

Singapore is a country with 2 systems. The leadership work under a system that are designed to protect themselves and in the process, deadwood and weeds gather and clot the oxygen needed for advancements.
The masses work in an lean efficient meritocratic system that keep the leadership fat and bloated.