Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Singapore poised for racial intolerance and xenophobia

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore today has according to government sources slightly above 5 million blabbering polyglot mix of people mostly recently arrived immigrants from various Asian countries, with the local native population of Malays Indians and Chinese now forming the minority in an island just 26 miles across and 15 miles vertical.

It is a place unlike any other in the world where if you stepped it in for the first time, you would have once thought you were in China, never in South East Asia's Malay Archipelago. No other place in the world has transformed and changed it's identity almost overnight. Yesterday, Dr. Jekyll, today Mr. Hyde.

It is a country with inadequate laws, ill-equipped to handle such a mix of people from various countries all cramped into a very small piece of real estate.

Except for harsh criminal laws which involve long prison terms for even petty offenses, it also has beatings, in Singapore called canings, where convicts are beaten on their behinds even for minor transgressions like vandalism, till their backsides are shredded, with a prison officer handy with a mop to clean the bloody floor. This is nothing short of torture, plain and simple.

There are also very punishing defamation laws to bankrupt anyone who criticizes the all mighty government.

On the other hand there are not much laws else. There are no laws against racial discrimination permitting both the government and the Chinese majority to deny services to the minority Malays and Indians although they are supposed to be equal citizens under the law. Although the government officially gives lip service by discouraging the odious practice, in reality they encourage it as being good for business.

There are also no minimum wage laws to prevent employers from exploiting their workers. In addition to this any form of protest or criticism by the victims of this injustice is strictly outlawed.

As a result the average person in Singapore is deprived any avenue to vent his grievance. The Malay who is deprived of a job and racially discriminated has no means to seek redress in the courts since racial discrimination is officially legal. The Indian who is passed over for promotion in favor of a Chinese simply has to take the victimization lying down.

To make matters worse, the government in order to please the business community continues to bring in Chinese immigrants at breakneck speed who immediately upon arrival displace the local citizens and literally throw them on the street. In doing so, Singapore government conveniently justifies it by claiming they believe equality in market forces; when in fact this is a deliberate policy to keep wages down with cheap foreign labor. Once again the poor Singaporean who is thrown out of job in his own country by the foreigner has no recourse under the law at all.

To add to all this, Lee Kuan Yew, the Singaporean dictator since 1959 who is 90 years old, is about to die any minute and his son, whom he made Prime Minister does not seem up to the job minus his father.

Already we see cracks in the society. The islanders do not seem as harmonious as is claimed. There are numerous daily instances of local Chinese beating up foreign Chinese for taking their jobs. So do the local Indians against imported Indians. The Malays on the other hand are seething with anger against everyone for making them a third class citizen in their own country.

In their crowded subway, Chinese hurling insults at Malays and pushing incidents are daily occurrences. It is only a matter of time when these verbal insults turn into deadly violence. The island is a ticking time bomb, ready to explode.

It seems the islanders are at the throats of each other. And it also seems that the regime which has been in power since 1959 were so used to getting their way with everything; they never considered the consequences of this flood of immigration from abroad. Neither did they consider the need to have a fair and just set of rules in place for inter racial grievance procedure to prevent the people being at the throats of each other. This risk of island wide racial and xenophobic violence is all the more heightened by the over crowdedness of the tiny island, when even a minor fracas can turn into an island wide conflagration.

It is only a matter of time that matters will explode. The situation is simply incendiary. The spark may come when 90 year old Lee Kuan Yew dies which is anytime soon.

If the island descends into chaos, with the people rejecting Lee Kuan Yew's son who already has very little respect, the question becomes who then takes over. With a total dearth of leadership material and everyone terrified not only of politics but even of identifying themselves as politicians, the people do not have anyone they can trust. Except for government politicians who are all handpicked bureaucrats, the opposition does not anyone who is willing to stand his ground and demand justice.

For instance even though the Malay community is suppressed and discriminated against, there is not a single Malay who dares to openly demand a stop to this injustice and if necessary protest and demonstrate publicly in the name of the cause. Since the Singapore Malays are not up to it, the government simply continues to do whatever they want. It is the same with every other cause, with the government simply doing whatever they want. Without any laws in the books to regulate inter personal co-existence, unless they are addressed, Singapore will soon descend into chaos and the peace and tranquility of the cemetery will transform it into a sloop in a Force 10 Gale.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont, California, USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on racism visted singapore in April 2010. During his visit he found anti-racial discrimination policies to be inadequate. He urged the singapore govt to enact "a stand-alone legislation prohibiting racial discrimination in all areas of life including employment,education and health"This legislation he envisaged to include " "specific reporting,reviewing and enforcement mechanism."( see report A/HRC//17/40/Add.2 at is over 3 yrs and with impunity this suggestion by the Special Rapporteur has been ignored. This inaction on the part of singapore govt shows a lack of real committment to fight racial discrimination. It is contrary to the committment it made that no one was disavantaged on the basis of race.Take for instance employment. The s'pore govt claims that people are selected according to merit but has provided no evidence that people are being seleced for jobs according to merit. The discussion is not about the 200 or so scholars jobs or jobs as judges. It is about the rest of the jobs in the public and private sector.The Special Rapporteur specifically mentioned "reporting,reviewing and enforcement mechanism"This means that employers were to provide reports showing who was recruited and not recruited showing it was based on merit. A reviewing process(Inspectorate) verifying the report provided by the employers and an enforcement process for legal proceedings for racially discriminatory practices.At present there is no such mechanism and there is no evidence that those selected for jobs are based on merit.At present people racially discriminated have no legal remedy. If you have been racially discriminated in any area of life then write with details including time, date,place,name of staff,govt dept or company or corporatio etc to: Mr Mutuma Ruteere, UN Special Repporteur on racism, Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland. Fax:+41 2917 9006. e-mail: you fear victimisation then say so in your letter and ask for your details to be kept confidential.