Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Singapore Lee Kuan Yew's quick fix miracle island hides serious faults

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Can you imagine a country island city state where everyone publicly proclaims loyalty to a country, where it's ministers corruptly and shamelessly pay themselves each an official salary of $3.7 million a year and much more besides without complaining?

A country where the constitutional rights of free speech, expression and assembly are completely abrogated? A country where the laws deny any free press to exist? A country where it's judges are Kangaroos who openly abuse laws to destroy anyone who dissents?

And the handful who are brave enough or stupid enough, depending on your point of view are either repeatedly persecuted, either silenced and join the masses who have been subjugated or go into exile.

And can you imagine a totalitarian police state with a state controlled press which pretends in it's state controlled pages to be a free and liberal society as if it were London or Sydney?

That country is like East Germany under Communism, Singapore today.

In Singapore, in order to succeed, one has to be a card carrying Lee Kuan Yew party member. Anyone even remotely trying to make it a success in the island is bound to fail, if he does not show party loyalty. It was the same in Adolf Hitler's Germany. Without Nazi party membership, you stood no chance. It was the same in all other fascist countries of the past, Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain or today's North Korea.

Lee Kuan Yew did this through not only his party but also his numerous grassroots organizations, the Peoples Association, Residents Committees, Citizens Consultative Committees and the multitude of other organizations linked to his government party, now run by his son.

Although Lee's Singapore would claim it does this for stability and progress, noble reasons, the real reason for this is the same as in all Fascist countries, the dictatorship's insecurity and avarice. They fear if open debate is allowed, they would surely lose control and what is more important, they would lose the means to continue their on-going corruption in the millions.

The political leaning of the entire citizenry is monitored through the numerous intelligence organizations in the island, the principle one being the Internal Security Department, like the Staci of the former East Germany . Official and free lance agents operate throughout the island to report on their citizens, to reward those who support the regime and punish those who don't.

At any one time, one does not know who is your friend or who is your informer.

Political opponents receive no coverage in the state controlled press. The only ones given any coverage in those shameful pages are government minions who lecture to their helpless subjects on what is going to happen next.

The result is of course is disastrous to any free thinking individual. No matter how much you hate this sort of government where men are reduced to 10 year old kids waiting for their nannies to tell them what to do, if you want to continue living in the island, you are forced to conform. And conforming under these circumstances is simply unacceptable. But a large section of the population do. 

Who are these people then who accept this sheepish way of life without complaint? First you have the masses who have no understanding of what freedom is, the Chinese noodle seller in the local market, who cares only for a bit of money in his pocket and be left alone as much as possible. Ideas such as freedom and the importance of living free is something he does not understand and something he does not care.

And then you have the others who are aware of their miserable lives but submit anyway since resistance is painful whilst emigration is impossible. Then you have another growing section of the public who are foreign workers who sojourn in the island and care less whether they are living in North Korea or Timbuktu. After all it is not their country.

There are many like me who simply cannot accept living under these conditions. In their case, they simply leave. Most of them do so quietly and not much is heard of them. According to the government some years ago, as many as 1000 leave the island every year, mostly highly skilled and educated professionals and academics. I expect this number to be much more now but the government does not say. 1000 may be an insignificant number for a normal sized country but it is a debilitating number for a small island with a small population.

Let me give you my own example. I was born in Singapore, an England educated lawyer and practiced law in Lee's Singapore from 1981. From 1984 when I openly joined the Workers Party under the late JB Jeyaretnam and contested elections, the government started a sustained campaign to silence me. There were numerous trumped up law related disciplinary charges to have me disbarred. I was charged for contempt of court and made to pay a hefty fine. I was suspended from law practice for 2 years for questioning the Attorney General on a politically motivated case against the late Jeyaretnam. The entire intent of these series of cases against me was to make me stop being a government critic and accept the life quietly under this totalitarian regime. In my case it did not work for them. Instead of submitting, I simply packed up and left for the Untied States from where I continue to criticize their regime.

Successfully brainwashing an entire island population has serious consequences to it's progress. If people can only think in one way, it prevents innovative thinking, it prevents people from forming new ideas, new ways of living and new ways of political thinking. This divergence of ideas is good for any country because new ideas means progress, and only one uniform island wide idea means stagnation and regression.

The moment I publicly announced my opposition to the regime, they made sure that in my law practice I lost all my cases before their Kangaroo judges. Through their 5th column and intelligence agents, they made sure that I got no more clients. Had I remained in the island and continued in opposition, I would simply be an unemployed lawyer and an unemployable pauper. This is the choice the Lee government gives you. Either conform and survive or oppose and perish.

The vast majority of Singaporeans who submit to the totalitarian regime today live their lives somewhat on these lines. They go to work making sure they never show any alternative views other than the party line. In addition to work they attend government party meetings and gatherings at the Peoples Association and the other various state organizations. On holidays, they go on outings with other Lee's political party members to the beach or frequently to trips abroad usually to China or Taiwan. They publish their happy photos with other ruling party members on these holidays on social media. The Lee government appreciates their support and they can expect secure career prospects in return. The government takes care of them and in return they happily support this totalitarian regime. They can expect to live happy uneventful lives under their caring appreciative Singapore  totalitarian police state.

You can see striking similarities with a previous regime, that of Adolf Hitler. Germans happily supported the regime, attended Nazi party meetings, joined Hitler Youth, joined the numerous Nazi grassroots organizations, went on holidays with their other Nazi party members. In return Hitler took good care of them, made sure they have good jobs and made sure they succeeded in their careers. Like Singapore, in Germany there was only one idea, that of Nazism, and one leader Hitler. Oppositionists had no place in society. Like Singapore, anyone with divergent ideas were punished and brought to heel. Like Singapore, thousands of Germans who refused to conform simply left, mainly the United States.

Germany under Hitler enjoyed tremendous economic success just like Singapore today. But even without the war, that success would not have lasted. Demanding that everyone submit to one idea may have brought progress for some time, but the lack of diversity in ideas would have ultimately meant stagnation and would have destroyed Germany just as the straight jacket Singapore society's temporary success would inevitably fail for lack of free and  independent thinking.

Lee's Singapore is clearly in a quandary. If they ever allowed democracy and freedom to take root, they will be overthrown. On the other hand if they continued with their totalitarian police state of today, the lack of new ideas and new thinking will slowly bring Singapore down. The way it is going in Lee's Singapore, I can see no hope in the long run.

And these pages in the Singapore Dissident would continue to write about it.

* I will not publish comments which do not identify the writer.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean by birth
Now American citizen
Fremont, California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

No comments: