Friday, October 30, 2015

Democracy in Singapore is dead. Either stay and fight or leave the island

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over 50 years of Singapore's history, the ruling Lee Kuan Yew's PAP has systematically, relentlessly and with single-mindedness destroyed any semblance of democracy. With the recent elections of 2015 the death knell for any liberty was finally crushed. Since the 2011 elections where they got 60% of the votes, now they have 70% leaving them a path open to turning the island into a Stalinist Russia.

Today the island stands with no freedom of speech, no right to peaceful protest or assembly, no free press and no rule of law. The courts are merely a rubber stamp to legalize anything the state wants.

If you are prepared to live under such humiliating conditions, you can of course stay and live your slavish lives. But anyone who yearns to live as free men and not in a police state, there are only 2 options; either stand and fight for what is right or pack up and leave the island with your families for settlement in a freer society.

Standing and fighting would entail civil disobedience and civil unrest. The police of this state would arrest you and cause you all manner of hardship. In the hope that a momentum for freedom will take root, more Singaporeans agitation would turn the island into instability and uncertainty. Naturally this would mean a disruption of the economy, instability and loss of income. But I believe this is a price worth paying. Every dictatorship in the world was toppled causing a temporary disruption in the economy. But the island would recover from it and progress into a far better place, to an island with democracy and hope for all.

If you are not prepared to do this, then you must leave the island for the sake of yourselves and your children. A recent survey conducted in Australia on the Singaporean diaspora stated the main reason for leaving as their having no say in how the island is run. As you know the Singapore style government means they know everything and the people know nothing. Policies are decided daily and thrust upon the island's citizens over night without any input from the citizens. There can be no public criticism. It is as if the citizens are irrelevant and they alone decide what is best and how you should live. This leaves the average citizen no better than a 10 year old child only to be told what they should do next and what new laws are now in vogue.

The only ones to benefit from the island are the cronies and the elite who like the Chinese Mandarins of before are given supreme authority to decide anything and everything. The rest of the island are told simply to shut up and obey.

This sort of life is highly damaging to children. A child's education is not just to learn a set of rules but also the ability to think and form independent opinions. This is impossible in Singapore. Teachers are told to instill fear in the children for their government. They are told it is unwise to question authority and the best way to live is simply and obey and get in line. As a result children educated in Singapore have tertiary education and degrees, but they are incapable of independent thinking. Except for a life under Lee Kuan Yew's authoritarian Singapore, they are useless in any free society anywhere in the world because of their inability to think independently.

Let me give you an example. I live in San Francisco, Northern California. There are a few Singaporeans running around here. But you never hear of them. I presume they are all quietly working for either Singapore owned companies or for local companies. I suppose they do their jobs and quietly go home each day. They live uneventful lives. None of them make any waves. You never hear of them. I suppose you can imagine why. In order to succeed in a society such as the United States, you have to have certain qualities, such as courage, ability to think independently and to question authority. In other words to think outside the box. And this is precisely the department in which obedient Singaporeans who have lived lives prostrating under their masters fail miserably.

One striking fact that one notices of Singaporeans abroad is their inability to articulate. They are very poor speakers and shy and reluctant to stand out in public. I am sure you can see why. In a society such as Singapore where it is dangerous to stick out from the crowd, people tend to be silent instead of questioning. Indeed school teachers consider this a virtue. A good Singapore student is one who keeps his mouth shut, works hard and obeys authority. With such a character, you stand no chance in a competitive society such as the US where craziness can sometimes be a virtue.

A few days ago while driving and listening to the local public radio station KQED, I was surprised to hear some school teachers actually encouraging their students to fail. It went something like this. Students, they said should not be afraid to fail. In fact they should be encouraged to fail. They should fail as many times as they want, because the willingness to fail allows children to try new ideas, whereas fear of failure would prevent their taking risk. And risk is what drives society, not obedience. After all if you fail, you can always succeed since failure is not a sign of defeat for anyone.

I thought to myself, what brilliant advice this was. And I thought to myself that this was exactly what my life was. In Singapore I attended the elementary school now defunct Winstedt School 2 where I did brilliantly and went to Raffles Institution. In Raffles I thought I knew everything and completely ignored studies resulting in my failing the O levels very badly. I then did it again and did exceptionally well (Grade 1). I then went to A levels course but failed badly again. As a result I had to do it again in England where I did brilliantly. I then did the law studies at Hull University and barely passed. After than I did the Bar Finals in London and did brilliantly once more, securing a 14th place in order of merit among a class several hundred.

You see, you don't have to get it right the first time. If you want you can always get it right sooner or later.

But this is not the Singaporean mentality. If you don't get it right the first time, you are simply a dummy and deserve a life of everlasting mediocrity. Had I not left Singapore, I would be destined among the lowly classes eking out a living cleaning tables at food courts. Thanks to England, I have not only managed to become a lawyer, I have managed to stick at it for more than 30 years, 10 years in Singapore and 20 years in California and I hope to be at it for many more years. America gives one hope, Singapore drives you down to mediocrity and hopelessness.

If you care for yourselves and your children both the economic and mental outlook, leave the island for settlement abroad. There are many ways to do it. Today many first world democracies are looking for skilled workers. Students can secure places in foreign colleges and universities. But I would recommend not waiting until they reach college age but going when they are children. A child's mental outlook is molded at an early age when they are infants and teenagers. Once they reach college age, the damage caused by living in this one party police state greatly damages their mind permanently. It may be too late for them to cure themselves of this disease by the time they go to college.

In this day where the world is so connected, it doesn't really matter where one studies. You could easily study medicine in Poland and eventually work in the US by taking the necessary exams. A Singaporean graduate from France can easily work in Canada or every other country.

In order to do any of this both the parent and the child should have some courage and a sense of adventure. Unfortunately as these instincts are the very ones suppressed by the life under Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, I fear sadly that there may not be many takers for any of this. But if you are one of the few citizens of the island still capable of thinking independently, then go for it and emigrate.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont, California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a student who's gonna take her A level paper in a couple of days, this made me less anxious for my exam. This gives me a bit of hope. Made me smile. Please post more!