Friday, December 23, 2016

The detention of Singaporean Amos Yee at Chicago Airport

Update 12/28/2016. I have been getting readers who write asking for advice on asylum and national service. If you want advice please write to my Email or call me at (510) 491 8525 California time. Also note, I do not provide free legal advice. Please do not send anonymous comments. They will not be published.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am Gopalan Nair, a Singaporean, now US Citizen and practicing attorney in Fremont (San Francisco) specializing in Immigration law. I can be contacted at my telephone number (510) 491 8525. I have more than 20 years of expertise in my specialty. I am also a dissident against the Singaporean regime which has repeatedly harassed and persecuted me for my political beliefs when I was living in that island. I was also jailed in 2008 when I returned for a short visit for writing a blog criticizing a Singapore judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean for shamelessly abusing the law to punish one of the regime's foremost political opponents Chee Soon Juan. As a result of my imprisonment in the island, and for continuing my criticism, my lawyer license in Singapore was rescinded, and I was disbarred in that island from practicing law there. This did not have any effect on my practicing law in California and United States as the State Bar of California decided that I was not guilty of any improper conduct as the action against me was clearly politically  motivated.

I am also a Barrister on the Rolls in England.

I came to the United States in December 1991 and applied for asylum. I was granted asylum in 1995, and became a United States citizen in 2004.

A short background on Amos Yee. He is a young man about 18 years old blogger and U Tube video producer who has been criticizing the former Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew as a dictator. I agree with his observation. He has also criticized Islam. He produced a video caricature on U tube showing the late Prime Minister having sex with the former British Prime Minister of England Margaret Thatcher whom he considers equally objectionable. For this he was jailed and subsequently jailed for his on going criticism in that island.

What I am about to say is what transpired with Amos Yee contacting me seeking asylum advice in the United States. I do not consider my revelations here a breach of professional lawyer client confidentiality since he was never my client and the public are entitled to know these facts.

Several months ago Amos Yee contacted me by Email asking me how he could obtain asylum in the United States.

A point of correction in terminology. The several news reports about him refer to him asking for "political asylum" in the United States. This is incorrect. The correct terminology is "asylum". Not "political asylum". This is because under the United Nation Convention on refugees of which the US is a signatory, asylum can be obtained for persecution by a state by reason of "race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular group or political opinion". Therefore it is not just on political grounds that a person would be granted asylum.

I advised Amos Yee that he should somehow try to get to a third country such as Malaysia and apply at the US Embassy there. The problem of course is the ability to leave the island since I was told his passport was impounded by the authorities. I suggested that somehow he should try to smuggle himself out of the island if he could but there was no more discussion on that.

He then asked the procedure for applying asylum in the US. I was not confident he could get a passport since the last he contacted me, his passport remained impounded by the Singapore authorities. I told him that if he could somehow arrive at a port of entry in the United States, he should state that he wants to visit the United States (not ask for asylum at the airport). This is because if an arriving alien arrives at a port of entry in the US and is in possession of a valid travel document, has a return ticket and sufficient funds, he will be allowed entry into the US as a visitor for up to 6 months.

After entry the visitor has 1 year within which to apply for asylum in the US. This is a far better method  of applying for asylum since the arriving passenger is released into the United States and he can take his time to file a proper asylum application  from the comfort of his home.

Also someone who enters on a visitor visa has 2 bites at the apple. He applies firstly to the Asylum Office a branch of the Immigration Service. If his claim is not granted, then it goes to the Immigration Judge, whereas a person is detained and released at the airport, goes straight to the Immigration Judge.

On the other hand there are those who arrive with false documents and would therefore not be allowed entry into the US and would be turned around on the first flight out. In such cases the passenger if he wants to live in the United States would have no choice but to articulate an asylum claim at the airport.

The moment the arriving passenger articulates a fear of returning to his country, the US border agency immediately and automatically goes through a procedure known as "expedited removal proceedings". Under this process the passenger at the airport is taken into secondary inspection and held in custody ordinarily up to 48 hours in a detention facility. During this time an "Asylum Officer" from the Department of Homeland Security visits and interviews the passenger in what is called  a "Credible Fear Interview". Although it is intended to see if the fear of return is real, the threshold of review is very low, meaning as along as one has given a reasonable reason for fear of return, the man is usually released either under bond (bail) or with electronic surveillance such as an ankle bracelet or some other means. In other cases he is released on his own recognizance and given a date to appear in Immigration Court. In the meantime he applies for Asylum.

Amos Yee was wrongly advised to claim asylum at the airport. Since he appears to have a valid Singapore passport ( I am assuming) , he should have simply not mentioned anything about asylum at the airport in which case he would have been allowed to enter the country and not be detained. He could subsequently within 1 year comfortably file his asylum.

However if he had arrived with a false passport, then what he did was right as he would have had no choice, since he would have been returned immediately to Singapore on the next flight, had he not raised an asylum claim.

Amos Yee had asked me to represent him "pro bono" or free of charge. In my opinion, he did not appear to be lacking in funds since he himself had stated in social media that he was making a lot of money through his videos. Secondly he has his parents who live with him and are fully able to pay for his expenses. I quoted him my normal asylum fee of US$3500.00 but he refused. After that I did not have further communication with him.

Recently a US based Singaporean activist Melissa Chen contacted me. She said she was trying to help Amos Yee and had arranged some lawyers to help him free of charge. She was contacting me probably from Chicago. She asked me if I could arrange accommodation for him free of charge. I told her that I cannot and even if I could I will not. After all he is well able to pay for his accommodation under his circumstances and shouldn't be asking things free.

I have done many cases free for financially deserving clients. In my opinion he is not one of them.

Lastly all reports refer to him as being "arrested". This is incorrect. Amos Yee was not "arrested". The US Border agency had merely been following routine procedures at the airport when they detained him after he had articulated a desire for asylum. This is a normal procedure for anyone articulating an asylum claim to Immigration authorities at an airport. As I said, if I was representing him, I would have advised him not to claim asylum at the airport but to claim it subsequently after he has entered the US as a visitor. In that event he would not have been detained.

Also the news reports state that he arrived on a visitor's visa. This is incorrect. If he was using a Singapore passport, Singapore  island is a Visa Waiver Country. No visa is required for 90 day visit. That is provided he arrived on his own passport and not a forgery.

Finally I had advised him that where I am, at San Francisco, is the best location in all of the US for asylum claims. The success rate is much higher than any other part of the US given its reputation as a "sanctuary city". I had told him that. Obviously he has not taken heed of that in applying in Chicago.

But even in Chicago, I think he will succeed in his asylum claim. The Singapore government has clearly been persecuting him.

Finally a note of personal observation. I found him to be an unduly arrogant young man. He appears to think too highly of himself, a case of misplaced importance. This sort of arrogance will not do him any good in any country, let alone the United States. With an attitude such as this he would find it hard to make any progress in the US, especially someone like him whom no one knows here. I know he has never worked for a living and has been all along supported by and living with his parents. It will come as a rude shock to him in the US with this sort of attitude. Anyone who ever made it in the US had always started with humble beginnings. I think this is going to be hard for him.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Monday, December 19, 2016

In Singapore, to succeed, support the Lee family and their ruling party

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Singapore island, one thing that everyone knows is this. If you wish to succeed, you have to actively support the Lee family and their ruling party, the PAP which has been continuously in power the last 50 years. Anyone with ideas of his own is persecuted by not getting good jobs, not being promoted in their careers and failing in life.

But supporting the Lees and their ruling party is difficult for anyone capable of thinking. The Singapore government is a one party authoritarian police state. There are no individual human rights, no freedom of speech, expression or assembly. There is no free press since the entire media is government controlled. There is no rule of law as judges are mere minions of the establishment who rubber stamp the government's orders.

To enable the citizens to show their support to their government and their ruling party, the state has created an organization called the Peoples Association. It is directly run and controlled by the state. It is an umbrella organization under which there are numerous sub organizations such as Citizen's Consultative Committees and a dozen other organizations. Citizens who wish to succeed in life make it a point to join these organizations and actively volunteer in their activities. The state monitors these organizations and their members to see who they are and how loyal they are. It is from these organizations that senior government officials are selected and anyone can hope to aspire to high office if they are lucky in being recognized. And even if they are not selected, for special treatment, the state will make sure that they are protected in their jobs and when promotion time comes, they are the ones to benefit.

As a result of such a system, the state and the ruling party, the Peoples Action Party are one and the same. The state is the party and the party is the state. Just as in Nazi Germany, the Nazi Party is the State and the State is the Nazi Party. Or in Communist countries, the Communist Party is the state and the state is the Communist Party. In China today, if you wish to succeed, you better be seen as a Communist Party supporter or in Stalin's Russia, you better be a Soviet Communist.

This sort of thought process in Singapore makes almost everyone a hypocrite. Every single member who volunteers at these government grassroots organizations personally disdains the ruling party. The leaders are seen by everyone as simply corrupt by paying themselves literally millions of dollars which they conveniently call a salary. No one can question them. They are also aware that citizens of Australia and the West are lucky to be living in free democratic societies which they are denied. They are unhappy with their lives but because you need to support the rulers to advance, even to simply survive, they engage in this play acting to please their masters.

This sort of culture is exactly why societies like Russia failed. You had Russians praising Stalin when they personally knew that he was killing millions of their citizens. But in order to succeed or even survive in Stalin's Russia, you had to join the bandwagon or else.

Singaporeans today are facing their worst economic downturn in history. Every single sector of economy is failing. And in a tiny island with a tiny population such as Singapore, simply joining the bandwagon is the worst recipe one can imagine. For small islands like Singapore with a tiny population, you need to have every single citizen to be an independent thinker, with creativity and new ideas to drive the economy in new directions. What you need in any society is change. And change can only come about if individuals are allowed to formulate ideas of their own and exploit them. This is not possible in Singapore.

Anyone who openly suggests that Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister, who is the son of his father the previous Prime Minster is corrupt is going to face fire. He will instantly be sued bankrupted and jailed. Anyone who openly propagates freedom and democracy is punished. This way the society does not develop any differently. Lee Hsien long, the son of Lee Kuan Yew is there to stay, whether you like it or not. Their party the Peoples Action Party will rule over you forever whether you like it or not. There will be no freedoms whether you like it or not. You will do as you are told whether you like it or not.

One can see why the Soviet Union, East Germany and other communist regimes collapsed. It is because you have entire populations simply joining the bandwagon where new ideas are simply impossible.

Singapore's economy has many similar characteristics  from that of the Soviet Union. It is a centrally planned economy. The government had decided on certain sectors for economic activity, such as the oil and gas industry, commodities trading, bio technology, tourism and casinos. Unfortunately for them, every single one of these industries is failing due to external competition. Since the citizens are incapable of thinking on their own, they are simply waiting for the state to decide for them what economic activity is going to replace these failed ones for their jobs and their survival.

The government, we are told has now created various committees and sub committees to study the situation and come up with new ideas to grow the failing economy; just as in the Soviet Union they came up with plans every 5 years. But the citizens have no part to play in this. Their brains are incapable of doing anything on their own. Their main principle activity is to impress their rulers by their hard work in the Singapore People's Association a branch of the ruling Peoples Action Party.

Singaporeans are therefore incapable of any creativity or independent thinking since these things are frowned upon. The tried and tested means to success is the lifelong goal to keep your mouth shut and join the bandwagon by volunteering at the government's Peoples Association to impress Lee Hisen Loong, the son of Lee Kuan Yew and his peoples Action Party. Hopefully the powers above will take notice and you never know, you may be even selected to serve the Prime Minister himself. Just as an erstwhile Romanian would have thought, you could even be selected to be the right hand man on Nicolai Ceausescu if you played the cards right.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Monday, December 5, 2016

As tiny Singapore island slides headlong into economic collpase, what it needs is some democracy, some kindness and compassion

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The economic bad news has been on the wall for a long time now. This tiny island's economy is heading to a total collapse. Every single economic sector of activity looks hopeless. The oil rig manufacture and supply is dead for obvious reasons. The days of fossil fuels are over, so the oil refining sector is dead. Pharmaceutical sector is dead. They are manufacturing it in cheaper countries. Casinos are dead. The Chinese don't have money to spare. Banking is collapsing because the idea of offshore banks supporting money launderers is failing.

Unless and until the rulers of Singapore realize that they need Singaporeans as their partners, and not their enemies, it is simply not going to work. What you have in Singapore is unadulterated merciless capitalism. You work for multi national companies and if you lose your job, you are destitute. There is no real safety net to speak of. This creates an atmosphere of fear, constant fear of losing one's job. This results in a sort of mental paralysis, lack of productivity and creativity since no one dares to venture into new enterprises for fear that you may fail and end up destitute.

And then you have a leadership that is seen by the average Singaporean as simply corrupt. The leaders pay themselves millions regardless of how anyone else lives. If you complain you are liable to be sued for defamation of character and hauled before their Kangaroo courts and made destitute.

The island has no basic freedoms. No freedom of speech, expression, assembly or freedom of the press. The citizens are required to simply obey and do as they are told.

And those who criticize, are treated very harshly. They are a very vindictive government. Many Singaporeans who have criticized the government have been driven into exile and either cannot return or are afraid to return. I was imprisoned in Singapore in 2008 for criticizing a judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean who unashamedly abused the law to punish an opposition politician Chee Soon Juan. Today he is completely marginalized. He was thrown out of his job and has no means of livelihood. I had to leave Singapore in 1991 because it was impossible for me to earn a living for criticizing the government. Today even though I am an American citizen, I fear returning to the island for fear of being imprisoned again on trumped up charges. There is no rule of law in the island. This sort of thing does not happen in any other country except in totalitarian dictatorships.

This sort of life results in deep dissatisfaction and unhappiness. The state is not seen as the partner of the citizens, but rather as their enemy about which there is nothing they can do.

If it has worked so far, it is only because in the 60s and 70s, there was no Internet. There was no instant news throughout the world. Today Singaporeans look at other countries where people live normal fruitful lives and ask why they have to live the way they do.

One country to take an example from is Finland. It is similarly sized in population of 5 million but has a much larger area. It is cold and a difficult country to live in. Yet they do exceptionally well despite their harsh climate.

1. It has real freedom, freedom of speech and every other freedom. It is truly a democratic society. Finns appreciate this and respect their government.

2. It has very generous unemployment benefits. This means that unlike Singaporeans they don't have to live in fear every minute of losing their job and becoming destitute. This enables Finns to experiment with new ventures and new enterprises. This promotes creativity and hence greater productivity.

3. They have free health care for all.

4. They have free education up to and through university. It does not matter what you study, it is free.

5. They have generous child care benefits. Mothers who have a child are given 3 months at full pay and another 7 months at 70% pay. You can if you want take more time off without pay. This encourages mothers to have children since they know that they don't have to be separated from a new born baby or lose their job if they took leave.

6. Child care centers are all over the country to cater for every Finnish child. And this too is free.

7. Finnish education system has been repeatedly declared the best in the world. Teachers are the most respected of professions and they are given great leeway on how or what they teach. Fin students constantly come up tops in mathematics and science in world ranking.

Understandably with this sort of welfare state, Finns are taxed higher than in Singapore, something which they willingly accept. This is because for the tax they pay, they get security in their lives and an opportunity to excel.

Finns despite their harsh climate are happy to live in their country. Unlike Singapore island which has one of the world's highest brain drain figures, Finns do not leave Finland.

The reader will be able to see why Finland is such a successful country. Their birth rate is much higher than in Singapore and some of the world's greatest companies are from Finland.

Unless and until Singapore realizes that they have to create a climate where their citizens can respect and trust their government, the economic decline will continue for the simple reason that the people dislike and distrust their government. The only question is whether the slide to economic collapse will be a gradual one or a sudden precipitous  one.

In spite of all this, I am certain of one thing. These corrupt millionaire rulers of Singapore island are not going to make any changes. It is going to be the same. And if that is so, no one can help Singapore.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Friday, November 25, 2016

As a society, citizens of Singapore island are fundamentally inferior, not creative, obsequious, opportunistic and fairly stupid.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is how Brzezinski Zbigniew, the former US National Security Advisor described the Russians living under Stalin. He said, to paraphrase, they are "fundamentally inferior, not creative, obsequious, opportunistic and fairly stupid". These words, in my opinion, are equally applicable to today's citizens of Singapore island. The similarities of those who lived in Russia under Stalin to present day Singaporeans are in fact similar. If they differ, it is only to an extent of degree.

Stalin systematically destroyed any opposition to him to create an entire population of grovelers who achieved high office in this despicable manner.

It is the same in Singapore today. Opportunists and boot-lickers who sing praises to this regime which has no rule of law, denies the basic civic rights such as freedom of speech, expression and assembly are promoted to high office, while those who think and disagree with this totalitarian authoritarian administration are punished and removed from their jobs.

As a result the dumb followers of this authoritarian regime is promoted while anyone else showing even a modicum of independent thinking is destroyed and denied any success.

This is how it is done in Singapore. Firstly the government has a litany of grassroots organizations in the island. One of them is the Peoples Association. Cabinet Ministers and other high ranking party members of the ruling party the people Action Party run this organization including many others.

Opportunists who want to advance in their careers will join and volunteer their services to this organization. If you are a lawyer, a doctor or in any other profession or vocation, your volunteering at these organizations are noted. It is also noted that because you volunteer at these organizations, you are also a supporter of Lee Kuan Yew's son who is the Prime Minister and his Peoples Action Party. It is taken that they can count on you for your support, during conferences and speeches given by the government, they can count on you to attend to make up the numbers for photo ops. You will be considered part of the PAP ruling party family. And since the government controls everything and everyone on Singapore island, no matter where you work, a wink and a nod from the top will advance your career and you will have a glorious future.

For those who do not do this, you are not seen as one of them. As a result your career is not guaranteed, your promotions are not guaranteed and your future is not guaranteed.

For about 40   years since the creation of modern Singapore, this arrangement was fine. The government selected certain sectors for job growth, such as offshore oil rigs manufacture, oil refining, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and electronics. and tourism and money laundering. Although this worked well for some 40 years, since there was little competition in third world South East Asia, things suddenly took a compete turn with the advent of the Internet. Every other country began competing and oil continues at rock bottom. So the economy of the island literally collapses. And the people are no help since they are dumb waiting to be told what to do next and obsequiously  licking the boots of Lee Kuan Yew's son.

Singapore simply cannot recover,. Their people are basically stupid and incapable of thinking for themselves. A tiny island such as this with a tiny population can survive only if each and every citizen is an entrepreneur who can create a job for himself as well as 10 jobs for others. This these obsequiousness  boot lickers who hang around to please Lee Kuan Yew's son simply cannot do. They must collapse.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Singapore island society where being hypocritical, submissive and boring is good while taking risk, failing, independent thinking and creativity is bad

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore is a small tiny island with about 5 million people, about 2 million of them are locals while the rest are foreigners especially recent immigrants from China. It has no natural resources whatsoever and it survives mainly of trading.

If a foreigner were to spend a few days in the island, he may not realize that the Singaporean is a very strange specimen of a human being. He is more similar to someone who has lived in the former Soviet Union, East Germany, North Korea or Cuba and has less in common with people who live in free countries such as the West.

For instance, in the West, one would admire courage on the part of an individual. The courage to stand up to one's convictions and beliefs or to fighting against tyrants and dictators is appreciated and admired. This is not so in Singapore island. There it is the other way round. If someone were to stand up against this Singaporean regime which is actually a dictatorship, he is not only not appreciated, he is treated as a fool and a clown who does not knw what is good for him. Someone who toes the line, sings praises to the regime's rulers, supports them in their various grassroots organizations and achieves high office through this support is seen as smart, intelligent and someone who knows what's good for him. Parents and teachers encourage their children not to criticize the regime, instead to openly support the regime because this will result in great reward and lifelong success and security.

But then how does one support a regime such as this? You see, it is a regime which is openly corrupt, whose rulers pay themselves five times the salary of what President Obama gets,  and in addition siphon off millions in addition. It is a system of government whose constitution is misused where it is illegal to make a speech in public, demonstrate in public and any criticism will attract imprisonment and financial ruin. In spite of being so, which everyone knows, the vast majority of citizens actually openly support this regime and hope to profit from their support.

What sort of man is this who is willing, not only to live a life such as this in bondage but in fact openly proclaim that that he supports this miserable form of life? It takes a hypocrite to say one thing and actually believe another. And therefore one could safely say that the Singaporean society is made up entirely of hypocrites or people who would be prepared to do or say anything if that is what it takes to succeed.

I can challenge any visitor to the island to prove me wrong. Just ask any ordinary citizen in Singapore whether he likes living the way he does. In private he may very well tell you that he is very unhappy but officially he would either say nothing or proudly proclaim that he is quite happy to live in a society which has no rule of law, no freedom of speech or expression and no liberty whatsoever.

His life is the most predictable one can imagine. The philosophy is for a student to work hard, be obedient, don't do anything wrong, obey your teachers and parents and do as you are told, support the ruling party and work hard in their grassroots organizations, get a scholarship and a university degree, then secure a job with the government or a government linked company, make a lot of money and retire. Such a man is considered very successful.

Whereas on the other hand, if you had other ideas, if you publicly stated that the regime is oppressive and you wish to have it changed, that you are going to fight them, that you want a society where people are free to have their own ideas, if you worked to bring down this regime, you would be labelled a bad man, a thug, a criminal. And the rest of society would shun you, not give you a job, not associate with you or have anything to do with you. You will be forgotten with no hope whatsoever. You would not be treated a hero. Instead you would be considered a clown and a buffoon. Someone who does not know what is good for him.

As a result of an entire population thinking this way, you have very little creativity, new innovations, or ideas since the whole population have stopped thinking and leaves it to the rulers to do it. The people on their part merely obey what the rulers have decided for them.

You can see that in numbers, this is a very bad arrangement. In a small society like Singapore, if only the rulers are allowed to think and formulate ideas, you are losing out on the creativity of an entire population, because they on their part have decided that it is not their job to think but just obey. This as you know is not the case in the West. In free societies everyone is allowed to think and be creative. Those who have the courage to stand up to injustice are treated as heroes like Martin Luther King or Gandhi. One looks up to those who have conviction and courage to stand up to their conviction, whereas in Singapore such men are treated as fools who do not know what is good for them.

You have been following the recent Singapore news where the economy has been steadily failing for the last 4 years with no recovery in sight. It has been clear to anyone who knows Singapore that the reason for this is the lack of democracy in the island. For an island such as this, you need human ingenuity to progress, you need ideas, you need political discussion, you need real news, not propaganda, you need gusto. It is not enough for the Singapore government to sit at their lofty tables to formulate their 5 year plan as to what to do. This is not enough. You need the participation of the people and without that you are doomed.

I think the Lee government realizes this but it is too late. Firstly the government is not prepared to allow democracy. If they did, they would be toppled. And secondly, even if they did, the people have become so behavior trained into submission that no amount of persuasion can make them think independently. You have seen this phenomenon in Russia. True, the Soviet Union collapsed and Boris Yeltsin became president of a democratic Russia. Did anything change? No . It didn't. The Russians did not know what to do next.

The Russians are not like Americans who can come up with some weird ideas. But weird ideas are good, like electing Trump. Trump or no Trump the USA will go on. Because it is the people who have ultimate power because they are free. And this creates change and change always creates progress. The Russians don't know this.

Singapore is like the former Soviet Union. Singapore will economically collapse. And the reason is the inability of the people to think. They are only capable of following. And following is not enough.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Singapore island's economic decline caused by submissive conformist society

Ladies and Gentlemen,

When writing anything about Singapore island, it is first necessary to describe how tiny it is. Although a country by itself, it's entire size is just 26 miles east to west and 16 miles north to south at the tip of the Malay peninsula. In this tiny place is crammed about 5 million people, most of them foreigners. Without traffic you could drive within 30 minutes to the ends of the island, both lateral and longitudinal. The real Singapore population is a mere 2 million at the most. It has no natural resources and relies almost entirely on import export trade.

In such a country which has nothing, except its people, it therefore means that it's principle asset is the people. If the people have nothing to offer the world, the tiny island simply collapses. And that's that.

Unfortunately despite all the praise heaped on the late Lee Kuan Yew Prime Minister for creating a miracle economy from nothing (which is by the way, false) he seems to have completely lost the most important fundamental purpose in nation building, building its people.

For 50 years Singapore has had a centrally planned economy like the Soviet Union. Certain sectors were created by the state as economic sectors such as the sea port, oil and gas refining, commodities trading, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, casinos, banking  and tourism. And the people were directed to these jobs.

But the very lives of everyone was controlled, not just in jobs. In the Soviet Union, you had to be a member and supporter of the Communist Party, in China you had to be a member and supporter of the Communist Party and in Singapore you had to be a member and supporter of Lee Kuan Yew, now his son, and his ruling Peoples Action Party. Just as in the Soviet Union and China, Singapore has been ruled throughout it's history by this party. Without proof of such support you could not find a job in the Soviet Union, in Communist China or in Singapore.

This is mind control and mind control is bad for economic advancement, especially for a tiny island without any natural resources.

And even if you wanted to, it is very difficult for any honest man to support the Lee Kuan Yew type of government. What is it? It is a place where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of expression, no right to assemble, no rule of law as the judges are all stooges of the Lee administration and an island with a defamation regime where you are sued for the slightest criticism.

So honest Singaporeans  who have some self respect have all left the island. They now live in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England and other free countries of the world. I live in the USA.

Those who decide to stay behind in this island are those who are incapable of leaving or the opportunists who are hypocrites who will support anything and anybody if profitable. At the same time despite the great shortage of skilled people in the island, the only ones who are coming are those with no skills or who cannot speak any English from China.

So what you have is a submissive society. A society which is waiting for the state to give them jobs, to create jobs, to advice them where to go and what to do. And in this sort of society, those who are seen to be strong supporters of the state are given preferential treatment while those who do not show it are denied jobs and ways found to fire them.

As a result of the fear of not being seen to be supportive, the vast majority of the society make a bee line to the ruling party's organizations such as the Peoples Association, the Citizens Residents Committees, Consultative Committees and a litany of organizations which are all run and organized by the ruling party with government ministers and members of parliament running them.

As a result the lines dividing the ruling party and the country are blurred. Just as in Nazi Germany where Germany was Nazi and Nazi was Germany, in Singapore the Peoples Action Party (Lee's party) is Singapore and Singapore is Peoples Action party.

As a result just as in the Soviet Union, mediocre workers are in fact promoted to high office because of their support, whereas in a meritocracy they would have been left far behind. Their only qualification is official party support, not any real competence in anything. As a result of these mediocre workers, quality falls and productivity falls and the economy stagnates. This is what happened to the late Soviet Union and this is what happens today in authoritarian one party state Singapore.

For any tiny unusual island city state such as this, in order to succeed, the people have to be far better than their competition. They have to be better in the things they do. But Singaporeans are not only no better than anyone else, in fact they are one of the least productive societies in the world. In fact in several impartial international surveys held, they are the most unhappy people in the world and 2/3 said that if given a chance they would emigrate. Such an unhappy society engenders poor productivity, the lack of marriages and the world's lowest birthrate.

What the government should realize is that jobs are not created by the state but by the people themselves. But in order for the people to be creative, enterprising, daring to take chances, they first of all need democracy. They need to be sure that their government is honest and not a bunch of crooks. They should be able to read real news not propaganda. They have to know their judges are real, not Kangaroos.

But the people of Singapore are not secure in their island. They live in a dictatorship where to succeed, you first need to accept the authority of this corrupt state. And if you do succeed, it will be entirely because the state supports you, not because of who you are or what you are. And if you have to live in fear constantly, how can you ever do anything according to your own ideas.

Every single newspaper reports the constant descent of the economy of the island. More and more people are being thrown out of their jobs. There is a flight of capital as investors see no hope in the foreseeable future. And it also appears that the government has no intention of giving their people freedom. They are determined to subjugate their minds because otherwise they fear being thrown out.

In a few more years, the decline will hit rock bottom, massive numbers will be unemployed and there will be a revolution. But is seems that is what this government wants.

Even for the sake of argument, even if the government decides to give the people their freedom, can Singapore suddenly become creative and entrepreneurs on their own? I think, sadly not. A people who have for 50 years been told to merely obey and not think, cannot suddenly become creative and entrepreneurs. It did not happen in the Soviet Union after Boris Yeltsin. It will not happen in Singapore.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Singapore's submissive docile and obedient society the principle obstacle for progress

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Everyday one reads in the news of Singapore island's failing economy. It's oil and gas industry is failing due to falling gas prices. The biotech industry is failing through competition. Casinos are losing money as the Chinese have no money. Singapore Airlines is losing traffic and is flying half empty running losses of several billions. The money laundering business is failing as developed countries are clamping down on tax cheats. The commodities market is lost because technology no longer needs a hub as a conduit and sellers are sending their goods direct to the consumer countries. The bad news continues to flow with no end in sight.

Why is Singapore island not able to extricate itself from these failures. The global events are of course one factor. But far more important is the mentality of the average Singaporean, someone who throughput his entire life has been conditioned to just follow orders from above, unable to think for himself and be independent. And this brain washing and behavior training has been assiduously, systematically trained them like dogs to merely obey, incapable of fending for themselves.

Lee Kuan Yew since the beginning of his rule in the 1950s had determined that the best society for him to rule over is one that simply obeys and does what he is told. He totally discounted the most important aspect of any society, that is, the ability to think and progress oneself through ideas and innovation.

In order to achieve his model citizen, a person who will work hard, do as he is told and simply obey, he put a system in place to achieve this. Through the decades, anyone who showed the slightest inclination to have ideas of his own was immediately destroyed and punished. Although there were only a handful of people in the tiny society which was Singapore who showed any spine, every single one of them was mowed down and destroyed, firstly to remove them as a threat to his power and secondly to send a strong signal to everyone else that it is suicidal to try to have views in opposition to the state.

First we had Chia Thye Poh, a critic of the Lee Kuan Yew Administration. He was conveniently branded a Communist and jailed for 31 years, even longer than Nelson Mandela, to remove him as a threat and to teach a lesson to everyone in the island on the futility of any opposition. He was finally released and today lives out the reminder of his life in obscurity.

Then we had JB Jeyaretnam, a lawyer and opposition politician. He too was repeatedly sued for defamation of character, jailed and bankrupted. He was effectively removed from politics. He has since died.

Then we have Chee Soon Juan, a former professor at the University of Singapore. For his temerity to criticize the leadership, he was sacked form his job, repeatedly sued for defamation and bankrupted. He has since tried to stand for political office but has failed miserably because the majority of Singaporeans refused to vote for him out of fear. He has been effectively removed from politics.

In my case since 1984 I had been a critic of the regime. For that, while a lawyer in Singapore I had been repeatedly charged with trumped up lawyer disciplinary charges. In 1981 I was suspended from practicing law in the island for 2 years although it didn't effect me personally since I had already left for the United States. In 2008, being an American citizen, I returned to Singapore and while there I wrote a blog post criticizing his corrupt judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean for abusing the law to punish Chee Soon Juan. I was arrested and sent to prison for 3 months. I had said that "Judge Belinda Ang Saw Ean had prostituted herself in being nothing but an employee of the government and the ruling party". After I returned to the US, I had written another blog in similar terms to describe the judge Judith Prakash for sending 3 young men to jail merely for wearing T Shirts with a picture of a Kangaroo in judge's robes. After that the Singapore Law Society began disciplinary proceeding against me in Singapore. They disbarred me from practicing law in Singapore in absentia. Not that it bothers me since I live and practise law in California.

Every single action aforementioned by the Singapore authorities was done for one purpose and one purpose alone, which is to intimidate every single Singaporean not to criticize the administration and as a warning as to what will happen to you if you did.

Today looking at the Singaporean society, they have achieved their purpose beyond their wildest dreams. What then is Singapore today. It is an island literally without a Constitution. Every single constitutional human right is denied giving the rulers absolute power over their citizens. The right of free speech is denied. Anyone wishing to make a speech in public is required to have a police permit. There is no right o to peaceful assembly. Anyone wanting to organize a peaceful assembly in public requires a police permit. And by the way, even if you applied for a permit you will not get it. No police permits have every been issued to anyone to criticize the regime.

There is no free press. Every single newspaper or news media has to be licensed by the government under the Newspapers and Printing Presses Act. In fact even the possession of a printing press is illegal without a government permit. The judges are all minions serving the state. Any case where the litigant challenges the power of the state is immediately struck down and the litigant harassed and victimized. In other words the people have to live as slaves, nothing but slaves.

And what today is a Singaporean? He is one who out of fear is incapable of forming any independent opinion over the way he lives. He is resigned to live in total fear of the state in total submission.

Especially in a tiny society such as this, without any natural resources, the only asset is the people. And especially in a tiny society such as this, the only way to advance and succeed has to be through the ingenuity of the people, to form opinions and ideas, to be able to fend for themselves, to create new enterprises through ideas, to form a niche in a certain area and to compete and advance in this global society through one's ability. That unfortunately is not possible by such a society who are trained to believe that the only way to survive is to not rock the boat, to be another number in society waiting to be told what to do and waiting to be given a job by the state.

For anyone with an mind of his own, such a life is distasteful. You live a life realizing that you are powerless and only survive because of the kindness and generosity of the state. And when the state has run out of ideas as it is now, the people are powerless to do anything about it, waiting for the next order from above.

When I was living and practicing law in Singapore, I was told a joke about Singaporeans by a former judge Mr. Rajendarn who was very quickly removed from his post, very probably because he had shown some independence of spirit. The joke went this way. Once they wanted to know how Americans behaved. So they put 2 Americans and one girl in a lonely island. When they went to check on them 3 months later, they found that one American had killed the other and ravished the girl. On another occasion they put 2 Englishmen and a girl in that lonely island. When they went to check 3 months later they found both men had killed the girl and ravished each other. Subsequently they had placed 2 Singaporeans and a girl in that lonely island. When they went to check after 3 months they found nothing had happened. When asked why they didn't do anything, they said they were waiting for further orders!

It is simply not possible in this day and age for any society, especially a tiny one such as in Singapore to be governed through central planning. The Singaporean leaders today simply cannot sit in their cozy offices planning what industries to create, what jobs to be dished out. It no longer works that way. No matter what the Singaporean leaders plan and execute, global conditions change so fast that you simply cannot stay ahead. The only way for a tiny society such as this to advance is through each individual thinking for himself how he wants to live, and how he should make opportunities to survive for himself and his community. The engine for growth is the individual himself, not some government bureaucrat sitting behind closed doors and planning what is best for you. Besides being a very distasteful way to live, it is impossible for human beings to advance through their own ingenuity and ideas in this sort of existence.

You can compare Singapore with bustling cities such as London San Francisco and New York. Every day its citizens throw up new ideas and new enterprises, not because their governments had done this for them, but because they themselves have come up with these ideas. London is full of all sorts of businesses and activities. They have world reputed banks, restaurants, businesses, new ideas that is the marvel and envy of the world. And the reason for this is that an Englishman is free to do as he wants, without his government punishing him for ideas not in conformity with officialdom. Like a river flowing down from a mountain, no matter what the obstacles are in its way, it will still find a way around and continue to progress. This is not possible for Singaporeans, since they can only sit back and wait for the their government to tell them what they should do next.

Unfortunately for Singapore, the rulers have no intention of giving their citizens any freedom for obvious reasons, because if they did, their grip over them will loosen. And if that happens, they would be overthrown. So the only way for them to remain in power is to make sure their citizens continue to live as slaves under their complete grip.

And unfortunately for Singaporeans, even for the sake of argument, that the government does decide to loosen their grip, the citizens simply cannot escape from their mentality cultivated over decades where they simply are told to obey. So whether one likes it or not, no matter what, the island will continue to decline economically only because you have a society which is incapable of deciding for themselves.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont (San Francisco) California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Monday, October 24, 2016

More depressing news for Singapore economy, heading towards total collapse.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Just as a reminder, Singapore island is so small, sometimes you don't see it on the map. It is just 277 square miles. An island 26 miles East to West and 16 miles north to south. It has no natural resources and most of it is just a few feet above sea level. If there is no traffic, you could drive from north to south or east to west in just 30 minutes! In this tiny place about 5 million people are packed, one on top of the other in high rise government owned pigeon hole like apartments which it rents to the people on 99 year leases. I mentioned these facts to point out how precarious the dire economic situation is on the very existence of the island. If a mere 5 large companies were to close, the island government and economy will completely collapse, that's how small it is. And by the signs we see now, it appears that it is indeed going to happen very soon. For a tiny place like this, even a small downturn in the economy, will instantly result in total shutdown of the island.

In todays Reuter report " Outlook dims for Singapore Inc as economy moonwalks", a very dim picture is shown on the island's future survival. Please see report here

The reference to "Moonwalk" is a pun on local Chinese custom of eating cakes known as mooncakes during this time of year. A local Singapore employer John Kong a building material supplier was unable to send mooncakes to his workers because he was not making any money and couldn't give any pay rise to his workers because his business is hitting rock bottom and worries on whether he could stay in business. He says his business friends are wondering what will happen to them in 3 months. Businesses are cutting marketing expenses and laying off workers.

China's slowdown, a country upon which the one party state centralized planning rulers of Singapore  have decided to depend upon almost entirely, has given a body blow to Singapore's economic survival. Singapore's business for manufactures and shippers down, commodity markets business down, oil and gas sector down, companies bad debts rise, island's money laundering business down, financial services down.

"Earning forecasts for Singapore's listed companies are falling at among fastest in the world".

"Companies are also struggling with debt burdens that have ballooned since the financial crises, even as bottom lines have shrunk"

According to Thomson Reuters "Net incomes are down almost 40% since Jan 2008, net debt has more than doubled"!

Singapore banks DBS Group Holdings and Overseas Chinese Banking Corp are suffering from losses as a result of their loans to these troubled businesses.

Singapore's money laundering scandal the 1IMDB has resulted in banks having to spend more in compliance thereby losing money with no money coming in. Indonesia's tax amnesty has resulted in almost 11 billion dollars flowing out of the island, causing a dent in the offshore banking industry. Especially since the majority of the clients of these banks were Indonesian bank fraudsters, their departure may even put an end to the money laundering business, for which these off shore banks are primarily used.

Entire floors at central shopping malls are empty and tourists are cutting spending.

Singaporeans it appears are losing hope and worried. Key factors were quality of life, regular income and employment because there is no unemployment benefits or social security. If you lose your job, you and your family starve. A person with no money cannot live off the land because there isn't any. It is a small tiny island concrete jungle.

Although Singapore has one of the world's lowest birth rate's in the world, now with these bad tidings, women are not choosing to be pregnant and no babies are born in their maternity hospital. This creates even more pressure to import foreign workers, something the government is trying to slow down since foreigners, mainly from Communist China, already outnumber locals in that tiny island.

Jessica a 39 year old said she lost her job as an audit supervisor, has cut down on her spending, and told her kids she can no longer buy things as often as before.

I mentioned the small size of the island and its tiny population without any natural resources. A large country with an independent minded people living in a democracy may find ways to save themselves. Singapore however is doomed. The collapse in such a small place would be almost instant. Once the bad news takes hold, businesses would leave, people would leave, massive unemployment, there would a run on the banks and the Singapore dollar would become worthless.

If there is any hope of survival, perhaps they should stay. But there is none. And the fault is entirely the making of the former prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. And his son who has taken over is only capable of following his father. Lee carefully created over 50 years a citizenry that is totally reliant on the state. A model citizen is one who obeys the state and merely does what he is told. No need to think. The jobs that are created so far is the result of central planning in certain economic sectors. Jobs are not created by its people as is the case in democracies around the world. In Singapore anyone who has ideas of his own is punished and persecuted against. Only those who are mindless conformists can expect to survive. Unless the government can now think of new ideas to employ their citizens in the nanny state, I think the game is lost.

Especially in a small island such as this, Lee Kuan Yew's main concentration of his efforts should be to develop a democracy, where the people have their human rights, where there is rule of law and where everyone is given an opportunity to think independently and come up with new ideas. This is not so in Singapore. What he has done is to create a citizenry that lives in fear of the government and where the best way to survive is to kow tow and blindly obey their rulers. Such a citizenry is incapable of saving themselves in this situation.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Singapore's economy collapsing, unemployment and layoffs hitting the roof, currency losing value. Singaporeans should leave the island before it is too late.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The truth has finally come to roost. Singapore's economy is steadily heading to a total collapse. Unemployment and layoffs are increasing daily. The Singapore dollar is steadily losing value, to a 7 month low and still dropping. Very soon it will be worthless like the Venezuelan Bolivar. The vast majority of Singaporeans can leave the island if they want. They can sell their government apartments now and make some money before it's value hits rock bottom. My advice to Singaporeans is to leave Singapore now. Try to reach Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA or any other European country which will take you. Don't wait until it is too late when you will have nothing left. There are no prospects anymore in Singapore. This is my advice to you.

First the economy is on it's final descent to a crash landing.
According to this Singapore government state controlled newspaper Singapore Straits Times Business, it reads "Poor GDP figures point to long slow down for Singapore". The third quarter GDP growth has just been 0.6 percent, the lowest in 4 years, and dropping.

The office crowd in the Central Business District (CBD) of Singapore.
It is OK if it is just one off decline due to volatilities of business. But this is certainly not a one-off thing. This is like the barometer of a vessel at sea which has been dropping at a steady rate over the last 4 years. If this was the Titanic, the captain would have told you that they are heading into the eye of the storm. This is exactly true in the case of Singapore, with it's economic barometer. It's economy is indeed heading into the eye of an economic storm.

If Singapore has economic potential to recover, there could be hope. Unfortunately the Singapore which Lee Kuan Yew created has serious structural issues. He created a system which is simply doomed to failure. Although it had worked short term, on a long term trajectory, it is simply hopeless. It really has nothing to offer and simply is no longer competitive with the rest of the world.

Let's look at what Singapore has. It has an airport and Singapore Airlines. Gone are the days when Singapore Airlines did any better or cheaper than anyone else. Every other country in the region including Australia have excellent airlines. And with several Singapore crashes including the one in Taipei which killed hundreds in a 747 due to the pilot taking off on disused runway, its reputation is rather suspect. Any passenger would rather fly Qantas, which has a perfect safety record. Singapore airlines no longer has the edge which it once had. It is simply just another airline, no better no worse.

And then you have Singapore Airport. Today the hub and spoke concept which favored airports such as Singapore is non existent. Previously wide bodied aircraft needed to use airport such as Singapore because of longer runways and better facilities. Today this is no longer the case. An A380 can land in Kuala Lumpur Jakarta or Ho Chi Minh City . Every other neighboring country have been busy extending runways and improving airports. So the days of Singapore's advantage are simply over.

And then you have the oil and gas industry as well as the oil rig manufacture. These are not something that is special to Singapore. Any country from Albania to AndalucĂ­a can make oil rigs if they want. No need for Singapore rigs. As for the oil refining and storage business other countries have already begun overtaking Singapore. Qatar has already stated publicly that they are building facilities specifically to overtake Singapore and they have the advantage of being next to the source. So you really don't have any advantage here either.

Then there is tourism and shopping, both in steady decline for obvious reasons. In the past Singapore had an advantage in duty free cheap goods. Today the prices in Singapore are 3 times that in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta thanks to the steadily rising office and store rental costs, which is why Singapore is the most expensive country in the world. As most shoppers and tourists come from nearby third world countries and do not have deep pockets, they are not going to shop in Singapore because it is simply too expensive. And there goes your tourism and shopping trade.

And then you have some biotech and manufacturing industry which both suffer from the same problems of high costs and no special advantage. Today at the costs prevailing in the island, you can manufacture the product in Dusseldorf at not much difference in price. So what is the need to place your plant in Singapore when it costs nothing more to have it in your own country.

In the past due to lower tax benefits, advanced countries still found it beneficial to locate their industry in third countries. Today this loophole is literally gone for American companies. The US government is bringing out all sorts of disincentives, very soon you would hardly find US firms in Singapore since you can produce them back home at same costs and tax. Perhaps other Western countries may continue but for how long is pretty uncertain.

Another Singapore state controlled newspaper "Business Review" has this report "Unemployment and Redundancies in services sector loom amid weak economy" See

This is an alarming report because 72% of Singapore's workforce is employed in the services industry. This includes retail stores, bank clerks, office workers, government employees and so on. If there is unemployment in the services sector this means thousands of Singaporeans, the vast majority, being unemployed with no work and no money. As Singapore provides no social welfare or unemployment benefits, what this means is starvation on a mass scale.

The obvious reason for the downturn in the services sector is because every sector of the economy is connected to each other. If the manufacturing and export industry is impacted, so will the services sector.

And then the Singapore dollar is steadily losing value. According to the state owned Channel News Asia report of October 14, 2016, "Singapore Dollar hits 7 month low on lackluster growth outlook" The report states that the  Singapore currency has hit a 7 month low and continuing to steadily depreciate. It is simply  losing all it's  value .

If it was any other country with these figures, one would not have worried too much. Most countries have an in built ability to right itself and rebound when things go wrong. This is because they are democratic countries where the citizens have the ability to think of new ideas and new enterprises and create wealth. Not in Singapore. You have there a docile timid obedient society which lives in fear of their  rulers and therefore are incapable of thinking or doing anything by themselves. They are waiting for the government to create jobs for them. But since the government itself have simply run out of ideas, waiting for the  government to do things for them is simply not going to happen. For Singapore to succeed it constantly has to have something others do not have. It needs to have an edge. Today this island has nothing to offer that anyone else does not have. This decline is going to continue until final collapse.

And finally Singapore is an obnoxious place to live. There are no freedoms and the political leaders are corrupt and pay themselves millions while as much as half the population live at or below the poverty line. You couldn't even call this island a banana republic because there are no bananas.

My advice for Singaporeans is not to wait until it is too late. The writing is already on the wall. Pack up, liquidate your properties and leave for the west. It is good for you and for your children. There is no hope in Singapore island. There is hope overseas.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in exile
Fremont (San Francisco)  USA
Tel: 510 491 8525
Email: nair.gopalan

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Singapore Parliament by Minister Lim Hng Khiang says "Government stands ready to act in the event of economic downturn" Really? How?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore one party state's newspaper agency propaganda sheet Straits Times of October 10, 2016 has the report "Government stands ready to act in the event of an economic downturn: Lim Hng Khiang". See report here

How very gallant of him. Like a knight in shining armor, this man Lim Hng Khiang, Minister for Trade an Industry has offered to come to the rescue of all Singaporeans in distress and save them from certain economic calamity. How very reassuring. Thanks again. But isn't it rather silly to say this, not to mention condescending.

As you already know, this statement by him is made under the present dire circumstances where Singapore is facing an total economic collapse. Trade down, business down, unemployment up, shipping down. In fact everything is down and the island's economy is now in a freefall.

But his statement is so silly if you thought about it. If in fact he can do anything about it, why isn't he doing it right now, when things are already bad, instead of telling us that he will act only if there is an economic downturn? In other words he is determined to let the island go to the dogs but will intervene only if matters get even worse than that! Does he not realize that matters are already bad enough? That it has hit rock bottom and it can't get any worse!

And if he has any tricks in his hat, why doesn't he say what they are now. And what is more important, why doesn't do anything now. In his statement, he does not mention anything about how he is going to save us.

You don't have to be a crack economist to know that neither he nor anyone in his totalitarian government has any answers. You have an island principally  run through centralized state planning and where its poor citizens are told not to think but just obey so that the rulers can continue to be corrupt to the tune of millions. They have chosen sectors like shipping, oil refining, oil storage, tourism, money laundering, biotech industry and so on. Unfortunately  in every single sector the rest of the world have outpaced the island. The Chinese communists are no longer coming to the island to squander their ill gotten gains stolen through Peoples Liberation Army connections, the oil industry is dead, tourism is dead and the hotels are empty. In these circumstances, it is not enough for this man to wave a magic wand to make things right.

We should tell Mr. Lim Hng Khing that we are not 10 year old babies and thanks but no thanks.

Only in Singapore where you have a totally helpless society will anyone such as this man Lim Hng Khiang have the nerve to utter such nonsense.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Monday, October 10, 2016

Singapore government's offer to help the island's failing economy is like sticking band aids on a dying man

Ladies and Gentlemen,

With the news very bad on all economic sectors for that embattled island under Lee Kuan Yew's son's one party rule, Singapore, is it time perhaps for him to make that great speech that Churchill gave in 1939 at the British Parliament to the brave English people; but in Singapore's case, to Lee Kuan Yew's son's helpless clueless Singaporean public ?

"I have nothing to offer but blood toil tears and sweat".

At least in the case of Britain, there was still hope left. In Lee Kuan Yew's one part authoritarian Singapore island with the timid cowed docile people, none at all!

More will follow

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Fremont (San Francisco) USA

Singapore Island gives up on failing economy, declining GDP, zero birth rate, zero productivity and mounting brain drain.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The bad news for Singapore now doesn't stop coming. And they are all the result of an authoritarian government who thinks they know everything and the job of the citizens are to just obey. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams of creating the most docile submissive society in the world. Which society in the world would simply accept a life where there is no right to free speech, no free press, no independent judiciary and no right of peaceful protest?

As far as the locals are concerned, this is a very centrally planned economy not much different from those in Communist countries. The orders are that people should not complain, if they do they will be thrown in jail by their Kangaroo judges. The thinking is only done by a handful of people; by Lee Kuan Yew's son, the Prime Minister and his carefully selected minions.

And the thinking was that Communist China will have millions of millionaires who will come to gamble in the island's Casinos, will park their ill gotten millions in the island's offshore banks, will stay at the island's hotels and will shop at the luxury stores along Orchard Road. In this way, Lee Kuan Yew's son and his minions can reap millions in taxes and other charges, while employment will be provided for the poor locals to work in the hotels housing the rich Chinese, will work in the Casinos where the Chinese squander their money and will work in the banks where the Chinese park their stolen wealth.

Good plan but like all good things it cannot last. Today the Chinese are no longer their guardian angels or saviors. The Chinese economy is failing and they no longer want to come to Singapore, live in the hotels or gamble in their Casinos. Simply bad luck for the poor Singaporeans who are looking to Lee Kuan Yew's son, as to what to do next. Remember they are incapable of thinking themselves and like the dog waiting for the next trick, they have no idea what to do.

I suppose it was the present Prime Minster's father (who by the way gave him the job) who decided on these policies while the son is incapable of doing anything on his own except following his late father.

If you look at Singapore island today, there are a few sectors which the state decided should provide jobs. One was shipping, mainly container transshipment. Well that is gone too. World shipping has dropped and ships are hardly calling at Singapore. Thousands of jobs laid off there.

And then there was the oil refining and storage business. Only yesterday I read a report that Qatar is building the largest port that can take even the largest tanker in the world. They are also building huge storage and refining facilities and have openly declared that they want to take the business away from Singapore. They have the added advantage of being located next to the source. They have deep pockets and they can do it. There goes the shipping and oil refining and storage business. Thousands of jobs gone there.

And then you have the tourist industry with hotels and retail. Sorry that's gone too. With the deepening recession in China, they are no longer coming. As for others, the shopping is non existent since prices for products in Singapore are 3 times the price anywhere else. Why would anyone want to shop in Singapore when they can get the same item at a fraction of its price in Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. And as for tourism, there is nothing to see in the concrete jungle. Unless you want to see glass multi storey buildings, there is no reason to come to Singapore.

And then you had manufacturing but that too is dead, due entirely to the fault of this government who think they know everything. When they increased apartment rent which the islanders pay to the government to a point where the poor citizen can hardly afford, wages have to shoot up sky high. At these rates no foreign investor would want to set up in Singapore and use Singaporean labor. It is simply too high. So what do they do, they employ wetback foreign cheap labor as a result of which locals are unemployed but yet have to pay the astronomical apartment rents.

Which is no wonder that the locals have taken to killing themselves in large numbers. When you have no job, no money and a family to support with no state welfare support whatsoever, what else can you do? The suicide rate is one of the highest in the world.

The problem is unique in the island because of the sort of people they are, carefully programmed into a docile and submissive people who live in fear of their government. A people who have been told that they do not have to think, but leave the thinking to the state and the rulers.

The difference between the Australian or New Zealand population and that of Singapore is this. In Australia and New Zealand, you have and entire population of the country thinking and creating new ideas. Whereas in Singapore, the thinking is done only by a handful of people who rule. The rest are told not to think but await instructions from the handful who do. This is why an island like Singapore is hardly getting anywhere. Because you have a dearth of thinkers and too many followers. You have far too few people thinking. Whereas in a country like Australia, despite economic problems the people pull through with their imagination and innovation and the human spirit always manages to ride any storm.

Of course a people who are free tend to respect their government. That is why Australians and New Zealand are proud of their countries and stay behind to make it work. In Singapore on the other hand most people have total disrespect for their government and their judiciary whom they consider corrupt (the ministers pay themselves several million dollars ) and the judges Kangaroos. In a recent poll taken in Singapore, two thirds said if given a choice they would emigrate to the West.

But unfortunately  for the island, it is too late now to tell them to think. Independent thinking is impossible in the island anymore as things stand. What if you thought that a better system of government should be introduced? You would be immediately arrested and jailed by their Kangaroo judges. As you can see the only ones who succeed are those who simply go along with the government, never mind what they thought privately. If you have to be a hypocrite to succeed, what sort of ideas do you expect from such people?

The birth rate is now almost zero, thanks to the Zika virus. In the past the Prime Minister used to tell his subjects in their state controlled media to procreate. Now since he knows it is futile, he has  stopped doing it. As for the mounting brain drain, in the past he had gone to the capitals of the world to plead with Singaporeans and the majority who have given up their Singapore nationality to return home. Since no one wants to return, he has given up that too. He used to have news articles with pictures in his paper, of cities like San Francisco meeting former Singaporeans. Since these news articles tend to encourage more Singaporeans to leave like those abroad rather than persuading anyone to return, he has stopped reporting on overseas Singaporeans.

Lets face it, Singapore has simply nothing to offer the foreign investor anymore. There is no cheap labor, there is no shopping since prices are too high, the casinos are empty since the Chinese have no money, and there is nothing to see in the island for tourists.

Lastly the money laundering business in Singapore is slowly coming to an end. The Americans came down like a ton of bricks against Swiss banks demanding the name of American citizen account holders and threatened to ruin the Swiss economy unless they complied. To make sure they mean business, the US government commenced action in Miami federal court against UBS. As expected the Swiss complied. And what is more they began discouraging American account holders from investing in Swiss banks because it was too much trouble.

Many of them fled to Singapore. Now the US government is coming down hard on Singapore to stop money laundering. American investors no longer find Singapore a safe haven either. Today I read the news that India is demanding a revision of their double taxation treaty with Singapore. Mauritius had already agreed to tax the income at the source which will come into effect early next year. India has demanded the same of Singapore which has requested more time. Knowing India I am sure they would not tolerate any hanky- panky from this little pipsqueak of an island. Take my word, Singapore will submit to India and if they don't, you can expect fireworks. If Lee Kuan Yew's son thinks he can get away with it, he simply does not understand India. Remember India does not need tiny Singapore. It is Singapore that needs India.

Following the US and India I expect other countries whose citizens launder their money in Singapore to demand their share of it. Once that happens, you can see the end of one more sector of the island economy collapsing, the money laundering business.

And then you have sea level rise from which there is no escape. The entire island is a mere few inches above sea level and down town Singapore where all the businesses are is no different. Today the island suffers from flash floods almost every other day. Progressively as the island gets hotter, the flooding can only be higher and more frequent. The government has no answer to the problem for obvious reasons, because there are none.

If Australia or New Zealand faces these problems that Singapore does, no one would be unduly worried. Why, because the Australians are a thinking people, an independent people who can think of new ideas. Singaporeans under 50 years of dictatorship have become so docile, so timid, so afraid that they simply cannot think anymore. Unless the state can come up with some ideas the island will collapse. And from what we can see, Lee Kuan Yew's son and his dictatorship have run out of ideas.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Friday, September 30, 2016

Is the massive brain drain from Singapore Island sliding it down to irrelevance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the latest Reuters report on Singapore of Sept 28, 2016 it reads "Singapore deputy premier sees tough period for economy- report"

It says, although there was some progress earlier, the future will be only between 0.5 to 2 percent. But even so, it is all right if it continues to grow but will it?

There are several problems with the island causing even slight volatility to cause devastating consequences.

One is its size. Because it is so small in both geographical area and population, any negative economic impact will have a catastrophic universal effect across the island almost immediately. This is not the case with large countries with large populations, which can go one for very long even with negative economic volatility.

The second problem is the nature of its economy. It is completely reliant on foreign countries. Locally Singapore has nothing. The jobs are created by foreign companies and if foreign companies close down and leave as they are doing now, Singaporeans will simply have no work. The economic slowdown in the rest of the world now is causing just that; foreign companies in the island are shutting down and laying off thousands.

And with this happening now, many others join the bandwagon and leave. Foreign companies are not there because they owe a duty to Singapore. They are there for a profit. And when there is none, they leave.

The other problem is the wages offered. Lee Kuan Yew's plan, which by the way, every other country has not only copied but are much better at it, was to provide cheap labor for foreign companies. In addition, foreign companies are given tax breaks and perks to locate in the island rather than in their own countries which do not provide them. In the early days when Singapore was the pioneer in such tactics, of course they did well. Wages were low, you had a docile work force and you had the perks. But then everyone else began doing just that from Mexico to Botswana. So where is the advantage for Singapore, none. The wages in Singapore are simply too high now for any foreign company to locate in the island. With automation and increased productivity, you might as well manufacture it in America. Moreover it is well known that just the fact that it is made in the USA improves sales.

Then the problem is the mentality of a docile subjugated timid society. Singaporeans are taught to obey, not to think independently. So with the limited ability of the government to think of any new ideas except doing the same thing again and again, there is no ability to even stay afloat, let alone advancing. In every single area, the competition has overtaken Singapore. It is cheaper to manufacture in Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. There is no need to locate in Singapore. If Singapore has a helpless workforce who will simply shut up and not complain, so are the workers of Vietnam. If Singapore had the advantage of the English language, Vietnam is making steady progress to ensure everyone speaks English.

And then you have a Singapore local population who disrespects their government and public institutions. Simply by repeating ad nauseam that you have the rule of law, does not mean the people will believe it. No one in their right mind in the island would believe that the Singapore judges are independent when they repeatedly jail and sue political opponents for criticism. You have an island wide state controlled media and press where every single news organ is state controlled as in China. Where you have no freedoms at all, when even a single peaceful protester is jailed and caned just for graffiti.

The consequence of this is that every single self respecting individual is opting to leave the island for settlement in the West. The newspaper ASEAN Today of Sept 19, 2016 has an interesting article about the brain drain from Singapore and Malaysia titled "Can Singapore and Malaysia keep their talents home?"

This report should be alarming for the island's rulers, not so much as to what will happen to their people but more on whether they will continue to take home, or steal, millions of dollars a year which they call salaries when their economy collapses!

I quote extensively from this report. It says "Singapore and Malaysia are facing the serious problem of Brain Drain. Many well educated and highly skilled individuals are looking to relocate abroad for various reasons and this is worrying for both countries. While the governments are determined to attract these people home, the issue at hand is whether will they be moved by the determination?"

It says "The number of people moving out of Singapore has increased by more than one third in the last 10 years. In 2014, 212 000 Singaporeans were living overseas, whereas in 2004 the number was 157,000.00". Actually the figures are much larger than this. These figures only take into account Singaporeans overseas who still retain their citizenship. In fact the larger number give up their citizenship so as to redeem their CPF ( state retirement savings) which require this as a condition. So if you actually include those who retain their citizenship as well as the larger number of former citizens, the total number would in fact be closer to 2 million.

For instance I am not in this number as I have given up Singapore citizenship. In fact the vast number of Singaporean's who live in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live are like me, Singaporeans who are now American citizens.

Secondly if you look at the island's citizen population from a realistic point of view and count only those who were not only born in Singapore but whose parents were also born in Singapore, the island population would in fact be no more than 2 million. When Singapore government says that they have about 3.5 million citizens, they are including not only native Singapore citizens but also the hundreds of thousands of recent mainland Chinese immigrants who were given instant citizenship to make up for the falling numbers.

Going by these figures, it is therefore possible that there are as many true Singaporeans abroad as there are in Singapore and the tide is in fact turning to make the foreign Singaporean numbers greater than in Singapore. This has actually happened in Lebanon understandably with all its wars and violence but strangely even without such violence and calamity, Singapore population is steadily showing signs of another Lebanon!

And this increasing brain drain from the island should be even more alarming to the island's rulers  since the island's unemployment rate is actually lower than that in the West! Singapore it seems has only between 2 to 3 % unemployment while the figures for Western countries are far higher. So why should someone from a high employment country like Singapore go to one with greater unemployment! The answer is simple. It is because the people who can think detest living in bondage under a dictatorship with no rule of law, as is Singapore.  And the government should finally understand that unless and until you give your people freedom to live as proud citizens, the brain drain will not only continue but will increase with time and your miracle island will be no better than a backwater.

In a recent speech by the Prime Minister which sounds like sour grapes, he is quoted to have said this of the mounting brain drain at the Research Innovation and Enterprise Council (RIEC), "Singapore is part of the global community and we have to accept that". "It is not a bad thing at all for Singaporeans to be in demand all over the world and to be distributed in the many cities and research centers. (They can) gain experience learn what the world is like pick up ideas and perhaps one day come back to Singapore". Unfortunately for the Singaporean Prime Minister, where he got it wrong was about the part of Singaporeans coming back to Singapore. They are not.

I am not returning to Singapore. I don't wish to live as a slave. And neither is every single Singaporean in the San Francisco Bay Area who has given up Singapore citizenship like me.

The report says " But it is uncertain whether these people are ever going to return to Singapore. A recent news report mentions that the government has deep fears regarding a potential permanent outflow of talents. Many talents are enticed to stay overseas due to the abundance of opportunities and choices. However they would be much helpful if they were to stay and help to further develop Singapore's economy"

There is no doubt that Singapore's Prime Minister is fully aware of his brain drain problem at his interview with TIME MAGAZINE when he said "With Singaporeans you speak English, your are well educated, the doors open everywhere. You can go to Silicon Valley, you can go to Sydney, you can go to Perth, you can go to London Frankfurt, you are welcomed and it is not just talking about 5 , 10 percent at the top who are like that but 30, 40, maybe even 50% who are welcomed."

And now there can be no doubt that he not only understands that this problem will finish him, it is also clear that he has no clue how to avoid it. He says "If the successful ones mostly leave, we are going to be depleted. And if it goes beyond the successful ones, we will be shrunken"

"Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean speaking in front of the Parliament in 2012 said that about 1200 Singaporeans give up their citizenship on a yearly basis. The reasons for emigration vary. Some emigrants leave for family reasons,. because of marriage or to re-unite the family members overseas while others do it for a different environment". The words "for a different living environment" is an euphemism to saying " because they want their freedom".

"Other reasons include the lack of space in the small territory of Singapore, too much stress, long working hours that compromise quality living, low wages and the current political situation" . Of course the "current political situation" is of course referring to the lack for democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

This massive and growing brain drain is destroying the quality of the Singapore population, thereby lowering its performance and competitiveness. The only ones who want to come to Singapore to replace those leaving are from Communist China who are much less skilled and have no knowledge of English. And then you have others from other neighboring countries such as India and Burma who similarly are no match for those who leave the island. Also these recent arrivals have no real connection, loyalty or stake in the island and are mere economic migrants, of far lesser quality than the local born citizens who leave.

With the present authoritarian corrupt government comfortable earning their millions, and refusing to face the real issues behind this massive and growing problem, there is really no way to stop the decline and eventual destruction of the Singaporean economy and the island's way of life. And the cause can only be the avarice, greed and corruption of the leaders of Singapore who pay themselves millions a year which they conveniently call salaries.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont (San Francisco) USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Economy on a freefall, birth rate zero, tourism down, real estate down, now ZIKA. Whats wrong with Singapore island, the nanny state?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There appears no let up for bad news in Singapore island, once touted to be the miracle of the world. Economy is down, businesses are down, real estate prices down, tourism arrivals down and now the Zika virus which has infected nearly 500 people! What's wrong with that island anyway.

The problem is not caused just because of the slowdown in world trade. The problem is the mentality of the people. It is a nanny state, where the society is incapable of thinking independently but looks to the state to tell what to do next.

It all started with Lee Kuan Yew the father of the present island Prime Minister. He placed his son on the job. In 1959 when Lee senior took hold of the island, he had ideas of his own. It was to create principally a planned state economy, just as in Communist countries. The government will create jobs, the government will build the infra structure. The government will build schools, the government will do everything.

As for the individual, he has to do nothing. First he should not criticize the government. He should accept that they are the masters. He should look for jobs created by his masters. He should do good work and expect to be promoted and succeed. His success depends on showing his support for his masters. A low level clerk obeys his superior, to look for advancement. His superior looks to his superior for advancement and so on along the totem pole.

No one needs to think on his own. Your ability and acumen don't count much. What counts is your obedience and loyalty to your superiors and up the chain of hierarchy.

Government's plan so far is targeted to certain industries. But since they are all dependent upon the world economy, when that falls, they too fall. You have the sectors of tourism, the shipping trade, some biotechnology, and you have the financial sector where the crooks of the world are invited there to launder money. So for a Singaporean you can find jobs in these sectors, and if there are none, you are in trouble. If you tell a Singaporean that he should do it this way, he promptly obeys. But if your were tell that to an Australian, he would probably respond by saying "Why?" So since the average citizen in Lee Kuan Yew's nanny state is unable to think on his own, when the situation get tough, he is doomed.

I was born in Singapore, spent my schooling there and practiced law there for 10 years. Let me tell you how bad the law is. First you have judges in Kangaroo courts. The judges are required to deliver judgments favorable to the government and their cronies. Although there is a wealth of law in the law of defamation, whenever you are sued by Lee Kuan Yew's son or his cronies, you know you lost even before you stepped into the courtroom. If you thought as a lawyer, you could develop a certain area of law and be expert at it to advance your career, you couldn't be more wrong. It is not how much you know but who are. If you are a lawyer from one of the government connected law firms and you are know to be a sympathizer, you can win even a bad case. On the other hand if you are a lawyer known to be a political opponent, forget any success at the Singapore courts. Once the judge looks at you, you are as good as history, and so is your client. I have had many occasions when I had good cases but one look at me, and I lost the case. After a while no one wanted to give me any cases since they knew their cause is as good as lost. As a result the law never progresses. Everyone is trying to impress their rulers and the law is not only abused, it deteriorates.

It is the same with every other occupation. As children of a nanny state, everyone is trying to impress their nanny, because if you are recognized, you stand to benefit immensely.

Lee Kuan Yew's son is greatly admired by the locals, not so much of how good he is, but more because of how much money he makes. The local mentality is to look to profit, even if the object of your envy might be a bloody fool.

And this sort of mentality brings to mind a book I read and re-reading " First you have to row a little boat" by Richard Bode. It is about a boy who wanted a sailboat but was told by a salty sailor that first he has to row a little boat. And the advice to any local Singaporean in that island is first you have to support Lee Kuan Yew's son and the ruling party before anything else.

This sort of mentality in a society makes it doomed to failure. Especially in a small island such as this without any natural resources. The human mind is capable of great things and great things come from individuals, not through state planning. When Lee Kuan Yew embarked on his nanny state, he forgot the most important component to the equation, which is the people. For him, Singaporeans were merely widgets or digits who can be pushed around any which way and they will merely curl and roll over. So far that is exactly what they have been doing and a people who will willingly curl and roll over at the slightest order are not a robust people who can stand on their own and create opportunities for themselves.

Let me give you an anecdote. In Singapore almost every taxi driver is someone who has lost his other job. It is as if they are incapable of thinking of any other job. If you lose your job as a clerk, apply for a taxi license, as simple as that. If you cannot drive, apply to become a security guard. Almost everyone who has lost his job is either a taxi drive or a security guard! Why, firstly because they incapable of thinking of anything else and more importantly they don't have any self esteem. And more importantly they are helpless because they are afraid of the government. The by product of fear is the inability to think independently. And what is worse, they have no respect for their government institutions. They know the courts are Kangaroo courts. They know the law is being misused to punish any detractors. But they appear resigned to that fact.

Let me give you an example. A few days ago I had called a Singapore lawyer called Sujatha Bhargawan with her firm Gavan Law Practice in the island. Her Email is and her phone is 63331323. She has been in practice for at least more than 30 years. I asked her if she finds practicing in the island distasteful because the Constitution was being abused. She said she didn't think so. When I asked her if the law had been abused to destroy Lee's opponent such as the late JB Jeyaretnam, she said that happens in only some cases and does that happen in other non-political cases. I asked her since she was a lawyer does she know the Singapore constitution, to which she said she is ignorant. To justify her continued practice in that jurisdiction, she said her roots and all her friends are there. End of conversation. And she is just like every single lawyer who practices in that island.

I know she has no respect for the legal system in Singapore. But because it is too hard to say so, she just lives.

Australia and New Zeeland are good comparisons to the island. Their population size is not too dissimilar compared to Australia's geographical size. Opposite to Singapore, the average Australian is proud of his country. It has rule of law, a free press and the people are able to think and act as they want. Which is why Australian law is far advanced, their scientists are far advanced, each Australian individual has a mind of his own. Why because they don't have to live in fear and submit to any master. Which is why despite anything Australians will ride the storm. If it was hard to find jobs, they would create one of their own. Which is why they have sportsmen who make millions, independent businesses of all sorts and burgeoning ideas all over the country. If an Australian loses his job, he does not automatically drive a taxi in Sydney. Instead he might think of creating a business exporting shoes to Gaborone, Botswana! Which is why he will survive good times or bad. Because he does not live in a nanny state, telling him what he should and should not do.

Singapore's business is heading down. I am monitoring the news to see how bad it will get in 3 months.

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