Monday, April 25, 2016

Singapore, an island where Democracy is kept a state secret.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore, surprisingly enough does have a Constitution. But I bet you, if you asked anyone there, very probably they have never even heard of it.

Of course, if anyone took a special interest in the subject, they could research it. And if they did, they would discover that nothing that is guaranteed to them in that document is ever given to them. The Constitution talks of the right to free speech, expression and assembly. But all these are not only disallowed, they are criminal activities that will land you in jail if you tried any of it.

The reason why no one there has heard of the Constitution is because the totalitarian government there, which has been running it since 1959 prefers it that way. After all it is much easier to rule a society where no one knew their rights because the State could do anything they want, lock up anybody they did not like, carry out as much racial discrimination they want against Malays and Indians, appoint Ministers and civil servants by nepotism, not their ability and be as corrupt as they want without anyone questioning them.

The reason why you cannot question them is because you didn't know you had any rights in the first place.

I was born in that island except for some years in England studying law and the rest of the time here in America. I can tell you this from personal knowledge. The average Singaporean has no political ideology. None at all. All he knows is that he is supposed to work, not commit crimes, not associate with any anti establishment activity and if possible join the state organizations and support them because open support for the government may result in your being given cushy jobs and a secure career. Just like in Communist China or the former Soviet Union. Or rather how young boys live obeying their parents.

One thing is guaranteed. If you are not seen as a threat to the establishment and have not committed any crimes, you would be pretty well left alone. It is society where the less you think and mind your own business, the better and safer for you.

On the other hand it is unwise to begin thinking of such concepts as freedom or democracy. Of course you can think as much as you want as long as your thinking is in support of the establishment. But thinking anything contrarian will lead you into trouble.

Why this state of affairs exists must be obvious. Lee Kuan Yew's son, his family and all their nepotism friends in high places are openly corrupt. By corrupt I mean they pay themselves as much as 5 times the salary of the President of the United States and much more secretly. So obviously they want to continue being corrupt and not want to lose their immense wealth by anyone questioning them.

The other reason is because of the unfortunate state of international business. For wealthy Western European and American companies wanting to invest overseas, they are looking for a compliant and obedient workforce who will not demand any rights. The more you behave like slaves, the better for them, especially when it comes to producing cheap products. It will come as no surprise that Bangladesh would be a far more attractive location for an American company than Australia. The same argument for Singapore even though they may be paid a bit more than in Bangladesh because in all other respects they are no different.

Singapore workers have no real trade unions (trade unions who support the employers and not you), they can be paid anything their employers want, they can be fired anytime and if they did protest for higher wages, they can be jailed. They are no different from a Bangladeshi worker or a worker in Abu Dhabi.

Up till now, this clever plan to keep the society ignorant and dumb appears to have worked. But you see it cannot last. Today the only ones who are wealthy in the island are the Lee family and their nepotistic cronies and relatives who rake in the millions, foreign bankers who come in as travelling businessmen and make money as long as they can and then leave. And the workers they employ are very often foreigners themselves who have no real ties to the island and would also leave when it is convenient.

The locals on the other hand have it the worst. They make a living working for the foreign travelling businessmen or serving the Lee Kuan Yew family and his friends who if generous would provide them a good living. But of course nothing is certain. If they don't like you they would let you go.

Although the local children are never taught any Constitution or human rights in Singapore schools, today with greater mobility many have travelled abroad and realize that the German, the Italian, the Finn and the American live very different lives. For one thing, they seem to know their rights. And knowing their rights they appear committed to their countries, wanting to make their lives and that of society better because they love their countries. This loyalty to their country is something that does not exist in Singapore island. Why should anyone be loyal to Singapore when the Lees can pay themselves millions and no one can question them? Why should they live in fear of the police and the state because they have no rights? Why should they live in an island where foreigners strut around like kings and you are no better than a slave to them?

My office is near Walnut Avenue in Fremont city center. I went to eat at Shalimar Restaurant just now and next to it, I saw a Japanese sounding tiny restaurant which recently opened. I saw the man outside and inquired who he was and lo and behold, he was a Chinese Singaporean. Just as ethnic Chinese Singaporeans in the island of Singapore, he too appeared secretive as if he was a criminal and did not want to be found out. I told him I was a Singaporean named Gopalan Nair but he had no idea. He appeared to be like the other ordinary ignorant ethnic Chinese in the island who are only looking out to make some money and nothing else. It was quite clear that he had come to the US not because he was yearning for freedom but because he must have thought he could make some money. From the location of his restaurant and him, I don't think he would be around in business there much longer.

But the younger generation in the island are different. When they travel abroad, I am sure they will see how bad and miserable their lives are under the Lee dictatorship. And this is already causing a mass exodus from the island which is already crippling the Lee oligarchy.

The other bad news for Lee Kuan Yew's son's future is that Western countries are now not only finding ways to manufacture in their own countries cheaply through technological advances, they are also refusing to invest in countries like Singapore which do not allow their citizens democracy and freedom. Today it is bad for publicity reasons to be known as having industries in places like North Korea or even China where the workers are abused to make your products.

I am sure slowly and steadily the denial of democracy and freedom will result in the downfall of these tyrants. That is the direction the world is moving.

And I am doing my part in making this known to the world.

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

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