Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Singapore a place for sycophants oppurtunists yes-men and crawlers

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been observing Singapore politics for decades now. Besides I was in active politics in Singapore between 1980 to 1990. One thing has dawned on me over the years which is this. Singapore will not change into a democracy anytime soon, perhaps never.

And the activists fighting for freedom admirable men and women such as Thum Ping Tjin, Kirsten Han, Jolovan Wham are in fact not going to get anywhere in their quest for democracy in the island. I am not in any way denying the good work they are doing but their struggle for freedom in the island will not succeed, now or even the near future.

You have to understand human nature. Democracy is an intangible idea. First you have to understand what it is and why it is a good thing. But most people, the average man, has not studied political philosophy. He has not read John Stuart Mill on Liberty and other scholastic works. He goes about his daily life, goes to work, feeds his family, goes to the movies and tries to be happy. In Singapore as long as he minds his own business and does not question the Singaporean leaders, he is left alone unharmed. So whether he has a right to read what he wants really does not bother him.

What Thum Ping Tjin is trying to do is not only to try to convince the average Singaporean, who by the way is quite happy to be left alone without ever knowing anything about the virtues of democracy, that democracy is a good thing, that Lee Kuan Yew's son the Prime Minister is not allowing it, and therefore someone who espouses democracy should be put in his place to give them democracy. This is a difficult task under normal circumstances.

Any attempt by anyone to impose democracy on a people is unlikely to work. And it will not work in Singapore. If you are championing democracy, the people should already be demanding it. And then you can be their leader to bring it about. This however is not the case in Singapore. There is no indication in the island that anyone wants democracy. Occasionally you have a lone protestor or demonstrator who is promptly arrested and sent to jail under circumstances where no one cares.

Recently with the seismic political change to more political openness in Malaysia, there has been heightened activity among Thum Ping Tjin and other like minded people including the British citizen former Singaporean Tan Wah Piow in political meetings, public lectures, political seminars and YouTube sessions on democracy. Of course I applaud them for their actions. But frankly all this is not going to go anywhere. Simply because the average Singaporean has no clue or even the slightest interest in any of it.

But such a bleached uninteresting society will not succeed in the long run. Anyone who has any education in such things is going to find the Singapore island a very boring uninteresting distasteful place. If you have an education and skills, if you are a thinking person, you can make a living anywhere in the world, and you don't necessarily have to live in such as dictatorship. I am such a person. I don't have to live under PAP Singapore. So I left. This is why the brain drain which has been going on for a long time will continue. The remining Singaporeans will be those who do not have such an education about liberty and democracy who will be content to live in an island like that.

There are even people in the US who think that way. Only recently I was having a barbecue with an ethnic Chinese from Taiwan who lives in California. He had only good things to say about Singapore, which only included its economic success. But when I told him that you cannot criticize the regime, his answer was there is no need to criticize. According to him, all you have to do is keep your political ideas to yourself and make as much money as you can, like they do in Communist China. Which he said is not hard to do.

Once again let me make my point clear. You can only bring about change if the ground already demands change. If no one wants any change, as a lone voice on the pedestal, you cant get anywhere. And Thum Ping Tjin should be aware of that I hope.

Let me give you and example although it does not fit squarely in this case. Che  Guevara was very successful in his revolution in Cuba. Why, because the Cubans already hated their dictator Batista and wanted him out. On the other hand he failed miserably in the Belgian Congo and in Bolivia, where he was shot, for the simple reason that both these people were not dying to oust their rulers let alone know what communism even meant!

Amarjit Singh, the former Singapore judge who now works for Rajah and Tann was previously my employer in that island. While I was actively pursuing my fight for democracy in the island, he once told me this in the form of a parable. He said about my activism " When it shines, go out. When it rains go out with an umbrella. When it is stormy, don't go out al all". At the time I considered him a shameful opportunist prepared to lick the boots of the government. But now, although I detest his way of life, I think he was right in his advice.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Singaporean in Exile
Fremont California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525
Email: nair.gopalan@yahoo.com

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