Sat 2/23/2008 1:45 AM
Mr. Gopalan Nair
I have read your blog webpage, singaporedissident.blogspot.com, and it provided me with some intriguing views on our government. From our history textbooks and media, MM Lee Kuan Yew has been portrayed as a wise man who knows whats best for Singapore, and there is certainly no denying MM Lee Kuan Yew's contributions to Singapore, making Singapore a modern and global city it is today.
But what I wish to ask you is this, if Singapore would do to go through a normal political process where political parties battle it out on a even playing field, instead of the PAP-dominated political elections it is today, would that Singapore be as or more successful than the present-day Singapore?
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Above I have posted an excellent question raised by Edwin Soh which was Emailed to me; a question that deserves a blog post by itself.
This is the perennial question asked over and over again during the last 40 years of Singapore's history. Could Singapore have achieved the success you see; (that is, if you consider Singapore a success in the first place); without Lee Kuan Yew and his authoritarian government?
As for me, there can only be one answer. Singapore has not achieved any success at all under Lee Kuan Yew. Just because Lee has turned Singapore into a concrete and glass jungle instead of the original natural green one; is not success at all.
In fact Lee has seriously damaged the country, its civil society, its civil institutions and turned Singaporeans into a mindless bunch of sheep unable to think for themselves. Lee has permanently destroyed the ability of Singapore to achieve greatness.
So in answer to Edwin Soh, firstly Singapore is not a "modern and global city" as he claims; it could have been a much greater, more respected, more human place had it not been for the dictator Lee Kuan Yew.
What does Mr. Soh mean by a modern global city? Is it is the skyscrapers at the waterfront in downtown Singapore? If it is, those modern skyscrapers were built by a handful of government connected companies which houses numerous headquarters of foreign companies. The profits from the sale and leases of these modern buildings are pocketed by Lee Kuan Yew, his family members and supporters; a very small portion of Singapore’s population. As for the tenants of these modern buildings, they are all foreigners representing their foreign companies.
As for the ordinary Singaporean, there is nothing for him to benefit from those skyscrapers, be they modern or global. As for the regular Singapore Joe Bloke, it makes no difference whether the buildings were there or not, international or otherwise; since he does not benefit by their presence in any way. To the average Ah Kow, Ahmad or Samy, they are nothing more than white elephants.
Mr. Soh also calls it an international city? Is it really international? Yes, Singapore Airlines flies all over the world giving employment to half starved (because they are so skinny) air hostesses who are paid $3,000.00 or so a year. But they travel the world because they serve food to passengers on board aircraft, no more than waitresses in the sky? As for pilots, most of them are Malaysians anyway and they just fly planes. Singapore Airlines does not make Singapore a global or international city?
As for international trading, all of it is done by a handful of government connected companies with the blessing of Lee Kuan Yew, in the situation of "You scratch my back and I scratch yours"; similar to the situation in Burma where a handful of companies connected with the military junta trade internationally. The rest of the Burmese or Singapore populations have nothing international about them. They may have gone to Bangkok for a holiday but that does not make them international.
Let me now come to the crux of it. The high rise buildings that you see at Raffles Place do not make Singapore an international city. The average Singaporean is a hawker selling mee goreng or laksa at Boon Keng Food Court. The rest of them are civil servants dutifully doing whatever Lee Kuan Yew wants them to do and quietly going home. They have no knowledge of history, no literature, no interest in politics. They are nothing more than automatons. Not the type you normally find in an international city.
What Lee has done over 4o years is this. By instilling fear in everyone, he has managed to build up this concrete jungle at downtown Singapore and invited foreign companies to have their South East Asia headquarters in them; because Singapore has good infra structure, good telephones, transport and cleanliness, not forgetting an unquestioning and compliant workforce. In past years he was able to invite foreign manufacturing but since labor costs have gone up, all these jobs have gone to Indonesia.
In fact what Lee Kuan Yew has done is to destroy Singapore. Singapore with no natural resources has only its people to rely upon, whose minds Lee has permanently destroyed. He has turned ordinary thinking people into robots, a people who are only able to carry out orders but unable to think independently. And he has managed to do this through fear and greed. In fact he has turned an entire section of the population into a population from suffering political schizophrenia, from split personality.
You must have heard of Judge Belinda Ang's shameful judicial judgment in the case of Lee Kuan Yew vs. Dr. Chee Soon Juan in a recent defamation of character action where she found Dr. Chee guilty of defaming Lee merely for what he had written in his political newspaper, the Singapore Democrat, criticizing the government on their handling of the National Kidney Foundation's corrupt activities; in the run up to the 2006 national elections.
Everyone including Judge Belinda Ang herself, knows that there was nothing defamatory about Dr. Chee's article; nothing more than the exercise of free speech guaranteed under the constitution.
But yet this judge finds it necessary to please Lee Kuan Yew by distorting and abusing the law to find Lee's political opponent, Dr. Chee, guilty. She does this because she is required to do it; otherwise she will lose her job. What is more, by abusing the law to please her master Lee, she is amply rewarded by bribes of several million dollars. So it is convenient for her to abuse the law. So she does it.
But outwardly, if confronted with an explanation, she would swear on her grandmother's grave that she is as upright, honest and principled as the statue of Stamford Raffles itself; that stands on Singapore Square!
In other words she leads a double life. Outwardly pleasing her master Lee Kuan Yew by destroying Dr. Chee through the law; but privately knowing that she is doing nothing more than prostituting her profession, her calling and her oath of office as a judge! Shame on her.
But is not only Judge Belinda Ang that suffers from this political schizophrenia, this shameful double life, this lack of integrity. Lee Kuan Yew has managed to turn the entire civil service, the entire judiciary, almost the entire population into living this shameful double life. One life for the outside where it is all praise for Lee and his modern Singapore. The other privately for himself, kicking himself in shame; as he has to stoop so low to make a living in Singapore.
Other than these masses that live such desperate lives, such as that of this disgraced judge, Belinda Ang, there are those others who are educated with skills and talents; who are not prepared to live such disgraceful lives at any cost.
It is this large section of the population that form the Singapore Diaspora; hundreds and thousands of Singaporeans who just cannot stand the sight of Lee Kuan Yew and his minions. They have packed up and left for Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and Sweden. It is these who are the best and most talented of Singaporeans. And unlike the likes of Judge Belinda Ang who will say or do anything for the right price, what I mean is unprincipled souls; the Singaporeans who leave are the upright educated human beings with principles, with honor, with pride; who refuse to dance whenever Lee demands it.
And by the destruction of the minds of Singaporeans who have chosen to remain and driving out the best and most able from Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew has not modernized Singapore, he has destroyed it. Those remaining in Singapore, the likes of Judge Belinda Ang, who is prepared to say that 2 and 2 make 5 anytime; are not the kind of people that can advance a country to greatness. The best have already left the country for good.
And the loss of educated capable Singaporeans is especially damaging to a small country like Singapore with only 3 million people; as the huge numbers of Singaporeans leaving Singapore is disproportionately damaging.
We are seeing hundreds of thousands of capable Singaporeans leaving a small island with a small population of 3 million. The damage that Lee is doing to Singapore by forcing such large numbers out; is debilitating to the very existence of the country.
So to the question, could Singapore have done better without Lee, I would say, of course. At least any other leader would not caused incurable damage to the minds of ordinary Singaporeans like Lee has done.
Second, Lee Kuan Yew has given a bad name to the country internationally. And the bad name means loss of investment opportunities, loss of trade opportunities and loss of prestige.
Take Australia for instance. The mention of Australia is synonymous with the rule of law, honest government, an independent judiciary, human rights, a free press, and freedom of speech and expression. With these perceived qualities, foreigners are prepared to settle in the country, invest in it, trade in it and have children in it.
Singapore on the other hand is known internationally as a place that hangs petty drug mules; beats prisoners with a stick in their backsides until they become bloody, sometimes causing death; where judges like Judge Belinda Ang will happily abuse the law to eliminate Lee Kuan Yew's opponents; where there is no rule of law at all; where there are no civil liberties at all; and where all newspapers are owned and controlled by the government as in North Korea.
This bad name that Singapore has, makes it uncompetitive. Foreigners have no respect for Singapore or its leaders whom they consider a bunch of bullies. Unlike respected countries like Australia, this means a lack of competitiveness; a lack of investments; a lack of trade and the world calling it nothing more than an Alice in Wonderland with the death penalty.
So Mr. Edwin Soh, this is what I respectfully say. Lee was and is bad for Singapore. And what is worse, he is 85 years old and is going to die. And when he dies his son will have an even harder time to keep the place going since we all know that he is nothing more than a fixture, placed there by Lee, his father.
And Lee's major failure is his inability to ensure a strong civil society with strong organs of government. Today in Singapore there are none. Everyone and everything takes the cue from Lee senior, through fear. And when he dies there will be a vacuum, disorder and uncertainty just as is the case when all other dictatorships fall.
As for the office units in the concrete jungle in the waterfront, they too will become empty when the world finally realizes to what extent Singapore has sunk under Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.
Thank you Mr. Edwin Soh.