07 September 2006

Peaceful Streets

Why don't Singaporeans clamour for freedom of speech and assembly? This is the speech delivered to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand. Full speech.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

the choice of IMF to come to singapore explains it: people who want money also want to enjoy their money in peace; the difference is how successfully the people in charge of a country have passed on this attitude by implementing a control system that links money with peace

to put it another way, if you got them by their wallets, their hearts and minds will follow

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the Singapore government takes a less intolerant view of its foreign (non-expatriate) workers involved in public demonstrations. Remember the difference in treatment by the Singapore Police Force on the "Brown shirts" singaporeans who gathered at City Hall MRT against the "Study Mama" Chinese nationals and Indian workers outside the Chinese embassy and Indian high Comm respectively.

The Singapore government seems to give a little more leeway to these seemingly unfortunate groups seen as "victims" unlike Singaporeans who have it all, and therefore have no reason to protest.
Kai Khiun

Chris said...

As an outsider, but someone who has been interested in Singapore history and politics for 10 years, my feeling is that one possible source of a crisis (in its original meaning a "turning point" rather than something necessary dangerous) would be the death of MM Lee. I see then a certain amount of fracture in the PAP. This could be good or bad, depending upon how the government handles it.

I have been heartened by the explosion of the Singaporean blogosphere--freedom of expression is already in Singapore, just on the Internet, not in the public forum.

Anonymous said...

Quote from His Holiness Dalai Lama:

"As all nations are economically dependent upon one another more than ever before, human understanding must go beyond national boundaries and embrace the international community at large. Indeed, unless we can create an atmosphere of genuine cooperation, gained not by threatened or actual use of force but by heartfelt understanding, world problems will only increase. If people in poorer countries are denied the happiness they desire and deserve, they will naturally be dissatisfied and pose problems for the rich. If unwanted social, political, and cultural forms continue to be imposed upon unwilling people, the attainment of world peace is doubtful. However, if we satisfy people at a heart-to-heart level, peace will surely come.

Within each nation, the individual ought to be given the right to happiness, and among nations, there must be equal concern for the welfare of even the smallest nations

Attempts have been made in the past to create societies more just and equal. Institutions have been established with noble charters to combat anti-social forces. Unfortunately, such ideas have been cheated by selfishness. More than ever before, we witness today how ethics and noble principles are obscured by the shadow of self-interest, particularly in the political sphere.

To read further: http://www.fpmt.org/teachings/hhdlworldpeace3.asp

Anonymous said...

Please work together and make Singapore 2006 a success. Afterall, we should work as ONE.

Anonymous said...

Alex, you have summed up what many Singaporeans have realised long ago. That short of a major crisis, war, etc, the PAP is never going to democratise and the kind of free and open society we wish for is not going to materialise anytime soon. This is why many have started planning their exit strategy or at least started thinking about it. The topic of emigration is rising in increasing frequency during conversations these days, and I am not exaggerating. This is the brain drain that the govt should be very concerned about, and there is grave economic consequences. But so far we have seen what is PAP's solution to this - import and replacement in numbers regardless of quality. This will only worsen the problem but in truth the PAP doesn't care as long as it holds on to power. And those 66.6% that remains are simply too blinkered to see beyond what they are being spoon feb daily.

KiWeTO said...

the problem with building a perfect society, is that when it one day proves to be imperfect, there are no alternatives. There can be no plan B, because anything other than Plan A is imperfect.

And so the country continues down this path towards pefection, all and sundry complicit in the game.

As a friend added on to my comment:

Singaporeans are hamsters trained to run the wheel....and they even gladly pay ERP to do it.

We have the society we desired. Peace and prosperity. Until the fat lady sings. Nobody will put their bodies against the line of police, because nobody will turn up for a protest. We're all too busy trying to survive.

Neutered, castrated, and voiceless, conditioned from young to toe the party line, the only thing we're short of is a little red book.
(wait! that's our passports!)

C'est la vie. We get the society we desired.


E.o.M.

Anonymous said...

'A police state is a state with authority which uses the police, especially secret police, to maintain and enforce political power, even through violent or arbitrary means if necessary. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism or other harsh means of social control. In a police state the police are not subject to the rule of law in an emergency and there is no meaningful distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.
The government with the police force does not describe itself as a "police state". Instead, it is a description assigned to a regime by internal or external critics in response to the laws, policies and actions of that regime, and is often used pejoratively to describe the regime's stance on human rights, the social contract and similar matters.'

Having defined the meaning of a police state, which Singapore is one, the political situation will never change in Singapore.
Dictators are seldom overthrown as seen in political history.

Look at Singapore's short history. The Lee Kuan Yew generation was responsible for the building up of Singapore, it was his generation that made Singapores' political history, with the Japanese, the British and with Malaysia. It was his generation that had to fight for an independent Singapore. And fight, they did, bearing in mind, that the people of Singapore at the time were not academically educated.
Times have changed, with education, but even armed with that, the new generation of Singaporeans live in fear of the existing regime.
With the appearence of a smarter opposition, led by Dr Chee Soon Juan, which PAP can co-exists with Dr Chee's party.

However, PAP is not willing to make any concessions now.
Perhaps, with the death of Lee Kuan Yew, the political situation may adjust, tho' that is very remote.
Time will tell as what the future holds for Singapore.
But for now, the reigning power continues to hold on to its power, and money.
As such, the rich will get richer, the poor know no difference, and the middle class will always be the group that will end up with "Pay and Pay".
The choice for change is up to the future generations of Singaporeans. The present generation of Singaporeans are not hungry for change, things will have to get worse for them before it gets better, in order for the present Singaporeans to fight for 'their own survival and cause'.
Eventually, Singaporeans may end up working as maids or cheap labor in other countries. Many Singaporeans may feel angered with a scenerio like this, but political history has shown never say 'No'.
What is happening now, is the influx of PRC chinese, and Indians coming into Singapore to fill the job market at a cheap cost, a temporary tie-over for a long term problem. The question is how can Singapore, without any natural resources, support such a fragile infrastructure of human beings filling up a small island. There is only so much to go around.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Anonymous 7 Sept, 21:56 said, "Please work together and make Singapore 2006 a success. Afterall, we should work as ONE."

Why?

ColdZero said...

Look, what is the point of analysis (I don't mean yours Alex), lamentations, doom & gloom? You lot know what needs to be done. You know that the essence of power is the ability of people to act in concert (and non-violently as well).

At the end of the day, democracy is not something someone else can give to you like a Xmas present (as US foreign policy misguidedly believes). Democracy is merely another stage in your continuing maturation as a nation as surely as childhood and adolescence are but different moments of growing up in life.

If you're too afraid to act, then you're not ready for this liberal democracy that you so crave. Democracy presupposes the intelligent, interested and intent citizen.

If you're still here whinging about the status quo, you're not ready to change it; you're not ready to transition from authoritarianism to democracy.

But sleep well, democracy will come to you when you're ready for it.

Jordan said...

Yawning Bread Sampler said...
Anonymous 7 Sept, 21:56 said, "Please work together and make Singapore 2006 a success. Afterall, we should work as ONE."

Yes, absolutely. I agree. However, Singaporeans have the 'kiasu' mindset, which is: "Everyone for himself, God for all, and let the devil take the hindside".
It is a mentality steeped from past generations of poverty, starvation, to power, and Emperors, big and small.
Lee Kuan Yew is our Emperor, and what we see, we follow.
The root cause of the Singaporean's thinking goes back to his culture, Chinese history and tradition and culture. You have to agree here, as Dr Russell Wong had his input of the 'Chinese grieving widow' re- the Singapore play.
When we speak in Mandarin, we think as Chinese, and when we speak in English, the thinking is adjusted and realigned.
Sadly, the failure of others is the satisfaction and joy of other Singaporeans.Peers or not.
Why can't we be like the Jews? Having lived in Los Angeles, there is the Jewish Federation League that helps other Jews, who require medical and financial aid.
The History taught in Los Angeles, is about Jewish History, and most children attending school, would attend Hebrew classes on Sundays. There were Asian children going as well. The school children had to walk all the way to the Simon Wiesenthal Musuem to study the Holocaust.
It is our tradition, the Chinese/Asian culture/History that still runs deep within us. Our 'success is another's failure' is the mantra.
How can we overcome that? Throw in the Singapore's educational system, which is based on 'I win, you lose, too bad!'. Attend NUS, and certain books are not available to borrow, and if they are, the pages of recommended reading are torn out.
Singaporeans come with a great deal of emotional baggage, and yes, our weaknessess are our strengths.
One commentator said with great observation: "We are robots".

Talk to a Singaporean, and you get no information.
To get information, you have to give information.
To block out people we don't like, or we are envious off, is stupid.
How do you find out what others are thinking about? That is a Singaporean for you.
It is also the political system at work.
Bill Gates surrounds himself with people who can challenge him, and not with "yes men".
Singaporeans have to change in their entire thinking for all to act 'as one'.
Another commentator has observed that the educated ones are leaving Singapore. That is true. Then, what is left of the Singapore gene pool? I say :
"Why can't Singaporeans be like the Jews?" Jews think 'as one'.
Why do you think David Marshall, who was a sephardic jew, was made an Ambassador to France, by Lee Kuan Yew, even tho' David Marshall ran against Lee Kuan Yew?

Anonymous said...

because he believes it

Anonymous said...

Yawning Bread wrote:

"How will Singaporeans break out of this cycle?"

Indeed. If more people can ask this , then there is more hope.

Anonymous said...

taiwan paper reports two canadians holding a demo at Kentucky Fried Chicken against animal mistreatment and were expelled after questioning

Anonymous said...

I think the basic reason is fear... we have ISA which the PAPpies have made very clear from past usage that they will not hesitate to "find some reason" to use ISA on any1 who dares venture into their "turf". Any idea what happened to those "communists" who were released from ISA imprisonment after their staged televised "admission of guilt" in the 1980s? Note: "Staged" was my personal conclusion watching the broadcast... and I was only a kid then.

Added to that, "Singapore does not have a Constitution" -- a freudian slip from Walter Woon (go Google for his background). It is very clear that the Singapore laws does not bow to Justice but the PAPpies wishes esp in cases where PAPpies interest are at stake. Remember how the law was swiftly changed and BACKDATED just to deal with JBJ?

In general, as of now, the majority of Singaporeans are not desperate enough to march to death like Gandhi's supporters. Therefore revolution will be unlikely anytime soon. In addition, PAPpies has been smart enough to raise the heat of the cooking pot gradually over the last 40+ years, so that most Singaporeans are actually so aclimatized (and sidetracked by the pressure to seek a living) that they won't even know when they are "cooked".

For the minority who gradually becomes awaken, after overcoming the initial apathy and fear... each starts planning his/her own exit. However, due to fear and/or societial pressures, they are unable to share it until they depart.

Common exit plans as follow:

a. Educated elites: Get education/job overseas. Some richer parents send their kids overseas for education to acheive this objective.

b. Others: Marry a foreign spouse (e.g. neighbouring countries). As an aside to those who "bought" a Vietnamese wife: your wife may be your ticket to freedom in years to come... treat her well.

Yes, I'm planning my exit too. Loyalty to a country is useless if the country is unlikely to provide a good environment for the one's own future and one's future generations. For sure, the host country may have racism, corruption, or inefficient government, etc. However, as our PAPpies pointed out correctly, they have more room for failure because their country has other resources.

Jordan said...

'ColdZero said...
Look, what is the point of analysis (I don't mean yours Alex), lamentations, doom & gloom? You lot know what needs to be done. You know that the essence of power is the ability of people to act in concert (and non-violently as well).'

This is a start ColdZero. Let's put the grumbling and moaning cards on the table. We have talented opposition people, like Sylvia Lim, Dr Chee, and many others. Alex Au's article has hit many raw nerves, about Singaporeans.
Recognizing the obstacles, we have to go about it in a clever way. Forums that do not demonize the ruling elite, but suggestions for improvement is a thin line that will be fine tuned by the presenters. I am confident of a quiet diplomacy, and co-existence between PAP and opposition parties.

To "
Anonymous said...
taiwan paper reports two canadians holding a demo at Kentucky Fried Chicken against animal mistreatment and were expelled after questioning".

Thank You for this information, as an animal rights activist, this will only motivate us and PETA, to the horrendous killing of KTC chickens, and horses, which includes thoroughbreds who have served their running purposes and roaming horses for food. We will be voting for our own Prop 204.

Anonymous said...

They just deported 4 PETA protestors-to-be

We really need democracy! Singaporeans, wake up now before is too late!

Dr Chee is planning a protest too soon during the WB-IMF meeting.

WHY CAN FOREIGNERS PROTEST BUT SINGAPOREANS CAN't? Who does Singapore belongs to?

J Shah said...

Dear Alex,

The following, to me, is the greatest cause for concern:

"But the PAP seems to have drawn the opposite lesson from this observation," the journalist said to me with some dismay. "The lesson they drew was that they must never, ever lose power."

I believe it to be true. Do a majority of Singaporeans also? Or is this a circumstance they are comfortable with?

I somehow doubt that the death of MM will make too much difference, at least not in the short to medium term.

The infrastructure they have put in place is a little too massive and pervasive to dissemble easily.

Realise that it is not only the executive, but the civil service, police force and judiciary has also become so entrenched. (Realise that I mean the upper echleons.)They have no accountability to the people at the present, would they wish to change that? I believe that it is they who will fight the hardest for the status quo. When you consider the PAP now it is not only the politicians, but all the top civil servants, the judges and all the generals. They are all vested.

So I doubt that LKYs' death will percipitate anything.

I also very strongly doubt (I believe like you, now) that the majority of Sporeans want a more liberal society.

I mean from the moment he abolished the jury system should have sent out clear signals that here we have a wannabe dictator. Pure and simple. "I am always right, your (the people) judgement is not to be trusted".

Amending the constitution willy nilly to suite his agenda. WOW. And we returned him to power. Even more baffaling.

I will end my rambling frustrations here.

Anonymous said...

Very good Yawning bread.
You should all read this mornign IHT front page article
http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/08/news/sing.php

Anonymous said...

"For those who have not had a chance to read the IHT article, here is the full transcript'.


Singapore's young challengers beg to differ
By Seth Mydans International Herald Tribune

SATURDAY, MAY 6, 2006


SINGAPORE As his party headed for another crushing victory in another election, being held Saturday, the man who created Singapore in his own severe image, Lee Kuan Yew, had an unsettling glimpse into what could be the future of his country, and he did not like it.

In the newspapers, on the airwaves and in threats of lawsuits against opposition leaders, the tough operators of his People's Action Party were doing what they always do, grinding their challengers into broken, humiliated little bits and pieces.

In the last election, in 2001, only two of the 84 elected seats in the Singaporean Parliament were won by opposition candidates. If that number increases by even one or two this time, eyebrows will be raised.

But there they were on live television three weeks ago, 10 polite young Singaporeans, challenging Lee, who is 82, with a confidence and lack of deference that is rare among their elders here.

About 40 percent of eligible voters were born after Singapore became an independent nation in 1965. Like it or not, they are their country's future, and their vision now stands side by side with that of Lee.

"What we want is a choice," said Mabel Lee, 28, an editor and television presenter. "What we want is political vibrancy. What we want is a media that could reflect both the views of the opposition as well as of the ruling party fairly. What we want is to see that the opposition is being given a level playing field. What we want is fairness in the political sphere."

Lee argued back as if he had met, in this open-minded younger generation, his real opposition - interrupting, cross-examining and telling them that they needed to be put in their places like his own grandchildren.

"Let me tell you this," said Lee, who holds the title of minister mentor and whose 54-year-old son, Lee Hsien Loong, is prime minister of Singapore. "If what you say is a reflection of your generation, then I'm a bit sad."

People over 55, he said, people who had known the hardships his country had overcome to provide them with their affluence and stability, would never talk this way.

Even the political opposition acknowledges that Lee's vision of a tightly controlled, efficient meritocracy has produced one of the most stable, economically successful nations in the region.

Opposition parties are not calling for fundamental change in this city-state of four million people. Rather, one of the chief planks of the opposition Workers' Party platform is to make elevators stop on every floor in government housing complexes, rather than on every other floor.

But no matter how slight the challenge - whether from young people on television or politicians who want to improve elevator service - the ruling party's style has been one of overwhelming force.

One common form of attack by the ruling party, or PAP, is to bring libel suits against critics, putting them on the defensive and contributing to a culture of self-censorship.

The suits have drawn criticism from rights groups, from the United States, from members of the opposition and, on the television show last month, from one of Lee's young questioners, who said the tactic "gives the impression that the PAP is arrogant and even a bully."

Just a few days later, Lee and his son threatened to sue members of one of the three opposition parties, the Singapore Democratic Party, for statements in its newsletter that they said appeared to link them to corruption.

The prime minister explained why.

"If you don't have the law of defamation, you would be like America, where people say terrible things about the president and it can't be proved," the prime minister said. "Is it right? Is it wrong? Because even if it is wrong, the president cannot sue.

"Or it will be like the Philippines, where people say terrible things about the president. She can't sue. Or Thailand, where serious things are said about Thaksin and then he wanted to sue and eventually, for other reasons, couldn't proceed." Thaksin Shinawatra is a former prime minister of Thailand.

In Singapore, government ministers sue.

The two most outspoken members of the opposition, J.B. Jeyaretnam and Chee Soon Juan, have both been sued, convicted, bankrupted and barred from holding political office. They are not candidates in the election Saturday.

Although there is no question that the ruling party will win, this election is seen as something of a political test for the prime minister.

He is facing a general election for the first time since inheriting his job in 2004 from Goh Chok Tong, 64, who inherited it in turn from the elder Lee in 1990.

Since then, Singaporean leaders have been urging their nation to lighten up, to be more creative, to test accepted limits in order to stay competitive in the information age of the future.

But this does not necessarily extend to the kind of open, pluralistic government envisioned by the young journalists and university students who confronted Lee on television - "the heat and dust of a clash in the arena," as he put it.

There were no opposition members in Parliament for the first 16 years of Singaporean nationhood, he noted recently, a period when the nation experienced some of its most dramatic social and economic progress.

Some day, if they have proved themselves, Lee said, there would be room for a more active opposition here. But he said: "I want a world-class opposition, not this riff-raff."

Speaking to his young questioners on television, Lee was at pains to describe some of the challenges Singapore had overcome on this racially mixed, resource-poor island. But his examples, dating from before they were born, may not have resonated with them.

In the last chapter of a long and successful career of nation-building, Lee seems to have little patience with critics who, in his view, see only part of the picture.

"You are not going to intimidate me, ever," he told a questioner at a recent meeting with foreign reporters.

"We're not going to allow foreign correspondents or foreign journalists or anybody else to tell us what to do," he added. "There are very few things that I do not know about Singapore politics, and there are very few things that you can tell me or any foreign correspondent can tell me about Singapore."

SINGAPORE As his party headed for another crushing victory in another election, being held Saturday, the man who created Singapore in his own severe image, Lee Kuan Yew, had an unsettling glimpse into what could be the future of his country, and he did not like it.

In the newspapers, on the airwaves and in threats of lawsuits against opposition leaders, the tough operators of his People's Action Party were doing what they always do, grinding their challengers into broken, humiliated little bits and pieces.

In the last election, in 2001, only two of the 84 elected seats in the Singaporean Parliament were won by opposition candidates. If that number increases by even one or two this time, eyebrows will be raised.

But there they were on live television three weeks ago, 10 polite young Singaporeans, challenging Lee, who is 82, with a confidence and lack of deference that is rare among their elders here.

About 40 percent of eligible voters were born after Singapore became an independent nation in 1965. Like it or not, they are their country's future, and their vision now stands side by side with that of Lee.

"What we want is a choice," said Mabel Lee, 28, an editor and television presenter. "What we want is political vibrancy. What we want is a media that could reflect both the views of the opposition as well as of the ruling party fairly. What we want is to see that the opposition is being given a level playing field. What we want is fairness in the political sphere."

Lee argued back as if he had met, in this open-minded younger generation, his real opposition - interrupting, cross-examining and telling them that they needed to be put in their places like his own grandchildren.

"Let me tell you this," said Lee, who holds the title of minister mentor and whose 54-year-old son, Lee Hsien Loong, is prime minister of Singapore. "If what you say is a reflection of your generation, then I'm a bit sad."

People over 55, he said, people who had known the hardships his country had overcome to provide them with their affluence and stability, would never talk this way.

Even the political opposition acknowledges that Lee's vision of a tightly controlled, efficient meritocracy has produced one of the most stable, economically successful nations in the region.

Opposition parties are not calling for fundamental change in this city-state of four million people. Rather, one of the chief planks of the opposition Workers' Party platform is to make elevators stop on every floor in government housing complexes, rather than on every other floor.

But no matter how slight the challenge - whether from young people on television or politicians who want to improve elevator service - the ruling party's style has been one of overwhelming force.

One common form of attack by the ruling party, or PAP, is to bring libel suits against critics, putting them on the defensive and contributing to a culture of self-censorship.

The suits have drawn criticism from rights groups, from the United States, from members of the opposition and, on the television show last month, from one of Lee's young questioners, who said the tactic "gives the impression that the PAP is arrogant and even a bully."

Just a few days later, Lee and his son threatened to sue members of one of the three opposition parties, the Singapore Democratic Party, for statements in its newsletter that they said appeared to link them to corruption.

The prime minister explained why.

"If you don't have the law of defamation, you would be like America, where people say terrible things about the president and it can't be proved," the prime minister said. "Is it right? Is it wrong? Because even if it is wrong, the president cannot sue.

"Or it will be like the Philippines, where people say terrible things about the president. She can't sue. Or Thailand, where serious things are said about Thaksin and then he wanted to sue and eventually, for other reasons, couldn't proceed." Thaksin Shinawatra is a former prime minister of Thailand.

In Singapore, government ministers sue.

The two most outspoken members of the opposition, J.B. Jeyaretnam and Chee Soon Juan, have both been sued, convicted, bankrupted and barred from holding political office. They are not candidates in the election Saturday.

Although there is no question that the ruling party will win, this election is seen as something of a political test for the prime minister.

He is facing a general election for the first time since inheriting his job in 2004 from Goh Chok Tong, 64, who inherited it in turn from the elder Lee in 1990.

Since then, Singaporean leaders have been urging their nation to lighten up, to be more creative, to test accepted limits in order to stay competitive in the information age of the future.

But this does not necessarily extend to the kind of open, pluralistic government envisioned by the young journalists and university students who confronted Lee on television - "the heat and dust of a clash in the arena," as he put it.

There were no opposition members in Parliament for the first 16 years of Singaporean nationhood, he noted recently, a period when the nation experienced some of its most dramatic social and economic progress.

Some day, if they have proved themselves, Lee said, there would be room for a more active opposition here. But he said: "I want a world-class opposition, not this riff-raff."

Speaking to his young questioners on television, Lee was at pains to describe some of the challenges Singapore had overcome on this racially mixed, resource-poor island. But his examples, dating from before they were born, may not have resonated with them.

In the last chapter of a long and successful career of nation-building, Lee seems to have little patience with critics who, in his view, see only part of the picture.

"You are not going to intimidate me, ever," he told a questioner at a recent meeting with foreign reporters.

"We're not going to allow foreign correspondents or foreign journalists or anybody else to tell us what to do," he added. "There are very few things that I do not know about Singapore politics, and there are very few things that you can tell me or any foreign correspondent can tell me about Singapore." -INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Singaporeans are not that passive after all. Is it too hasty to conclude this just by citing the lack of support for CSJ?

Perhaps the support for the WP, and the poor performance of the PAP in what you would expect are their more "solid'' wards/constituencies in the last election are signs of a growing unhappiness with the status quo? I remain hopeful

My worry is if the evolution of the opposition will keep up with the growth of this unhappiness. Can the other political parties, long beaten down and disadvantaged in every way, evolve fast enough to govern when Singaporeans are finally ready to hand power to them?

Anonymous said...

'Yawning Bread wrote:

"How will Singaporeans break out of this cycle?" '...

The answer: Wait for the old generation to pass on. Singaporeans have no leverage now at this point in time.

Jordan said...

'WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 — The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, two organizations that repeatedly praise the role of “civil society” activist groups in poor countries, have protested a decision by Singapore to bar representatives of several such groups at their meeting with the leaders of poor countries next week.

The action by Singapore was taken out of fear of protests and violence, according to the Singapore police. But several of those barred were invited by both the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to attend the meetings as part of a general effort in recent years to reach out to nongovernment organizations.

“We believe that all individuals who have been accredited to the annual meetings should be allowed to attend,” the two organizations said Friday. “We strongly urge the Singapore government to act swiftly and reverse their decision on entry and access to the meetings for these representatives.”

The State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said the United States understood Singapore’s concerns about security and recognized its sovereign right to handle it the best way it saw fit. But he called on Singapore “to be as flexible as possible” and let those groups accredited to attend do so “and express their views.”

Singapore generally has a low tolerance for political protests and unruly behavior, sometimes invoking extremely punitive laws against foreigners. The government previously banned outdoor protests at the meeting.

Accordingly, several groups have organized protests on the nearby island of Batam, a part of Indonesia, but it was not clear whether Indonesia would let them take place.

Leaders of the bank and the fund, established after World War II as the guardians of economic stability and poverty reduction, are due to meet with scores of finance ministers next week. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. is to represent the United States, along with Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve board.

The move by Singapore was especially embarrassing for the bank’s president, Paul D. Wolfowitz, who has made his appeals for proper “governance” a cornerstone of his 15 months at the bank and called on poor countries around the world to strengthen the role of nongovernment organizations.'

Even America is embarrassed at Singapore's 'police state' behavior. The behavior of the Singapore Govt has attracted global attention,noting that Singaporeans have no human or civil rights.
Such behavior is not condoned even by America.

Anonymous said...

the SG system cannot be opened up, lightened up, livening up, etc, without quite fundamental changes; the concentration of economic and social resources retards all kinds of spontaneous development, political, economic or artistic; even opposition parties need some sort of official endorsement (like Low got) because the idea is deeply engrained

Jordan said...

I would like to address Lee Kuan Yew's response to the 12 young polite Singaporeans request for 'choice'.
What is happening now in America 2006:
1. Americans are not happy with the Bush administration. Each American President is not President for life, as everyone knows.
2. Americans are unhappy about the Iraq war,which Americans discovered was all based upon 'a lie'. and the war going on in Afghanistan. Why do u think Bush gives his speeches at Army camps? and not often at a podium with American people. At army camps, the army men and women cannot yell and boo at Bush.
3. Gas prices up gone up to US$4,00 in California, but have now held steady, at US$2.79 cents, and this is only for the coming November elections for Congress.
4. Americans are unhappy with Bush's continued 'FEAR' factor,about terrorists.
5. Americans are unhappy with the decline of the USD, the shrinking housing market, and the overall performance of the US economy.
6. When President Clinton left office, he left the Americans with a surplus cash.
7. Bush has left America with a deficit in the trillions.
8. Bush wishes to pass a law where tax cuts are allowed for the rich.

Now with the coming November elections of 2006, many republican states will be voting 'democrat', the lesser of the two evils.

So, yes, we do have a choice in America. Americans are just waiting to impeach Bush for alleged war crimes.

Illegal phone tappings, holding prisoners in Guantanomo Bay, totally ignoring the Geneva Convention, and not considering the UN Council's vote either.
British PM Tony Blair is unpopular, as he is considered to be Bush's "lap dog".

The majority of Americans are unhappy with pay rise of American CEOs, while they are paid pittance.

Even the Republicans are staying away from Bush, as they wish to be re-elected by their own people.

All we need are a handful of Democratic wins, and the Democrats can control Congress. That is what 'choice' is all about.
One cannot allow a Leader of any country run amok, that is not how it is done in America.

Lee Kuan Yew did not address this issue.
He conveniently segwayed into the issue of the law of defamation, which is not what Singaporeans, like Mabel was asking him about.
It is about 'Choice"
I hope that I have assisted in clarifying some of the points that we are discussing, and not defamtion lawsuits which Lee Kuan Yew was lecturing the 12 Singaporeans about.
Thank You.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 10 Sept 04:31,
My thoughts exactly. The older generation are "indebted" to them for turning the country around. Times have changed but the party's mindset hasnt.
But Im still not sure how strongly the younger generation, my peers, feel about political matters. The intelligent-ever questioning ones are leaving/left the country already.

Anonymous said...

I think that 'shoot to kill' stance is a joke. What? we are in a state of curfew/civil war? When was the last time the police invoked this?
Did we get rebuked by the Guests because accredited protestors weren't allowed to offer their differing views? Another joke.

Anonymous said...

Was just wondering, the latest banning of the 28 activist, does that sound similar to pre-emptive punishment of the activist?

As in, they assume these guys will be a nuisance hence stop them from coming in, even though the World Bank & IMF has actually accredited them.

Funnily, this is similar to the movie, Minority report (gonna be shown on channel 5 soon), where arrest are made and "criminals" punished even before crime is committed.

This is the world we live in...sigh

Anonymous said...

To:
'Anonymous said...
I think that 'shoot to kill' stance is a joke. What? we are in a state of curfew/civil war? When was the last time the police invoked this?'.
No, it is not a joke. For a global meeting to take place in Singapore, Singaporeans get threatened for possible misbehavior. To anyone reading this 'shoot to kill' phrase, they must know the ruling elite will only continue to get worse.
It would sound ridiculous, if it wasn't so serious.

KiWeTO said...

As history has shown, "oppression" can only get worse. More and more controls have to be instituted to ensure the ruling elite stay in power. The middle class will start to fracture, with those wanting to retain privileges siding with the incumbents, and those wanting to live by a set of principles/ideals siding with the more oppressed.

Modern slavery exists in the economic condition. When we deny our children the right to bloom fully (through classifying them as educationally sub-normal in EM3 and closing off doors to them), we are denying them their right to opportunity.

Those who are 'spared' the agony of reduced status then go on to thank their lucky stars, and learn to side with the ruling elite more, because it means they are 'safe'.
(just means they are locked into another level of economic slavery.)

Those who make it and get to middle class with a few pieces of paper on the wall, then go on to plot how they can 'escape' their chains. And so the brain drain will continue.

Only when the pain of not changing is higher than the pain of changing, will the situation actually change.

Though scary, it appears that frequently, the only way to topple a totalitarian regime is violent change. I am not advocating that there needs to be a revolution in the streets, but the possibility of the peace snapping like a twig exists.

A house of cards cannot keep building higher, without a mistake collapsing the whole house. And the mistakes are occuring. Sadly, the end may be near, and we may all need to start learning Bahasa Melayu in schools soon.


E.o.M.

Anonymous said...

To KiWeTO:
You took the words right out of my mouth!
To even have this phrase 'shoot to kill'is outrageous.
Are singaporeans 'insurgents' that we pose such a threat to OUR country for use of such a threat?
It will only get worse, as the ruling elite gets away with more rules, rules, and regulations.
Investment company Temasek Holdings has reported a strong set of earnings for its financial year ended March 2006.
Its net profit jumped 71 percent to S$12.8 billion, compared with the previous year. Temask owns about 18%,odd of DBS Bank in Singapore.
Temasek is run by Ministry of Finance, owned Lee Hsien Loong.
As we wait for the passing of the final generation, and the transition, we should all begin to brush up on our Malay!

Anonymous said...

Thank you again for the insightful articles, especially the statement below:

"Singapore too may have to suffer a deep crisis, be it economic failure, scandal, schism or brutality. We are unlikely to enjoy a gradual liberalisation mostly because it is not in the ruling party's interest."

I think the key to solving this problem is to reform our electoral system and parliament to a proportional representation system.

It is ridiculous and grossly unfair that a political party with only 66% of the votes ought to control 98% of parliament and the opposition, with a very significant vote of 33%, (representing a whole third of Singapore!) are only accorded a symbolic, miserable 2% representation in parliament.

Bear in mind that this third of Singapore citizens will not simply bend their wills and swallow the PAP propaganda just because they won the elections.

And with the continued non-representation and suppression of their views in public and the media, it will only deepen their sense of frustration, alienation and eventually, anger, which will inevitably skew their views to the extremist end.

This is the real time bomb that PAP has thrown on Singapore.

Under the proportional representation system, there should be 31 opposition MPs in parliament, in stark contrast to the present symbolic 2 plus a single NCMP!

Anonymous said...

all the people of this world have the government they deserve...