PAP: Fascist Dictatorship (1963)

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Excerpt from longer speech below:

“The PAP is endangering democracy. . .parliamentary democracy under the PAP has already become Fascist dictatorship.”
— Dr. Lee Siew Choh (1963)

A couple of quick definitions:

Democracy: The word democracy literally means “rule by the people.”
(Source: Britannica Kids)

Fascism: A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
(Source: Merriam-Webster)

And a comment on the treatment of intellectuals in fascist regimes:

That’s why the intellectuals are the first to go in fascist, right wing regimes — to do away with critical thinking and informed dissent.
(– Dwight Ballard, March 28, 10:01PM)

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Barisan Sosialis chairman, Dr Lee Siew Choh speaking at Barisan’s first lunchtime rally at Fullerton Square. — PHOTO: New Nation / Straits Times

SINGAPORE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY / 9 APRIL 1963

Dr Lee Siew Choh (Barisan Sosialis assembly member, who spoke amid the “interruptions, sniggers and laughter of the PAP ministers”):

What happened on [2nd February; when Operation Coldstore was carried out] – the black day of Singapore — is now history.

In the early hours of the morning of 2nd February, sudden repressive action was taken against leaders of political Parties, trade unions, rural organisations, hawkers’ associations, universities, old boys’ associations, intellectuals and other progressive individuals. All those arrested were, and still are, anti-colonial and anti-Malaysia stalwarts and bitter and strong opponents of the PAP.

The mass arrests were all carried out with an intimidatory array of armed might. Accompanying plainclothes officers were fully armed police with combat troops in battledress standing by and on the ready. It reminds us of the days of the Gestapo of dictator Hitler and of the Japanese Kempetai. The Japanese Kempetai did exactly what the P.A.P. Government has done today.

The Barisan Sosialis bore the brunt of the onslaught and has suffered the most casualties. From our Central Executive Committee alone, nine members have been arrested and detained. They are our Vice Chairman, S. Woodhull, the Secretary-General Lim Ching Siong the Assistant General, Mr Poh Soo Kai, Committee members, Chok Koh Thong, Fong Swee Suan, Dr Lim Hock Siew, Lim Shee Ping, Dominic Puthucheary and Tan Yam Seng. From our Central Cultural sub-committee, Central Organisation sub-committee, Publication sub-committee and Branch Committees, altogether more than 40 from the Barisan Sosialis have been detained.

I will table a list of names of Barisan members recently detained. The total number under detention, together with those from other organisations, we now learn, is 133. Nine have been released, leaving 124 still under detention. 124 innocent persons, deprived of their individual freedom and kept behind walls in solitary confinement, and given treatment worse than that of convicted criminals.

Why? All because they oppose imperialism and neo-colonialism. All because they oppose the British-sponsored Malaysia, and because they, oppose the P.A.P. The powers that be, in order to give an excuse for locking them up, made them out to be dangerous men. The Prime Minister says, “These are the people who will mount the barricades.” Yet, not so very long ago, he used to ridicule them as beer-hall revolutionaries. Now, because 4 suits the purpose of the P.A.P., they have suddenly become dangerous men. And, of course, it suits the Prime Minister. But let us ask: Did they steal or rob? No. Did they kill or murder? No. Did they take part in riots? No. Did they take up arms against the Government? Again, no! Yet, all these 124 persons have been arbitrarily arrested and detained without charge or trial, and treated worse than convicted criminals! Why? Why, Mr Prime Minister? Why, Mr Deputy Prime Minister?

Today, as a result of the arrests, threats and intimidations a change has come over Singapore. The people prefer not to talk so very loudly of politics these days. Many clam up on politics the moment they see strangers around. There is an atmosphere of suspicion, uncertainty and fear. There are so many spies and informers around that no one can be certain that what he says will not be carried back to the ears of the fearful P.A.P. Without doubt, Singapore has become a Police State. Those in authority can resort to arbitrary arrests at any time. The only law in the State seems to be the law of the Police, the Special Branch and the P.A.P.

What has taken place and is taking place today merely confirms what we have all along been saying, namely, that the P.A.P. is endangering democracy and that parliamentary democracy under the P.A.P. has already become Fascist dictatorship.

If such a Police State is going to be the blessing of Malaysia, then we must be prepared for worse things to come. We need only see from how the arrests were carried out the things to expect with the formation of Malaysia. Innocent people engaged in legitimate pursuits have been arrested and some very quickly whisked off to the Federation without the families even notified where they were sent. It is like being shanghaied, or kidnapped, and that, by the powers that be in the country. It is so unbelievable. The brutality and callousness of the people have to be seen to be believed.

Source: Singapore Legislative Assembly Debates, vol. 20, 5 April 1963, col. 68.

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A few more comments on Operation Coldstore:

(1) “It was a dark day in the history of Singapore in 1963. So many talented young people who had contributed greatly and would have continued their great works in society were hauled suddenly into prison because of the change of heart and loyalty of one man.”
( —ThatWeMayDreamAgain, 2013)

(2) “Who would have thought that brilliant lawyers like John Eber, Lim Kean Chye, T.T. Rajah and G. Raman, and doctors like Lim Hock Siew, Poh Soo Kai and Ang Swee Chai would be arrested under the law?. . .Singapore lost many talents and brilliant leaders.

Today, former political prisoners have begun to fight back, to regain their self-esteem, dignity and integrity. Young Singaporeans are no longer afraid of befriending them. Indeed, there is a curiosity and an eagerness to know them in order to know the past. This has defeated one important purpose for the use of the ISA — that of ostracising political prisoners from society.

It is time the PAP government observed article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.’ It is time that Singaporeans were free.”
( — Teo Soh Lung, Chapter 13 of 1963 Operation Coldstore: Commemorating 50 Years)

Thanks to ThatWeMayDreamAgain for posting the speech by Dr. Lee Siew Choh on FB, which also features in Teo Soh Lung’s essay in 1963 Operation Coldstore.

Thanks to Wen Wah for collecting some of the links below.

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More Information:

1) Function 8 (Website and Facebook — NPO to facilitate the sharing of social, political and economic experiences to contribute to society through reflection and civic discussion)

2) Dr. Lee Siew Choh (Wikipedia)

3) Tribute to Dr. Lee Siew Choh by Francis Seow (Singapore Window)

4) Escape From The Lion’s Paw: Reflections Of Singapore’s Political Exiles (on the “ISA being a law that makes a mockery of democracy”) | Select Books | Book Launch

5) FEAR is DEAD, by Teo Soh Lung (Facebook)

6) LKY and The Law Society, by Tan Fong Har (TOC)

7) Interview with historian, Thum Ping Tjin, on LKY’s Singapore (TOC)

8) New PAP book neglects founding members detained for 19 years (Martyn See / Singapore Rebel)

9) Operation Coldstore (Wikipedia)

10) S’pore’s 50th anniversary – time to have open dialogue on Operation Coldstore (TOC)

Hong Lysa / Operation Coldstore

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I saw a picture of Dr. Hong Lysa the other day, which reminded me of one of LKY’s quotes:

On his iron-fisted governing style:

“Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no way you can govern a Chinese society.”

“If you are a troublemaker… it’s our job to politically destroy you… Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac.”

Source: The Guardian

This is a quote from a 2014 blog post by Dr. Hong:

“That Operation Coldstore was necessary for national security is at the very heart of the PAP myth; it is also the Party’s original sin.”

Source: Dr. Hong Lysa / mini myna

Dr. Hong Lysa is one of the editors of The 1963 Operation Coldstore in Singapore, published in 2014.

I have yet to make the following clenched fist gesture in my lifetime during a speech or conversation. Maybe when I’m a bit older…

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Left LKY image from The Age | Top LKY image from Vulcan Post | Dr. Hong Lysa image from The Online Citizen

I read rather slowly (but thoroughly) these days. I have read a few essays in the book so far. I am grateful for the historical and factual accounts that provide a record of what happened during this dark chapter of Singapore’s political history, written from the perspective of individuals who were directly involved / detained / arrested.

I might make another quick post soon featuring an interesting snippet from one of the essays in the book (update: here).

I. More Information:

1) Book launch : 50 Years of Operation Coldstore (Singapore Rebel)

2) S’pore’s 50th anniversary – time to have open dialogue on Operation Coldstore (TOC)

3) They do say the darnest things: What a to-do about Operation Coldstore (Dr. Hong Lysa)

4) Operation Coldstore book (Buy @ Select Books)

5) Operation Coldstore book (Buy @ Kinokuniya)

II. Dr. Hong Lysa (short bio from Operation Coldstore book):

Hong Lysa, formerly with the History Department, National University of Singapore, continues with her research interests independently. She is coauthor of The Scripting of a National History: Singapore and its Pasts (2008). She is a founding member of the e-journal s/pores: new directions in Singapore studies (www.s-pores.com) and comments on minimyna.wordpress.com when matters relating to history are raised in the local press.

Amos Yee’s Speech

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I decided to transcribe the text from Amos Yee’s video so that what he said doesn’t get lost amidst the current lynching being directed at him. This is included in the second half of this blog post.

PART 1:

A quick summary: 16 year-old Amos Yee was arrested for posting an “anti-Lee Kuan Yew” video.

At the time of this posting, you can view a copy of the video.

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16-year-old Amos Yee in video

Amos Yee was arrested on these charges:

Police said Amos will face charges in court today under Section 298 of the Penal Code for utterances against Christians with a “deliberate intent to wound religious feelings”. Other charges include circulating an obscene object and making threatening, abusive or insulting communication which is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
( — Straits Times)

I have a few questions to the Singapore authorities:

1) PAP grassroots leader, Jason Tan, threatened to chop off Amos Yee’s penis and stuff it in his mouth because of Amos’ 8-minute video. Is this not an abusive threat?

2) A pro-PAP page has been set up for the purpose of cyber-bullying and shaming Amos’ family. Doesn’t this constitute “insulting communication that is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress”?

3) The anti-harassment law in Singapore covers harassment in the online sphere including online sexual harassment and cyber-bullying. Does this law not apply to critics of LKY and the PAP ruling party?

Readers, please peruse Amos’ Yee’s speech below to take a look at the points he brought up.

I did some light copyediting to the text, and I removed the expletives and profanity from his 8-minute speech.

I hope this makes the substance of his argument clearly visible to discerning readers and netizens.

* * *

PART 2:

“Lee Kuan Yew is Finally Dead,” by Amos Yee

Video text transcribed by Jess C Scott (clean version)

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Amos Yee

Lee Kuan Yew is dead, finally.

Why hasn’t anyone said, “Yeah, the guy is dead!”

Lee Kuan Yew was a horrible person.

Because everyone is scared. Everyone is afraid that if they say something like that, they might get into trouble which — give LKY credit — was primarily the impact of his legacy.

But I’m not afraid.

So if Lee Hsien Loong wishes to sue me, I will oblige to dance with him.

Lee Kuan Yew, contrary to popular belief, was a horrible person and an awful leader to our country. He was a dictator, but managed to fool most of the world to think he was democratic. And he did so by still granting us the opportunity to vote, to make it seem like we have freedom of choice.

However, during [his] rule, he controlled the entire media and education, proliferating nationalistic propaganda on a daily basis. And he placed an excessive surplus of his books in popular bookstores. In most of his books, look at how he self-indulgently plasters reams of pages with these montages of pictures of his experiences. Like “Ooh, look how much better I am compared to you.”

And of course he is absolutely notorious for suing people who criticised him, forcing them into jail and leading them into bankruptcy. Apparently, his thirst for suing is hereditary, too. So he created an environment where his blatant flaws as a leader were hidden, because most people were afraid of criticising him in fear of being found guilty by the judicial system that he controls. So everything that people hear is about how great Lee Kuan Yew is.

Of course he is able to deceive people into voting for him. Despite our voting rights, he is undoubtedly totalitarian.

Now seeing what LKY has done, I’m sure many individuals who have done similar things comes to mind. But I’m going to compare him to someone that people haven’t really mentioned before: Jesus. And the aptness of that analogy is heightened, seeing how Christians seem to be a really big fan of him. They are both power-hungry and malicious, but deceive others into thinking that they are compassionate and kind. Their impact and legacy will ultimately not last as more and more people find out that they’re full of bull. And LKY’s followers are completely delusional and ignorant, and have absolutely no sound logic or knowledge about him that is grounded in reality, which LKY very easily manipulates, similar to the Christian knowledge of the Bible and the work of a multitude of priests.

On the surface, he seemed quite successful. He turned Singapore from a small seaport into a bustling metropolis, rife with skyscrapers and its own casino. World leaders seem to like him, most notably Margaret Thatcher, and many foreigners and millionaires wish to invest in Singapore.

But if you look deeper, and you find out what the true nature of LKY’s Singapore is…I’m sure most of your parents have told you how luxurious Singapore is, and how, if you go to another country, it would be much harder and much more expensive.

But all you have to do is do a Google search, look at our country’s statistics, and you will find out how delusional and ignorant your parents are.

Most people in Singapore are struggling to make ends meet. And it is reported that Singaporeans work the longest hours in the world. We are one of the richest countries in the world, but we have one of the highest income inequalities, highest poverty rates, and our government spends one of the lowest on healthcare and social security.

The money spent on the public is so low, it’s more representative of a third world country. And yet the amount of taxes is one of the highest in first world countries. And political leaders in Singapore earn more than quadruple the amount earned by political leaders in the United States. They are acquiring so much money — why aren’t they spending it on the people? What are they actually spending it on?

One time, an SDP member told me that once they got into power, they are going to take the key and open every cupboard, and search out all the information on the government spending to find out what those motherf**kers have been doing with all that money.

And whenever somebody wonders online if the government is pocketing the money for themselves, they get sued. Quite suspicious, isn’t it?

How LKY deemed what he considered as success was solely predicated upon measurable, concrete results: a rich country, the love of major powers, a positive public image. And his emphasis on results was transcendent onto how Singaporeans led their lives. Somebody who has the better house, the better results in an exam, the better degree — is deemed “more successful” than the other person.

Because of this emphasis on pure materialism, it sacrificed our happiness.

Because if someone is more concerned about money and status over what they’re actually doing and their life, no shit you would lead a depressing life.

I think the biggest flaw of LKY as a leader to our nation, is that he honestly thought that money and status equated to happiness. And his failure to understand how false that was really showed, leading us to be one of the richest countries in the world, and one of the most depressed.

Ultimately, how do you quantify a great leader?

It is by how he creates a place where people are able to live happily and prosper, based on their own unique attributes. And he hasn’t. So no matter how rich the country he made is, it doesn’t mean a thing.

His death was great for him too, seeing how he was struggling with an illness for several years and even declared that he wished he was dead. He should have asked his son to pull the plug or committed suicide by himself. But he didn’t. You know why?

Because if he did, his band of sycophants might despise him. And his oh-so-great reputation that he so desperately tried to uphold, might shatter. Because it would be deemed quite controversial for a leader to end his life with suicide.

And it is rather tragic, isn’t it, that he had to suffer the last few years with the atmosphere or materialism and the need for a positive image that he himself created.

So there you go: Lee Kuan Yew, an overrated, over-glorified person, a dictator, and exceptionally Machiavellian in nature. With his death and the upcoming elections next year, there is a high chance, that us citizens of Singapore [can] finally change things for the better.

Let’s all hope for change.

For good change, for every possible kind.

# # # end. # # #

Separating Myths from Reality

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During this time of mass sympathising, I think it is important to keep certain things in perspective.

SEPARATING MYTHS FROM REALITY

1. Both Sides of the Historical Narrative

I’ll preface this with a recent comment I saw on Facebook:

“Dear friends, it is important for all of us to hear all sides of Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy. ‪#LKY‬ has done many things right but history will record both sides of the narratives.”
(– Hani Mohamed, founder/CEO of Alertist)

I downloaded The Straits Times’ special 24-page edition to mark the life of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I have also read several local as well as foreign publications praising LKY’s reign, chiefly for leading the country from a “third world” state to one of economic prosperity.

I noticed one comment on a Politico article which brings some objectivity into remembering LKY’s legacy (comment edited for grammar):

“The worst and inhumane DISRESPECT for anyone who has passed away, is to simply laud only the good things, without noting also the bad things in their lives, and framing all of these in a proper context fitting for this person as a HUMAN BEING, however larger-than-life this person may be. History is for Objective Balance!”
(– Johnathan Li)

It comes as no surprise that a lot of the details from the darker side of Singapore’s history have been left out of the eulogies for LKY. For instance, in Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore, T.J.S. George writes that “only the PAP possessed weapons with which to fight battles for the people’s minds.” LKY’s techniques in the early 1960s were described as then chairman of the Barisan as “Legal fixing.” (Perhaps that is where PM Lee Hsien Loong got the term “fixing the opposition” from.)

In that same book, LKY is described as applying “the free employment of authoritarian methods to eliminate all opposition,” because in his mind, no one else in Singapore “could be right.” What he achieved was a “one-man party and a one-party state.”

His old comrade-in-arms, Lim Chin Siong, was denied trial or right of appeal and sent to Changi jail for seven years, of which some time was spent in solitary confinement. Political insiders in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur claimed that “Lim was fed drugs which induced depression and self-destructive tendencies” (also mentioned in an Amnesty Report and a political detainee’s account). Let us also not forget Dr. Chia Thye Poh, detained for 32 years and left with poor health, Former Solicitor General Francis Seow, Former Magistrate JB Jeyaretnam, Tang Liang Hong, Tan Wah Piow, Chee Soon Juan, Teo Soh Lung, Dr. Poh Soo Kai, Dr. Lim Hock Siew, and countless others who were repeatedly imprisoned and/or bankrupted for being perceived as a real threat to the PAP’s hold on power.

Even with this knowledge, I found myself semi-enthralled by the halo effect certain mainstream media outlets have granted LKY, by portraying him in a saviour-of-Singapore, saint-like manner.

The thing that snapped me out of my enthrallment were presentations about LKY’s loving and caring side as a father and husband. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a model father and husband, I find it outrageous that this type of portrayal spares no thought for the political detainees/exiles — who had been LKY’s fellow Singaporean citizens — whose entire lives and ties with their family and homeland were majorly disrupted because of one man’s ruthless beliefs and access to state apparatus.

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LKY supporters justify his actions by saying that everything he did was for Singapore’s survival, to take it from a “third world to first world country.” He was also a shrewd, clever and pragmatic politician who had to (by his own words) do what was correct. T.J.S. George adds that LKY “seemed convinced from the outset that anyone who opposed him was an enemy of Singapore,” so in that sense, it can be viewed that LKY was “protecting the country” from people he viewed as enemies.

2. For Whose Survival?

LKY may have viewed himself as The Right Man for the job, but that doesn’t mean it was fair to 1) use the law to incarcerate and intimidate opponents because he could, and 2) that it’s correct to explain away such actions as “simply something that had to be done” to ensure the future “success” of Singapore. How can it be guaranteed that any of these political opponents would have been political failures, when none of them were given a chance to prove their mettle and implement their own vision?

Depending on which side you’re on, it wouldn’t be wrong to categorise such actions as cruel, underhanded, and a significant cost to human rights.

Some people might say that concepts like democracy, human rights, and fair play, are too “idealistic” for the arena of politics. Real life just doesn’t work that way, so we, the people, have to just live with it.

The more I study LKY’s (and by extension, the PAP’s) behaviour and actions, the more it seems like certain things were implemented to ensure “the PAP’s survival.” Would a government who truly cares about its citizens have such an aggressive foreign talent policy?

Kenneth Paul Tan, the vice dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said:

“It cannot be just the government leading the way forward. The people have to be as much a part of this, so a new social contract can be forged which can be legitimate to all.”

If one reads between the lines, one could even infer that the current social contract is not “legitimate to all.”

The Straits Times is widely known by discerning Singaporeans as a government mouthpiece.

Presenting a one-sided view of history is dangerous, because if we have knowledge of some of LKY’s past actions and choose to justify those cruel actions as “necessary,” what type of effect does this kind of outlook and behaviour have on the rest of The Cabinet and Government of Singapore, and further down the line, on the mass populace?

It brings to mind Chris Ho’s recent post about the shameless brazenness of the government and how this is creating a more aggressive, callous society at the ground level.

It also brings to mind Alfian Sa’at’s recent poem, on “the other side of the news” that isn’t reported during this time of national mourning.

It breeds an outlook that is desensitised and inhumane — never mind if your fellowmen are suffering, never mind if they are poor, never mind if they can’t seem to get their act together and get ahead in life financially. It’s their fault, life is nothing but a rat race, and “economic prosperity” justifies everything at the end of the day.

It’s up to each of us to decide what matters most at the end of the day, whether “the end justifies all means” is the right type of outlook to take, and whether a lack of compassion in the name of power and economic success are values we aspire to uphold.

Speaking of “economic success,” we should also ask ourselves who chiefly benefits from this much-lauded national prosperity.

3. Separating Myths from Reality

Propaganda can be defined as:

Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
(– Google)

We elect governments officials whom we are made to believe can be trusted in being capable, “incorruptible,” and of integrity to handle the country’s affairs.

No one in their right mind would elect an elite force to spread lies, half-truths, and/or mismanage funds while enriching themselves and their families. It is up to each of us to make a collective, sustained effort to counter propaganda, so that government accountability is not reduced to a piece of fiction or a romantic pipe-dream.

I hope discerning individuals will be able to see through some of these myths that have been built up and propagated over decades, not because we want to “attack” a person or be “haters,” but because of the importance of being able to separate myths from reality.

We owe it to ourselves and future generations to have an accurate version of history, which provides us with a real connection to a reliable, honest past. If we don’t ask tough questions, we risk being brainwashed by state-supervised mainstream media propaganda. Furthermore, we risk being left in a permanently comatose and brain-DEAD state, from decades of propaganda which tells us what is the right story to accept — never mind if it’s really real or not.

Knowledge and awareness aid a society in moving forward. Learning from past errors or wrong-doings prevents the same things from happening again in future or being indefinitely prolonged.

How else could we ever be sure we are progressing in the right direction, if we can’t even tell if we’re standing on a secure enough foundation?

Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew dies at 91

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Just read on the news (at 22 March 2015, 5:17PM EST) that LKY has passed away.

1) CNA

2) CNN

3) BBC

4) WSJ

5) TOC / Human Rights Watch

6) Guardian

I will take this chance to point readers to Carlton Tan’s recent article once again:

UPDATE (9:12 PM): “For all our sakes, I hope that Mr Lee’s passing will mark the start of a new era, of Singapore 2.0—a nation without the worst of Mr Lee but with the best of him, a nation that is willing to make its own hard choices.”
(– Carlton Tan)

And Roy Ngerng’s article from a few days ago:

“Only with unity and equality, and justice and fairness, can we see Singapore move towards a brighter possibility, and this also requires Singaporeans to let go of the fear that the idea of Lee Kuan Yew has created, and to be willing to restart our engagement with our country.”
( — Roy Ngerng)

UPDATE (7:18PM): This moment brings up strong feelings in me. It makes me recall Dr. Thum Ping Tjin’s post (from 2014), Mr. Yoong’s post (from 2009), Tan Wah Piow’s (exile in London / 2015) and Chris Ho’s post (2015) which give a glimpse of the darker side of Singapore’s history (re: the Singaporean lives that were utterly ruined, because they committed the crime of having divergent political views from LKY). While I wonder if these issues were on LKY’s mind during his last days, I am not the person/entity to be the final judge on it.

I hope Singaporeans will be able to “stay united” and build upon the good that is there, so that the nation as a country/society evolves in a positive direction in the post-LKY era.

RIP.

* UPDATE (11:22 AM / 23 March): Mr. Yoong’s balanced and truthful commentary (2015).

As One United People (Part 1)

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Let me preface this with the Singapore Pledge (English version):

“We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”

I have listed 10 points here from “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” an article by academic professors Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler.

Simplified Version: Part 1 (this post) | Part 2

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Part 1 refers to Singapore’s political situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

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PART 1: Singapore’s Political Situation

1. Singapore is classified as a hegemonic authoritarian regime.

Figure 1: Where Singapore is placed on a table showing “five types” of political regimes.

figure1_disaggregation

2. A breakdown of these 3 words (defined by Google):

i. Hegemonic: Ruling or dominant in a political or social context.

ii. Authoritarian: Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.

iii. Regime: A government, especially an authoritarian one.

3. Hegemonic authoritarian regimes do hold regular elections as part of their system of governance, but in addition to widespread violations of political, civil, and human rights, the elections are not actually competitive.

4. Because no other party, except the ruling one, is allowed to effectively compete (i.e. the opposition is completely shut out from access to state-owned media coverage, banned from holding political rallies, or forced into exile or in jail), the dominant candidate or party wins overwhelmingly, leading to a de facto one-party state.

5. Elections in authoritarian regimes occasionally result in a “liberalizing electoral outcome” (LEO), which often leads to a new government that is considerably less authoritarian than its predecessor.

6. LEO’s provide at least a chance for a new beginning, in terms of a country’s political situation.

7. Democracy involves much more than just elections.

8. Robust civil society, effective and independent legislatures and judiciaries, and a civilianized military are just three of the many factors that are necessary for a genuine democracy.

9. “Hybrid regimes” combine democratic procedures with autocratic practices. They are the most widespread political system globally at the start of the twenty-first century.

10. Singapore was classified as having “No Liberalizing Electoral Outcome Electoral Outcome.”

NOTE: Table 1 below lists Singapore under the “No Liberalizing Electoral Outcome Electoral Outcome” section.

table_authoritarianelection

Reference: “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” by Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler (2006)

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MORE INFO:

Part 1 refers to the situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

Simplified Version: Part 1 (this post) | Part 2

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Singapore Pledge image at top of post from SG Newspaper.

As One United People (Part 2)

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Let me preface this (once again) with the Singapore Pledge (English version):

“We, the citizens of Singapore, pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion, to build a democratic society, based on justice and equality, so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”

I have listed 10 points here from “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” an article by academic professors Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler.

Simplified Version: Part 1 | Part 2 (this post)

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Part 1 refers to Singapore’s political situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

* * *

PART 2: A Solution

1. Forming an Opposition Coalition has its purposes. The more divided the opposition parties, the more susceptible they are to governmental manipulation, co-optation, and repression. 

2. A quick definition of a couple of words (by The Free Dictionary):

i. Co-opt: To assimilate or win over into a larger group.

i. Coalition: An alliance or union between groups, factions, or parties, especially for a temporary and specific reason

3. What is important is the ability of opposition leaders to work together, in order to form a strategic coalition (whether formal or informal) for the specific goal of winning an election.

4. An opposition coalition can do the following:

  • Take votes away from the ruling regime.
  • Prevent incumbents from playing opposition parties and leaders against each other.
  • Mobilize people to vote against the ruling party, as people have a sense that change is possible.
  • Mount a credible challenge to the ruling party, since the authoritarian henchmen could face recriminations for their actions if the opposition wins.

5. An economic crisis undermines support for an authoritarian regime, divides the ruling elites, and creates opportunities for the opposition to mobilize.

6. [This analysis suggests that] the opposition and its ability to put aside differences and form a coalition, is likely to have a greater effect than waiting for the current ruler to resign or for the political system to open up sufficiently.

NOTE: Figure 2 below shows the statistical analysis (refer to Part 1 for a definition of “Liberalizing Electoral Outcome.”)

opposition_coalition

7. Kenya’s 2002 election is an illustration of a “liberalizing electoral outcome.” The opposition parties were able to [work] as a cohesive political force, and ally with a younger generation of [politicians], who were not afraid to challenge [the incumbent].

8. [cont. from Kenya case study]: With this degree of coordination, the coalition positioned itself to exploit the electorate’s antipathy to the Moi regime and channel votes to one opposition presidential candidate.

9. The case of Zimbabwe 2002 reminds us that the relationship between an opposition coalition and a liberalizing electoral outcome is probabilistic.

10. The achievement of an opposition coalition, even if it dissolves later, will likely remain as a pivotal historical moment, an inspiration to future opposition movements in that country and elsewhere.

Reference: “Liberalizing Electoral Outcomes in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes,” by Marc Morjé Howard and Philip G. Roessler (2006)

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ADDITIONAL RELEVANT QUOTES

1) “Mr Low Thia Khiang should heed the famous saying: Unity is Strength (团結就是力量) if he wants to fulfill the opposition historical role of annihilating the PAP as the ultimate objective.”
( — Mr. Yoong / Singapore Recalcitrant, 24 Jan 2013)

2) Opposition unity in Singapore will only be possible if all the opposition leaders are “prepared to be honest [and] do what is expected of them by fighting for real change.”
( — Gopalan Nair / Singapore Dissident, 13 April 2010)

3) “Only with unity and equality, and justice and fairness, can we see Singapore move towards a brighter possibility, and this also requires Singaporeans to let go of the fear that the idea of Lee Kuan Yew has created, and to be willing to restart our engagement with our country.”
( — Roy Ngerng / TheHeartTruths, 20 March 2015)

4) An interesting page on “unity” from Page 57 of a Chinese Idioms book (collected by Qin Xue Herzberg and Larry Herzberg; also posted on my Instagram).

STRENGTH LIES IN UNITY

i. “Only when the group prospers, be it the family, the community, or the entire society, can the individual prosper.”

ii. “A single thread cannot make a cord; a lone tree cannot make a forest.”

chinese_idioms

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MORE INFO:

Part 1 refers to the situation. Part 2 offers a solution.

Simplified Version: Part 1 | Part 2 (this post)

Excerpts Version: Part 1 | Part 2

Original PDF: Link

Singapore Pledge image at top of post from SG Newspaper.