Ladies and Gentlemen,
The common but erroneous perception is that with more education and higher standard of living, a society would become more democratic. The belief was totalitarianism and societal advancements work in opposites. Unfortunately this is not true as history shows, and point proven by Singapore. Since independence no doubt the island has progressed economically, but as for democracy, it not only did not take root, and as far as democracy is concerned, it has regressed, not progressed.
And the reasons are obvious. A people cannot want what they do not know. And Singaporeans thanks to their dictators carefully shielding them from any mention of democracy have become today totally ignorant of what democracy even is. The ordinary Singaporean just as another Iraqi or Syrian or Afghan wants a job, food to eat and roof over the heads. As for democracy, he hasn’t heard of it, and as long as he is left alone, quite happy not to have it.
And this is exactly the state of affairs the islands dictators want. Singaporeans have no real rights as an American would have. Singapore police can arrest anyone anytime. But usually they only harass political opponents and criminals. If you are not a criminal or a political dissident, you have no problems at all.
Singapore does have a constitution which is almost the same as that of United States, replete with the rights of man, human rights, free speech and the entire litany. But unlike the United States all that is ignored and the police do whatever they want. But since the police and the Kangaroo judges placed by the rulers only punish anyone who is a critic or a criminal, people don’t care whether they have rule or law or not since it doesn’t affect them personally.
As a result Singapore today is a very repressive society with no rule of law. But the repression is only used against political opponents. The rule is, as long as you allow the rulers to be as corrupt as they want, you have no complaint of the lack of a free press, or lack of any freedoms, then you can go on with your life uneventfully and quiet. Since the aspirations of the average Singaporean only extends up to his daily upkeep and daily material needs, the dictators can continue in power for another 100 years as long as you accept your humble state.
Unlike the ordinary Singapore who lives this way, there are those, only a handful who may know that a free and independent life without having to live under Big Brother is much more meaningful and rewarding. So the handful, such as Chee Soon Juan and the late JB Jeyaretnam or myself have stuck our necks out to challenge this totalitarian regime for which we have suffered great punishment. And then there are the other handful who are aware but do not think it worthwhile to openly question authority. These people simply leave the island for settlement in free countries. I am one of them.
The procedure used by the Singapore dictators is an old practice used in ancient China. It comes from the saying “You kill a chicken to frighten all the monkeys”. So if you have a lone critic like myself or JB Jeyafretnam, you come down hard on them. You abuse the law and punish them severely. By doing this you send a message to every helpless Singaporean that if you oppose, this is what will happen. This method of intimidation is very successful. It was successful in ancient China as it is today in Singapore. In this manner and entire society is silenced into submission.
But our leaving the island is not going to change the average mindset of the average Singaporean. As long as they have some income and some security of life, they will continue living under this totalitarian administration which will continue for a long long time.
As we can see of US and British history, it was the early founding fathers of the United States and England who believed that the best way to live is to be free. I am one such person who also believes this. And the US and British democracies exist because the rulers themselves understood this and encouraged this. Had they not, the US and Britain would be no different from Singapore of today. But since the Lee family who run the island of Singapore appear more concerned of their own personal interests and personal wealth, I don’t see anytime when they would ever allow a democratic society in the island of Singapore.
And Singaporeans being satisfied with the way they live, absent democracy are not going to demand it either.