Win them back: People are not born stupid!

Sometimes I get tired doing what I am doing online. Helping to spread the message and advance our cause. Why do it for the people who don’t care, anyway?

But then I press on because I thought, it is not their fault. No one if born stupid. They are taught to be. And they can be taught back.

Albert Tay

justice

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“PAP = government” is the greatest treachery to democracy

By Albert Tay

The idea that ‘the PAP is the government and the government is the PAP’ is the single greatest treachery to democracy.

And I can’t believe those words came out of the mouth of someone who ‘painstakingly’ helped us fight for democracy, freedom and independence.

I can’t believe someone who fought for us promising those things could later subject us to totalitarianism, slavery and subjugation.

You call that irony? I call that blasphemy.

A compulsory PAP contingent at the NDP.

A compulsory PAP contingent at the NDP.

Christians’ praise for LKY baffling

By Albert Tay

I’m baffled by most Christians’ (or what I am told) high praise for LKY. Maybe I need to do a little research to find out if the same kind of reverence towards Hitler occurred during his rise to power.

For the record, for sure, when those other dictators died, their nations heaved a sigh of relief.

For our longest-living one, however, he was able to draw tears and admiration.

Yes, erect a statue for him. Call it God of Dictatorship.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 10.52.19 am

Money without democracy is lopsided

first world, for whom

“Saying you want money but not democracy is like saying you want the palm of your hand but not the back of your hand;

It is like saying you want to study but don’t want to play;

It is like saying you want to work but not rest;

It is like saying you want to take and don’t want to give – indeed money is about taking, democracy is about giving.

Think twice before you say you want money but not democracy.”

-Albert Tay

LKY’s route to power and premiership of Singapore

LKY-books-450x338By Stephen Chang

I empathise with and do not disregard those, the ordinary people, especially Singaporeans, who hold Lee Kuan Yew in high regard. We are all products of our different yet similar circumstances which affect us in different ways.

I was an admirer of LKY when I was an undergraduate in the heady days of the 1960s. I remember queuing at university campus and eventually crammed into a lecture hall that was holding probably three times its capacity to hear LKY speak. I was caught up with great hope for our future when LKY was championing Malaysian Malaysia.

However, after more than 50 years, documents in the public domain that prove conclusively that there were no basis for LKY’s allegations that his political opponents and the Barisan Socialis Party (which subsequently was absorbed into The Workers’ Party in 1988) were involved in a communist conspiracy to topple the PAP government by illegal means.

This was the basis for Operation Coldstore – the precursor to our merger and eventual separation from Malaysia – that arrested and detained 111 individuals without trial and who in many cases were subjected to physical abuse and torture. In any civilised society, LKY would have been arrested, tried and thrown in jail. But he continued to become Prime Minister.

From the early 1960s, LKY had used (or rather, abused) the full power of the state to arrest, detain, destroy and silence anyone he saw as a potential challenge to his rise to and grip on power based on baseless allegations. The methods he deployed included physical and mental violence and torture through the state apparatus.

LKY did not defeat his political opponents with open debates or the strength of his arguments or through the democratic processes. He defeated them through detention without trial, violence, torture, imposed exile and information control.

Who is to say that men and women of great intellect, integrity, moral principles who tower over LKY would not have created a better Singapore, or a better Singapore and Malaysia, for all of us? We will never know because LKY ruthlessly destroyed these people, with the connivance of neo-Colonial interests, in his march to supreme power and glory.

lim-chin-siong-lee-kuan-yew-photo 700x500Destroying political opponents

The bulk of this alternative narrative revolves around Lim Chin Siong, who co-founded the PAP in 1954 with Lee Kuan Yew.

LCS’s intellect, leadership, and legendary oratory skills enabled him to provide the organisational base for the PAP. He effectively championed the cause of the unemployed and the exploited workers of Singapore, and was wildly popular, winning the Bukit Timah constituency in the 1955 elections with an outright majority at the young age of 22.*

David Marshall former Chief Minister of Singapore recalled that LKY introduced LCS to him as the person who would be Singapore’s next leader. However, LCS’s promising political career was destroyed when he was detained without trial. He was forced into renouncing politics and went into exile in London.*

For over five decades, the official government narrative of Singapore’s history has justified LCS’s detention by asserting that he was a communist who advocated violence and subversion.*

He was specifically accused of making a speech that advocated violence. LKY was present when LCS made the speech. LKY did not refute the charge against LCS.

LCS denied the charge all his life. A transcript of LCS’s speech, recorded and translated into English by the Singapore Police, has been unearthed in the National Archives of the UK. Far from urging violence, LCS used humour to defuse the tension in the audience, and reminded them that the police were also employees and did not deserve their anger.*

After the PAP came into power, it did not provide the opportunity for LCS to clear his name either.

lim ching siongPolitical motivation, against a legitimate political struggle

Recent academic work has also proven that LCS’s later arrest and detention in 1963 was politically motivated. The Singapore government has never produced any concrete evidence to show that LCS was part of a communist conspiracy.*

The PAP split in 1961 when there was widespread dissatisfaction with LKY’s leadership. At a vote of confidence in the PAP government in 1961 in the Legislative Assembly, 27 voted for and 23 either voted against or abstained including 13 PAP members. These 13, including LCS, were expelled following which they formed a legally constituted Party, Barisan Socialis. After the split, 35 of 51 PAP Branch Committees and 19 of the 23 paid Organising Secretaries of the PAP went over to Barisan.

In February 1963, LKY unleashed Operation Coldstore and arrested 111 people including the leadership of Barisan. Many were detained without trial for 10, 15, 20 and more years and subjected to physical abuse and torture while in detention.

To date no concrete evidence has been produced to support the allegations that those arrested were engaged in illegal activities, preached violence or were communists. Declassified secret Special Branch files reveal the opposite – these people detained without trial were engaged in legitimate political activities.

The research work of Dr Thum Ping Tjin has provided clear evidence which is now in the public domain for everybody to see that there is no basis for the allegations made by LKY’s PAP government that those detained were involved in a communist conspiracy to topple the PAP government by illegal means.

The report dated 25 April 1962 of Maurice L B Williams, head of British Intelligence MI5’s office in Singapore, runs counter to LKY’s claim that the opposition was involved in a communist conspiracy to wrest power from the PAP through violence or unlawful means. The report is now in the public domain and can be seen by anybody who has genuine interest in the truth.

The above is NOT to deny the very many positive aspects of Singapore today. If others had had the opportunity to learn what I was fortunate to have learnt from about 45 years ago until now, there would be no material difference in the bulk of our views about LKY.

However, in a civilised society, we must not hide from the truth and, based on one-sided information fed to us and baseless false allegations, continue to dishonour and discredit those who made huge sacrifices, including sacrificing their lives, for social justice. We must expose the deeds of tyrants we might call heroes, whatever their other achievements may be, instead of placing them high on pedestals they do not deserve.

* – Extracts and adaptations from papers published by Dr Thum Ping Tjin. Dr Thum, a Singaporean Harvard graduate in East Asian Studies, teaches history at the University of Oxford. He is also research associate at the Centre for Global History at the University of Oxford and co-ordinator of Project Southeast Asia on LKY’s Singapore.

Stephen Chang currently resides in the UK.

Article first published on TOC, Apr 8, 2015. 

LKY did not give Singapore our independence

I refer to the 25 Mar 2015 “The Globe and Mail” article “Lee Kuan Yew gave Singapore independence, and the world a bad idea” by Mr Marcus Gee.

Mr Gee wrote:

Praise for Lee Kuan Yew … Just about everyone agrees he did marvels for his country, transforming Singapore from a swampy colonial port to an economic dynamo in the course of a generation.

LKY-democracy-rebel-300x225Just because everyone agrees Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore from a swampy colonial port in one generation doesn’t mean it is therefore fact or truth. When Lee Kuan Yew inherited Singapore in 1959, Singapore was far from a swampy port. We were already a prosperous, modern city bustling with commercial activities. Lee Kuan Yew himself boasted to US businessmen in Chicago in 1967 that we were already a metropolis. Singapore certainly did not transform from swamp to metropolis in just 8 years.

Mr Gee quoted Lee saying:

The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions which are inimical to development

The best proof that Lee was wrong lies with the examples of Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Hong Kong was never authoritarian while Taiwan and South Korea blossomed more after they abandoned authoritarian rule and embraced democracy.

Mr Gee wrote:

If he (Lee Kuan Yew) could raise his country to riches …

Lee Kuan Yew did not raise Singapore to riches. When Lee took charge in 1959, Singapore already had the third highest per capita GDP in Asia (PPP adjusted, Penn World Tables, 1960) and the highest per capita ownership of cars in Asia. Singapore’s post independence industrialization plan was written by our economic advisor from the United Nations – Dr Albert Winsemius. It is Dr Winsemius, not Lee Kuan Yew, whom we should thank for our rapid industrialization.

Mr Gee wrote:

The kind of leader that Mr. Lee personified – … fatherly, morally upright, far-seeing, a good shepherd to his flock … If such a leader can deliver the goods, many would say, well, then, who cares about a free press or a critical opposition?

Whether or not Mr Lee had been morally upright is a matter of opinion, not fact. Mr Lee detained Dr Chia Thye Poh for 32 years, longer than Nelson Mandela had been. At least Nelson Mandela had been convicted in court whereas Dr Chia Thye Poh was never even given a trial.

The far sight everyone credits Mr Lee for actually came from those around him. Export industrialization was documented in Dr Albert Winsemius’ economic plan. A good episode that illustrated Mr Lee’s lack of ‘far sight’ was the 2008/2009 Global Financial Crisis during which Singapore’s GIC, under Lee Kuan Yew’s chairmanship, lost billions right under his nose.

Mr Gee wrote:

… Mr. Lee was all but unique, an incorruptible strongman who really did put country above personal gain. The “Singapore model” is a direct product of his personality …

Whether or not Mr Lee put country above personal gain is again a matter of perspective, not fact. Mr Lee penalized opposition wards for not voting his party by refusing to grant them housing estate upgrading funds. How can that be anything but for the good of Mr Lee’s party? Even Mr Lee himself admitted so.

The success bits of the Singapore model is not the direct product of Mr Lee’s personality but the product of Dr Winsemius’ plan and according to Mr Lee’s most trusted deputy Dr Goh Keng Swee, the product of our priceless British colonial inheritances.

Mr Gee wrote:

… Mr. Lee led Singapore to independence

That is far from the truth. Mr Lee hardly fought for our independence let alone led us to independence. Singapore’s independence in 1965 was the result of us being booted out of Malaysia, not the result of us fighting for independence from Malaysia. Mr Lee didn’t even want independence and cried bitterly in front of national television on the occasion of our separation from Malaysia.

Some claim that Singapore gained independence from Britain when Mr Lee merged us into Malaysia in 1963. But how can the exchange of British sovereignty for Malaysian sovereignty ever be considered independence?

The truth was that the British had no choice but to gradually grant us more and more independence as a result of constant agitations from the people led by the Leftists. This culminated in the birth of the State of Singapore in 1959 with full internal self-government and the birth of Singapore’s flag and national anthem that are still in use today. It was the Leftists who fought for the people and who led us to domestic independence. When Mr Lee merged us into Malaysia four years later, it was not with improved but worsened conditions to our domestic independence instead.

Mr Gee wrote:

Mr. Lee opened the country to foreign trade …

Not true. Singapore was founded as a free port by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. Singapore had already experienced close to 140 years of prosperity through foreign trade before Mr Lee took power.

Mr Gee wrote:

There is no denying it: the formula worked. Singapore averaged 7 per cent annual growth for decades, eventually surpassing its old overlord, Britain, in per capita income. Its transit system is extensive, its roads immaculate (and tolled), its schools top-notch, its parks gorgeous.

Let us not deny that the investment formula was from Dr Winsemius, not from Mr Lee.

Singapore’s per capita GDP when stripped of those accruing to foreigners is much less impressive and not too different from Britain’s.

Singapore’s transit system came almost a decade after Hong Kong’s, a gentle reminder of how life in Singapore need not have been worse under the British or any other government other than Mr Lee’s.

Singapore’s main arterial roads were laid out during colonial times.

Singapore’s top school – Raffles Institution was the school that Mr Lee attended. Other top schools were similarly set up during colonial times. Top-notch schools were already there even before Mr Lee was born, they didn’t sprout out only after Mr Lee became prime minister.

Our number one park, the Botanical Gardens was also established during colonial times.

Mr Gee wrote:

But the formula wouldn’t have worked without an essential ingredient: Mr. Lee himself.

That is opinion, not fact. There is no reason why Singapore under a different government could not have performed just as well. Hong Kong is the best reflection of what Singapore could have become had we remained a British colony or had the Leftists won power – different but just as prosperous.

Mr Gee wrote:

Just look around Singapore’s neighbourhood. Indonesia’s Suharto just next door advertised himself as a benign father of the nation. His regime collapsed under the weight of its corruption in 1998 …

The collapse of Suharto gave birth to a more prosperous and democratic Indonesia. The Suharto example shows that Singapore would have worked just as well with or without Mr Lee because what had worked for us wasn’t Mr Lee’s formula but the formulae of Sir Stamford Raffles and Dr Winsemius. It was Mr Lee’s deputy, Dr Goh Keng Swee who credited our colonial formula as being our priceless advantage. Indeed, Singapore’s winning formula begun way back in 1819.

Mr Gee wrote:

Without the check of opposition, the scrutiny of a free media and the threat of being tossed out by the voters, most leaders descend along the familiar path to corruption and brutality. That Mr. Lee did not was a function of his character, not of the virtues of the Singapore model.

Singapore’s politicians are paid obscenely high salaries in this world. So what hasn’t been obtained through corruption has been obtained through legal means, courtesy of our lack of opposition check and a free media.

Singapore boasts the longest detention without trial in the world – 32 years, longer than Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned. Brutality has been substituted by something equally ruthless.

Mr Gee wrote:

So praise Lee Kuan Yew, by all means. He deserves the accolades he is getting for making his country such a an unlikely success story.

Too much of the praise heaped onto Lee Kuan Yew are praises due for others. The accolades he is getting is undeserved because Singapore’s success story is largely the result of others not him.

Thank you

Ng Kok Lim, on TRE