myth 40

'Singapore is a dictatorial or totalitarian state' This is a label that many have branded Singapore and have even thrown many wild accusations at the political leadership. How can Singapore be associated with a dictatorship or a totalitarian communist regime? Any Singaporean would be able to tell easily what an elected representative govt is as compared to a dictatorship or communist regime. We are a freely elected democracy modelled against the British system. What stands out glaringly in a dictatorship or a totalitarian state is the use or abuse of power. Power in such states is absolute and resided mainly in the dictator or in a small group of men at the top. And the use of power is without shame, embarrassment or qualms. Power was used often in its naked form. People were pulled up and put away, unheard off, forgotten and disappeared. No excuses needed, no reasons given. In communist or totalitarian states, sometimes they did try to give some resemblance of a people's govt. And people to be put away often were labelled as reactionaries, revisionists or committing crimes against the state or doing things that undermine national interests. These are the clear cut dictatorial or totalitarian regimes. Then there are the mixed regimes or disguised regimes like the Marcos and the Suhartos. The military junta in Myanmar is simply what it is, no need for any pretension. The Phillippines under Marcos was a dictatorship called democracy. The Indonesia under Suharto was also a dictatorship under the cover of guided democracy. How can Singapore be a dictatorship or a totalitarian state when the govt are honest, sincere and respectable people of high integrity? If one considers the kind of polities under Marcos and Suharto, we must feel very bless with what we have here. Totally no abuse of power, and the citizens are free to live their lives and get rich, and feeling very safe. And we have been such a great model of a successful democracy that many countries are modelling themselves after Singapore. The best example is China. The Chinese system though communist, is actually communist in name. It is very pragmatic, very Singapore like. The rate that China is copying and imitating Singapore, soon it will be accused of becoming a democratic country, Singapore model. Oh, Communism in China now is a myth.


Anonymous said...

how misguided.. "no abuse of power"

D said...

just one question: are you sure you've even lived in singapore at all?

redbean said...

it's all a matter of perception and which side of the fence one is sitting. there are people who called this a land of opportunities, there are those who called this a land of misery.

just like mr brown's statement that singaporeans are fed, up with progress. he was referring to about 30 or 40 percent of the population. so the statement is erroneous in that sense. but if he qualifies by saying some, maybe he has a stronger point. too sweeping. agree?

redbean said...

hi d,

you are new here? sorry, almost forget to say a word of welcome. i remember a w.

Anonymous said...

One case is enough to establish the truth. Abusing the judiciary to kick JB Jeyaretnam out of parliament.

Anonymous said...

Your ironic writing style has betrayed your cause.

Anonymous said...

>> How can Singapore be a dictatorship or a totalitarian state when the govt are honest, sincere and respectable people of high integrity?

Let me ask you:
With the govt controlling the media, the police and the judiciary, how do you know that it is honest and corruption free?

Do you know how much an HDB flat cost? Do you know what they do to your CPF money? Can you still say for sure that they're honest?

redbean said...

like mahathir said, where is the proof?

durai is innocent until proven guilty. so unless we can prove a case in court, whatever accusation is just accusation.

unless i have the evidence to say otherwise, i have no ground to point the finger but to accept things at face value : )

Joseph said...

you seem very happy with the Singaporean model of democracy, looking at it from a social (security & peace of mind) and economic lens.

but in this model of democracy, consider this.

do the people have a voice?

Anonymous said...

Dear Friend,

You may want to read To Catch a Tartar by Francis Seow or even books written on David Marshall and about Singapore politics in the 50s to 80s, and learn about Chia Thye Poh who was one of the longest serving political prisoners (on our very fair shores of Singapura) who was detained without trial for over 20-30 years.

I would think the soft authoritarian brand that has been slapped on PAP as being apt.

The PAP has done a lot for Singapore. It has people of integrity - yes, but it has also ruthless leaders who will use the ISA on its own citizens on evidence that is not open for scrutiny. If one day they come for you - who can challenge them to ask for the evidence.

redbean said...

hi joseph,

welcome to the blog and chat.

i know that many of you would probably have your jaws dropped or eyes popping out after reading my myths and their justifications.

let me put it this way. what is myth today maybe truth tomorrow when history is rewritten. as they said, the victors tell the story.

in this world of make beliefs and illusion, truth can falsehood and vice versa.

oh, i have read the tartars and also escape from paradise : )

Anonymous said...

don't forget the victors today can be the vanquished tomorrow. what then ?

redbean said...

we will rewrite and change the textbooks on our history : )

i am sure all of you would appreciate how boring a blog will become if we tell the truth in a straight forward manner.

a little slant, a little deception, a little twist, makes the thought so much more provocative and testing.

and some of you out there, no need to get so work up lah.

the fun is in getting your views across to others without having to be personal : )

redbean said...

it is ok for you fellas to treat my views as being naive and idealistic. that will provide you fellas with a lot of bullets to shoot and agitate the discussions : )

Lewis said...

"Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike." (The Republic, VIII).

While it is conclusive that Singapore is not a democracy, I agree with redbean that it is far from being a callous dictatorship or entirely totalitarian either.

A benign oligarchy might be closer to the truth, where an exclusive elite - selected on the basis of meritocracy - is given executive powers over the (lesser) masses.

For the sake of personal comfort, are Singaporeans really that interested in a system of "variety and disorder"? Do we really believe that men being naturally unequal to one another in circumstances ought to be treated equally? Are we honestly willing to put up with the inconvenience of such?

redbean said...

hi lewis,
your pic is as charming as our democracy. i wish i can post a pic like that instead of the durian : )

and we are a democracy. sure we are, with all its scars and warts. no system is perfect like no man is perfect. some may be somewhat better and we called them god. unfortunately some were easily taken in and really think so. oh god!

i think we are as democratic as communist china is communist. or communist china is as democratic as we are communist. it is so confusing. hard to tell them apart.

while we post and talk over kopi, sometimes in jest, sometimes serious, cynical or honest comments, hopefully people can sieve through the goodness from the madness and selectively pick out things that are useful, like panning for gold nuggets.

what we are afraid is that man behaves like god and strike like lightning, a thunderbolt from nowhere, and we got burnt brown, like toast.

come on lah, be a little thickskin and admit that there are rooms for refinement and improvements lah. agree or not you fellas?

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