It is very amusing to see how Malaysians (probably of the minority races) have spasms of ecstasy when referring to Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) in Malaysian forums. From across the border in Malaysia, Singapore seems like Wonderland and LKY like a benevolent god.
As a Chinese Singaporean, born of Malaysian parents who took up citizenship here in Singapore, I can understand why they feel this way. The grouses are familiar: NEP, corruption and ineptitude in governance.
Let me provide an insight on how it is like to be a Singaporean. I must first stress that new immigrants or Permanent Residents (PRs) from Malaysia (like my parents) will not experience any disadvantages. It is the children of these people (like me) or new PRs' children (who will be Singaporean) who will feel the disadvantages most sorely, and curse the fact they were born in Singapore:
On the relative development of both countries - Singpore developed well largely due to early good advice given to LKY, its strategic position, the lack of natural disasters and its easily-governable size. Malaysia lags behind in spite of its natural resources because of its larger size, poorer planning/ execution, more difficult decision-making and corruption.
However, Singapore has problems at present because its development model is outdated. As LKY still insists on the methods recommended tens of years ago, trouble is looming. There is no impetus to change because there is no one who dares to disagree. The media prints only propaganda, the courts will always find the government blameless as the government runs 70% of the economy.
The opposition has been persecuted to the point where only those with nothing to lose will dare to oppose, and the common people are scared to death of arbitrary arrest.
Yes, corruption is more widespread in Malaysia. But in Singapore, it also exists - though restricted to the top political elite and in a legalised form. In Malaysia, many get a share of the cake but in Singapore, only a select few get a share of the cake.
Many scoff at the position of the Malay rulers. But are they aware of the many dubious acts of LKY and his cronies - his ‘cooperation’ with the wartime Japanese, then the Communists and then the British (he betrayed the latter two in the end)?
And the actions taken by him and his courts to destroy the opposition, moves which are reported in a twisted manner by his press? A shining example of good character?
Yes, up till recently, Singapore was performing excellently. But at the same time, the ordinary people had the fruits of their labour taken away. We seem rich but yet are in debt. The government apartments are now exorbitantly priced. Cars are a necessity (given the poor performance of the profit-oriented public transport companies) but are also exorbitantly priced.
Much of our money is locked in the Provident Fund and it is becoming impossible to get it back while we are still alive. Yes, all races are treated equally - and they are sucked dry equally. This is the pivotal point in times when things became bad. By the way, the money in the Provident Fund (as well as in the reserves) is used for investment - for which there is almost no transparency and accountability.
Huge losses have been incurred in the current crisis yet the ruling party still baulks at spending a million or two on the poor. Oh, and we spend twice as much on defence as Malaysia despite being at least 400 times smaller.
Instead of addressing the root of the problems, LKY's son (yes, his son - by the way did Dr Mahathir install his son as prime minister?) decided to take action on only one aspect of the problem, in a negative manner. Instead of lowering costs for citizens, and therefore maintaining wage levels, he decided to import foreigners to lower cost.
It is effective - foreigners earn much more per hour than they do back home. They are stuck with the same employer for the duration of their visa, hence they are obedient. If they are sacked, they have to go home. And home means facing unpaid debts which they incurred in getting to Singapore. So which foreign worker will dare to resist exploitation?
This means the ‘choosy’ Singaporeans get to twiddle thumbs at home. And would the Singaporean ministers care? They are paid $S$2 million basic per year, a performance bonus of up to eight months, and get a pension when they reach retirement age. Good clean governance, huh? Oh yes, the judges are paid the same too so not surprisingly they always find for the government.
Malaysians are LKY's top choice. It gratifies him to poach bright minority students which his old pal Dr Mahathir had educated. They get good jobs (there is supposedly a quota to be filled), will not get sacked (as it means they go back to Dr M) and are favoured by corporations, as they do not have national service obligations.
None want to be citizens - at the end of the day, they will retire to the Malaysia (which they hate so much) to enjoy the Singapore dollar’s strength. God have mercy on the children they leave behind!
Currently one person in three is a foreigner in Singapore. The press chooses to obfuscate matters by lumping citizens and PRs together in their reporting (as 'resident population') so the huge number of foreigners in Singapore is understated.
To all Malaysians who love LKY, you have to be ruled by him, not as a PR turned citizen, but as a born and bred Singaporean, to understand that he is not what you think.Y ou curse Dr Mahathir because you know LKY will treat you like lords. You are correct but very shortsighted and shallow.
Dr Mahathir may be much less than perfect, but only ignorant fools will say LKY is better than him. Singapore residents receive two broadsheet pages daily on how bad things are in Malaysia, but no Singaporean commentator will blast LKY and compare him to Dr Mahathir.
Why? Because it is stupid to compare - we have not been ruled by Dr Mahathir or Umno so how are we able to compare? Using anecdotal evidence supplied by privileged fellow countrymen is poor practice.