THE only difference between communism and capitalism, it has been said, is that the communists have admitted that they were wrong.
Such an observation, undoubtedly made with tongue firmly in cheek, is nevertheless a serious indictment of the economic system that has enveloped this planet.
The widening disparity between the world’s rich and poor continues to ask questions about the way humanity conducts itself. Poverty brutalises and dehumanises the victims it claims. It is an evil that tears at the very heart of civilisation.
Giving succour to us is the knowledge that people are not defenceless when it comes to combating poverty. The weapon of choice is, of course, democracy. For without it, capitalism becomes nothing more than exploitation in disguise.
And yet, in Singapore the situation is such that while the ruling Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) remains alive to the capitalist world, it ensures that democracy is kept dead and buried. Such an arrangement renders the working poor voiceless and powerless, opening them up to abuse and exploitation.
A Nation Cheated addresses the fallacy that Singapore has a well-run, free-market economy system put in place by the PAP that continues to benefit the island’s inhabitants.
In fact, this report clearly demonstrates that there is nothing free or market-oriented about Singapore’s economy. Worse, developmental trends over the last 10 years show how Singaporeans have been economically displaced and socially dislocated as a result of PAP policies.
It documents the subjugation of the labour movement by the Singapore Government during the nation’s formative years which has continued into the present. The official argument is that strong trade unions are inimical to foreign investment.
After nearly half-a-century of uninterrupted authoritarian rule, however, the results are abysmal. Singapore’s economy seems unable to graduate into something more than a service station for multinational companies. The resultant effect has been the emergence of a significant layer of underclass.
The report also demonstrates that this system is actively maintained by an autocratic government whose political philosophy and practice is predicated on Lee Kuan Yew’s idea that state resources should be concentrated on the top 5 percent of the pop-ulation “who are more than ordinarily endowed physically and mentally.”
Most importantly, this essay presents a clear alternative to the course taken by the PAP who has bludgeoned into the minds of the populace that there isn’t, and can never be, one.
It was first published in 2002 under the title First World…For Whom? Much has happened since and this updated version will bring readers up to speed about Singapore’s political-economy, poverty, and labour.
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