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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Letter from the Future

Letter From The Future

Tomorrow, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Prime Minister Brigadier-General Lee Hong Yi (his son and heir), will send an Official Letter to the past. But I shall beat them to it with this letter. I don't know if I got the space and time coordinates right because I'm only a Class 3 Technician, but I think Singaporeans of the past should know the truth (as much as I can tell anyway), instead of the half-truths and sheer propaganda that PM Lee and his Father before him, are so good at and will no doubt send back tomorrow.

If my settings are correct, this letter from the future will appear on the Singaporeans For Democracy website sometime in the year 2000, exactly when, I don't know.

What is the future like, or my present time?

Well, for one, Lee Kuan Yew is dead. Well, not exactly dead. He died on his 77th birthday during the launch of his second book of memoirs. But his body has been kept in cryogenic suspension in liquid nitrogen until now. And NUS scientists have been cultivating his DNA for a long time for cloning.

So, there are a few hundred Lee Kuan Yews running around already. Exactly how many, no one knows. Only a few elite people really know anything in Singapore, just like in your time. But the Straits Times have been broadcasting interviews with the proud parents who have been chosen for this honour. The parents get a government grant of $1 million dollars for the woman to fertilise her egg with Lee Kuan Yew's DNA and to carry the child. These parents are all lowly educated and with proven low IQs and the present laws disallow them to have children unless they opt to carry Lee Kuan Yew's genes.

The government of Lee Hsien Loong tracks them and provides all that is needed for these little Lee Kuan Yews to grow into their model. But we the public don't really know much beyond what we're told in the official media.

It is an open secret that all the important jobs in the land are taken by Lee family. And there are many of them. They occupy positions in the cabinet, parliament, government companies and even private companies and MNCs. They have grown very numerous in my time and this allows them to displace all the non-Lees that they needed to supplement their ranks during Kuan Yew's time. Now, there is no need for further pretence.

In fact, just the other day, the TCS in an editorial lamented that there is a dearth of talent in Singapore outside the Lee clan and opined that, if all the Lee clan members were to perish in an Airbus super jumbo crash, Singapore would collapse overnight.

How is life in Singapore now?

Well, the population is 4.5 million. Despite all the lower 16-storey HDB blocks having been bulldozed to make way for 30-storey blocks, there is still a great pressure on housing. A tiny, 900 square foot 4-room flat costs about $1 million. A private condo unit of not much bigger size costs several million. But that is all right to most people because they have CPF to pay the instalments. CPF is now 60% of salary. It simply means that when we retire, we have no money in the CPF because all of it went to paying for the flat. I think it is the same in your time. But PM Lee says that his government is still subsidising flat owners and in parliament the other day, produced statistics to prove it. So I guess he's right.

Talking about salaries, PM Lee's base salary is now $25 million a year. So are the salaries of all his relative ministers and relative CEOs of the GLCs. Almost as much, anyway. I find it hard to keep track of such things. The main reason why it is so high (even by my time) is that Bill Gates has moved his operations to Singapore. Why not? He obtained good terms, like all the MNCs targeted by the EDB. He got concessionary state land at a nominal $1 a hectare, didn't have to pay company taxes for 50 years and so on. But they made him pay income taxes though. So that the top earners in the income tax average would shoot up and since this is the benchmark for the ministers' salaries, naturally, the ministers' pay also shot up.

But 4.5 million people on a tiny island of 225 square miles is terrible. The roads are jammed everyday but not with private cars. There are no private cars except for the ministers and the super rich. The COE is now bidding for about $2 million because only a few hundred are released each year. So the roads are jammed with the necessary and unavoidable commercial vehicles like container trucks, dump trucks, lorries, pick-ups, cement mixers, taxis and buses and they remain jammed at all hours of the day and night.

The MRT runs 24 hours a day and there are frequent stoppages due to the old and failing tracks and equipment and trains. People are just resigned to it. So basically, you wake up in your tiny, expensive flat, work long hours to pay for it, endure long hours in traffic jams or train stoppages and when you retire, hope to get a part-time job to live by. It is depressing.

But take comfort. The Lee clan have private roads to their homes and offices that they show off to the world. Yes, in your time, you have bus lanes, I believe. Now, we have Lee lanes. These are lanes specially reserved for the Lee clan. Only their cars can use the lanes. The sensors on the roads detect any unauthorised cars or commercial vehicles and the law is harsh with such offenders. I believe the punishment is 5 years jail, 3 strokes of the rotan and a fine of $100,000.

But that is the law. The other day, Dr Chee Soon Juan of the Singapore Democratic Party challenged this law by driving his van onto the Lee lane. He is now in jail. He is appealing to the Court of Appeal. What for? The chief justice is Kwa Geok Choo, Junior. This chief justice, like the one before her, was also a former banker who had not practised law for decades. So now, you see, we are not very different from your time.

What about the other great opposition leader, Mr Jeyaretnam? Well, he has long since gone on to that great parliament in the sky, where one does not have a time limit on speeches because the whole House has got eternity before it. Hardly any PAP MPs made it there, I suppose. There, his speeches are known instantly to all of Heaven and he does not have to spend money to compile it into a book, like his great "Make It Right For Singapore". Perhaps the most under-rated political book on Singapore. I find much of it still enlightening even in my time.

I shall dare to send this letter even if it means I may be caught and punished. We are watched everywhere and all the time. It is all part of the control system. (The ISD now reports directly to Hsien Loong, as it did to Kuan Yew). Why do I dare when practically nobody else would? The reason is simple. I am dying. I have got incurable cancer. Like many others here.

You see, during your time, Kuan Yew and his Son encouraged the American airplanes and warships to be based in Singapore. Then, a few years ago, a mentally ill sailor blew up a nuclear reactor on board a submarine docked at the Changi Naval Base, specially built to accommodate American navy ships. This caused a disastrous radioactive leak and today, the levels remain high. The Lee clan are all right because they now live in lead-shielded homes and offices. But for the rest of us, we have to live with the radiation. PM Lee assures us repeatedly that the levels are acceptable and very few will die from it. Then I must be one of the unfortunate few. But we don't really know. Nobody really knows. It's all too technical, the explanations.

So I am sending you this letter. To hell with the consequences. I have nothing to lose. I only hope that if this letter from the future really does appear in your time, you will read it and perhaps change the future by taking bold action in your time. It is not too late. I am told that there are many parallel universes and so the future can be changed if you take action. Be brave when you go to the next elections.

The future is literally in your hands.


Technician (Class 3)