How Singapore Crushes Dissent
by Chris Lydgate
Published by Scribe
the book at powells.com)
"For almost half a century Jeyaretnam stood for universal
values of decency, fairness, and transparency against the so-called
'Asian values' of hierarchical order, submissiveness, and censorship
imposed by Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP machine."
From the haughty smoked-glass office towers of its financial district
to the spotless order of its crowded streets, the city-state of
Singapore represents an unprecedented feat of physical, social,
and political engineering, orchestrated over five decades by Lee
Kuan Yew and the ruling People's Action Party. But Singapore's prosperity
has been purchased at a steep price: the erosion of human rights,
the rise of the "nanny state," and the creation of a political
system in which individual freedoms are subordinated to the greater
good - as defined by the government.
Lee's Law is a case study of the perils of dissent in
Singapore, as it traces the arc of the country's most prominent
opposition politician, JB Jeyaretnam. The book follows Jeyaretnam's
stellar career as an ambitious young lawyer, prosecutor, and judge,
and shows how he became disenchanted with the system that promoted
him. It recounts his stunning political breakthrough at Anson in
1981, and chronicles the devastating consequences of his questioning
- let alone, opposing - Lee Kuan Yew and his government. After resisting
for decades, Jeyaretnam was crushed by defamation suits, then bankrupted
and expelled from parliament, and denied the right to practice law.
His story provides a chilling insight into Singapore's politics,
and raises disturbing questions about its unique brand of 'Asian
democracy.' It is also a poignant story of a courageous individual
who never swerved from his ideals - no matter what the cost.
"A splendid account... Lydgate does an excellent job of exposing
the dangers that restrictive libel laws...pose to democratic freedoms...
It would be nice to think that Singaporeans could read this foreigner's
account of their history, and make up their own minds. Unfortunately,
if history is any guide, the government will do that for them."
--Christopher Kremmer, The Sydney Morning
"Lydgate demonstrates that the misuse of democratic power
can be as brutal and suppressive as a dictatorship."
--Patrick Cullen, Newcastle Herald
"Through using the actions of JB Jeyaretnam as an example,
Lydgate examines the costs-- at least on the surface-- to what appears
a squeaky-clean society. It is not a flattering picture he gives."
--Christopher Bantick, The Sunday Tasmanian
"The soft totalitarianism which is Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore--
autocracy with a democratic shell, dissenters crushed but untortured--
is shown in this absorbing and educative account by a journalist
who worked on the island republic. It details the systematic persecution
of opposition politician J.B. Jeyaretnam, who had the temerity not
only to stand against Mr Lee's political machine but actually get
elected. A sad case study of the price of an otherwise astounding
--Tony Baker, The Adelaide Advertiser
"This book rocked and I will never be the same."
--joanna b. martinez
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-The Sydney Morning Herald
The Melbourne Age
"Absorbing and educative"
-The Adelaide Advertiser
"This book rocked and I will never be the
-joanna b. martinez