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The Last Nail in the Coffin of Constructive Engagement

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  • Mellaniehewlitt@yahoo.co.uk
    Below is an article from Professor Kanbawza Win who cites Singapore as an example of a dominant one party dictatorship under the smoke screen of democracy;
    Message 1 of 1 , May 31, 2005
      Below is an article from Professor Kanbawza Win who cites Singapore as
      an example of a dominant one party dictatorship under the smoke screen
      of democracy;

      "The thinking of dominant one party dictatorship under the smokescreen
      of democracy of the region began to change. A classic example is
      Singapore, where hitherto PAP dominated by the "Father Son and the Holy
      Goh" was gone, when the Father and Holy Goh were in the annals of
      history and the son with its retinue of young Turks began to resent the
      accusation that Singapore's national character can be measure in dollars
      and cents, have now taken the initiative. At the last budget debate the
      S'pore government officials have a hard time answering to the quest of
      the parliamentarians questioning the Constructive Engagement Policy. It
      is the first time in the entire history of Singapore that has come out
      in the open, which was usually a closed-door affair as far as Burma and
      the hush hush narco dollars are concerned."


      Date : 2005-06-01
      The Last Nail in the Coffin of Constructive Engagement
      By Prof. Kanbawza Win

      In our world where business always overrules the conscience, it seems
      that the Constructive Engagement Policy initiated by the leaders of the
      core members of ASEAN towards Burma has finally met its doom. This is
      not because suddenly their twinge of conscience pop up but because they
      finally discovered that they will lose formidable trading partners of
      the Western countries if these ASEAN countries continue to ignore the
      gross human rights violations going on in Burma even as they continue to
      exploit Burma's natural and human resources. They now have to admit that
      there are much more civilized people in the World who would not ignore
      the suffering of the Burmese people and can easily turn their screws on
      these ASEAN values.

      When the Burmese Junta came to power in 1988 killing thousands of
      peaceful demonstrators two schools of thoughts emerged as how to deal
      with this Burmese regime. One is to isolate the regime or at least to
      exclude from international financing (such as World Bank, IMF and ADB
      etc) and investment to force to regime to come to terms with the reality
      and was favoured by the West supported by Burmese pro-democracy and
      ethnic groups. The other was an open door policy, investing, trading and
      recognizing the Burmese Junta as a way to foster liberalization to
      create a more democratic form of government. This was christened as
      Constructive Engagement Policy by ASEAN.

      Now after nearly one and half decade this Constructive Engagement Policy
      has become an adjective, a hall mark synonymous to the extent of the
      tragedy of 50 million plus people that did not move the proponents of
      democracy and free market. Several theories and hypothesis has been put
      up as reviving the official development assistance, promoting investment
      and even encouraging the NGOs to provide humanitarian assistance will
      bring the much-needed change in Burma. They label the pro democracy and
      the ethnic nationalities to be too impatient and unrealistic wanting an
      immediate transfer of power-full of Western style democracy and want an
      instant utopia. They argued that Constructive Engagement presented a
      rational approach, which takes into account existing realities and bring
      change in a controlled fashion. Now all these interpretation has come to
      a big Zero.

      The very fact that Burma and other Indo-Chinese states were accepted in
      ASEAN itself is something like a marriage between a cock and a duck
      because they belong to the family of fowls (Southeast Asian countries).
      Hence it neither produced a duckling or a chicken nor is unable to swim
      (democracy) or peck (communist). Instead comes out an odd species
      somewhat similar to an ugly duckling (a power maniac) with a hope that
      one day will miraculously change into a high flying swan. Burma is
      exactly like this. Now it seems that it's no longer a question of
      whether you should talk to your neighbor who killed his sons, rape his
      daughters and beat up the wife but it's a question of whether that
      abusive neighbor should be the leader of your village called ASEAN.

      Hence the question of self- respect arises for the people of ASEAN
      became pivotal. A new generation, better educated with much reasoning
      power that would not listen blindly to their leaders have crop up in
      Southeast Asia. They saw that the Constructive Engagement Policy as a
      thin guise to exploit Burma's natural and human resources for short-term
      gain and is indirectly propping up the regime with legitimacy. This is
      having a bad effect on their region and something must be done. Besides,
      witnessing the mammoth sufferings of the Burmese, the religious adherent
      began to question this illogical policy. The majority of the people in
      Thailand, Laos and Cambodia profess Buddhism; in Singapore the main
      religion is Confucian, while Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia profess
      Islam and Philippines is Christian. Yet, not a speck of all these
      religious teachings were in Constructive Engagement Policy, in other
      words it paints the religious and moral bankruptcy of the region as a
      whole and ASEAN in particular.

      Incidentally in the economic scene unlike China's manufacturing miracle
      or India's services magic, there doesn't seem to be a single compelling
      theme in ASEAN economy, especially after the 1997 financial crisis.
      There are multiple strategies, initiatives, and success and failure
      stories. This tends to create a new scenario in the ASEAN business
      leaders who all the time are conducted to follow the government lead and
      adapted their strategy to go where the wind is blowing. Now suddenly
      governments in the core ASEAN countries began to play a different tune.
      The refrain is one of the supporting roles, not the virtuoso lead as the
      previous past. The government are encouraging private enterprises to
      think for themselves and shape their own destiny. They are to be
      innovative and create their own future. This compels a major shift in
      the mindset of the boardrooms and managers, similar to that the ship
      captain was left without the compass. They will have to fend themselves
      off. So they began to look at the world especially to the West where
      much emphasis is given on the prevalence of democracy and human rights.
      As far as Burma is concerned they could not rest their laurels on a
      short-term gain and be tarnished as unscrupulous exploiter forever. In
      other words the Constructive Engagement Policy is too pungent to have a
      good business dealings.

      Hence, the people began to question their parliamentary representative.
      These Members of Parliament began to speak out in their respective
      parliaments. Many a country unthinkable about a decade ago began to set
      up a parliamentary committee for the prevalence of democracy and human
      rights in Burma. The thinking of dominant one party dictatorship under
      the smokescreen of democracy of the region began to change. A classic
      example is Singapore, where hitherto PAP dominated by the "Father Son
      and the Holy Goh" was gone, when the Father and Holy Goh were in the
      annals of history and the son with its retinue of young Turks began to
      resent the accusation that Singapore's national character can be measure
      in dollars and cents, have now taken the initiative. At the last budget
      debate the S'pore government officials have a hard time answering to the
      quest of the parliamentarians questioning the Constructive Engagement
      Policy. It is the first time in the entire history of Singapore that has
      come out in the open, which was usually a closed-door affair as far as
      Burma and the hush hush narco dollars are concerned.

      Parliamentary Committee on Burma has been formed in the core ASEAN
      countries of Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia and S'pore
      have joined the bandwagon. PAP representative Charles Chong has said
      that besides taking away the chairmanship from Burma their main goal is
      for the flowering of democracy and the release of political prisoners.
      Come June and one will witness that the parliamentary representatives of
      the core ASEAN countries of Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and
      Malaysia will join the Singapore Members of Parliamentarian to form the
      ASEAN Inter Parliamentary Committee to pressure their respective

      It is also heartening to see that Malaysia Members of Parliament like
      Theresa Cock and Mr Lim talking very openly when the UMN0 is still a
      dominating power minus its helmsmen Dr Mahirthir Mohammad. Several
      representatives like Kraingsak Choonhaven of Thailand and several from
      Indonesia, Philippines have spoken out which we hope to bear fruit on
      ASEAN. Of course this is not because they are morally transformed but
      because they saw the writings on the wall that they will lose much with
      their Western Countries and international trading partners if they
      insist on this illogical policy. At last the Constructive Engagement
      Policy has pinch their pockets and they will have to move. They have
      witness that the nature of the Burmese Junta who will take one step
      forward to democracy by releasing the Nobel Laureate and taking two
      steps backwards by arresting her again. Indeed Than Shwe and its cohorts
      tried to assassinate her once and for all at Depayin, but the Military
      Intelligence chief Khin Nyunt knew it in advance and rescued her and for
      this he is now languishing in jail. How can a power maniac be the
      Chairman of this prestigious ASEAN?

      One will have to welcome this positive move even though it had taken 15
      years for ASEAN to understand the nature of the Burmese Junta while a
      Burmese democrat can understand it in 15 minutes. If the ASEAN had
      heeded to a soft whispering voice of a Burmese lady now in custody such
      costly and heartbreaking experience should have been avoided.

      - Asian Tribune -

      Prof. Kanbawza Win (Dr. B.T.Win): Incumbent Dean of Students of AEIOU
      Programme, Chiangmai University, Thailand. Senior Research Fellow at the
      European Institute of Asian Studies, Under the European Commission,
      Brussels, Belgium. Earlier Consultant to National Coalition Government
      of the Union of Burma. Editorial Consultant, "Asian Tribune."


      Mellanie Hewlitt
      Singapore Review
      31 May 2005
      Spore's Nepotism & Legitimised Corruption Defined in Dictionary

      The next time you have difficulty explaining what "Nepotism" or "Family
      Dictatorship" is to someone, try mentioning some familiar names in
      Singapore's million dollar ministerial cabinet as examples.

      Singapore is now so internationally renowned for its special brand of
      legitimised corruption and nepotism that the dictionary definition of
      the term "Nepotism" and "Family Dictatorship" includes mention of
      Singapore's First Familee in the explanation. (See also under Successful
      Transition of Power where Singapore is included with many modern day
      dictators and despots).

      In many On-line dictionaries and encyclopedias, Nepotism and Corruption
      are now synonymously linked with Singapore's Ruling Elite and first
      Familee. The folowing extracts are from Wikipedia, the free on-line

      Family dictatorship
      "A family dictatorship is a form of dictatorship that operates much like
      an absolute monarchy, yet occurs in a nominally republican state and is
      not part of its laws. When the dictator of a family dictatorship dies,
      one of his relatives (usually his son) becomes the new ruler of the
      country. This transition often occurs after years of "grooming" the
      dictator's successor as heir apparent."

      "Successful transitions of power
      Nicaragua: Anastasio Somoza García (1937-1947, 1950-1956) succeeded by
      his son Luis Somoza Debayle (1956-1963). There was also a third Somoza
      president, Anastasio Somoza Debayle (1967-1972, 1974-1979), though he
      did not directly succeed the other two.
      Haiti: François Duvalier (1957-1971) succeeded by his son Jean-Claude
      Duvalier (1971-1986)
      Republic of China (from 1949 on Taiwan): Chiang Kai-shek (1928-1975)
      indirectly succeeded by his son Chiang Ching-kuo (1975-1988)
      North Korea: Kim Il Sung (1948-1994) succeeded by his son Kim Jong Il
      (1994- )
      Syria: Hafez al-Assad (1971-2000) succeeded by his son Bashar al-Assad
      (2000- )
      Congo-Kinshasa: Laurent Kabila (1997-2001), succeeded by his son Joseph
      Kabila (2001-)
      Azerbaijan: Heydar Aliyev (1993-2003) succeeded by his son Ilham Aliyev
      (2003- )
      Singapore: Lee Kuan Yew (Prime Minister 1959-1990, Senior Minister
      1990-2004, Minister Mentor 2004-), indirectly succeeded by his son Lee
      Hsien Loong (2004-)"

      The strange thing is that while the entire world is aware of this
      glaring injustice and abuse of power, Singapore's local government owned
      media are trying hard to avoid acknowledging and discussing this
      troublesome and embarassing issue.

      Read on to find out more about legtimised corruption in Singapore and
      take a peek at the attached Nepotism file for the factual details and
      matrix of incestous relationships in Singapore's senior government
      positions and government linked companies.


      Singapore Ministers Pay, Legitimised Corruption
      Singapore Review, 2 May 2003 (updated May 2005)
      By Mellanie Hewlitt

      The headlines blared loudly in the 2 May 2003 issues of the Straits
      Times and Business Times "Pay cut? Ministers ready to lead by example:
      DPM", announcing to the entire world this selfless act of leadership by
      Singapore's Ruling Elite.

      In what appeared to be an initial move to reduce severely inflated
      salaries, to more reasonable industry standards, Singapore's Ruling
      Elite have bowed to public pressure and hinted at accepting a pay cut.

      Or have they?

      What exactly does "Leading By Example" mean? Lets try to put some
      substance behind those brave words. As of last count, average take home
      pay of a Singapore minister was well in excess of SGD100,000/- a month.

      The below table puts things back in proper perspective: (these are basic
      figures as of July 2000 and did not include last year's pay hikes or
      other benefits. Otherwise the updated numbers may well be much larger)

      1. Singapore President's Basic Salary US$1,483,000 (SGD$2,373,100)*a
      year Singapore Prime Minister's Basic Salary US$1,100,000(SGD1,958,000)
      a year
      Minister's Basic: US$655,530 to US$819,124 (SGD1,166,844 to
      SGD1,458,040) a year

      2. United States of America President: US$200,000 Vice President:
      US$181,400 Cabinet Secretaries: US$157,000

      3. United Kingdom Prime Minister: US$170,556 Ministers: US$146,299
      Senior Civil Servants: US$262,438

      4. Australia Prime Minister: US$137,060 Deputy Prime Minister:
      US$111,439 Treasurer: US$102,682

      5. Hong Kong Chief Executive : US$416,615
      Top Civil Servant: US$278,538
      Financial Sec: US$315,077

      Source: Asian Wall Street Journal July 10 2000 *Singapore President's
      salary which was updated in 2005 from the Singapore Straits Times

      In relative terms, less then 20% of Singaporeans here have take home
      salaries exceeding SGD100,000/- A YEAR.

      In stark contrast, BASIC SALARY FOR A MINISTER STARTS AT SGD1,166,844 A

      What these ministers earns in just ONE MONTH exceeds the ANNUAL TAKE
      HOME salary of 80% of Singapore's income earning population. Lets not
      even begin to compare annual packages which will exceed SGD1 million

      With the above numbers and figures now in perspective, it is easier to
      give substance to the words "leading by example". Several facts are
      noteworthy here;

      a) That the ministerial salaries are grossly out of proportion, even
      when compared with their counterparts in much larger countries (US and
      UK) who have far heavier responsibilities.

      b) That these salary reductions were long overdue. In the past, such
      handsome remuneration were "justified" on the back of resounding
      performance. However, Singapore's economy has been in the doldrums of a
      recession for several years now (with beginnings reaching as far back
      as the 1997 Asian economic crisis). This economic barometer is a rough
      measure of performance and implies that ministerial salaries were due
      for review at least 3-4 years ago.

      c) That adjustments should be made to bring them back within the
      industry benchmarks. Taking the salary of US vice president as a rule
      of thumb, the percentage for reductions should start at 50% of current
      pay. Even if a Singapore minister takes a 50% pay-cut, he would still be
      earning much more then the US vice president.

      d) The percentage reductions should greater then 50% if the intent is to
      bring the salaries within the perspective of Singapore's domestic

      With such inflated figures, it is understandable why the local
      government controlled media (Singapore Press Holdings) have taken pains
      to exclude mention of actual numbers for the world to see. The numbers
      would be too glaring and no amount of window dressing or creative
      writing could have reconciled these numbers with a sane figure and
      restored credibility.

      It is unlikely that Singapore's Ruling Elite will accept such huge
      salary cuts. Exactly How much and when the ministerial pay-cuts takes
      effect is not revealed. Ask any man on the street and 9 out of 10
      responses indicate many agree the current ministerial salaries are
      grossly inflated, especially in these lean and difficult times.

      Said a long time forumer from an internet political chat group: "First
      of all the Ministers are NOT leading on pay cut. Workers' salaries have
      been drastically reduced since the beginning of the recession while
      thousands have been unemployed. so the Ministers are NOT LEADING. they
      are only CATCHING UP. And they have several decades to catch up on."

      "Secondly, how much of a pay cut will Ministers take? 10%? 20%? unless
      its a cut that will affect their lifestyles, it is merely symbolic and
      they would still not know what it feels like to be a normal worker. as
      such, this is not Leading by Example. Its just another bogus political
      propaganda stunt"

      A 29 yr old executive who requested to remain anonymous admitted
      sheepishly ; "The numbers (ministerial salaries) are a national
      embarrassment really, because it reflects the underlying materialistic
      value systems of Singapore Ministers. No matter how you look at it, the
      fact remains that our ministers are money faced, and these are supposed
      to be Singapore's leaders, with value systems that Singaporeans should
      follow." "It (the ministerial salaries) puts Singapore in a bad light in
      the eyes of the world. The rest of Singaporeans really put in an honest
      days work for every penny they earn. And the process for review and
      approval of the ministerial salaries is also a joke. Imagine sitting on
      the board and approving (on White Paper)your own salary increments! Its
      all a wayang show".

      This also raises the question as to the authenticity of the actual
      process for review and approval of cabinet minister's salaries. Who
      decides on these numbers? Is there independence and transparency?

      Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2002
      challenged Singapore government ministers to take a pay cut to show they
      understand the economic hardships faced by the public. And the
      over-riding concern is that Singapore's Ruling Elite are unable to
      appreciate the economic hardship that the masses face in these tough

      The growing public resentment comes afew months after PM Goh's careless
      comments that "lay-offs were not all bad", drew a backlash from the
      public with a flood of e-mails being sent to the foreign press to
      register public indignation.

      It is a revelation that when the "paycuts" were finally effected they
      amounted to a miniscule 10% haircut from the massively bloated
      ministerial salaries.

      It is also a revelation that barely a year later (in June 2004) the
      bloated ministerial salaries were restored and increased beyond their
      original levels even as the rest of Singapore was still struggling in
      the throes of a recession. (There were no CPF restorations for the rest
      of working Singaporeans).

      Source Sg_Review group

      Singapore Review welcomes honest feedback on this hotly debated topic.
      You can Send your comments to the editor: sg_Review@yahoogroups.com


      From: Julie Rogers
      To: Singapore Review
      27 October 2004

      Does Inequality Make You Sick? S'pore ministers salaries

      Hi, I pondered over Catherine Lim's article "PAP and the people: A
      return of disaffection?"
      (see: http://www.singapore21.org.sg/art_disaffection.html#debate1)

      Until recently I knew next to nothing about Singapore so it is a
      revelation that my first introduction to this little speck is through
      various discussions on the internet about Ministerial Salaries.

      Quite frankly I am rather appalled by the fact that ministers in your
      country can earn upwards of USD 1 million. Any officer of the state is a
      public servant and this was a once noble and honourable calling. In the
      civilised world, persons assume this office because they want personally
      to contribute to the well being of the country. Self sacrifice and
      altruism are essential hallmarks for a public office holder and the
      minister must be ready and willing to make these personal sacrifices.

      If the heart is not in this noble service, then it will be wasted
      effort. Money should not be an issue at all and if it is, then your
      "elected leaders" have very ill-placed priorities and are obviously in
      it for the wrong reasons.

      Even if we were to overlook the misplaced financial motives of your
      ministers, the sheer gulf in income disparity between ministerial
      salaries and those of the working class will create a huge
      irreconcilable dichord and disenchantment with any normal voting public.
      (A valid point in Catherine Lim's article)

      But I am told that Singapore is a democracy with elected leaders! So I
      have to assume that Singapore must have a very unique "voting public"
      which is able to silently and willingly take all this in their stride.
      Singaporeans should take note here that Who they vote for and who they
      elect is a reflection of their own core value systems and the undeniable
      fact remains that Singaporeans have elected a group of Leaders who are
      eminently pre-occupied with escalating their on salaries.

      I for one will never be able to accept this unequal state of affairs if
      ever it was my lot. And thank goodness it isn't for I will never be able
      to sleep soundly at nights knowing that the fate, future and well being
      of my country are in the hands of a bunch of financially motivated hired

      Below is a further write-up of some of the social ills that a huge
      income disparity can create. There is an old saying that the most
      efficient form of governance is a Monarchy, but this assumes the Monarch
      has the same priorities and agenda as the people he rules. Is this the
      case with Singapore's Monarchy?

      I repeat that who you elect is a mirror image of your own core values
      and Singaporeans have to ask themselves whether their current leaders
      who require million dollar salaries to be in office, have the same value
      systems as the voters who elected them.

      Lastly, I have also copied in Guniess World of Records to see if this
      unique feature of your country will earn it a place in the world record

      Julie Rogers


      Mellanie Hewlitt
      22 Feb 2005
      Singapore Review
      Million Dollar Mini$terial $alaries - The Rea$on$ Again?

      In light of the recent Singapore Budget 2005, we recirculate below
      as a comparison to how much singapore's million dollar ministers have
      "contributed" to the country.

      a) Is there a budget for Singapore's million dollar ministers?
      b) Is there accountability and transparency?
      c) Who authorises ministerial pay increments and are these approving
      once removed from duress and influence?
      d) How are these increments justified?
      e) If these salaries are performance based how do you measure the
      performance of
      a million dollar minister?
      f) Does the general public and voting citizens feel these million dollar
      salaries are justified?
      g) Where is the dividing line between legitimised corruption and
      million dollar salaries?
      h) Do these million dollar ministers have values which represent those
      of the average Singaporean?

      The list of questions is endless but there are still no convincing

      Read on and decide for yourselves.



      problem just pass a bill and make it legal!!! Approve your own bonuses
      and salaries!!!


      Forum: the Sammyboy.com's Alfresco Coffee Shop (tm) Forum
      Subject: Truly Out of dis World Salary for Nathan
      From: (QXP)
      To: (ALL)
      DateTime: 25/01/2005 19:24:40

      At least we now have some exact figures of what our good for nothing
      President -perhaps has done nothing good President - is paid to just
      make frequent trips overseas for no tangible benefits at the ADDITIONAL
      expense of the taxpayers.

      Since Nathan is over the civil service retirement age of 55, and having
      been a civil servant for his entire working life until being given a
      cushy job at SPH, he must be drawing additional pension IN ADDITION to
      his President salary.

      Boy this must be the best paid Head of State, other than a monarchy, in
      the Whole World by several times - President Bush as Head of State and
      Head of Government is paid a mere US$400,000, compared to Nathan's
      $2,373,100 which is equivalent to US$1,455,889 @ an exchange rate of
      US$1 == S$1.63, EXCLUDING his pension.

      Nathan's OUT OF THIS WORLD's salary should be seen in the context of
      Singapore's GDP of around US$95 Billion as against US GDP of around
      US$11 TRILLION, which is more than 115 TIMES larger than S'pore.

      Also China's President - who is both Head of State and Head of
      Government - starting salary is only S$265 per month or $3180 per year
      for running an economy with a GDP in purchasing power terms of nearly
      US$6 TRILLION, which is 63 TIMES Singapore's GDP and this would make
      Nathan being paid 47014 TIMES the Chinese President's salary on a per
      GDP basis.


      Jan 26, 2005

      House approves increase in President's salary

      PARLIAMENT approved an increase in the President's salary and other
      changes to the Civil List, which specifies his allowances and
      expenditure on the Istana and personal staff, for the fiscal year 2004.

      The salary will be revised to $2,373,100, an increase of $247,100 from
      the estimated fiscal year 2004 expenditure.

      As such, the total expenditure under Class 1 of the Civil List - which
      includes the President's salary, entertainment allowance and Acting
      President's allowance - will now be $2,492,700.

      Minister of State (Finance) Lim Hwee Hua, who outlined the changes, said

      the increase was 'in view of the restoration of the cuts in the
      President's salary and higher projected bonuses'.

      An increase in the expenditure under Class 2 of the list, which is for
      payment of staff salaries and other staff- related expenses, was also
      approved yesterday.

      The additional $48,800 here will go towards the 'higher than anticipated

      salary payments', resulting in a total of $2,425,100 being paid to
      Istana employees in fiscal year 2004, which runs from April 2004 to the
      end of March this year.

      Under Class 3 payments, which is for the maintenance of the Istana,
      vehicles, utilities and other supplies, $38,000 from the estimated
      figure has been shaved off due to savings on these items, bringing the
      expenditure on household expenses down to $903,600.

      The Class 4 expenditure, to do with the purchase of special services
      such as cars and office equipment, was raised by $15,500, bringing the
      total amount to $27,000.

      The additional funds are for the purchase of a computer server
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