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[Singapore Dissident] Singapore. Letter from David D'Aranjo stating no thanks for Lee Kuan Yew award.

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    Ladies and Gentlemen, Following is a letter from David D Aranjo on what he thinks of Lee Kuan Yew s award to New York City. I think he is saying that if they
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 11, 2012
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      Ladies and Gentlemen,

      Following is a letter from David D'Aranjo on what he thinks of Lee Kuan Yew's award to New York City. I think he is saying that if they want to give that award, they should do it to Pyongyang, North Korea, Harare Zimbabwe or Havana Cuba. They deserve it more than New York city

      Best Regards
      Gopalan Nair
      Fremont, CA, USA



      Fwd: NYC is not LKY's "World City".
      TO: More recipientsCC: recipientsYou MoreBCC: recipientsYou
      Hide Details FROM:Dave D'aranjo Message flagged Thursday, March 22, 2012 2:09 AMA copy of my letter to Singapore's prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.



      Begin forwarded message:


      From: Dave D'aranjo

      Subject: NYC is not LKY's "World City".

      Date: March 22, 2012 5:04:06 AM EDT

      To: lee_hsien_loong@..., kishore.mahbubani@...

      Cc: PMO HQ , gavin_chelvan@..., gavin_shelvan@...



      Mr. Lee Hsien Loong.

      My name is Dave D'aranjo. I have written before.

      I am an ex-Singaporean. Your government threatened me with conscription, jail, and/or exile because I did not agree to so-called "universal" conscription. Your military determined that I must be mentally incompetent to hold these views. I renounced my citizenship and was compelled to move to the US, away from home, family, friends, etc.
      I was too naive to understand what was happening to me and my family at the time, but suffice to say it seemed earth-shattering.
      I will never forget your government's actions against me, and the damage your policies caused to my happiness and sense of home.
      I hold you and your father personally responsible - and I am not alone.

      When Singapore rejected me, I came to New York City.
      New York City offered me a home and acceptance for who I am and what I believe, as long as it meant peace.
      Thus I primarily consider myself a New Yorker - by choice and by circumstance.

      As a New Yorker, and I would like to tell you that you may pat Mayor Bloomberg on the back and think you both are friends, but the truth is that NYC needs an award from Singapore like a fish needs a bicycle.

      Especially an award named after Lee Kuan Yew.
      You and your government have no concept of individual liberty, which is - if anything - what NYC represents. The very spirit the of the city is individualistic. Yet your government demands conformity, and the penalties are harsh indeed.

      To quote Professor Kishore Mahbubani in the article "New York City gets Lee Kuan Yew prize":
      "So [for Singapore] to become the iconic city of the Asian century, we must learn to be more open, accept diversity and take full advantage of it - the way New York City did." - (TodayOnline.com, March 22, 2012)


      Why don't you take Professor Mahbubani's advice already? You are failing to perceive and act upon the progressively liberal opinions of Singapore's youth, who are increasingly exasperated and embarrassed about the PAP's authoritarian policies, reliance on "foreign talent", and international reputation. I once had a great love and hope for Singapore, which has (clearly) been decimated.

      You may say, "David, that's your view, and you are entitled to it". As an American citizen, I am certainly entitled to a dissenting view. It is a Constitutional right, and there are plenty of advocacy groups that strive for the peaceful reform of government over here. The US is far from perfect, but I am not particularly afraid to speak out. In the news, I witness both great tragedy and great success every day - initiated and effected by the people.

      Do Singaporeans really have the right to speak out if they so wish? If I remained a Singaporean, the public expression of these views would put me at risk of censure, detention without limit, jail, lawsuits for defamation that I couldn't hope to afford.... tactics you and your father have capitalized upon in the past with "great success".
      It is dirty politics and very much against the grassroots activism that New York City allows for. It is not in the spirit of transformation and 'accepting diversity'. If any American official followed your example, impeachment might not be far behind.

      For this reason, let me say that: as long as Singapore is a conservative, restrictive, uptight society that permits corporal punishment, capital punishment, conscription, censorship, and horrendous colonial laws under the false term "Asian Values" -- mark my words -- Singapore will never, ever, EVER in a million years reach the intellectual, historic, humanitarian, scientific and artistic depth that New York City has achieved. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak somewhat agrees (linked article).

      I am angered by your pompous gall at bestowing this made-up "Lee Kuan Yew World City" award to my adoptive home. By naming the award after Lee Kuan Yew, you have undermined the earnest intent of recognizing urban development. The award now reeks of nepotistic authoritarianism.

      There's an old expression in New York City -- commonly said; it rhymes with "duck you, you ducking duck".
      Let me be the first New Yorker to convey this expression to all involved.

      David D'aranjo



      On Nov 13, 2008, at 8:31 PM, Dave D'aranjo wrote:


      You've no doubt received my previous two emails.
      Answer the questions specifically.

      David

      On Nov 5, 2008, at 8:17 PM, MINDEF Special Duties wrote:



      Dear Mr David D’aranjo


      1. I refer to your email dated 31 Oct 2008.


      2. We had addressed your issues raised in our earlier replies dated 13 Oct 2008, 23 Oct 2008 and 29 Oct 2008, and will not be making further clarifications on this matter.



      Yours sincerely


      MS ELIZABETH TAN
      for PERMANENT SECRETARY
      MINISTRY OF DEFENCE


      Dave D'aranjo
      10/31/2008 05:21 PM

      To
      MINDEF Special Duties/MINDEF/SINGOV@SINGOV, PMO Hsien Loong LEE/PMO/SINGOV@SINGOV
      cc
      Chin Woei SHA/PMO/SINGOV@SINGOV, PMO HQ/PMO/SINGOV@SINGOV
      Subject
      Re: NS is not for everybody.



      Hi Elizabeth,

      I beg to differ - you have not addressed the issues raised, and I am increasingly alarmed that an organization that demands so much is unable to legibly and specifically defend it's own existence.

      This is as succinct as I can possibly make my three questions.
      Please answer them directly:

      1. What options do you offer those that refuse to engage in the activities of the military or police? Please outline what penalties or alternatives are involved.

      2. Why was I put through emotional and bureaucratic hell, with no viable alternative path, simply because I objected to joining your military? Is there no other currency of patriotism you accept?

      3. Will you reinstate citizenship to those who you have forcibly exiled, and offer them an apology for their grief and for claiming to be a "democratic society based on justice and equality"?


      I'm asking for three answers, and a couple moments of your time towards a personalized reply.
      You ask - no, demand - three years of a young man's life, evidently "no questions asked".

      I demand answers as to why I was made to feel like a traitor in a homeland that I otherwise love dearly, simply because I do not believe in participating in the military or police apparatus.

      If this were a question of forced religious conscription - vital to "moral" security and defense of a nation - I suspect we'd agree on that scenario's unfair and backwards nature.

      I just ask that you be specific; I will not be making further concessions on this matter.

      David D'aranjo


      On Oct 29, 2008, at 6:25 AM, MINDEF Special Duties wrote:

      Dear Mr David D’aranjo

      1. I refer to your email dated 23 Oct 2008.

      2. As explained in our earlier replies dated 13 Oct 2008 and 23 Oct 2008, National Service (NS) is a key institution that is vital to the security and defence of Singapore. All male Singaporeans are required to serve NS. We had addressed your issues raised in our earlier replies and will not be making further clarifications on this matter.


      Yours sincerely


      MS ELIZABETH TAN
      for PERMANENT SECRETARY
      MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
      Dave D'aranjo
      10/23/2008 07:09 PM


      To
      MINDEF Special Duties/MINDEF/SINGOV@SINGOV, PMO HQ/PMO/SINGOV@SINGOV
      cc
      Chin Woei SHA/PMO/SINGOV@SINGOV
      Subject
      Re: NS is not for everybody.




      Elizabeth,

      Once again, you dodge the essence of my specific questions, and return with bureaucratic platitudes. The policy is plain and you've repeated it to me twice.
      But simply repeating what you've been told to say does not address the larger issues I am seeking answers on.
      As a representative of an organization that demands 3 years of a young man's life (2 years of service, plus, to be fair, 6 months on either end for transition period), the least you can do is provide an in-depth, specific reply. Otherwise, I am forced to assume that you only know the letter of the law, not the substance.
      Thus you miss an opportunity to convince a skeptic. If that is your intention, it reinforces several of my assertions - in particular, that NS damages the intellectual curiosity of young Singaporeans. Further that, by aggressively curtailing the pursuit of independent thought, the government feels no continued need to positively engage those that disagree.

      So I once again request precise answers to my pointed questions (I've rephrased them in light of your last reply):
      1. What options do you offer those that refuse to engage in the activities of the military or police? Please outline what penalties are involved, and know that depending on their severity, they may be in violation of the aforementioned "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" by the United Nations, of which Singapore is a member. I would like you to relay MINDEF's official stance on this. Perhaps there is an acceptable compromise I'm not aware of.

      2. Why was I put through emotional and bureaucratic hell, with no viable alternative path, simply because I objected to joining your military?
      Is there no other currency of patriotism you accept?

      3. Will you reinstate citizenship to those who you have forcibly exiled, and offer them an apology for their grief and for claiming to be a "democratic society based on justice and equality"?
      (To clarify the word exile: To choose between NS and jail is no just choice at all for some people, therefore, this organization forces these folks to 'escape', and then dares to paint them as "cowardly".)

      Here is an interesting, somewhat recent article addressing Singapore's "brain-drain". No mention of conscription's impact, but this is as expected from the Straits Times:
      http://www.straitstimes.com/Free/Story/STIStory_206290.html

      Elizabeth, I am one of those "capable people".

      Regards,
      David


      On Oct 23, 2008, at 5:26 AM, MINDEF Special Duties wrote:


      Dear Mr David D’aranjo

      1. I refer to your email dated 14 Oct 2008.


      2. We note your feedback on Singapore's policy on National Service (NS). As explained previously, NS is a key institution that is vital to the security and defence of Singapore. Male Singaporeans are therefore deployed to serve their NS only in the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Police Force, or the Singapore Civil Defence Force, where they can contribute directly to the security and defence of Singapore.


      3. We thank you for your feedback.


      Yours sincerely


      MS ELIZABETH TAN
      for PERMANENT SECRETARY
      MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

      Dave D'aranjo
      10/14/2008 10:20 AM


      To
      MINDEF Special Duties/MINDEF/SINGOV@SINGOV
      cc
      Chin Woei SHA/PMO/SINGOV@SINGOV
      Subject
      Re: NS is not for everybody.





      Elizabeth,

      Thanks for your reply, though I am inclined to believe that it is a form reply letter, since some of my specific questions remain unanswered.

      You've explained the government's rationale behind "universal" conscription, and yet you fail to realize that the very existence of compulsory enlistment "allow(s) invidious... comparisons to be drawn", namely towards the increasing pool of foreigners who spent those two years establishing their education and career, and have come to Singapore to "enjoy the fruits of Singapore's economic success" (source). Additionally, there is overwhelming evidence that major opportunities in education and employment for Singapore's young men have continually been quashed by this National Service obligation.
      The social consequences are already far-reaching, as evidenced by Singapore's relatively high emigration rate, and in how the international community views Singapore on the topic of human rights.
      It is no coincidence that this emigration rate only dipped in 2004, when NS laws were slightly relaxed.

      As a representative of MINDEF, and with Singapore being a member of the United Nations, you should be aware that National Service violates several portions of the United Nations "Universal Declaration of Human Rights":

      Article 20 (2): No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
      Article 4: No one shall be held in... servitude.
      Article 13 (1): Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
      Article 8: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary.... detention or exile.

      Etcetera, and be sure to read Article 30 before your reply.

      I've already stated my case for why a volunteer system that places emphasis on educational incentives would be better for Singapore in the long-term. And you can read into this argument further at the source I linked to above:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Service_in_Singapore#Humanitarian_efforts

      Let me broaden this by saying that my personal resentment would not be so strong if 1) the compulsory time period were kept under 1 year, so as not to so greatly interfere with the more practical pursuit of preparing for financial independence, and if 2) the definition of National Service were expanded to include services beyond the government's military and police apparatus.

      An army of motivated, properly paid volunteer professionals can defend Singapore excellently. If subsidized university education becomes part of the package, there would still be a very high number of recruits, and furthermore, their skills and total knowledge would be of much more value to the nation. Military service would be an obvious choice for Singapore's best minds, rather than a forced endeavor that stymieds intellectual development.

      To close, I have three specific questions:
      1. What options do you offer for those that refuse to engage in the activities of the military or police? Beyond Civil Defense - is there no "Civic Defense"?
      2. Why was I put through emotional and bureaucratic hell, with no viable alternative path, simply because I objected to joining your military? Is there no other currency of patriotism you accept?
      3. Will you reinstate citizenship to those who you have forcibly exiled, and offer them an apology for their grief and for claiming to be a "democratic society based on justice and equality"?

      David D'aranjo

      On Oct 13, 2008, at 3:58 AM, MINDEF Special Duties wrote:


      Dear Mr David D’aranjo

      1. I refer to your email addressed to the Prime Minister's Office regarding National Service (NS) in Singapore.


      2. NS is a key institution that is vital to the security and defence of Singapore. With Singapore's inherent resource constraints and vulnerabilities, universal conscription is absolutely critical for our national security. For this reason, all male Singaporeans are required to serve their NS in the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Police Force, or the Singapore Civil Defence Force, where they contribute directly to the security and defence of Singapore.

      3. Conscientious objection to military service compromises the universality of NS, thereby undermining Singapore's security. Any concession to particular persons or groups would weaken the principles of universality and equality, the credibility of the NS institution itself, as well as allow invidious and unproductive comparisons to be drawn. These would have far-reaching security and social consequences.

      4. A small country like Singapore must have its citizens ready and prepared to defend the country. There remains a high level of support for universal conscription among Singaporeans. The Government will strenuously uphold the NS system, and preserve its fairness and equity. This is essential to maintain the commitment that Singaporeans have shown over four decades of NS.


      Yours sincerely


      MS ELIZABETH TAN
      for PERMANENT SECRETARY
      MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

      ----- Forwarded by MINDEF Special Duties/MINDEF/SINGOV on 10/13/2008 03:20 PM -----
      MINDEF Special Duties/MINDEF/SINGOV
      09/30/2008 05:25 PM


      To
      daranjo@...
      cc
      Subject
      Fw: NS is not for everybody.






      Dear Mr David D'aranjo

      MINDEF has received your email addressed to the Prime Minister's Office. We will look into the matter and reply to you as soon as possible.

      Yours sincerely



      MS ELIZABETH TAN
      for PERMANENT SECRETARY
      MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
      "Dave D'aranjo"
      21 Sep, 2008 06:29 PM


      To
      PMO HQ/PMO/SINGOV@SINGOV
      cc
      Subject
      NS is not for everybody.







      I am a 24 year old half-Singaporean and half-American. Citizenship-wise, I have renounced my Singaporean citizenship to avoid National Service.
      I am a conscientious objector to compulsory enrollment in a military force. I abhor the thought of it for my own reasons. This alternative mindset, however, came with a terrible price: for years I was told that I would be arrested if I stepped foot on Singaporean soil. In effect, this bureaucratic nightmare threatened to cut me off from half of my beloved family. Within the family, our ties have been strained. I have been labelled a whole number of vicious adjectives by others because I disagree with military service. And this obviously has had a sad effect on my identity and concept of "home" - to the effect that for many years, I held on to an infection of hatred for Singapore that I still today cannot truly rationalize.

      My first question is, why was I put through emotional and bureaucratic hell, with no viable alternative path, simply because I objected to joining your military? (Your stance is: join our military, or face jail / excommunication). Is it right for a "democratic society, based on justice and equality" to abuse those that disagree, whether it be for moral or religious reasons? (As I understand it, to be a Jehovah's Witness - which I am not - is illegal in Singapore solely for National Service reasons.)

      Secondly - as Singapore embraces more and more foreign interests, and more children of mixed-citizenship come of age, how do you expect to demand that all the males, who similarly come from a background where they can see the benefits of a swift university education and have been exposed to foreign cultures, forfeit 2 years of their life? Will you similarly threaten to destroy their sense of place in a society that calls itself compassionate? You also clearly state that dual-nationality is illegal, but "graciously allow" the party to choose either nationality "after they have completed 2 years of NS". How can you justify holding people hostage in this manner in the 21st century?

      Here is a scenario that makes more sense to me. End conscription: a volunteer army is one of higher and more honest morale. Turn your enormous resources towards making the military an obvious career choice for all Singaporeans, male and female, by concurrently offering a worldly education as part of the package. Offer would-be enlistees the opportunity to have an international university education, partially subsidized by the government, in return for a subsequent career stint in the military or civil service. Give them incentive to get smart overseas, and return home with their skills.

      The benefits of such a system would have a tremendous positive effect on Singaporean society, akin to the social stability of, for instance, Norway. Rather than "buying-in" foreign interests to cover for the lack of knowledge in Singapore's insular society, you would be creating a generation of world-minded scholars to bring the best of the world home - i.e. less dependence or foreign talent. And with that, Singapore's international prestige would rise accordingly, too.

      Singapore is a comfortable place to live, but today it also has low birthrates and high emigration. I posit that allowing people more freedom of movement and expression would make people more keen to return to Singapore for the obvious benefits, without making them feel stifled in an intellectual bubble increasingly run economically by foreigners.

      Even though I have renounced citizenship, I still consider Singapore my homeland and hope that someday there will again be a place for me there. To be a true "democratic society", Singapore must embrace those young men that would not serve in the military - and offer them compassionate options to ensure they do not leave bitter and without a sense of place.

      Please reply immediately to justify your position.

      David D'aranjo






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