5 years may be all it takes to SAVE Singapore

Written by Ng E-Jay
26 June 2008

Once again, MM Lee Kuan Yew has unleashed his old, tired brand of propaganda. He told around 650 participants of a dinner forum at the Shangri-La Hotel on Wednesday that one freak election result is all it will take to wipe out Singapore’s success. This is an old refrain that he has used repeatedly before.

MM Lee warned that a freak result could happen if voters became bored and decided to give the “vociferous opposition” a chance — out of “light-heartedness, fickleness or sheer madness”.

I find it quite amazing that MM Lee would acknowledge the existence of a “vociferous” opposition when PAP’s Organizing Secretary (Special Duties) Dr Ng Eng Han had lashed out at the Worker’s Party in the latest edition of Petir (PAP’s official magazine) for being silent on important issues.

Perhaps MM Lee was referring to parties like the SDP. I shall refrain from speculating further.

But to be very sure, MM Lee is not pulling his punches on this one. He has castigated opposition supporters as people who vote out of “light-heartedness, fickleness, or sheer madness”.

This is a very serious charge in a supposedly democratic country, or a country is touted by the authorities to be democratic. Is MM Lee suggesting that only PAP supporters are sane, rational people?

MM Lee also said, “In five years, you can ruin this place and it’s very difficult to pick up the pieces.” So he clearly is advancing the opinion that opposition parties are incompetent parties that would wreck havoc if they came into power.

But wasn’t PAP playing the role of an opposition party too before it came into power in 1959?

I don’t see how MM Lee’s brand of self-serving logic that does not extend beyond the tip of his nose could possibly make sense to the majority of thinking voters out there.

Many of my readers should already know that MM Lee is merely engaging in bland and worn out scare tactics in expressing the danger that voters plumping for more opposition MPs might end up with an unintended change of government. So I will not belabour the point, but will only state unequivocally that given the current state of affairs in Singapore, an opposition party might well run the place better than the PAP.

After all, wasn’t the PAP itself an untested party before its electoral victory in 1959?

MM Lee also said, “When you’re Singapore and your existence depends on performance — extraordinary performance, better than your competitors — when that performance disappears because the system on which it’s been based becomes eroded, then you’ve lost everything.”

What extraordinary performance is he referring to? Escape by Mas Selamat Kastari and the multitude of serious security lapses committed by the MHA?

MM Lee could not have been referring to the fact that octogenarians are collecting drink cans from hawker centres just to make a meager living while foreigners are taking jobs meant for Singaporeans, or that fact that schemes like CPF Life have to be implemented because after 43 years of independence, the CPF system has failed to secure Singaporeans a decent retirement, despite that fact that Singapore is touted as an Asian economic miracle.

To top the icing on the cake, MM Lee also said that the problem with popular democracy is that during elections, candidates are not judged on how well they can govern, but on their persuasive power.

But surely a political party that is not yet the ruling party would not have had the chance to showcase its ability to govern and perform administrative functions. How will they convince the electorate to vote for them, except through persuasion and debate? Wasn’t that how the PAP itself came into power in 1959?

Going by MM Lee’s argument, the incumbent party should be permanently locked in. What then would happen if one day, the incumbent became corrupt or incompetent? How would the electorate vote them out, if they were expected to judge parties based on their administrative competence, something which no opposition party would have had a chance to display?

MM Lee said that the elements a country needs to have in order to succeed are a government that the people have confidence in and trust, as well as able leaders who are aboveboard.

Sadly, we are having less and less of those.

MM Lee said that 5 years is all it takes to ruin Singapore, if an unexpected change of government occurs.

I say that 5 years of political plurality might be all it takes to put Singapore back on the right track.

  1. As i’ve always believed, we need to strengthen the state of the opposition. It’s too fragmented, almost leaderless and supporters of the opposition seem to be at loggerheads with each other, often resulting in name calling etc. We need this to stop really, it’s degenerating into a farce.

    Next thing we need for LKY is to stop with this rhetoric, yes, it’s old news and old knowledge, it’s like Glasgow Celtic/Rangers telling the rest of the teams in the Scottish League that they suck and that they can never win the Scottish League. And yes, the PAP was untested in 1959 and they had to use this so called “persuasion” to win power in 59 and keep themselves from being kicked out in 1963. Seems to me he’s changed way too much, from a guy who’d campaign for the Brits back in his Uni Days and speak so passionately about democracy, to this watered-down version of his democracy, and his rejection of the “Western style of Democracy” which was how he came to power in the first place. The irony in his statement is that the PAP lifts untested schoolboys to positions of power. Untested people, who have scored excellent GPAs and sit on the boards of Government linked corporations, not knowing how real leadership is because they’ve never, ever started from the bottom up, they’ve always started from the top and nowhere else.

    And come on, when he was Prime Minister did he have a textbook (like what he’s trying to compile right now) on how to successfully run a country? No! In fact, he didn’t come up with most of these groundbreaking ideas that have “shaped” Singapore into a supposedly First World Nation; he took the ideas from the most successful emerging economic power at that time: Japan. And now, today, they’re still looking for original ideas from the Japanese. Name me Singapore made ideas that the Japanese have implemented, i think you won’t be surprised that we will find almost none. He took the idea of National Service from Israel. Everything that made us what we are today, was more or less copied, borrowed, and it sure would be the easiest thing for an “Untested” Prime Minister to do so. No brainer.

    I think the opposition should give itself 5 years to start getting their act together, to start building something instead of just leaving the charge to mere words which won’t work with all the people here. They have certain advantages that the PAP do not have as an incumbent party, for example, we can build support with the grassroots at the bottom, not from the top like what the PAP does. And we do have fresh, original ideas i’ve heard from Opposition Leaders & Supporters. And i do say we do need to reverse a ton of PAP policies to make this country find its heart and soul again. Sure, our opposition may miss out on scoring in the next election but it’ll be essential to have a strong base and effective machinery for each and every elections. Take it 5 years at a time, to slowly knock that stuffing out of the minds of the increasingly weak PAP leadership.

  2. My comments (as a 60-year old educated/thinking S’porean):

    1 Best Political Joke Ever:
    MM Lee (ST 26.6.08) on what a country needs to succeed:
    Leaders who are above board, who make decisions based on necessity, not how they will personally benefit.
    Singaporeans know they have such leaders because over the years “we have not got richer, Singapore has”.

    What about those politicians who bulldozed through Parliament and arm-twisted the People to pay themselves world-infamous obscenely-humongous million-dollar salaries ???
    [The Economist magazine had confirmed that our $3.8m PM Lee Hsien Loong is the world’s highest paid politician]

    2 What Will Ultimately Cause Singapore’s Downfall:

    2.1 PAP’s world-reknown political mindset:
    WE know all. WE know best. WE are always right.
    WHO are you who dare to question (much less criticise) us?

    2.2 Simple Political Equation:

    (a) Politics of Fear (never-ending defamation suits) = yes-man citizens

    (b) Politics of Control (over Press/TV Media) = yes-man journalists

    (c) Pampering of Top Civil Servants (given high pay but allowed to shirk responsibility and accountability) = yes-man bureaucrats

    (a) + (b) + (c) = “Singapore will sink into nothingness and our women will become maids” (in MM Lee’s own words!)

  3. “I don’t see how MM Lee’s brand of self-serving logic that does not extend beyond the tip of his nose could possibly make sense to the majority of thinking voters out there.”

    Sad to say that majority of the voters do not think…

  4. LKY is a cunning salesman who has been selling his snakeoil for the past 40 years. First, he used the British as the bogeyman and so got the populace to dislodge them. Then he used the communists and he succeeded in suppressing and eliminating his rivals by labeling them pro-communists and won hands down all succeeding elections. Next, we were in Malaysia and he used the communalists as bogeymen, but the Tungku was smarter than he was, and so he got kicked out instead, which also landed us cold frightened and hungry all alone in the world. Then on, he used the foreign investors and investments as bogeys to threaten and intimidate the people to vote PAP at every general election. Again, he succeeded. Let’s tell him enough is enough. We know all his dirty Harry tricks! Listen to him when he was in the Opposition bench in 1955 and listen to him now. As articulate and as eloquent as he was about rights and freedom then, he would discredit these as it suited him.

  5. Well, from my view of what MM Lee said about Singapore will be ruin by opposition party; well I think by now and at the current Singaporean mindset, we don;t think so.

    Before the PAP took Governance, it is similarily the same isn’t it. One has to get that chance to prove their ability and not assuming that one will not be capable. Well, what we know is that they are just not wanting outsiders to share the pot of rice.

    To be fair, the Government these days are just over doing many issues; e.g. increase of GST, Fuel, transports and etc. many of the citizens are crying out for help but normally it will not be answered. The Government forget one thing for sure. They are working for the citizen and not the citizen working for them.

    A very good example; the Government invested billions of dollars to many countries and currently banks (not to mention which banks). They know that they are loosing money, but, what was the excuse? Well, the bank are in trouble and they needed our help (from the Government). Now, if the citizens said we are in trouble and needed help what is their responses? Well, they will say “You cannot depend on the Government to provide welfare”. Hahaha! Well said, and that’s the kind of Government we are looking for. Constantly wants us to work out heart out and they keep increasing GST and others.

    The beauty part is Mr. Lim Swee Say (if not wrong) said that they are not making oney from ERP. Are they trying to say we do not know simple maths?

    I must say the new Government is loosing their edge and likely votes for the next election for sure. The people are not stupid these days and is able to judge from time to time. What that is not fair in the voting or election system is one opposition party against the gang of PAP. They will link here and there and the whole GRC will whip the opposition like small boy. The people are yet to see the Government have a fair challenge one-on-one election for their so-call new breed of capable ministers against the opposition party.

    Last but not least, for the poor too bad; we have to stay put and follow the rules. If those who have skills, tones of money will not be around living here.

    MM Lee should advise his people to wake up and think for the people and not for their party.

  6. “To top the icing on the cake, MM Lee also said that the problem with popular democracy is that during elections, candidates are not judged on how well they can govern, but on their persuasive power.”
    Who can resist the persuasive power of money cold hard cash that progress packing brings.
    Not to mention the persuasive power of total control over the providing funds(need quotation) that are used to bail out troubled banks that are facing closure.
    Face it the persuasive power of the second is enough for the older folks to wince and make the “logical” choice.
    AS the “as propagated WRONG choice” will wipe out their entire effort to lead a life when they retire. And the imported scammer are not helping.
    “The veiled trap that hasten the Flight of angels(note:can also be any mythical being) from the purgatory.” yet one must hope those who left are touched by the obstinate and stubborn parents and children actions and voices to want to return and help when the threat is passed.
    Yet these are only words, But individual word when place together gathers momentum and become sentence and sentences become paragraph.And those paragraphs when spoken become Speeches.
    It’s only when we see thinly veiled coercions that we are not amused.
    Lady luck is a fickle mistress when she loves you you are on top of the world. And when she is bored, Better hope that the goodwill generated through compassion? and warmth? when she is with you can help.

  7. Well written.

    First and foremost the question on my mind is to whom is his intended audience is [mind you, one can be physically present, but when I speak, I may not be talking ‘to’ you] – western seasoned politicians, or entry level newbies from developing countries, or is it largely people from that continent that are still fighting among themselves, chopping off ears and limbs, practising FGMs etc.
    If he is then we can safely conclude, yea usually people of advanced age many a times sing out of tune or don’t have new song repertoire.

  8. Ya correct MM Lee, you are right. I am really bored to death. I want to see more opposition MPs in parliament, people like Chia TL, E jay, Leong See Hian and many more who dare to speak up will have my vote and my friends, family’s vote . Spore needs alternative voice.

  9. CSJ as PM. in his current state, that will be in his second life time.

    i’m not sure how much better the other oppos will do.

    Not that the PAP is that great

  10. The younger post-65 generation probably wont know /remember that in 1955 to 1959, LKY was the lone PAP Opposition member in the Legislative Assembly. So what’s wrong with being in a minority for starters? Everybody starts somewhere! Give our Opposition a chance! You people have to do that!

  11. Sad to say majority of Singaporeans are easily frightened, cannot think and see beyond their noses. So no doubt the PAP will still be in power for at least another 10 years.

  12. Singaporeans lack the courage and will to change their fate. They will always be looked down by other asians even if they do well economically and how world class they may think of themselves.

    This is a simple truth. Some singaporeans know it too. So, they try to talk big and act big. But, they are cowards when it comes to their own destiny.

    Sad nation, sad people.

  13. When any Tom, Dick or Harry keeps crying “WOLF” once too many, nobody will heed his call when the real thing really happens.

    This OLD FOX who wears white wool clothing does not realise he is crying “WOLF” once too many.

    The music is stale. It is not more music to the ears. Same wine in new bottle. Will it still command the same persuasive power as it used to be?

    May be yes for those who goes for the “Regress Package” and for those who are intellectually challenged. BUT The funny thing is that those who are well and highly educated may also fall for the same trick eventually when the vote is cast!

    There is a Chinese (Hokkien) saying: “When a dog has once eaten poo/shit, it will continue to do so.”

  14. Well hw about this, they talked about how much they want Singapore to become a global city, but now it has become more like “CHINA CITY” than global city! Being global city means attracting all types of nations, but look at how the govt is relaxing the rules more to the chinese national! By attracting more people from developing countries like China is already eroding our society..Just look at their behavior on the MRT and buses and some public places(like toilets), and yet alot of Singaporeans are just presuming the ungraceful social behaviors are from the average Singaporeans. Nowadays its very hard to tell the difference between Singaporeans and China Nationals. Some of them do dress like us, and its vy hard to tell the difference not unless they open their “mouths”. Anyone can be a Singaporean, because it’s a nationality, not a race. It’s pretty difficult to tell whos and whos anymore because there is no sign on their foreheads that says “I am Singaporean”. I personally have mistaken a few times some people I came across were Singaporeans till they open their mouth and talk, and it’s only through the acccents that we can tell. Quite a few times the bad experiences I encountered thought were from by Singaporeans but they are in fact from the China Nationals. Majority Singaporeans tend to think that if any body they encountered or things they saw are for sure done by Singaporeans; Do they not realise that almost half of the population on the street are foreigners, and mostly china nationals? They are the one who give us the bad name of being ungracious, rude, or kiasu in the country, not Singaporeans!

  15. Sound familiar. Such rhetoric appeared usually before a General Election. This time around, the Super Salesman chose to repeat the rhetoric in time of world financial uncertainties to play on the “fear of losses” (“Kiasuness”) of average Singaporeans. A simple question to ask now is after 40 years of unbroken PAP rule, is the average Singaporean worst off or better off today? Singaporeans may not yet want a change of government but at least they must help vote in more opposition in Parliament to provide a strong check and balance. I think this is in the mind of many average Singaporeans.