This is my response to Mr Syu Ying Kwok’s letter to the Straits Times Forum page published on 08 July 2008 (print edition).
In the letter entitled “Five years? MM Lee’s estimate was optimistic”, Mr Syu argues that with modern telecommunications and banking infrastructure which allows trillions of dollars to be transferred out of Singapore in an instant if the current leaders and their policies change overnight, Singapore’s success might be undone within “within weeks”.
He says emphatically that “it is naive to assume that all human beings can be trusted to do the right thing, and that we should appeal to the public by their conscience and sense of fairness.”
But isn’t this precisely the reason why we need a strong, credible Opposition to check on the Government in Parliament, or even a Opposition that is ready to form the next Government should the current one become corrupt and/or complacent?
Mr Syu has acknowledged implicitly that it is naive to assume human beings can be trusted 100% of the time. The same goes for the Government as a whole. That is why checks and balances are so necessary, and that is why a strong Opposition presence in Parliament is needed, an Opposition that is capable of taking over the reigns of power should the incumbent become manifestly unfit for office.
The one paragraph in Mr Syu’s letter that truly startled and shocked me was the paragraph on NSP member Mr Tan Lead Shake.
Mr Syu said, “Recently, opposition politician Tan Lead Shake made headlines after a tragic event in his family. But what chills the bones is the fact that in the past three elections, an average of more than 20 per cent of the electorate voted for him or anyone else who stood for election with little consideration of his credentials or abilities.”
I find Mr Syu’s remarks disgusting and repulsive.
Mr Tan Lead Shake is going through an extremely emotional time with the loss of his brother. It is a personal crisis, not a political one. Why is there a need to unceremoniously drag out this family crisis and relate it to Mr Tan’s political history? How in the world are these two even remotely related? Why is there a need to mention Mr Tan’s family crisis in connection with his credentials and his supposed poor showing at the polls?
Even if Mr Tan had performed poorly at the polls, it is unjustified of Mr Syu to accuse him of having poor credentials or abilities. That is for each individual voter to decide, not for Mr Syu to speak on behalf of the electorate.
Mr Syu’s letter is attached below.
Five years? MM Lee’s estimate was optimistic
Syu Ying Kwok
WITH reference to last Friday’s column, ‘Welcome to scary Singapore, land of four million smiles’, I could not help but disagree with Ms Lynn Lee.
It is naive to assume that all human beings can be trusted to do the right thing, and that we should appeal to the public by their conscience and sense of fairness. While it is ideal to strive towards a kinder and gentler society, Singaporeans must be made to realise the world is actually very brutal.
Why is Singapore schizophrenic? To me, it is both a modern-day wonder and an insane attempt to push the boundary of human sociology, political science and human ingenuity.
With a population of 4.6 million and no natural resources, Singapore is like a 3,000m-tall giant inverted pyramid balancing precariously on a ridiculously small footprint of less than 700 sq km. To further create instability and complexity, the population is a mixture of races, religions and cultures due to its historical immigrant origins.
In some ways, Singapore’s few short decades of peace may bring hope to a millennium of violence in Jerusalem.
On the contrary, I feel Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is very optimistic when he said recently that Singapore can be unscrambled in just five years.
With modern telecommunications and banking infrastructure, trillions of dollars can be transferred out of Singapore in an instant if the current leaders and their policies change overnight.
Singapore’s economy can become an empty shell within weeks. The grim reality is that global financial investors would have no qualms in rendering us incapacitated in this fiercely competitive world.
In many ways, Singapore is a failure due to its own success. Thanks to its ability to provide housing, work opportunities and good economic growth year after year in a First World environment, it is no wonder that most Singaporeans, especially those born after 1965, have bred a false sense of security, thinking modern Singapore is a creation by mother nature.
Recently, opposition politician Tan Lead Shake made headlines after a tragic event in his family. But what chills the bones is the fact that in the past three elections, an average of more than 20 per cent of the electorate voted for him or anyone else who stood for election with little consideration of his credentials or abilities.
Will Singapore last as long as the 3,000-year-old Great Pyramids of Giza? Very unlikely, when civilisations in history last an average of less than 500 years.
But the real answer lies not just in our children but in the choice we make now to ensure a better future for them now.
Syu Ying Kwok