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Written by Ng E-Jay
05 May 2014
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urgently needs to clarify his highly controversial remark that Singapore belongs to all those living here, including Permanent Residents (PRs) and work permit holders.
Mr Lee was reported to have made these comments at a grassroots event held on Saturday in celebration of the Indian New Year.
He was quoted by Zee News India as saying that “Singaporeans, new arrivals, people who are on permanent residence here, people who are on employment pass here, (are) all participating in one big Singapore family … So that we feel that this is a place which is special, which belongs to all of us and where we all celebrate one another’s festivals and happy events together.”
According to a Channel News Asia report, Mr Lee also added that “the event (Indian New Year celebration) was an embodiment of the theme (Rhythms in Unity), as well as on a larger scale where everyone participates as one big Singapore family.”
Netizens have reacted strongly to Mr Lee’s statements, which seem to have been interpreted in a highly negative fashion. Activist Roy Ngerng, who spoke at two labour day events held at Hong Lim Park over the weekend, say that Mr Lee’s remarks “gives a whole new meaning to ‘sell-out'”.
Goh Meng Seng SingaporeansFirst, who is also active on Facebook, said that he needed to cool himself down, lest he attract a lawsuit from the Prime Minister. He had earlier posted that “Our Dear Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has really outdone all other Prime Ministers in our history or even breaking the records of other world leaders in history by evoking so much anger from his own citizens by uttering only one stupid statement… and yes, I have never in my life heard or read any statements made by any political leaders, ancient Kings or Emperors who would say to foreigners — this land or country belongs to you too”.
However, others have also felt that PM Lee’s statement can mean something more positive, such as promoting equality of rights for all, for example, that everyone who lives in Singapore, regardless of citizenship, should have their rights respected, should be able to have a good life with dignity, should be able to navigate the space, and feel welcome.
Given the different interpretations and the angry reactions of many netizens, I urgently call upon PM Lee to clarify. Just what do you mean?