MM Lee’s interview with The New York Times

Dear MM Lee,

I refer to your interview with The New York Times as reported by Today on 13 Sept 2010.

The so-called enormous edifice we have today was built by Singaporeans, not any one man. So you can go with no regrets knowing that Singaporeans will continue to build on this edifice as they have been doing so since 1819. Also, don’t worry about second chances too. If Singapore can bounce back so strongly after the Japanese occupation, it can bounce back again if necessary.

While your concern for racial politics is understandable, do not forget that David Marshall, Devan Nair and JB Jeyaratnam were minority candidates voted in by the majority long before HDB’s racial integration rules were entrenched.

While English has given us progress by connecting us to the world, Cantonese, Korean and Mandarin have similarly given progress to Hong Kong, Korea and Taiwan respectively. China’s progress for the last twenty years comes without a strong English connection.

The life that we are enjoying today started with Sir Stamford Raffles. Without him there would have been no Singapore. For nearly 150 years since the time of our founding, the hard work and enterprise of Singaporeans from all walks of life helped lay the strong foundation upon which modern Singapore would eventually rise. But the catalyst that would propel Singapore forward came from a winning formula by Dr Albert Winsemius without whom there would have been no modern Singapore.

It might relieve you to know that the communists and killer squads you supposedly fought were in Malaya. How you fought them when they were in Malaya while you were in Singapore is a mystery. Singaporeans would have had a true hero had you used your guts and gumption to fight the Japanese like Lim Bo Seng and Lt Adnan instead of just working for them.

There is not an ounce of doubt that you and the PAP are absolutely incorruptible. You are paid more than what Chen Shui Bian could stash away over eight years. If you asked Chen Shui Bian to choose between million dollar salaries in Singapore versus million dollar corruption in Taiwan, he would probably have chosen Singapore.

If a journalist makes a factual report of political dynasties across Asia, why should he get sued? Is it a statement of fact or an allegation of nepotism that the prime ministership which you started is now passed on to your son?

How can you say that locking innocent people up for decades and robbing them of the most fruitful years of their lives is honourable? You once said: “Until 1962, Singapore had endless strikes. By 1969, there were none. In seven years, industrial relations had been transformed profoundly”. In other words, the leftist movement had been largely extinguished by 1969. Why then did you continue to lock up Dr Lim Hock Siew and Chia Thye Poh until 1982 and 1998 respectively? Can you say that Dr Lim was playing on Chinese language and culture when he is essentially English educated?

There is no truth to the saying that the leftist movement in Singapore were killer squads who believed in one bullet, one vote. Show me one single bullet fired by the leftists in Singapore. If you are telling me that a bullet fired in Malaya means a bullet fired in Singapore, then you might as well show me all the bullets fired in Vietnam, China, Russia and Cuba.

There was at that time a lot of controversy with your keeping down the Chinese language. There is no end to debate on the purpose that it served. But there is one tangible outcome that came out of it. The breaking of the Chinese language also meant the breaking of the power of the Chinese speaking masses, a turn of event that would benefit English speaking leaders like yourself immensely whether or not it was intended to be that way.


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