Commentary on PM Lee’s parliamentary speech

I refer to the 9 Feb 2013 Straits Times report of PM Lee’s parliament speech [1].

PM Lee need not strive to bring us peace and happiness. We would be immensely grateful if he doesn’t mess things up more than he already has. He shouldn’t deceive himself into thinking that his policies make every generation do well when it is obvious that skyrocketing property and car prices can only mean that each subsequent generation will get worse, not better.

The White Paper is not an affirmation of faith in Singapore’s future but an affirmation of the PAP’s power to do as it pleases regardless of how much the people disagrees. It is an affirmation that Singapore is not a democracy but a regime at the mercy of one party’s whims and fancy.

How do we trust someone who admits that he doesn’t have 20/20 vision to make the right population policies? The disaster of PAP’s early population control policies makes it clear to us never again to place our faith in the PAP to make population policies. In their rush to address long term problems, are they not creating more long term problems instead?

Who we are is not as complicated as PM Lee makes it out to be. We are Malay, Chinese, Indian and Eurasians or at least that was what we used to be. We never needed to have all sorts of people, but PAP changed that. Zurich, Tokyo and Hong Kong are important financial centres like New York and London. There was never a need for Zurich, Tokyo or Hong Kong to go for broke to become more open and vibrant, I wonder why Singapore has to be different. Why do we have to struggle so hard to overtake New York and London? Why can’t we just be contented to be like Zurich, Tokyo or Hong Kong? Why must we be No. 1 in everything even when it hurts?

No one is saying that economics is unimportant. But just because the PAP can’t grow the quality of our economy doesn’t mean we therefore grow our economy by quantity. No one is saying growth is unimportant. But force feeding a chicken to make it grow faster is not the way to grow Singapore. No one is saying improving incomes is unimportant. But what is the point of improving the price of cars and houses much more than improving incomes? In the end, affordability decreases, quality of life decreases. Unless we implement minimum wage, low income Singaporeans will always have their wages depressed by the flood of foreign workers imported. In the end, increasing wages for low income earners remains lip service. Experience shows that the real wage of low income earners have stagnated despite claims otherwise. Low wage is not as big a problem in many European countries because they have minimum wages, more effective unions and shorter working hours too.

The founding generation was the one in 1819, not 1965. The distinctive Singaporean identity was forged over time since 1819, not since 1965. The Singaporean of 1965 was only incrementally different from the Singaporean of 1964. There was no big bang change in our habits, customs, speech and way of life going from 1964 to 1965.

If as PM Lee says, we should have a big heart in welcoming new immigrants, then shouldn’t we have welcomed the Rohingya refugees also? Somehow, PM Lee’s concept of big heartedness is confined only to welcoming professionals, not refugees. That’s not big heartedness.

PM Lee’s speech suggests that we will go ahead to bring in the numbers while continuing to talk about associated problems. In other words, we can talk all we want and he will do just the same.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew may have vowed to make Singapore a metropolis 10 years from Separation in 1965. But LKY had already acknowledged in an Aug 1967 speech to American businessmen in Chicago that we were already a metropolis [2]. Singapore couldn’t have achieved metropolis status in just two years. In other words, Singapore was already a metropolis or nearly so back in 1965 so LKY was merely vowing to make Singapore into what it already was.

Having built a nation together doesn’t mean we therefore have no fear. We must fear that the policies we make may end up destroying the nation we have built.

[1] Straits Times, 9 Feb 2013, The right policies to ensure success

[2] Peter Wilson / Gavin Peebles, Economic growth and development in Singapore: past and future, Page 26


3 Responses to “Commentary on PM Lee’s parliamentary speech”

  1. ;Annonymous Says:

    Great piece.It is time that they stop peddling this crap about us being a nation of immigrants. Our forefathers were here under very different circumstances. Those who stayed also had very different reasons for doing so. This kind of history had been debunked many years ago and historians today avoid it like the plague. Butterfield, who first exposed such flawed history called it the Whig Interpretation of History – looking at the past through the lens of the present.

  2. changeisneeded22 Says:

    We can talk all what we want and he will still do what he wants…. the only way to stop him from doing things we do not want is a kick in his ass at next Election, a slap will not be enough.

  3. zen Says:

    possibly your best piece. you have actually managed to offer
    fresh arguments despite all tt’s been written so far on this subject.

    btw, I cite your data all the time when arguing this place was
    Not a swamp/desert/ fishing village – pre-PAP. It is astonishing
    how many have so little knowledge of their country’s history
    and are not embarrassed to flaunt their ignorance. it helps tt
    I was alive in the 1950s as well and know for a fact what this
    island was really like.

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