Commenting on PM Lee’s PAP speech

I refer to the 8 Nov 2014 Straits Times reports “PAP must deliver good leadership for S’pore: PM” and “Lee Kuan Yew takes to stage where he founded PAP”.

Singapore will not be in deep trouble if PAP fails. Having bounced back from our greatest ordeal – the Japanese Occupation and progressing to middle income status boasting the 5th most important port in the world without PAP, we can continue to bounce back from any setback without PAP.

PM’s claim that PAP is on Singaporeans’ side is sometimes hypocritical and sometimes lip service only. For example, when PAP withheld HDB upgrading from opposition wards in the name of rewarding Singaporeans who voted for them, it not only harmed those who did not vote for them, it also harmed those who voted for them in opposition wards. When Singaporeans kept pleading about escalating housing prices, PAP kept denying they can do anything about it and blamed high prices on market forces instead. After losing a GRC (group of multiple constituencies), suddenly all stops are pulled to rein in housing prices including both demand and supply ones. All that makes PM’s calling resound with hollowness.

Whether PAP gave up on Singapore or not is debatable but what cannot be denied is that PAP gave Singapore to Malaysia in 1963.

It was primarily Leftist Singapore patriots who fought for self-rule from the British and ended up paying the price by being locked away for years without trial. PM’s father ended up benefitting from their sacrifices.

PM’s father did not battle communists; the British did and defeated them around 1955 who then fled to Malaysia. PM’s father locked up or banished Leftist Singapore patriots with hardly a fight by falsely branding them communist.

PAP did not successfully take Singapore from Third World to First because based on Singapore’s purchasing power parity adjusted per capita GDP, Singapore was already of middle income status, not Third World status by 1960 (Penn World tables). PM’s father even admitted to Chicago businessmen in Aug 1967 that we were already a metropolis; just 2 years after our independence (can’t build a metropolis in two years).

Singapore’s nation building differs from our agitation for independence in the sense that while agitation for independence happened after the end of Japanese Occupation in 1945, nation building has been a continuous process since 1819. For 140 years before PAP became in charge, the British invested in Singapore and build Singapore into an important, prosperous and outstanding entrepot trading port with all the essential trappings of a nation in place – comprehensive British laws that we still use today, efficient civil service that continues to serve us today, good quality roads, buildings, parks that we still use and enjoy today, the port jewel that we continue to rely on today.

PAP not so much led but bungled us through SARS and the 2008 global financial meltdown.

PAP didn’t so much win the trust of voters but merely indoctrinated Singaporeans with North Korean like grip on television and newspapers.

Where does PM find the cheek to speak of its so-called fundamental idea of a just and equal society when Singapore is one of three most unequal societies in the First World based on GINI? Where is PAP’s humility when it is always boasting about being the best even when it isn’t?

PM was far off the mark when he said his father guided PAP to build modern Singapore. Many history books categorically state that modern Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles, not Lee Kuan Yew. Furthermore, Singapore just prior to PAP in charge was already modern by the standards then as evident from motion pictures then and from pictures, reports, descriptions and statistics of that era. There is no doubt Singapore progressed even more after independence but credit has to go primarily to Dr Albert Winsemius who wrote the economic master plan that post-independent Singapore followed and Dr Goh Keng Swee whom most Singaporeans credit for Singapore’s economic transformation.

PAP was never a national movement but a party movement only. It will never hesitate to put party above nation as evidenced by its withholding of HDB upgrading from opposition wards.

Lee Kuan Yew is not fit to be Singapore’s founding father. If all the credits due to others are stripped away from him, there is practically nothing left of him except notoriety and thuggedness. Lee’s single biggest act of his life – merging Singapore with Malaysia was an exchange of British sovereignty for Malaysian sovereignty, hardly independence in any sense of the word.

Similarly, the generation of 1965 wasn’t the founding generation but merely the generation that inherited and built upon the hard work and contributions of even earlier generations exemplified by eminent Singapore pioneers like Tan Kim Seng, Tan Tock Seng, Gan Eng Seng and so on.

Singapore was already safe and harmonious prior to PM’s father in charge. Colonial Singapore was the beacon of racial and religious harmony for more than a hundred years before PAP became in charge. Racial and religious harmony unraveled soon after PAP became in charge.

Singapore was built by all Singaporeans, PAP or non-PAP. PAP members today should not falsely credit the Singapore inspiration solely to the energy of PAP.

Straits Times, PAP must deliver good leadership for S’pore: PM, 8 Nov 2014

AS SINGAPORE charts a different path in a fast-changing world amid the rising aspirations of its people, the need for good leaders at the helm remains an unyielding constant, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

And providing this leadership is a responsibility he wants the People’s Action Party (PAP) to shoulder for the country.

If it fails, Singapore will be in “deep trouble”, he said at a celebration marked with symbols of the PAP’s birth 60 years ago.

Partly encircled by the nation’s current and past leaders, PM Lee told 700 PAP members gathered at Victoria Concert Hall that serving Singapore is a duty they cannot shirk or decline.

“No matter what the odds are and what circumstances we find ourselves in, the PAP will always be on Singapore’s and Singaporeans’ side. The PAP will always do its best for Singapore and Singaporeans,” he said.

It was a call resounding with significance. Not only was last night’s event held where the PAP was founded in 1954, but PM Lee also made the call on a stage recreated to look just like it did when the party was formed and spoke through the same microphone then party chief Lee Kuan Yew had used on that fateful day.

Sharing the night of commemoration were the senior Mr Lee, Singapore’s first prime minister, and his successor Goh Chok Tong, as well as former MPs, branch leaders, party cadres and Cabinet members.

PM Lee urged the members to remember how the party got to where it is. It never gave up on the country, nor would it do so in the future, he indicated.

Whether in fighting for self-rule from the British, battling the communists or negotiating the merger and separation from Malaysia, the party never faltered, he added.

It also shifted gears and successfully took Singapore from Third World to First.

PM Lee noted many political movements elsewhere had failed at nation building because it was not the same as mobilising people or agitating for independence.

Since Singapore’s independence, the PAP has led the country through various crises, including the severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 and the 2008 global financial meltdown.

“We won the trust of the voters and the mandate to serve Singapore in every successive general election since then… and we will win the next one, too,” PM Lee said to loud applause.

He urged PAP members to hold fast to the party’s fundamental ideal of building a just and equal society. They must also serve with humility, he said.

Later, he paid special tribute to the party’s pioneers, in particular Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He said the older Mr Lee not only founded the party and turned it into a national movement, but he also guided it to build modern Singapore.

He also thanked the party’s activists for serving the ground, taking care of residents, mobilising support and keeping the PAP close to the people.

To commemorate the event, PM Lee launched the book PAP 60, Forward Together, which chronicles 60 defining moments in the party’s history.

He later unveiled a marker with the older Mr Lee and Mr Goh.

Calling on members to pledge themselves anew, PM Lee said: “We must develop new leaders, keep the party vigorous and strong, close to the people, continuing to win their support and enjoying their trust… (and) lead Singapore to greater success.”

Straits Times, Lee Kuan Yew takes to stage where he founded PAP, 9 Nov 2014

For a full minute last night, Victoria Concert Hall reverberated with applause as 700 members of the People’s Action Party (PAP) stood and cheered founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

They rose to their feet and applauded as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to the party’s pioneer activists and leaders for their hard work throughout the party’s 60-year history.

“Most of all, we are grateful to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, our first secretary-general who founded the party, made it a national movement, led it to build Singapore and continued building it beyond the founding generation of leaders,” said PM Lee, who, as party chief, gave the address at the PAP’s 60th anniversary celebration.

Taking to the same stage he stood on six decades ago at the founding of the PAP, the elder Mr Lee waved in acknowledgment.

The 91-year-old was flanked by the party’s central executive committee members and others from the pioneer generation of MPs.

They included Singapore’s first Home Affairs minister Ong Pang Boon, Mr Mahmud Awang, who co-founded the National Trades Union Congress, former senior parliamentary secretary Chan Chee Seng and former Ang Mo Kio MP Yeo Toon Chia.

PM Lee paid tribute to these party leaders and other “key lieutenants” of Mr Lee Kuan Yew such as Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S. Rajaratnam, Mr Othman Wok, Dr Toh Chin Chye and Mr Devan Nair.

He also thanked the activists for serving on the ground, taking care of residents and keeping the party close to the people.

In another reference to the party’s history, PM Lee said: “In July 1965, a crucial by-election was held in Hong Lim.

“Today, in Hong Lim Green Speakers’ Corner, people make all kinds of speeches – the world will not change. But in those days, in Hong Lim Green, you have a rally, the place is filled, and everybody knew that Singapore’s future depended on them.”

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong, who chairs the organising committee for the PAP’s 60th anniversary celebrations, also spoke on the importance of the party’s past, which “holds lessons for the present and future”.

Outside the hall, where photographs of the party’s defining moments in history were exhibited, the atmosphere was one of celebration, happy reunions and nostalgia.

Former MP Wan Hussin Zoohri, 77, said: “The party has a new generation today. Tonight, they are being transported back to the 1950s when the party was first formed, to reflect that it is because of that inauguration that we are here today.

“It is good to return to that and let the young generation be conscious of the first generation of leaders, who were flag-bearers.”

Said Sembawang assistant branch secretary Goh Peng Hong, 46, of the chance to meet the party’s pioneers: “To see them in person is very meaningful for younger activists like myself.

“Their early years were one of struggling to make Singapore the safe, harmonious place it is today. I am inspired by their energy.”

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