Archive for April, 2015

Double standard talk is even cheaper

April 28, 2015

I refer to the 24 April 2015 TR Emeritus article “Amos: Talk is cheap, very cheap” by Cynical Investor.

CI wrote:

And jeers and sneers for those who claim to support, sympathise Amos Yee but who stood aside.

Didn’t CI similarly stand aside and did nothing? Why doesn’t CI similarly jeer and sneer at himself for whatever sympathies he has expressed for Amos?

This is what CI wrote:

… I hope the AGC drops the charges in return. Let’s remember, he has spent four nights in jail.

Or would CI indulge in the double standard of classifying what others say about Amos as sympathy and what he said about Amos as not sympathy?

CI wrote:

The absence of the anti-PAP cybernuts who pollute the comments section of TRE is not surprising.

There have been quite a number of TRE posts in favor of Amos so far, why does CI insist anti-PAP folks are absent? Or CI has decided that all TRE posts in favor of Amos so far are by non-anti-PAP people? Looks like it is CI himself who is the cybernut polluting cyberspace instead.

CI wrote:

But where were the ang moh tua kee human rights activists like Kirsten Han (she wrote an eloquent, sympathetic piece on him in Yahoo) and the lady who so eloquently blogged on Amos? They left him to rot in jail, while they eloquently proclaimed his right (duty?) to slime one Harry Lee Kuan Yew, and hurt the feelings of 20-odd S’poreans? Seems, he’s a flag or mascot, not a human being to these ang moh tua kees.
My serious point is that these ang moh tua kee “activists” cannot be taken seriously. They are not prepared to walk the walk, just talk the walk.

If people like Kirsten Han are ang moh tua kee, then what is CI? Ang moh suay kee?

Didn’t CI also leave Amos to rot in jail? Isn’t CI similarly just talking only and not walking?

What right has CI to complain about others just talking and not walking when he himself is guilty of the same thing? Where does CI even find the cheek to do so?

Compare the blog that CI quoted:

And now, the boy is spending the weekend in prison. Police handcuffed him when they led him out of court. He is to be tried as an adult.

Twenty-one Singaporeans can congratulate themselves for defending the nation against a 16-year-old. For safeguarding the boundaries. For being offended enough, concerned enough, patriotic enough to set the police on a child.

with what CI wrote:

Me? I think it’s wrong that he is charged under the Protection from Harassment Act. He should not be charged under any law for his bad, loitish but non-violent behaviour.

Society’s anger at its rules being broken should be allowed to manifest itself without affecting the boy’s future too much.

Both expressed sympathy, injustice, whatever you call it for the boy. Both spoke for the boy. Yet, CI has the cheek to pour scorn at others for talking without walking when he himself is guilty of the same thing. How does CI expect to win arguments on the basis of double standards?

CI wrote:

LKY needs no monument. So long as these people are around, Harry will be remembered. He had contempt for them, and rightly so.

The people that LKY supposedly had contempt for included CI himself because CI is guilty of the same contemptuous act he complained about.

CI wrote:

I hope Amos Yee will reflect on the kind of supporters he has. With friends like cybernuts and ang moh tua kee “activists”, he doesn’t need enemies.

CI may wish to add himself to the list of friends that Amos doesn’t need. Or would CI employ the double standard of labeling others who spoke for Amos as friends Amos doesn’t need but not himself?

Or would CI simply deny that he expressed sympathy for Amos? That unfortunately is not up to CI to decide. If CI can label what others say as expression of sympathy for Amos, then CI cannot deny others of the right to similarly label what he said as expression of sympathy too for Amos. So if others’ expression of sympathy leads to them being condemned by CI, then CI’s expression of sympathy should also lead to him being condemned by others.

Rebut TR Emeritus article “Another perspective on that Amos kid”

April 28, 2015

I refer to the 25 April 2015 TR Emeritus article “Another perspective on that Amos kid” by demonaut.

Demonaut wrote:

Almost immediately after the death of LKY, a mischievous 16-yr old kid made a video broadcast in which he spurted vulgarities at the current PM, insulted LKY and Jesus Christ and their followers.

Amos didn’t come across as being mischievous but passionate and truthful about what he feels strongly about.

Demonaut wrote:

The villain in this case is so obvious. Those who speak out in defence of the kid should ask themselves this: Would they allow a kid to go online in a video to insult they fathers or grandfathers with vulgarities?

Not so obvious. Demonaut has already condemned Amos to three villainies, two of which are not valid. While it is not courteous to spurt vulgarities, neither is it a crime to do so. While it may not please everyone that he insulted LKY, insulting LKY is similarly not a crime.

Demonaut should find comfort in the knowledge that the only father or grandfather that Amos insulted was that of LKY’s family. No matter how Demonaut chooses to think, LKY was neither the father nor grandfather of any Singaporean other than LKY’s family itself.

Demonaut wrote:

Anti-establishment, anti-govt and pro-Oppositions miscreants are blinded by hatreds so much so that they ‘heil’ the kid as their Hitler.

One wonders where Demonaut finds the cheek to insult three groups at one go as miscreants while complaining at the same time about Amos’ insult on LKY. What moral high ground does Demonaut see in arguing his case based on double standards?

Demonaut doesn’t realize that it is people like him who is being seen as heiling LKY as Hitler.

Demonaut wrote:

Now three lawyers have come forward to defend him pro bono. They base this on a noble proclamation of their profession. Who are they trying to fool? How many have they defended pro bono before? How many more after this? With legal fees being so high, every one in trouble with the law would wish to have lawyers who would defend them for free.

Demonaut has no basis to question the intentions of the lawyers defending Amos. Going by Demonaut’s logic, anyone who offers help for the first time must necessarily be insincere. That’s besides the fact that we don’t really know how many pro bono or unofficial legal advice these lawyers have already given.

Demonaut wrote:

A group has written to an outside organization for protection of the kid. A petition has been put up to garner support in defence of the kid. Who are behind these? The list reads like a Who’s Who of political pariahs.

There Demonaut goes again, effortlessly insulting others while finding fault with Amos’ insult on LKY.

Demonaut wrote:

Anti-establishment, anti-govt and pro-Oppositions activities are nothing new, especially online. But this time they have taken on a new vigor. Why? It is their first organized challenge to the govt after the death by LKY.

Demonaut deems it fit to demonize Amos’ rants but doesn’t seem to see the ridiculousness of his own rants. On what ridiculous basis does he say that Amos or others are out to challenge the government after LKY’s death? If there is real challenge, where are the protests? Where are the people at Hong Lim Park?

Demonaut wrote:

They are testing the strength of the “leadership without LKY”, just like the group of Marxist conspirators testing the strength of the new generational leadership in 1987. Perhaps, as in 1987, they are also being backed by a foreign power who has promised them political asylums should they fail.

Demonaut is even more ridiculous here. The keyword in the so-called 1987 Marxist conspiracy is the word ‘Marxist’. Where is the Marxism in the current case? If Marxism is involved, how come the petition went to the Catholic Church and not to Russia or China? The Singapore government is already doing roaring business with Marxist China and many Chinese Marxists are already in our midst.

Demonaut wrote:

If no action is taken, the situation will not just peter out. This time round, these miscreants are not just protesting for small gain. They are going for the whole hog. They want to create chaos, bring down law-and-order. They want to bring the govt down, unconstitutionally. They know they can’t win through the constitutional process.

The right response from the govt should be a show of strength. Identify and round-up all the instigators and hold them without trial. Investigate them thoroughly.

Demonaut should be careful about what he asks for. The time may come when the tide turns and the power which he goats the government to use on his fellow countrymen may end up being used on him or his children instead.

Demonaut wrote:

Do it for LKY. Do it for those who shed tears for LKY in the rain.

Those who shed tears for LKY were fooled for 50 years. So fooled to their bones they will never believe the truth even if shown the facts and figures.

South China Morning Post – Lee Kuan Yew is not Singapore’s founding father

April 23, 2015

I refer to the 23 Mar 2015 SCMP report “Singapore mourns as founding father Lee Kuan Yew dies at 91”.

Lee Kuan Yew is not Singapore’s founding father because he never once fought for our independence. When Lee merged Singapore into Malaysia in 1963, he exchanged British sovereignty for Malaysian sovereignty without any improvement to our independence. When Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia, Lee was crying, he didn’t even want independence. How can someone who didn’t fight for our independence, didn’t even want us to be independent and was crying instead of rejoicing when we became independent be called our founding father? Wouldn’t that make a mockery of what founding means?

Worst of all, Lee worked for the Japanese when Japan conquered Singapore while others fought and died defending Singapore. To honor Lee Kuan Yew is to tell young Singaporeans that next time the enemy comes knocking; their priority would be to save themselves and not defend Singapore even if it means working for the enemy because that is what the nation of Singapore honors.

SCMP wrote:

Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died early on Monday morning after more than a month in hospital, leaving a legacy of an unlikely country he steered to independence in 1965 and transformed into a global city within one generation.

Lee Kuan Yew was not Singapore’s founding prime minister for Singapore had no prime minister at the point of our founding in 1819. It was only 140 years later in 1959 that Singapore had a prime minister.

Singapore was far from being an unlikely country. We had been prospering for nearly 140 years before Lee Kuan Yew took charge. We had all the trappings of a nation – British law and governance, excellent civil service, free trade and enterprise, schools, hospitals, police force, roads, buildings, excellent port and even public housing. We were in many aspects already a country except in name.

Lee Kuan Yew not so much steered Singapore to independence in 1965 than got kicked out of Malaysia instead.

In Lee Kuan Yew’s own words, Singapore was already a metropolis back in 1968. So Lee didn’t transform us in one generation. Instead, when Lee inherited Singapore, Singapore was already quite well transformed. We were already the 5th most important port in the world in the 1930s, the most important communications centre in the Far East in the 1950s, the third richest in Asia in per capita GDP in 1960 and the city with the most number of cars per capita at that time.

SCMP wrote:

A statement from the office of the current Prime Minister, his son Lee Hsien Loong, said, “The Prime Minister is deeply grieved to announce the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore.

PM Lee was wrong to elevate his father to founding status because his father never did anything that qualified him as founder or founding father.

SCMP quoted Kerry Group controlling shareholder, Robert Kuok saying:

“Lee Kuan Yew was a giant of a man. His mind, sharp as a fine blade, was focused on pursuing his wish of establishing a just, fair and decent society. And no-one, whether friend or foe, can deny that he achieved this.

Lee’s purported gigantism stemmed from the unjustified piling of the good work others onto himself. How can Mr Kuok say with all his conscience that Singapore is a fair and just society when we have Dr Chia Thye Poh and Dr Lim Siew Hock detained for 32 and 19 years respectively without trial? How can he say Singapore is a fair society when our GINI index has always been the top three amongst First World nations for the past 30 years?

SCMP wrote:

“He pursued his aim with great determination, never giving in to the many set-backs and disappointments, with all this taking a heavy toll on his health …’’

Not true. When Singapore was kicked out of Malaysia, Lee Kuan Yew cried countless number of times and ended up convalescing for 6 weeks at Changi chalet. Not just that, when Barisan and PAP split in 1961, Lee was also staring at the ceiling as though staring at defeat.

When Lee Kuan Yew got back to Singapore, he invited the members of the Convention to attend his press conference. He was crying. I don’t understand him at all. On one hand, he worked so hard for merger. Having gotten the cupful, he shattered it. And then cried over it. He held two successive press conferences, and in which both he cried. On the third morning I went to work, and saw the press boys again. I asked Lee Wei Ching, his press secretary, “Why are they hanging around here?” Another press conference! I told Lee Wei Ching, “You ought to tell the Prime Minister to go to Changi and take a rest. Call the press conference off! Another crying bout, and the people of Singapore will think the government is on its knees. So he went to Changi, staying at the government bungalow for six weeks. There was a big time gap … between our last parliamentary meeting and the next meeting. More than five months. One would have thought with such a big event, Parliament should be immediately summoned and the announcement made to Parliament. The opposition came at me. Why is there no Parliament sitting? So I had to hold the fort. I was not appointed to act for him while he was away. When he went off to Changi, Parliament did not meet. So Singapore had a Parliament in suspended animation. Keng Swee and Lim Kim San saw me and asked me what was the constitutional position. Has he recovered? What if he does not recover? So what happens? I said I thought he was getting better, although I could not see him and telephone calls were not put through.

[Excerpt of an interview with Dr Toh Chin Chye, published in ‘Leaders of Singapore’ by Melanie Chew, 1996]

During the Big Split … Dr Goh Keng Swee … recalled Dr Toh Chin Chye visiting him in his Fullerton Building office in 1961, after seeing Mr Lee, saying: ‘I have just come from Harry’s office. He was staring at the ceiling just like you did. You should snap out of this mood. The fighting has just begun. It is going to be long and nasty. But if we keep wringing our hands in anguish, we are sure to lose.

[Straits Times, What if there had been no Toh Chin Chye?, 4 Feb 2012]

SCMP wrote:

In his 31 years as premier, Lee was indisputably a transformative leader. He dealt decisively with leftists and communalists, those who pursued race-based politics to divide society. He led Singapore to an ill-fated merger with Malaysia in 1963. When it was evicted from the Malaysian federation in 1965, he found himself in charge of a city state that suddenly had independence thrust upon it.

Lee wasn’t so much a transformative leader than a leader at a time of transformation. Lee’s so-called decisive dealing of the leftists was nothing more than the continuation of tactics first devised by the British and then used by the Lim Yew Hock government. Singapore ended up being transformed for the worse, not for the better with outstanding talents of that era like Lim Chin Siong, Dr Lim Siew Hock and Dr Chia Thye Poh ruthlessly and unjustly robbed of their rightful place in Singapore history.

Lee’s so-called decisive dealing of the communalists or raced-based politics was hypocritical for his own colleagues Dr Toh Chin Chye and Mr Lim Kim San admitted that it was Lee himself who contributed to racial tensions.

The events of 1963-1965 appear to be substantially a clash of temperaments and world views, with consequent misunderstandings among the key players. Lee’s own colleagues tell a story of Lee Kuan Yew in overdrive, aggressively engaging in brinkmanship and pushing the Malaysian experiment to the precipice. Lee found it difficult to exercise self-control in front of a microphone and developed a pattern of making outrageous and inflammatory speeches, which Toh Chin Chye later characterised as anti-Malay. When Lim Kim San, a key cabinet minister during the period was asked by Melanie Chew whether he counseled Lee to tone down his speeches, he replied “Oh yes! We did! But once he got onto the podium in front of the crowd, paah, everything would come out. Exactly what we told him not to say, he would say!” Lee at this time was driving himself to the brink of a breakdown, and his judgment was impaired by a regime of prescription drugs designed to help him cope with the stress. He was not at his best and all his prejudices about Malays and his fears about the future were given a free rein, just at the time when he needed to keep them under strict guard

[Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethinicity and the Nation-building Project, Michael D Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, page 29-30]

SCMP quoted Lee Kuan Yew saying:

In his memoirs, The Singapore Story, Lee said if he had not done these things, Singapore would have been a “grosser, ruder, cruder society” and it was to ensure it became a cultivated, civilised society in the shortest possible time. “First, we educated and exhorted our people. After we had persuaded and won over a majority, we legislated to punish the wilful minority. It has made Singapore a more pleasant place to live in. If this is a ‘nanny state’, I am proud to have fostered one,” he wrote.

Lee himself had demeaned Singaporeans as animals with spurs not stuck deep enough into our hides. So Lee has created a society where he alone can be gross and rude. Why should Singaporeans share in Lee’s hypocritical pride?

SCMP wrote:

Lee and his colleagues led a country comprising many first- or second-generation immigrants or their offspring, one that was poor, with inadequate sanitation and woeful living conditions for the most part …

That’s unfair generalization. There were those whose living conditions were poor and those whose living conditions were better. Lee Kuan Yew belonged to the latter group as did many later generation Singaporeans and their offspring.

SCMP wrote:

… the People’s Action Party has remained in power for a continuous 56 years, the longest record for any party currently in power.

Not true. The Workers’ Party of Korea has been in power for longer – 66 years since 1949. The similarity between PAP and WPK cannot be more obvious.

SCMP quoted Henry Kissinger saying:

… Lee Kuan Yew … took a seaport which had lost its original purpose and transformed it into one of the most significant creative efforts of his period… Since Singapore lacks natural resources, he accomplished all this by relying on the scope of his vision and the quality and determination of his people.”

How could Singapore have become the most important communications centre in the Far East in the 1950s if our seaport had lost its original purpose?

Singapore was the most important communications centre in the Far East, not just for shipping but a focal point for airlines, telecommunications and mail distribution at the beginning of the 1950s.

[The Economic Growth of Singapore: Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century, W. G. Huff, pages 31-33]

Furthermore, our seaport was transformed under the wisdom of Dr Winsemius:

“So being in Singapore, I think at that time Dr Goh was once more Minister for Finance or in his capacity of Deputy Prime Minister and indeed I thought I need a pusher; I need really a pusher. So I went to Dr Goh, said ‘Look here, that are my figures on the North Atlantic container-run. And it is going to happen here. I can guarantee you that. I can’t get them moving. And the World Bank is against it. They consider it too early. There is only one way, with the same figures, you and I go to the Harbour Board, to PSA, and in principle you tell them that you would consider it unwise to put it off. Even if there is a chance, let’s say half a year that container port is lying idle, using interest and doing nothing, Singapore has to be the first one as to attract it.

“’And you should tell them, in my opinion, at least give them very clearly the impression if they do not come with a plan to rapidly make a container port that you will continue to have them by the planners. On the other hand, if they do come with it, in as far as co-operation from Finance or even the Cabinet would be needed, that you will give them that protection.’

“So Dr Goh practically dictated them to build that container port regardless of the World Bank.”

[Dr Albert Winsemius’s oral history interview, Accession Number 000246, reel 12]

Singapore has one important resource. Our strategic location at the maritime chokepoint between Europe and the Far East was our valuable resource that was the reason for our founding and prosperity.

The vision that Kissinger mentioned wasn’t Lee Kuan Yew’s but Dr Winsemius’ but it was up to Lee to communicate that vision (after the fact) to dignitaries all over the world as though it was his.

SCMP wrote:

Lee was more circumspect when he looked back on his life. “I did some sharp and hard things to get things right. Maybe some people disapproved of it. Too harsh, but a lot was at stake and I wanted the place to succeed, that’s all.

What was still at stake that Lee had to detain Dr Chia Thye Poh and Dr Lim Siew Hock till 1998 and 1982 respectively? What threats did Dr Chia and Dr Lim pose to Singapore’s success right up till 1998 and 1982 respectively?

SCMP wrote:

At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life,” he once said.

Lee Kuan Yew inherited a successful Singapore from the British; a successful Singapore was what all Singaporeans got from the British, not just Lee Kuan Yew.

Singapore became even more successful following Dr Winsemius’ strategy; it was Dr Winsemius who gave all Singaporeans, not just Lee Kuan Yew, an even more successful Singapore.

If Lee Kuan Yew had been a rickshaw puller, would he not have given up his life pulling the rickshaw? If he had been a lawyer, would he not have given up his life practicing law? Was there anything Lee could have done that wouldn’t entail giving up his life?

SCMP wrote:

… Ko, who works for Singtel, a Singapore telco, told the Post: “I feel sad about the passing of a great leader. He built Singapore up in one generation. I hope his successor will protect his achievements.”

Not true, Singapore wasn’t built in one generation, neither was Singapore built by Lee Kuan Yew.

Times magazine – Lee Kuan Yew is not the father of Singapore

April 22, 2015

I refer to the 22 Mar 2015 Times magazine report “‘Father of Singapore’ Lee Kuan Yew Dies at 91”.

Lee Kuan Yew is not the father of Singapore and will never be fit to be called one because he never fought for Singapore’s independence like America’s founding father George Washington did.

Instead, Lee came to power in 1959 only after others have fought and won complete internal self-government from Britain (decision made in 1958).

Lee’s swopping of British sovereignty for Malaysian sovereignty in 1963 cannot be an act of independence in any sense of the word. If George Washington had swapped British sovereignty for Mexican sovereignty, would Americans hail George Washington as founding father?

Above all, Lee had worked for the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation. If Mexico successfully invaded America and George Washington ended up working for Mexico, would Americans hail George Washington as founding father?

Times magazine wrote:

Singapore’s first and longest-serving Prime Minister was the architect of a remarkable transformation

Lee Kuan Yew wasn’t the architect of Singapore’s remarkable transformation. The architect should be someone who comes up with the plans. Since it was Dr Albert Winsemius who came up with Singapore’s industrialization plans in the report entitled “The United Nations Proposed Industrialization Programme for the State of Singapore”, it should be Dr Winsemius, not Lee Kuan Yew, who was the architect of our remarkable transformation.

Times magazine wrote:

… Lee, who was Singapore’s Prime Minister … of the city-state that he molded into one of the most sophisticated places on the planet.

Singapore was already quite sophisticated during colonial times. We were already the 5th most important port in the world in the 1930s, Asia’s most important communications centre in the 1950s, the third richest in Asia in 1960 (Penn World Tables) and in Mr Lee’s own words a metropolis already in 1968. We were already very well molded when Lee took over.

Moreover, our molding was based on Dr Winsemius’ formula, not Mr Lee’s so it’s probably more accurate to say that Singapore was molded in accordance to Dr Winsemius’ plan rather than by Mr Lee.

Times magazine wrote:

… foreign political and business leaders have long praised him: “legendary” (Barack Obama); “brilliant” (Rupert Murdoch); “never wrong” (Margaret Thatcher), to cite a few of countless such tributes.

It would be interesting to ask Obama and Rupert Murdoch if they know of a person called Dr Albert Winsemius. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, it would suggest that their knowledge of Singapore is only skin deep that doesn’t go far beyond the legends of Lee Kuan Yew which are not unlike the legends of King Arthur. Similarly, Thatcher’s policies had been questioned and if Thatcher could have been wrong, perhaps “never wrong” was also wrong?

Times magazine wrote:

At home, Lee was above all the man in charge.

Lee being the man in charge doesn’t mean Lee gave Singapore success, just as Stalin being the man in charge doesn’t mean Stalin gave Russia victory in World War II.

Times magazine wrote:

… Economic development needed to precede democracy

How much more precedence does Singapore economic development need after having preceded democracy by 50 years already?

Times magazine wrote:

The community trumped the individual. “Asian values” is what Lee and his ilk called their credo.

Lee and his ilk built two casinos against the wishes of the community and bulldozed through the widely disliked Population White Paper, two clear examples showing it is the other way around in Singapore, that individual trumps community.

Times magazine quoted Lee saying:

… [Democracy’s] exuberance leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions which are inimical to development,” he said. “The ultimate test of the value of a political system is whether it helps … improve the standard of living for the majority of its people.”

Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea are obvious examples why Mr Lee had been wrong, that democracy isn’t necessarily inimical to development.

China and Vietnam experienced both dire poverty and rapid improvement to living standards under the same communist political system. There has to be something more than just political system that improvement to standard of living needs.

Times magazine wrote:

… Singapore’s officials would run the city state (largely) effectively and cleanly — making it an oasis in Southeast Asia …

Singapore was already the oasis in Southeast Asia during colonial times. The King of Siam sent his sons to study in colonial Singapore. We had the most number of cars per capita in Asia during colonial times. We were already a magnet for talent from Southeast Asia and beyond during colonial times.

Times magazine wrote:

— and, in return, its citizens would toe the line.

Citizens foolishly toe the line not knowing that our success lay with Dr Winsemius’ plans, not Lee Kuan Yew’s.

Times magazine wrote:

… Lee’s critics had to admit: he knew his mind. “I always tried to be correct,” he once said, “not politically correct.”

If Lee knew his mind, why did he fight so hard to marry Singapore into Malaysia only for us to divorce two years down the road? Why did he cry so much on our separation from Malaysia? Why did he suppress our birth rate so much only to end up trying to reverse it instead?

Times magazine wrote:

And astute, especially when maintaining an equidistance between China and the U.S., East Asia’s top two rivals. Beijing and Washington both trusted him as a friend who enhanced their understanding of each other. Even as Lee invested sovereign funds in China, he provided safe harbor for U.S. warships. In fact, he was an open proponent of a robust U.S. military presence in Asia to help keep the peace. By pinning down North Vietnam during the 1960s and ’70s, he said, the U.S. bought much of the rest of Southeast Asia time to develop and ward off communism.

The fact that Lee sought US but not Chinese military presence shows quite clearly that politically and militarily, Lee preferred US to China.

Times magazine wrote:

Till the end, he remained an admirer of American entrepreneurship and ingenuity.

Such was the irony of Lee that he would scorn American democracy for its undisciplined and disorderly conditions yet fail to see that American entrepreneurship and ingenuity are born out of such undisciplined and disorderly conditions.

Times magazine wrote:

Lee’s … prodigious ability to look beyond the horizon. Today, chiefly because of the foundations he laid, Singapore, tiny and surrounded by hostile neighbors when it was born, has not only survived but flourished — a widely-admired banking, tech and educational hub whose GDP per capita is among the highest in the world; a place that constantly innovates and experiments; the Little City That Could.

Times magazine misunderstood Lee’s adoption of Dr Winsemius’ economic policies as being Lee’s ability to look beyond the horizon. When Singapore separated from Malaysia, Lee could look no further than the crashed world in front of him, crying and crying until he had to convalesce for six weeks at Changi chalet. With his only idea of import substitution for the Malayan Common Market ruined, Lee had nothing left except to turn to Dr Winsemius who in turn was the man who could see beyond the horizon and guided Singapore in the right direction.

Singapore’s flourishing today is chiefly the result of the strong foundations laid by our ex-British colonial government which the ablest man in Lee’s cabinet, Dr Goh Keng Swee, termed as our priceless British inheritances and Dr Winsemius’ economic plans. That Lee happened to sit on the throne was incidental and not instrumental to our flourishing.

Singapore’s per capita GDP is much less sterling when stripped of those accruable to foreigners and foreign owned companies.

Times magazine wrote:

After the war … Lee … was determined to free Singapore from colonial rule … Lee entered the unruly politics of a country still reeling from World War II … The island’s unions were riddled with communists, many Chinese-educated, inspired by Mao Zedong’s rise to power and eager to stage a similar revolution in Singapore. By offering his legal services for free to unions, Lee built up a grassroots electoral base and became a rival to the communists, who were officially banned. In 1954 he formed the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the basement of his house.

Examples of persons labeled communist or pro-communist were philanthropists Tan Kah Kee and Tan Lark Sye. Tan Kah Kee gave nearly all his fortune to set up schools and universities in Singapore and China while Tan Lark Sye set up Singapore’s only Chinese medium university. Yet, Tan Kah Kee was banned from ever returning to Singapore while Tan Lark Sye was stripped of his citizenship for the purported crime of communism or pro-communism. But today, both gentlemen are being lauded for who they really were – philanthropists passionate about Chinese education. There’s even a Tan Kah Kee Hall at the University Of Berkeley, California. That even philanthropists like Tan Kah Kee and Tan Lark Sye have been branded communist and persecuted as such goes to show how frivolous the communism charge was. It was a charge without trial that gave Lee and his predecessors the power to conveniently fix all those who opposed them.

Many of those Lee gave legal services to were eventually locked up by Lee himself after having outlived their usefulness when Lee came to power.

Times magazine wrote:

Singapore … became part of the Malaysian federation in 1963. Two years later it was kicked out of Malaysia because of racial tension … and the antagonism of many senior politicians in Kuala Lumpur toward Lee …

When Singapore was part of Malaysia, Lee’s belief in an egalitarian society had aroused the suspicions of Malay politicians who believed Lee spoke loftily about multiracialism even as he canvassed for Chinese votes.

That antagonism wasn’t one sided and Lee was one of the star contributors to it. Lee’s so-called belief in an egalitarian society in Malaysia was hypocritical at best because Lee had implicitly accepted Malaysia’s Bumiputra policy when he merged Singapore into Malaysia in 1963 because Malaysia’s Bumiputra policy had already been enshrined in Malaya’s constitution before that. As a trained lawyer, Lee couldn’t have claimed that he didn’t know that the Bumiputra policy was already codified in the Malaysian constitution that Lee had subjugated all Singaporeans to.

Even Lee’s good comrades Dr Toh Chin Chye and Mr Lim Kim San felt that Lee’s remarks had been anti-Malay or overboard rather than about multiculturalism.

The events of 1963-1965 appear to be substantially a clash of temperaments and world views, with consequent misunderstandings among the key players. Lee’s own colleagues tell a story of Lee Kuan Yew in overdrive, aggressively engaging in brinkmanship and pushing the Malaysian experiment to the precipice. Lee found it difficult to exercise self-control in front of a microphone and developed a pattern of making outrageous and inflammatory speeches, which Toh Chin Chye later characterised as anti-Malay. When Lim Kim San, a key cabinet minister during the period was asked by Melanie Chew whether he counseled Lee to tone down his speeches, he replied “Oh yes! We did! But once he got onto the podium in front of the crowd, paah, everything would come out. Exactly what we told him not to say, he would say!” Lee at this time was driving himself to the brink of a breakdown, and his judgment was impaired by a regime of prescription drugs designed to help him cope with the stress. He was not at his best and all his prejudices about Malays and his fears about the future were given a free rein, just at the time when he needed to keep them under strict guard

[Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethinicity and the Nation-building Project, Michael D Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, page 29-30]

Times magazine wrote:

By late 1965, Lee’s vision for Singapore was formed … instead of trying to piggyback on the commodity-driven trade of its neighbors, Lee would seek investment from outside Southeast Asia, appealing directly to multinationals in the U.S. and Europe. “We had to create a new kind of economy,” he wrote, “try new methods and schemes never tried before anywhere else in the world because there was no other country like Singapore.”

The vision that Lee supposedly had for Singapore wasn’t in fact Lee’s but that of Dr Albert Winsemius’ as Singapore’s industrialization followed Dr Winsemius’ recommendations to a ‘T’. Lee’s vision had always been the conventional wisdom of import substitution for the Malayan Common Market. When that was rendered useless by our expulsion from Malaysia, Lee had no other choice but to follow the unconventional path set by Dr Winsemius. Lee was only good at claiming the credit of what others have done or devised.

Times magazine wrote:

Nevertheless, it would be enshrined in independent Singapore. The population today is about 5.5. million, of whom nearly 40% are foreigners. Of the locals, about three-fourths are ethnic Chinese. But Lee took steps to ensure that the majority couldn’t impose its culture on the country’s minorities. English became the medium of education and administration, while three national languages were also recognized: Mandarin, Tamil and Malay. To prevent ethnic ghettoes, Lee made sure neighborhoods had proportionate numbers of Chinese, Indian and Malay residents. The religious holidays of all ethnic groups were celebrated, and even small local-language newspapers and TV channels were financially supported by the state. Lee’s aim was to forge a Singaporean identity that would override ties to the old country.

Singapore’s multiculturalism wasn’t enshrined by Lee but had already taken roots during colonial years.

• Racial Harmony In Malaya
To those who know their Malaya from one end to the other, no less than to the casual visitor, it is a constant source of wonder how so many different races and communities live and work together in the utmost harmony … we repeat, that the different communities live and work in harmony because the British system of justice and administration enables them to obtain fair play. There are no discriminatory or repressive laws, there are few, if any race prejudices in the bazaars and counting houses, there is nothing to prevent the humblest coolie from rising to great wealth – many indeed have done so …
[The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884-1942), 26 July 1935, Page 8]

• MALAYA’S RACIAL HARMONY IMPRESSES
“It is a pleasing feature of life in Malaya that there is not merely a complete absence of friction but much cordiality in the relations between the different races inhabiting it. It is quite common to find Malays, Chinese and Indian all living the same street in perfect harmony and apparently, with some degree of intimacy.” The Mui-Tsai Commission Report Chapter VIII.
[The Straits Times, 1 March 1937, Page 13]

• SINO-MALAYAN AMITY IMPRESSES GEN. WU
It makes me happy to see the Chinese and other peoples here co-operating so well with each other.
[The Straits Times, 15 November 1940, Page 11]

• The Malayan Melting-Pot
The Sultan of Perak … “I wish to say to you that Chinese and Malay in the past eighty years before the coming of the Japanese lived side by side in absolute peace. The Chinese lived in the midst of Malays without any trace of fear, and the Chinese also fearlessly and peacefully pursued his vocation in any Malay settlement … Here in Singapore we are constantly impressed by the easy, natural and friendly relationships existing between Eurasians, Straits Chinese, Straits-born Indians and others who went to school together and now meet each other in adult life … Boys – and girls – of the local-born communities who sit side by side in the classrooms of Raffles Institution and St. Joseph’s and St. Andrew’s and the A.C.S., learn to become unconscious of racial differences, to meet on common ground, and to accept each other simply as Singaporeans – not as members of this racial community or that. Naturally this process is more penetrating in the secondary schools than in the elementary ones, because the influence of the school is exerted for a longer period and in years of higher mental awakening …
[The Straits Times, 25 May 1946, Page 4]

• S’pore an ‘example’ of race harmony
Singapore has set an example to the world of racial harmony, said Mr. T. P. F. McNeice, President, in reply to Mr. C. F. J. Ess, at the meeting of the City Council yesterday.
[The Straits Times, 29 September 1951, Page 5]

• Duchess praises ‘one people’ idea
The Duchess of Kent, the first Royal Freeman of the City of Singapore, said yesterday that its people were engaged upon a project of far-reaching significance – the casting into one mould of elements derived from many different cultures. “This plan in itself testifies to the good will and good sense so characteristic of the people of this island,’ she said.
[The Straits Times, 2 October 1952, Page 1]

• Police help island troop to learn sailing
Singapore’s 84th Pulau Tekong Sea-Scout Troop is certainly helping to strengthen the bonds of friendship among Malays and Chinese on the island. It is undoubtedly a Sino-Malay affair for half of its 20 members are drawn from each race. Even the four patrol leaders in the troop are equally divided on a communal basis. Members of each patrol, however, are mixed.
[The Singapore Free Press, 17 July 1953, Page 12]

• Our racial harmony inspiration to bishop
An American Negro bishop said in Singapore yesterday that complete racial harmony among students and teachers in Colony schools was an inspiration to him. He said it proved his theory that if you get people of all races close enough together for them to smile at each other racial pride and prejudices will vanish quickly
[The Straits Times, 30 September 1954, Page 4]

• ‘See yourselves as just one people’ Governor’s advice to teachers
The people of Singapore must not think of themselves in terms of their racial and language loyalties, but as Singaporeans, the Governor, Sir William Goode, said yesterday. Schools must be Singapore schools, not English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil schools … In 1953, he said, English was the only medium of instruction at the college, but today they worked in English, Malay and Chinese. “In this way too the different races in the Colony can be welded into a united people with a common loyalty and a common pride in Singapore and a united determination to work for the good of Singapore.”
[The Straits Times, 12 October 1958, Page 7]

• U.S. TEACHERS ‘IMPRESSED’
Eighteen American teachers (above) from 11 states left for Bangkok by CPA this morning after a four-day stay here … Prof. Mulder said they were impressed by the racial harmony they had observed in Singapore and had come to know the state much better.
[The Singapore Free Press, 16 July 1959, Page 10]

• TELLING THE PEOPLE
So many races, but one nation
If a world list were compiled of countries enjoying high degree of inter-racial harmony Singapore would undoubtedly occupy a leading position. Here people of various races work, play and live together happily as one nation. They help each other in time of difficulty. They rejoice in each other’s happiness. And they share each other’s grief. Such is the respect, understanding and goodwill between the Malay, Chinese, Indian, European and other races living here that visitors in Singapore have often praised the State as an example for the rest of the world to follow. The latest visitor to express this view is Mrs. A. Qugley, formerly of the Chicago Tribune, who passed through the State during a tour of the Far East. She said that “the people here must be extremely proud of themselves for the “really great” racial harmony that was evident
[The Singapore Free Press, 6 July 1961, Page 6]

Times magazine wrote:

A key strategy to give people a sense of belonging as stakeholders in society was to provide affordable homes — today, ownership stands at 90% of the local population. “Citizenship is essentially a question of loyalty,” Lee said … Lee widened roads, dug canals, cleared slums, erected high-quality public housing estates

The provision of affordable homes had already started during colonial years; Lee merely took over the good work and expanded on it (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/unfair-comparison-between-sit-and-hdb/).

90% ‘home ownership’ is only in name and not in deed as public home title deeds refer to dwellers as “lessees” not “owners” (http://therealsingapore.com/content/hdb-lessees-should-not-be-called-homeowners-clarification-needed-govt).

Times magazine wrote:

Foreign investment, much of it from U.S. tech companies, did pour into Singapore. Texas Instruments set up a semiconductor plant in 1968, to be quickly followed by multimillion-dollar investments from National Semiconductor, Hewlett-Packard and General Electric.

Dr Goh Keng Swee believed there was an element of luck that resulted in US companies investing heavily in Singapore in the late 1960s. According to Dr Goh:

It is a matter for speculation whether in the absence of the upheavals caused by the Cultural Revolution in the mid and late 1960s, the large American multinationals – among them, National Semiconductors and Texas Instruments – would have sited their offshore facilities in countries more familiar to them, such as South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong. These resources had skills superior to Singapore’s. My own judgment remains that these three areas were too close to the scene of trouble, the nature of which could not but cause alarm to multinational investors.

[Wealth of East Asian Nations, Goh Keng Swee, page 256]

Times magazine wrote:

In U.S.-dollar terms, Singapore’s gross domestic product grew more than tenfold from 1965 to 1980.

That growth was well matched by those of the other three East Asian Tiger economies of Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Would anyone hail Hong Kong’s British governor for its equally impressive progress? Does anyone even know who Hong Kong’s British governor was then?

Times magazine wrote:

It became the world’s busiest port.

Singapore was already the estimated 5th most important port in the world in the 1930s and Asia’s most important communications centre in the 1950s. Our ascent to Number 1 was from only a few places away.

Singapore was already the estimated 5th or 6th most important port in the world by the early 1930s and the key port in the Straits region by the late 19th century.

[Goh Kim Chuan, Environment and development in the Straits of Malacca, pages 107, 114]

Singapore was the most important communications centre in the Far East, not just for shipping but a focal point for airlines, telecommunications and mail distribution at the beginning of the 1950s.

[The Economic Growth of Singapore: Trade and Development in the Twentieth Century, W. G. Huff, pages 31-33]

Times magazine wrote:

The dilapidated godowns of the old waterfront were razed to build skyscrapers.

Singapore already had skyscrapers long before Lee Kuan Yew came to power. When Cathay Building was completed in 1939, it was the tallest building in Southeast Asia. The Asia Insurance Building, Bank of China Building and the Shaw Centre were similarly completed in 1954, 1954 and1958 respectively.

Times magazine wrote:

Singapore Airlines, the flagship air carrier Lee started in 1972, encapsulated the city-state’s story of success: small, with scant resources and dwarfed by larger rivals, it aimed to be among the world’s best from the outset and quickly became so. As Henry Kissinger, the onetime U.S. Secretary of State, said: “Lee’s vision was of a state that would … prevail by excelling.”

Singapore isn’t the only success story, so why is Singapore alone lauded but not similarly successful places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea that have scant resources (assumed to be oil or minerals) too? The bulk of successful nations today like Switzerland and the Netherlands have scant resources (oil or minerals).

Does Henry Kissinger even know who Dr Albert Winsemius is? Does he know that even Lee Kuan Yew himself expressed gratitude to Dr Winsemius?

Most of all, he (Dr Winsemius) was wise and canny. I (Lee Kuan Yew) learnt much about Western business and businessmen from him. He gave me practical lessons on how … Singapore could plug into the global economic system of trade and investments by using their desire for profits … It was Singapore’s good fortune that he took a deep and personal interest in Singapore’s development. Singapore and I personally, are indebted to him for the time, energy and devotion he gave to Singapore.

[Straits Times, Singapore is indebted to Winsemius: SM, 10 Dec 1996]

Times magazine wrote:

Characteristically, Lee bluntly defended such measures … he said, “Freedom of the news media must be subordinated to the overriding needs of Singapore, and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government.” Because the foreign press wasn’t subject to local printing laws, newspapers or magazines whose articles were viewed as defamatory were either sued or their Singapore circulation cut …

What Lee referred to as the needs of Singapore that media freedom has to be subordinated to are more like his needs and those of his party. The banning of Tan Pin Pin’s film “To Singapore, With Love” and the refusal to publish Dr Chee Soon Juan’s letters hardly served the needs of anyone other than Lee’s and his PAP’s.

To The Economist – Lee Kuan Yew is not the founder of Singapore

April 16, 2015

I refer to the 22 Mar 2015 Economist report “The founder of Singapore died on March 23rd, aged 91”.

Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles before Lee Kuan Yew’s great grandfather was born. There has been no re-founding of Singapore ever since. Thus, Singapore’s founder is Sir Stamford Raffles, not Lee Kuan Yew. Sir Stamford Raffles died on 5th July 1826, aged 45.

The Economist wrote:

… Fidel Castro, perhaps, and Kim Il Sung, in their day … both … failed to match Mr Lee’s achievement in propelling Singapore “From Third World to First” …

Taiwan and South Korea were authoritarian too at first but became more democratic eventually without sacrificing economic development. They clearly show that an economy can continue to develop whether or not there was an authoritarian figure at the helm. Thus, Singapore’s rapid development need not necessarily have been due to the authoritarian Mr Lee but could also have been in spite of Mr Lee.

Singapore’s rapid industrialization post 1965 was in accordance to a plan written by Dr Albert Winsemius and his team from the United Nations. If there was anyone to attribute our propulsion to First Word, it would be Dr Winsemius.

Also, Singapore did not progress from Third World to First under Mr Lee. When Mr Lee took charge in 1959, our per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity already put us in Middle Income status according to World Bank classification (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/dont-forget-to-praise-singaporean-forefathers-too/). Thus, Singapore progressed from Middle Income status to First, not from Third World to First under Mr Lee.

The Economist wrote:

… Moreover, he managed it against far worse odds: no space, beyond a crowded little island; no natural resources …

On the contrary, the odds were very much to our favor since according to Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr Lee’s most trusted deputy who was also Mr Lee’s economics tutor at the university, we possessed all four important ingredients to our success (1) excellent geographic location, (2) British system of free trade and enterprise (3) adaptability of the British colonial government honed over more than a hundred years which he described as priceless and (4) stability and progress of our neighbors.

Singapore may not have oil or mineral resources but Singapore has an important natural resource that was the reason for our founding and prosperity – our strategic geographic location at the maritime chokepoint between the Far East and the West.

The Economist wrote:

Lee Kuan Yew made Singapore a paragon of development … In compensation, he turned Singapore into a hugely admired economic success story.

To say that is to belittle the contributions of others and to rob them of their fair share of recognition. What would Lee Kuan Yew have amounted to without the economic plan of Dr Winsemius that was at the heart of Singapore’s development into an economic success story? It was Dr Winsemius who was the savior of the day when Singapore was booted out of Malaysia and Lee Kuan Yew’s dream of depending on the Malaysian Common Market for Singapore’s continued prosperity had all but perished.

The Economist wrote:

He also boasted of his street-fighting prowess: “Nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul-de-sac.”

Such bravado was sadly lacking when the Japanese invaded Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew ended up working for them instead of fighting for Singapore’s freedom like Lim Bo Seng and Lt Adnan did.

Economist wrote:

… The regional giant, Indonesia, had been engaged in a policy of Konfrontasi—hostility to the Malaysian federation just short of open warfare …

Konfrontasi ended almost as soon as it began with the toppling of Sukarno by Singapore friendly Suharto only a few months after Singapore’s independence.

Economist wrote:

Singapore as a nation did not exist. “How were we to create a nation out of a polyglot collection of migrants from China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and several other parts of Asia?” asked Mr Lee in retrospect. Race riots in the 1960s in Singapore itself as well as Malaysia coloured Mr Lee’s thinking for the rest of his life … Public housing, one of the government’s greatest successes, remains subject to a system of ethnic quotas, so that the minority Malays and Indians could not coalesce into ghettoes.

Singapore already possessed all the trappings of a nation for more than a hundred years before Lee Kuan Yew took charge – an excellent civil service, British laws, British free trade and enterprise, police force, commerce, port, schools, hospitals, running water, roads and so on. We were in many ways already a nation except in name.

• Singaporeans were already calling themselves Singaporeans during colonial times (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/the-better-angel-is-superficial-only/).

• The various races have already been living together harmoniously for generations before Lee Kuan Yew took charge (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/correcting-the-reflections-of-a-pioneer/).

• Racial riots were the result of racial politics played on both sides of the Causeway (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/correcting-pm-lees-pioneer-package-address/) and (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/lee-kuan-yew-not-beacon-of-hope-for-south-africa/).

• Public housing was already started by the colonial government (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/unfair-comparison-between-sit-and-hdb/).

All that Mr Lee had to do was to inherit the nation but he did more than that. He whitewashed the solid groundwork laid by his British predecessors and shamelessly and unfairly hoarded every bit of credit to himself.

Economist wrote:

… Abandoned by Britain in 1971 when it withdrew from “east of Suez” …

How can Economist say Singapore was abandoned by Britain in 1971 when Singapore, Malaysia, Britain, Australia and New Zealand signed the Five Powers Defense Pact in 1971?

Economist wrote:

The astonishing record of Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore
… Mr Lee said in 1994 that he was “not intellectually convinced that one-man, one-vote is the best”. He said Singapore practised it because that is what the British had bequeathed. So he designed a system where clean elections are held but it has been almost inconceivable for the PAP to lose power. The biggest reason for that has been its economic success: growth has averaged nearly 7% a year for four decades.

The astonishing record isn’t that of Lee Kuan Yew’s alone but those of every Singaporeans’.

Doesn’t Economist ever wonder why Mr Lee practiced one-man-one-vote bequeathed by the British but not press freedom which was also bequeathed by the British? Mr Lee had different explanations for different things that quite often contradicted one another.

No amount of clean election can cleanse the stain of the lack of press and television freedom that are at the roots of democracy.

Nazi Germany was another country in another era where economic and military successes led the people to support its Fuhrer and to close their eyes to the injustices suffered by the Jews and other minorities.

Economist wrote:

… The traditional media are toothless; opposition politicians have been hounded into bankruptcy … voters … if they elect opposition candidates, their constituencies will suffer in the allocation of public funds; constituency boundaries have been manipulated by the government. The advantage of Mr Lee’s system, its proponents say, is that it introduced just enough electoral competition to keep the government honest, but not so much that it actually risks losing power. So it can look around corners on behalf of its people, plan for the long term and resist the temptation to pander to populist pressures.

Despite being one of its worst performing years, the ruling party still won an enviable 81 of 87 or 93% of electoral seats in 2011. 93% is virtual monopoly and far from adequate competition.

Regardless of whether or not the government had been honest, there has been a long and growing list of false statements made by them (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/four-room-flat-has-remained-at-90-sq-m-since-the-mid-90s/), (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/rebutting-sam-tan/), (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/correcting-mp-hri-kumars-may-2014-parliament-speech/), (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/issue-is-why-pap-insist-on-changed-position-when-there-was-none/), (https://trulysingapore.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/vivian-balakrishnan-failed-to-prove-wp-wrong/).

Instead of looking around corners on behalf of the people, the government has been looking at all angles to skin the people. Instead of planning for the long term, the government has been taking the ‘instant tree’ approach of doing things, a term coined by one of its own, Mr Inderjit Singh. Instead of resisting populist pressures, the government has started to pander to its people after losing just one Group Representative Constituency (GRC). The funny thing is that the things that the government finally decided to pander to are things that are no longer seen as populist but necessary and well deserved.

Economist wrote:

Mr Lee was a firm believer in meritocracy. “We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think,” as he put it bluntly in 1987. His government’s ministers were the world’s best-paid, to attract talent from the private sector and curb corruption. Corruption did indeed become rare in Singapore … As a police state, however, Singapore was such a success that you rarely see a cop.

Mr Lee’s firm belief was in feudal Chinese meritocracy where one’s success depended on the outcome of the once-in-a-lifetime imperial examination. He once ridiculed opposition member of parliament Mr Chiam See Tong for his less than sterling ‘O’ level results (equivalent to high school) by comparing them with those of Mr Mah Bow Tan’s, his own party candidate. But Mr Mah’s stirling ‘O’ level results and world’s highest pay could not prevent him from screwing up big time and causing the ruling party to suffer a GRC loss in 2011.

Paying millions to curb corruption is like paying robbers not to rob or paying thieves not to steal. To say that there is no robbery or theft because the robber and thief have been paid handsomely is ridiculous and silly.

One wonders from which corner of Singapore the Economist came to observe that a cop is rarely seen.

Economist wrote:

They … blamed high levels of immigration for keeping their wages down and living costs up. This was a consequence of a unique failure among Mr Lee’s many campaigns to make Singaporeans change their ways … he could not make them have more children. In the early 1980s, he dropped his “stop at two” policy, and started to encourage larger families among the better-educated. But, three decades later, Singaporean women have as low a fertility rate as any in the world.

High immigration wasn’t a consequence of Mr Lee failing to convince Singaporeans to have more children but the consequence of Mr Lee’s erroneous “stop at two” policy which led to the dramatic plunge in our birth rate.

Economist wrote:

… Singapore’s prime minister for seven years had been Lee Hsien Loong, his son. The Lee family would sue anyone who hinted at nepotism. And, for Mr Lee, that talent is hereditary was an obvious fact. “Occasionally two grey horses produce a white horse, but very few. If you have two white horses, the chances are you breed white horses.”

There has been widespread dissatisfaction with PM Lee Hsien Loong’s rule, culminating in his apology to the nation in 2011. Judging from his son’s performance, wouldn’t the elder Mr Lee perhaps wonder if his genes weren’t so white horse after all?

Economist wrote:

Thus Mr Lee, famous as both a scourge of communists at home and a critic of Western decadence and its wishy-washy idealism, revelled in the role of geopolitical thinker.

The communist label was a convenient pretext for Mr Lee to detain his political opponents without charge, trial or proof. Even then UK Deputy Commissioner to Singapore Philip Moore commented that Mr Lee’s evidence was circumstantial, stale and nothing very definite. Two notable detainees, Dr Chia Thye Poh and Dr Lim Siew Hock, stood the test of time and maintained their innocence throughout 32 years and 19 years of detention respectively. Doesn’t the Economist ever wonder what communist crime necessitated the detention of Dr Chia Thye Poh till 1998?

Mr Lee’s criticism of Western ideals was hypocritical at best. Before he came to power, Mr Lee championed for press freedom but once he consolidated his power, Mr Lee sang a different tune and murdered press freedom.

Economist wrote:

What, he must have wondered, if fate had allotted him a superpower instead of a city state?

Perhaps Mr Lee should wonder if fate had him born in Russia, India or Africa, would he have amounted to anything at all.

To BBC – Lee Kuan Yew was not Singapore’s founding father

April 13, 2015

I refer to the 23 Mar 2015 BBC report “Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew dies at 91”.

Lee Kuan Yew was never Singapore’s founding father and will never be fit to be called one. Americans credit George Washington as their founding father because Washington fought for and won Americans their independence from the British. But Lee Kuan Yew did no such thing. Lee Kuan Yew didn’t even want independence in 1965 let alone fought for it. Lee’s marrying us into Malaysia and subjugating us to Malaysian sovereignty in 1963 also cannot be considered an act of independence.

BBC wrote:

Lee Kuan Yew, the statesman who transformed Singapore from a small port city into a wealthy global hub …

Singapore is still small physically so there isn’t much transformation under Lee Kuan Yew in so far as smallness is concerned. But if BBC was referring to Singapore’s transformation in wealth and global connectedness, it would be good for BBC to note that Singapore was already the estimated 5th most important port in the world back in the 1930s, the most important communications centre in the Far East in the 1950s and the 3rd richest in Asia in per capita GDP in 1960 (Penn World Tables) with the highest per capita ownership of cars in Asia. So whatever transformation that Singapore underwent was from a very high base. Moreover, this transformation closely followed the plans laid out in an industrialization plan written by Dr Albert Winsemius, not Lee Kuan Yew. It is hard to credit Lee for our transformation knowing that the plans came from someone else.

BBC wrote:

The city-state’s prime minister for 31 years, he was widely respected as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity.

The architect should be someone who came up with the plans. Since the plans came from Dr Winsemius and his team in a report entitled “The United Nations Proposed Industrialization Programme for the State of Singapore”, it should be Dr Winsemius, not Lee Kuan Yew who should be considered the architect of Singapore’s prosperity.

BBC quoted Lee Kuan Yew’s son PM Lee saying:

“He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won’t see another man like him.”

BBC also wrote:

Mr Lee oversaw Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia.

The British parliament had already passed the State of Singapore act in 1958 granting Singapore statehood and full internal self-government. That according to Lee Kuan Yew’s own words was three quarters independence (tiga suku merdeka). Thus, when Lee took charge in 1959, Singapore was already ¾ independent. So Lee couldn’t have achieved anything more than ¼ independence as ¾ had already been achieved before he took charge.

Singapore’s supposed independence from Britain was simultaneously accompanied by our dependence on Malaysia. This swopping of British sovereignty for Malaysian sovereignty cannot be considered independence in any sense of the word.

Mr Lee’s overseeing of our separation from Malaysia was accompanied by much grief and tears captured on national television for posterity. He was so clearly distraught that he had to convalesce at Changi chalet for six weeks. Separation from Malaysia or independence was the last thing on Lee’s mind for Lee had fought bitterly to marry us into Malaysia and had clearly stated to the entire nation that Singapore could not survive without Malaysia. It was therefore never Lee’s intention to make Singapore independent so how could he even be considered to have fought for our independence? Lee had independence thrust upon him against his wishes. It is worth emphasizing that there was no independence hero accompanying Singapore’s independence in 1965. There were however, independence heroes who fought hard and eventually pressured the British into granting us statehood in 1959 (decision made in 1958). They were collectively known as the Leftists. It was they who fought for Singapore’s independence, not Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee not so much built a nation but inherited one from the British as all the trappings of a nation were already laid out by the British – excellent civil service, British laws, British system of free trade and enterprise, commerce, trade, port, airport, roads, schools, hospitals, public water system and so on.

BBC wrote:

But tiny Singapore – with no natural resources – needed a new economic model.

Not true. While Singapore did not have mineral resources or oil, Singapore has one important natural resource – our strategic location at the maritime choke point between the Far East and the West. Singapore was founded and prospered on the basis of our strategic location.

BBC wrote:

“We knew that if we were just like our neighbours, we would die,” Mr Lee told the New York Times in 2007.
“We had to produce something which is different and better than what they have.”

That wasn’t what Mr Lee told Singapore back in 1962. While fighting to merge Singapore into Malaysia, Mr Lee declared in no uncertain terms that Singapore’s economy depended on import substitution for the Malaysian Common Market which was no different from conventional wisdom then. It was our separation from Malaysia that gave Singapore no choice but to do things differently from others. But make no mistake, export industrialization was proposed by Dr Winsemius. With Singapore out of Malaysia, what choice was left for Mr Lee but to go along with Dr Winsemius?

BBC wrote:

“Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up,” he told a rally in 1980. “I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.”

Whatever iron Lee had in him or lack thereof can be seen in these two episodes:

When Lee Kuan Yew got back to Singapore, he invited the members of the Convention to attend his press conference. He was crying. I don’t understand him at all. On one hand, he worked so hard for merger. Having gotten the cupful, he shattered it. And then cried over it. He held two successive press conferences, and in which both he cried. On the third morning I went to work, and saw the press boys again. I asked Lee Wei Ching, his press secretary, “Why are they hanging around here?” Another press conference! I told Lee Wei Ching, “You ought to tell the Prime Minister to go to Changi and take a rest. Call the press conference off! Another crying bout, and the people of Singapore will think the government is on its knees. So he went to Changi, staying at the government bungalow for six weeks. There was a big time gap … between our last parliamentary meeting and the next meeting. More than five months. One would have thought with such a big event, Parliament should be immediately summoned and the announcement made to Parliament. The opposition came at me. Why is there no Parliament sitting? So I had to hold the fort. I was not appointed to act for him while he was away. When he went off to Changi, Parliament did not meet. So Singapore had a Parliament in suspended animation. Keng Swee and Lim Kim San saw me and asked me what was the constitutional position. Has he recovered? What if he does not recover? So what happens? I said I thought he was getting better, although I could not see him and telephone calls were not put through.

[Excerpt of an interview with Dr Toh Chin Chye, published in ‘Leaders of Singapore’ by Melanie Chew, 1996]

During the Big Split … Dr Goh Keng Swee … recalled Dr Toh Chin Chye visiting him in his Fullerton Building office in 1961, after seeing Mr Lee, saying: ‘I have just come from Harry’s office. He was staring at the ceiling just like you did. You should snap out of this mood. The fighting has just begun. It is going to be long and nasty. But if we keep wringing our hands in anguish, we are sure to lose.

[Straits Times, What if there had been no Toh Chin Chye?, 4 Feb 2012]

Quite clearly, in times of difficulties, Lee was not the man of iron he claimed to be. His iron depended on the situation just as it did during the Japanese Occupation. While true men of iron like Lt Adnan and Lim Bo Seng fought for and defended Singapore, Lee for all his ‘iron’ chose to work for the Japanese.

Lee Kuan Yew did not give Singapore our independence

April 11, 2015

I refer to the 25 Mar 2015 “The Globe and Mail” article “Lee Kuan Yew gave Singapore independence, and the world a bad idea” by Mr Marcus Gee.

Mr Gee wrote:

Praise for Lee Kuan Yew … Just about everyone agrees he did marvels for his country, transforming Singapore from a swampy colonial port to an economic dynamo in the course of a generation.

Just because everyone agrees Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore from a swampy colonial port in one generation doesn’t mean it is therefore fact or truth. When Lee Kuan Yew inherited Singapore in 1959, Singapore was far from a swampy port. We were already a prosperous, modern city bustling with commercial activities. Lee Kuan Yew himself boasted to US businessmen in Chicago in 1967 that we were already a metropolis. Singapore certainly did not transform from swamp to metropolis in just 8 years.

Mr Gee quoted Lee saying:

The exuberance of democracy leads to undisciplined and disorderly conditions which are inimical to development

The best proof that Lee was wrong lies with the examples of Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea. Hong Kong was never authoritarian while Taiwan and South Korea blossomed more after they abandoned authoritarian rule and embraced democracy.

Mr Gee wrote:

If he (Lee Kuan Yew) could raise his country to riches …

Lee Kuan Yew did not raise Singapore to riches. When Lee took charge in 1959, Singapore already had the third highest per capita GDP in Asia (PPP adjusted, Penn World Tables, 1960) and the highest per capita ownership of cars in Asia. Singapore’s post independence industrialization plan was written by our economic advisor from the United Nations – Dr Albert Winsemius. It is Dr Winsemius, not Lee Kuan Yew, whom we should thank for our rapid industrialization.

Mr Gee wrote:

The kind of leader that Mr. Lee personified – … fatherly, morally upright, far-seeing, a good shepherd to his flock … If such a leader can deliver the goods, many would say, well, then, who cares about a free press or a critical opposition?

Whether or not Mr Lee had been morally upright is a matter of opinion, not fact. Mr Lee detained Dr Chia Thye Poh for 32 years, longer than Nelson Mandela had been. At least Nelson Mandela had been convicted in court whereas Dr Chia Thye Poh was never even given a trial.

The far sight everyone credits Mr Lee for actually came from those around him. Export industrialization was documented in Dr Albert Winsemius’ economic plan. A good episode that illustrated Mr Lee’s lack of ‘far sight’ was the 2008/2009 Global Financial Crisis during which Singapore’s GIC, under Lee Kuan Yew’s chairmanship, lost billions right under his nose.

Mr Gee wrote:

… Mr. Lee was all but unique, an incorruptible strongman who really did put country above personal gain. The “Singapore model” is a direct product of his personality …

Whether or not Mr Lee put country above personal gain is again a matter of perspective, not fact. Mr Lee penalized opposition wards for not voting his party by refusing to grant them housing estate upgrading funds. How can that be anything but for the good of Mr Lee’s party? Even Mr Lee himself admitted so.

The success bits of the Singapore model is not the direct product of Mr Lee’s personality but the product of Dr Winsemius’ plan and according to Mr Lee’s most trusted deputy Dr Goh Keng Swee, the product of our priceless British colonial inheritances.

Mr Gee wrote:

… Mr. Lee led Singapore to independence

That is far from the truth. Mr Lee hardly fought for our independence let alone led us to independence. Singapore’s independence in 1965 was the result of us being booted out of Malaysia, not the result of us fighting for independence from Malaysia. Mr Lee didn’t even want independence and cried bitterly in front of national television on the occasion of our separation from Malaysia.

Some claim that Singapore gained independence from Britain when Mr Lee merged us into Malaysia in 1963. But how can the exchange of British sovereignty for Malaysian sovereignty ever be considered independence?

The truth was that the British had no choice but to gradually grant us more and more independence as a result of constant agitations from the people led by the Leftists. This culminated in the birth of the State of Singapore in 1959 with full internal self-government and the birth of Singapore’s flag and national anthem that are still in use today. It was the Leftists who fought for the people and who led us to domestic independence. When Mr Lee merged us into Malaysia four years later, it was not with improved but worsened conditions to our domestic independence instead.

Mr Gee wrote:

Mr. Lee opened the country to foreign trade …

Not true. Singapore was founded as a free port by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. Singapore had already experienced close to 140 years of prosperity through foreign trade before Mr Lee took power.

Mr Gee wrote:

There is no denying it: the formula worked. Singapore averaged 7 per cent annual growth for decades, eventually surpassing its old overlord, Britain, in per capita income. Its transit system is extensive, its roads immaculate (and tolled), its schools top-notch, its parks gorgeous.

Let us not deny that the investment formula was from Dr Winsemius, not from Mr Lee.

Singapore’s per capita GDP when stripped of those accruing to foreigners is much less impressive and not too different from Britain’s.

Singapore’s transit system came almost a decade after Hong Kong’s, a gentle reminder of how life in Singapore need not have been worse under the British or any other government other than Mr Lee’s.

Singapore’s main arterial roads were laid out during colonial times.

Singapore’s top school – Raffles Institution was the school that Mr Lee attended. Other top schools were similarly set up during colonial times. Top-notch schools were already there even before Mr Lee was born, they didn’t sprout out only after Mr Lee became prime minister.

Our number one park, the Botanical Gardens was also established during colonial times.

Mr Gee wrote:

But the formula wouldn’t have worked without an essential ingredient: Mr. Lee himself.

That is opinion, not fact. There is no reason why Singapore under a different government could not have performed just as well. Hong Kong is the best reflection of what Singapore could have become had we remained a British colony or had the Leftists won power – different but just as prosperous.

Mr Gee wrote:

Just look around Singapore’s neighbourhood. Indonesia’s Suharto just next door advertised himself as a benign father of the nation. His regime collapsed under the weight of its corruption in 1998 …

The collapse of Suharto gave birth to a more prosperous and democratic Indonesia. The Suharto example shows that Singapore would have worked just as well with or without Mr Lee because what had worked for us wasn’t Mr Lee’s formula but the formulae of Sir Stamford Raffles and Dr Winsemius. It was Mr Lee’s deputy, Dr Goh Keng Swee who credited our colonial formula as being our priceless advantage. Indeed, Singapore’s winning formula begun way back in 1819.

Mr Gee wrote:

Without the check of opposition, the scrutiny of a free media and the threat of being tossed out by the voters, most leaders descend along the familiar path to corruption and brutality. That Mr. Lee did not was a function of his character, not of the virtues of the Singapore model.

Singapore’s politicians are paid obscenely high salaries in this world. So what hasn’t been obtained through corruption has been obtained through legal means, courtesy of our lack of opposition check and a free media.

Singapore boasts the longest detention without trial in the world – 32 years, longer than Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned. Brutality has been substituted by something equally ruthless.

Mr Gee wrote:

So praise Lee Kuan Yew, by all means. He deserves the accolades he is getting for making his country such a an unlikely success story.

Too much of the praise heaped onto Lee Kuan Yew are praises due for others. The accolades he is getting is undeserved because Singapore’s success story is largely the result of others not him.

Silent majority no longer silent

April 7, 2015

I refer to the 1 Apr 2015 Straits Times letter “Silent majority in half a paradise” by Madam Loh Lay San.

Madam Loh wrote:

I AM one of the “silent majority”.
I have never written or blogged or Facebooked about national issues. But there’s always a time for it.

A warm welcome to Madam Loh, she is no longer the silent majority; her loud voice has resonated across the nation.

Madam Loh wrote:

I mourn the loss of our national giant, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. My heart is saddened as if I have lost someone close to me. At the same time, my heart is bursting with pride at the unprecedented show of gratitude and patriotism.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew may be Madam Loh’s giant and that of many others, but there are others who do not share her view so it would have been better for Madam Loh to refer to Mr Lee as her giant instead of our national giant.

The same show of gratitude and patriotism was also displayed by North Koreans when Kim Jong-il passed away. It showed that a nation can be conditioned to show gratitude and patriotism despite gratitude and patriotism not being due.

Madam Loh wrote:

Once, as I was leaving my exercise class, I remarked that it was extremely humid outside. Quick as lightning, my exercise mate from Hong Kong told me: “Don’t complain, Singapore is half a paradise.” She is right. And this, in no small part, is due to the work of Mr Lee, who really could not have done more in his life for this nation.

Madam Loh’s friend forgot to add that Hong Kong too is half a paradise. Whether our half paradise is due in no small part to Mr Lee is a matter of debate, not fact. People somehow have come to automatically accept it as truth without bothering too much about the real factual details.

Madam Loh wrote:

To the “noisy minority” in relentless search of freedom of speech, political freedom and all, the acid test is this: Have you given 50 per cent of your life for this country? How about 25 per cent, 10 per cent or even 5 per cent? If not, why the noise?

How does Madam Loh define giving one’s life for this country? Must one be a prime minister or a minister to qualify as giving life for the country? If that is Madam Loh’s definition, then nearly all Singaporeans have not given their lives for the country. That would be most unfair to Singaporeans who would effectively be condemned as jiat liao bis.

Or perhaps Madam Loh defines giving one’s life for this country as having worked in the public sector. If that is Madam Loh’s definition and Madam Loh wants to encourage all to give life for this country, then either everyone has to work for the public sector or the private sector has to be completely nationalized. Either way is impossible without ruining the country.

So the only fair and sensible definition must be that anyone who has worked hard to contribute in his or her small way to nation building in whatever capacity should be deemed as having given one’s life for the country. That will mean that almost everyone has given his or her life for the country. Whether it is 50% or 25% will depend on the person’s age and life expectancy. But by the end of our lives, we would all have given the bulk of our lives for this country. Even Mr Lee himself never gave 100% of his life for the country for how could baby Lee Kuan Yew sucking milk from his mother’s breast be considered as giving his life for the country?

But even with that definition, we run into problems as youths who have not taken part time jobs would not qualify as giving their lives for the country. In that case, why does Straits Times provide youth forums for youths to make noise when they don’t meet the qualifying criteria of having given their lives to the country?

So in the end, the definition has to be that there is no life giving requirement before someone can qualify to make noise. Otherwise our children will be mutes until the day they start working.

Madam Loh wrote:

There are always places where such freedom can be found. But together with it, there will be freedom to be discriminated against, freedom to be raped, freedom to be mugged, freedom to be shot – complete freedom.

Madam Loh shouldn’t automatically associate freedom with high crime rate because there are countries or places that enjoy the best of both worlds like Liechtenstein, Monaco, Japan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and so on.

Madam Loh wrote:

As for me, I am staying put, humidity and all. I am blessed and proud to be a Singaporean.

I am sure every Singaporean is proud to be a Singaporean. But whether or not they associate that pride with Lee Kuan Yew is a completely different matter altogether.

SG is not a democracy despite rule by popular consent

April 3, 2015

I refer to the 2 Apr 2015 TR Emeritus article “SG is a democracy ruled by popular consent” from sgthinker.wordpress.com

Sgthinker wrote:

Dear Western Media: Singapore is a democracy and the PAP rules by popular consent
I am sick and tired of reading the western media’s statements that Singapore is not a democracy, but is instead ruled by autocracy or a benevolent dictatorship. This convenient but lazy stereotype needs dismantling …

Western media’s labeling of Singapore as an autocracy or a dictatorship is neither laziness nor stereotype but the undeniable truth.

Sgthinker wrote:

For every election since Singapore’s independence, the PAP has won at least 60% of the popular vote. This averages at 69.5% of the popular vote over the decades. In other words, approximately 2 out of 3 Singaporeans want the PAP, compared to the alternative political parties.
The facts speak for themselves. PAP rules by popular consent.

Rule by popular consent doesn’t in and of itself make Singapore a democracy. The most fundamental prerequisite for democracy is a free press. No free press means no democracy. Singapore’s press freedom is 150th in the world, close to rock bottom.

Democracy is impossible without freedom of the press, for freedom of the press is the basis of democracies.

Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

A free press is a fundamental prerequisite in the implementation of democracy.

Tarja Halonen, President of the Republic of Finland

Freedom of the press is one of the rights that is fundamental to democracy. No country that systematically interferes with or restricts freedom can be considered fully democratic.

An Taoiseach Mr Bertie Ahern T.D., Prime Minister of Ireland

The people’s Right to Know is a universal principle that secures democracy, and Freedom of the Press is the basic freedom that guarantees this right.

Yoshiro Mori, Former Prime Minister of Japan

Freedom of the press has remained the condition sine qua non of democracy ever since: every cultural and political development is based on freedom of opinion.

Wolfgang Schüssel, Federal Chancellor of Austria

If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be

Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.

Information is the currency of democracy

Thomas Jefferson

A free press is the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men prize; it is the most dangerous foe of tyranny. … Under dictatorship the press is bound to languish, and the loudspeaker and the film to become more important. But where free institutions are indigenous to the soil and men have the habit of liberty, the press will continue to be the Fourth Estate, the vigilant guardian of the rights of the ordinary citizen.

Winston Churchill

Sgthinker wrote:

Contrast this with the definition of autocracy (government in which a supreme power is concentrated in the hands of one person, whose decisions are subject to neither external legal restraints nor regularized mechanisms of popular control). You can vote out the PAP. We are not an autocracy.

Although North Korea doesn’t have elections, it’s hard to imagine North Koreans voting out their Kim dynasty rulers if ever given a chance to. Despite terrible famines and severe children malnutrition, North Koreans still look up dearly to their Kim dynasty rulers, convinced that nuclear weapons are more important than food for children. North Korean’s unwavering support for their Kim rulers can be seen from the wailing and crying on the death of their Kim ruler which was not unlike what Singapore witnessed during the recent mourning of Lee Kuan Yew. North Korea is a good example of a people so brainwashed to be endeared to its leaders that it would not vote them out even if there were famine or widespread malnutrition.

Thus, Sgthinker should not underestimate the power of an autocratic government to brainwash its population. During the Second World War, the Japanese military dominated the government and systematically indoctrinated the nation into thinking they were superior beings, that the Chinese were pigs meant to be slaughtered and conditioned the people to commit untold atrocities.

After the war, the Japanese government systematically doctored its education program so that many Japanese today don’t know the full extent of the atrocities committed by their forefathers.

The same thing happened in Nazi Germany. Hitler did exactly what Lee Kuan Yew did. He controlled all the press and the people were fed with exactly the information he wanted them to be fed with. The result was a compliant nation galvanized to war and even holocaust.

So Sgthinker should never underestimate the extent to which a population can be brainwashed.

Sgthinker wrote:

How about dictatorship? (government where political authority is monopolized by a single person or political entity, and exercised through various mechanisms to ensure the entity’s power remains strong). There are other opposition parties in Parliament and you can always vote in more. We are not a dictatorship.

Other opposition parties in parliament are severely under-represented so much so that the PAP can out vote other parties anytime, all the time. That for all intents and purposes is a monopoly of the parliament. We can’t vote in more unless we have press freedom. Thus, we are a dictatorship.

Sgthinker wrote:

Retort 1: But the opposition gets virtually zero representation despite gaining over 30% of the popular vote!

That’s because we adopt the “First-Pass-the-Post” system that we inherited from the UK. It’s a winner-takes-all system, but it is also a democratic system. Unless you are insinuating that the UK is not a democracy too?

Sgthinker ignored fundamental differences between UK and Singapore. “First-Pass-the-Post” is needed in the UK to amplify small differences in voting outcomes because voting outcomes are close affairs due to UK press freedom. “First-Pass-the-Post” is not needed in Singapore because Singapore already has a dominant party so there is no need for “First-Pass-the-Post” to further amplify that dominance. Amplifying the dominance of a dominant party worsens the democracy of a nation. Sgthinker should not expect the same tool used in a completely different context will yield the same good results. It is ultimately press freedom, not First-Pass-the-Post that UK’s democracy is rooted in.

Sgthinker wrote:

There’s also the issue of gerrymandering. While this is indeed a problem, it should be noted that other democratic societies like the USA have this problem too, but you wouldn’t use this as an excuse to say that the USA is not democratic.

Not true, US state boundaries don’t change with every election.

Sgthinker wrote:

Retort 2: The opposition performed poorly because the PAP fixed them!

Mr LKY himself has admitted that he has come down hard on the opposition. But this action does not sufficiently explain the opposition’s poor performance. Why? Because the disgruntled voter can see all that discrimination happening and protest against it by either voting for the opposition, spoiling their vote or refusing to vote.

It is indeed possible, as in the case of Hitler’s government persecuting Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, the deformed and so on while the German people looked away and did nothing. But the German people looking away didn’t justify Hitler’s persecution of Jews and so on. Similarly, Singaporeans looking away doesn’t justify LKY persecuting the opposition.

The data shows that even if we include spoilt or non-votes, the PAP still has the majority popular vote.
Voters are not blind and stupid. If they are truly upset at the PAP for “rigging elections”, they can still voice their disagreement by not voting the PAP and spoiling their vote. And indeed, the results show that people have done so. There are clearly not enough dissatisfied people to vote out the PAP. This is an inconvenient truth for opposition supporters. It is still a fact that the PAP has popular consent.

Sgthinker assumed that voters are neither blind nor stupid. That’s a dangerous assumption. While people may not be stupid, they may be ignorant. Sgthinker should not underestimate the ability of state controlled press, television and education to mould a nation of ignorant people as the examples of Nazi Germany and war time Japan have shown. Without press freedom, popular consent doesn’t necessarily mean wise consent.

Retort 3: The lack of a free press hampers democracy. If there was a free press that could criticise the PAP, and the voters would not have voted for the PAP.

It is dangerous to assume that a free press would necessarily be in the opposition’s favour. People who make this argument should be careful for what they wish for.

Not true. Singapore luminaries like Catherine Lim and Jack Neo have attributed Singapore’s recent political change to the Internet which although is a poor substitute for the press, is still better than nothing. The recent turn of events shows that press freedom, like internet freedom will more likely than not offer advantage than disadvantage to the opposition.

The reason is simple. The press is a profit-making entity. Reporters write to get viewership, which in turn generates revenue to keep the reporters paid. Yes, there are reporters that write in search of truth and to provide an impartial view. But we cannot forget that there are reporters who are paid to write (or incentivised to write), regardless of truth or impartiality.

Not true. There are so many internet news websites and news blogs out there written by citizens for free which shows that people feel strongly enough to disseminate information even if they have to do it for free or at great personal loss. There is no reason why they wouldn’t set up newspapers if they are allowed to even if there is no money to be made.

For proof, look at Fox News in the United States. Fox News was created by Rupert Murdoch, media magnate, in response to a gap in the American media industry. He created a media outlet that was specially designed towards the tastes of conservative (Republican) voters. Fox, with its conservative slant towards reporting and commentary, soon became the dominant news outlet for Republican voters. By giving conservative voters what they want to hear, Fox News has guaranteed its survival and profitability.

There are so many countries in this world with a free press. Sgthinker cannot quote one example and insist that Singapore will definitely conform to that example. Can Sgthinker quote a similar example from Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden and so on?

Even in America, there are different media catering to different groups, infinitely better than in Singapore where 40% has nothing catered to it.

Free press can contribute to a politically polarised society, one where voters are stuck in an echo chamber where they only hear the opinions they identify with, ignoring other viewpoints. This is not the foundation of a good democracy.

Isn’t Singapore already polarized? Isn’t the current situation one where 60% is stuck in its own echo chamber, hearing only what it wants to hear while ignoring the other 40%? If that is considered bad foundation for democracy, then by Sgthinker’s definition, Singapore’s foundation for democracy is already not good which contradicts his claim that Singapore is a democracy.

It is easy for a free press in Singapore to create an echo chamber because it is profitable to do so. If Singapore already identifies as ~60% voting for the PAP, then isn’t it possible for a free press to spawn news outlets that are strongly pro-PAP (even more so than SPH today)? That could in turn make it even more difficult for the opposition parties to be voted in.

At least there will be two echo chambers – one 60%, the other 40%, still better than the current one echo chamber catering to 60% leaving the remaining 40% voiceless.

Sgthinker wrote:

I emphasise this. It is dangerous to assume that a free press would necessarily be in the opposition’s favour. It might work in their favour, or it might not.

That’s not the point. The point is the press has to be free in order that the people’s minds can be free.

We are already paying the price for unrealistic views of LKY

April 2, 2015

I refer to the 1 Apr 2015 TR Emeritus article “We will pay the price for unrealistic views of LKY” by Mr Daniel Yap.

Mr Yap wrote:

In death, the man still has the power to unite us.

LKY’s death didn’t unite us. Whether it was 0.5 million or 1 million or 2 million who honored LKY, there was still a sizeable minority who didn’t. So we can’t say LKY united us. LKY was too controversial to ever be a unifying figure.

Mr Yap wrote:

There are two ways forward now. In one future we polarise ourselves, we retreat into two camps: one that idolises and one that vilifies (both unjustifiably).

How can vilification based on facts be unjustifiable? Lee Kuan Yew only has himself to blame for polarizing the nation.

Mr Yap wrote:

Lee Kuan Yew was unashamed of his choices – why are we ashamed on his behalf?

That is like saying Hitler was unashamed of his choices – why should Germans be ashamed on his behalf? Make no mistake Mr Yap, the Germans are ashamed of Hitler’s choices and ashamed of their forefathers for supporting Hitler.

Mr Yap wrote:

it is similarly disrespectful to caricature his achievements and the hard choices he made.

What achievements Mr Yap? Lee Kuan Yew himself admitted that both he and Singapore are indebted to Dr Winsemius. So we owe our achievements to Dr Winsemius, not to Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr Yap wrote:

Talk about there being no trade-offs is pure nonsense.

What trade off was there in detaining Dr Chia Thye Poh till 1989?

Mr Yap wrote:

… fails to give Lee credit where he is due – that he made and stood by his choices in a fallen world where not everything can be win-win for everyone all the time.

Lee himself credited Dr Winsemius. If Mr Yap honours Lee, then he should honour Lee’s words. Lee admitted that both he and Singapore owe Dr Winsemius so the credit should go to Dr Winsemius, not to Lee.

The world then wasn’t a fallen one. Post war population explosion may have led to high unemployment rates. But make no mistake, colonial Singapore before Lee took over was a prosperous one. The only time Singapore was truly fallen was during the Japanese Occupation.

Mr Yap wrote:

And this is also the very same mistake that many of his critics make – seeing his actions in isolation and refusing to acknowledge the effective but imperfect outcome.

The effective outcome wasn’t due to Lee Kuan Yew but due to Dr Winsemius. Lee’s actions served more than anything else to consolidate his own power than to contribute to an effective outcome. Even the Tunku and the British, Lee’s partners in action thought so too.

Mr Yap wrote:

If Lee had not made those choices, and sacrificed dreams, even people, we would not have what we have today.

That is a statement of opinion, not fact. To prove what he said, Mr Yap would have to turn back time, let people like Dr Lim Hock Siew free and see if Singapore would have become worse off instead. In all likelihood, if the Leftists had won power, the Singapore economy would have been in the hands of Chinese businessmen like Tan Kah Kee and Lee Kong Chian. There is no reason why luminaries like Tan Kah Kee or Lee Kong Chian would have failed Singapore.

Mr Yap wrote:

And by any sensible critic’s reckoning, this outcome for Singapore, out of all possible outcomes, is far, far better than we could ever have hoped for.

Mr Yap is assuming that the outcome would not have been possible without Lee Kuan Yew. That again is opinion, not fact. Since it was Dr Winsemius’s economic plan that produced the best possible outcome, one can assume it was Dr Winsemius who mattered, not Lee Kuan Yew, so our best possible outcome was despite Lee being in charge, not because Lee was in charge.

Mr Yap wrote:

Lee also sacrificed a part of his humanity. One cannot make hard choices like he did without hardening within; and to live with no regrets as he did meant that a hard pragmatism had to overrule.

That is like saying Hitler sacrificed a part of his humanity because he couldn’t have made hard choices without hardening within. It is people like Mr Yap who give monsters the free rein to grow in strength and to ultimately consume a nation.

Lee may have lived with no regrets. So too did Hitler and Stalin. Just because no dictator have lived with regrets doesn’t mean their actions are therefore correct.

Singapore isn’t the only one that prospered; there are three other East Asian Tiger economies that prospered too. Hong Kong prospered without ‘pragmatic’ rule while Taiwanese and South Korean ‘pragmatism’ gave way to liberalism and democracy without sacrificing economic progress. Our compatriots have shown that ‘pragmatism’ was either unnecessary or should not have continued to this day.

Mr Yap wrote:

Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy is admirable BECAUSE he made those sacrifices. He is a leader par excellence BECAUSE he had to bear the consequences of the people he sacrificed. He is a visionary without peer BECAUSE of all the futures and freedoms he steered us away from. As much as I may want an apology for all the things he did, I honestly am glad that he never apologised. The legacy handed to us is crystal clear.
Let us remember the man he truly was, not some cartoon hero or villain of our own imagination.

Lee Kuan Yew’s so-called legacies are the legacies of others. When you strip the legacies due to others from Lee Kuan Yew, what’s left of him? The most important legacy – Singapore’s rapid economic industrialization was under the guidance and counsel of Dr Albert Winsemius. That is Dr Winsemius’ legacy, not Lee Kuan Yew’s. Mr Yap looks up to Lee Kuan Yew who in turn looks to Dr Winsemius. So ultimately, if we trace the source of inspiration, it’s Dr Winsemius.

Our economic policies, export industrialization, active courting of MNCs, setting up of EDB and DBS, pursuit of oil refinery, ship building, electronics and other industries are all documented in an industrialization plan for Singapore written by Dr Winsemius and his team from the United Nations. We merely followed Dr Winsemius’ plan, not Lee Kuan Yew’s.

Lee Kuan Yew was no visionary. His vision was borrowed from Dr Winsemius. The only vision Lee had was import substitution for the Malaysian Common Market through merger. He made it very clear just before our 1963 merger that Singapore’s economy depended on Malaysia and without merger we would be doomed. That was Lee’s vision. It didn’t materialize because we ended up being kicked out of Malaysia. That put paid to the only plan Lee had so much so that he cried and cried and didn’t know what else to do except to come up with a campaign “Can Singapore Survive?” So at the point of Separation, Lee Kuan Yew didn’t even know how Singapore could survive. He was left with nothing. Given that situation, what else could Lee or any other leader in his position could have done except to turn to Dr Winsemius? So Mr Yap should recognize that the admirable legacy is not Lee Kuan Yew’s but Dr Winsemius’. Lee wasn’t the leader par excellence. He just happened to have the good counsel of Dr Winsemius and others.

What sacrifice did Lee make? When the Japanese came and many like Lim Bo Seng and Lt Adnan sacrificed their lives to defend Singapore, what did Lee sacrifice other than to work for the Japanese? When the Leftists agitated for independence and got brutalized in the process, what did Lee sacrifice other than to reap the fruits of their labors? What consequence did Lee bear for the sacrifices of Dr Lim Hock Siew and Dr Chia Thye Poh who were locked for more than two and three decades respectively? No consequences at all.

Mr Yap should look at Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea and understand that the futures and freedoms that Lee steered us away from didn’t make us a better place. Many of us who use South Korean mobile phones and watch South Korean TV dramas should realize that economic prosperity need not be sacrificed on the altar of freedom.

If I may borrow Mr Yap’s words, a part of Mr Yap’s humanity has been sacrificed when he expressed happiness that Lee Kuan Yew never apologized. Although Lee Kuan Yew never apologized, he admitted that not everything he did was right. So Lee admitted he was wrong sometimes but he just couldn’t bring himself to apologize to those he had been wrong to. Is Mr Yap glad that Lee admitted wrong doing without apologizing? Is that how Mr Yap will teach his children? Mr Yap should put himself in Dr Lim Hock Siew’s or Dr Chia Thye Poh’s shoes. What big time terrorist was Dr Lim or Dr Chia that they had to be locked away for twenty, thirty over years? Why did Tang Liang Hong had to run away from Singapore when PAP’s Choo Wee Khiang could say Little India is pitch black on Sundays without getting into any trouble? Even Lee Kuan Yew’s good comrade Mr Lim Kim San admitted that Lee made very racist remarks during our short period of merger with Malaysia that incensed the Malays and contributed tremendously to the racial riots.

Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy is crystal clear but not to Mr Yap who like many Singaporeans talk much without ever anchoring what they say on facts or complete facts.

If Mr Yap wants us to truly remember who Lee Kuan Yew was, villain or hero, he should first get the full facts and avoid substituting opinion for fact. For all we know, both he and his children are already paying the price for the unrealistic views he has of Lee Kuan Yew.