Saturday, September 16, 2006
Straits Times: Singapore must preserve its system of government:MM
His ambition is not to preserve PAP, he says, but to keep a system that works
By Peh Shing Huei Sep 16, 2006 The Straits Times
MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew hopes the Singapore of 2046 will still have the system it has today - one that works.
'My ambition, having created this Singapore, is to preserve the system that produces the answers we must have as a society to survive,' he said yesterday.
He was replying to Harvard University professor Lawrence Summers, who asked what Mr Lee hoped Singapore would be 40 years from now.
'My hope is that there will be a government that is equal to the job, as the PAP was,' said Mr Lee, referring to the ruling People's Action Party he co-founded in 1954.
'We have structured the system such that a competent group which gets in will find a machine that works. Don't tinker with it. Run the system properly on the basis of merit, not nepotism, and you will always find a way out of the problem.'
'My ambition is not to preserve the PAP,' he added.
Mr Lee, who celebrates his 83rd birthday today, was speaking at the Raffles Forum organised by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank annual meetings here.
The forum organisers arranged for a chocolate cake dessert for Mr Lee at the end of his lunchtime session, entitled Good Governance And The Wealth Of Nations, with Prof Summers and 250 business and political leaders.
Mr Lee outlined how politics and the system of government developed here.
Democracy for Singapore meant adjustments to meet the country's needs. The country was now a First World oasis and would continue to evolve to stay relevant. It required special kinds of people to be in charge here, he said, adding that a weak government would spell Singapore's end.
Mr Lee mused that the problem with Singapore was that it had 'now reached a very odd stage' - an electorate which wants the PAP in power, but also an opposition to 'squeeze' the Government.
'Well, that's all right. But if they become the government, that's real trouble,' he added. 'Our problem really is how to make the electorate sufficiently wise and sophisticated to understand that these are the limits.'
Beyond the limits, he painted two dark paths: One , which would happen in the absence of the Elected Presidency (EP) to protect the reserves from rogue regimes, is a military coup.
'Without the Elected President, if there's a freak result, within two to three years the army would have to come in and stop it,' he warned. 'And once you break that, by military intervention, you have destroyed a system which works on the basis of who was voted into office.'
Two, even with the EP, a corrupt government can still bankrupt the country:
'Even with an Elected President, if they (the opposition) win a second time, the reserves are open, because they can then arrange for their president to be elected and the country comes to a grinding halt,' he said.
He believes the present opposition parties, if they became the government, would cause Singapore to collapse.
'You've seen the candidates who have turned up. If they win, this place goes down. And nobody doubts it,' he said.
He added: 'The day we can produce an opposition of the same quality as us, that day we are in a safer condition.'
The problem, he said, is that the opposition, unlike the PAP, has been unable to 'induce' people of top quality to join it.
The PAP Government has also been able to stay relevant and keep abreast of changes.
'At the end of the day, we offer what every citizen wants - a good life, security, good health, good housing, good education and a future for their children. That's good governance.'
The dialogue was part of the activities leading up to the IMF-World Bank board of governors meetings next week.
At a press conference yesterday, World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz called on rich countries to make good on promises to increase aid to poor nations.
Separately, IMF chief Rodrigo de Rato said the meetings would implement reforms crucial to the Fund's credibility and help strengthen political support for removing protectionism.
The above article is very noteworthy.
For obvious reasons I shall be monitoring closely to see if the moderation function for comments is necessary.
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
( PS: Oh, ... eh I have no public comments on the above article.
By displaying the comments does not suggest in any way that I agree or disagree with the views of the writers)