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.
shpeh@sph.com.sg

Hi friends,

The above article is very noteworthy.

For obvious reasons I shall be monitoring closely to see if the moderation function for comments is necessary.


Cheers,

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)

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

From the sound of it we are seriously caught between a rock and a hard place. It really takes the best brains Singapore has got to steer her safely into the future. Wonder what solutions they have to offer for this quandary?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi,
Yes. No one said that it was going to be easy. Every nation faces the SAME problem. No nation is exempt.
How do we progress economically and yet allow the maximum space for the human spirit to thrive. It is not a "either or" mutually exclusive situation. We can find a middle-path.
The old ways are "passe" and we need leaders and the population to start negotiation for a new social contract.
Cheers

Dr.H

Anonymous said...

'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.'

'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.

Strange, if the current system/constitution is so shaky such that a change in the leading political party would facilitate a collaspe of the country, then isn't the solution to fix the problem at its root cause? What is missing from the Singapore's constitution to enable the Elected President to be independent of the dominant political party? How can/should the military be de-coupled from any political party (leading or opposition)? Perhaps the military should report to an independent EP?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon,

Yes, strange train of thought by the u-know-who's.

Their logic is so unfathomable that that's why I chose to remain silent as I don't think my making any comments will convince any of THEIR true-believers.

To the rest, just by reading the articles from the "authoritative" ST, it is self-evident and obvious where the truth lies.

Sometimes I think the ST prints such articles to mock us. That certain leaders and the led deserve each other.

(Sorry I am very vague)

Dr.H

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

http://talkback.stomp.com.sg/forums/showthread.php?t=3677

http://forums.hardwarezone.com/forumdisplay.php?f=17

Sorry, I copied and paste from hardwarezone forum. I chose this particular one because I somehow agree with the comments.

I do not like the way he self-praise himself all the time and keep bringing up those times about Japanese and British.

He keeps saying Opposition is bad even when they are not so bad. Of course, it is his job to sell himself and put down his competitors but not at a global event like this.He is overdoing it. Remember, he has been well rewarded for his work by being a highest paid in the world for his kind of job. Our gratefulness should end there.

I do not like his talk about army, coup, assumptions etc. He is making investors nervous for nothing. If he is really selfless, he should prepare a system whereby PAP or other party, Singapore continue to power on.

Look at HK, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, despite having changes of government and troubles, their system remains and continues to operate. That is then really First World system. We cannot just depend on PAP to run things or else we will look like times in Monarchy China whereby a single dynasty run things.

Singapore is now in a different time and different era. We need new ideas and new plans to bring us further forward. We seem to have stagnated these years.

Singapore can no longer afford to have a single party government because PAP cannot change Singapore anymore. I do not think PAP will let loose and allow political and social advancements.To be a country, we cannot just depend on economic advancements to survive.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi,
This comment below was left by anonymous.For obvious reasons, I have censored some words ( sorry).
This is to ensure that we can continue having what little freedoms we have left.

Anonymous said...

"http://talkback.stomp.com.sg/forums/showthread.php?t=3677&page=2

My analysis:

1) The Lees and PAP are getting desperate thus using a global event to talk about domestic events.

2) MM Lee is getting XXXXX and more autocratic than before thus spouting rubbish about army, opposition=bad, coup, martial law etc. The markets will be shaken.

3) he means he wants to preserve the XXXX and not PAP.


4) PAP can lose power but not in his or his son's lifetime. He will lose face.

5) He is becoming XXXX.

6) Please add."

Anonymous said...

Hey doctor, have the government quietly approach you lately and ask you to tone down? Your work has change quite alot since the days you begin.

Do not be intimidated or else you will eternally be caged by them.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anonymous,

You can have my word that no one from the govt has either quietly or openly told me how to conduct my life.

All of us are still finding our way through all this.

Freedom is never absolute, not even in the most liberal society.

All the more in Sg where some in high places are not as liberal as you and I. ( and their skin much thinner than ours)

Enough said.

The truth is that all of us feel caged and we have to ultimately decide to either:
1. openly confront (eg SDP)
2. try to play by their rules (eg WP)
3. try to awaken masses by logic and persuasion ( some bloggers)
4. join them and hope to change them ( eg...)
5. join them because you truly believe them ( ya sure)
6. don't believe them but join them anyway as that is where the power(money) is
7. don't care ( the VAST majority)

That's the sad truth!

Dr.H

YCK said...

To your seven points I would add one more:

8. bothered enough to migrate (the minority who are "quitters")

Some irony in the label: Aren't our migrant ancestors also quitters?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi YCK.
Yes, how could I have forgotten the very impt option of voting with our feet when we find that it is no longer viable ( in all senses of the word) for us to stay.
When we feel that we cannot no longer contribute and that someplace else might treasure us more, we walk away.

Dr.H

Anonymous said...

Good point raised by YCK... I belong to choice 8, planning my escape :P

Whispers from the heart said...

I have great respect for all these "quitters"!

They are admirable because they know they want more of their lives than what is given here.

I know many more Singaporeans who are resigned to fate which prompted my entry on Singapore being the 'no-choice country' for some.

While we have decended from "quitters", the fire is lost amongst some of us.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi Whispers,
Option 8 is a real choice for many.
PM spoke to young people yesterday and he touched on option 8.
How serious is the PM about engaging the young and not so young ( like us)?
Even if he is serious, how about the old man(men) in his clique?

Dr.H