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Point of Departure: Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go

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  • Yawning Bread
    From: Yawning Bread To: Mellanie Hewlitt Point of Departure: Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go Dear Editor, Kindly permit me to respond to some points
    Message 1 of 2 , Feb 1, 2004
      From: Yawning Bread
      To: Mellanie Hewlitt
      Point of Departure: Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go

      Dear Editor,

      Kindly permit me to respond to some points raised by Ho CS

      Ho CS:
      > he could still have value for Singapore in the 21st Century,
      > taking into consideration his vast experience and his international
      > standing,

      I think this is debatable. Once we remove the hagiography for his past
      work, what does he represent in the minds of the international audience
      today? I believe an honest reading would be extremely mixed. As much as
      he represents single-minded determination to achieve economic growth,
      he also represents in many non-Singaporeans, authoritarianism,
      anti-democratic instincts, eugenics and unwelcome comment on other
      countries' internal affairs.

      Ho CS:
      > although no one is indispensible, there is
      > at the moment (and for as far down the road as we can see at
      > this point in time) no-one with a credible mass base and of
      > sufficient international stature to hold this tiny
      > island-state together in the event of a major political
      > crisis, whether that crisis be national, regional or
      > international in origin.

      Yet this forms part of my very argument. So long as he stays around in
      politics, it is going to inhibit the healthy growth of a new leadership
      that has the genuine respect of the people. As I said in my essay, he
      represents the impossibility of change. He is perceived to hold the
      final veto. In such a discouraging scenario, it stands to reason that a
      good fraction of people who might otherwise speak up and contribute
      their efforts, might be turned off. "What should I try to sell my ideas
      and effect change when the cards are stacked against me?" is the
      unspoken question. The next time the PAP laments that they find it so
      hard to find "good people to join their team" we should ask ourselves
      whether sensible people might be deferring because they don't want to
      work under a veto. And those who do join the team immediately get
      tarred by the public's perception that they are lackeys, so try as they
      might, they can never establish their own credentials with the public.

      One might argue that it's all perception, and that in actual fact Mr
      Lee Kuan Yew might be open to persuasion and very democratic
      proceedings in cabinet. But this is unknowable. In any case, in
      politics, perception itself is substance. Just as we say it's not only
      that justice be done, it has to be seen to be done, so it is with
      politics. If we want an open environment of competitive ideas -
      economic, social, political - it is no use just say saying we want it.
      Given our history, i.e. our legacy of authoritarianism and the
      resultant incredulity about the sincerity of the government in
      listening to other voices, it is necessary to make large gestures just
      to obtain a small shift in perception.

      Ho CS:
      > we are situated in the midst of a region as well
      > as placed at a moment in history where signs of potential
      > social, political and religious turbulance are more than
      > just writings on the wall.

      This is the kind of scare-mongering that is part of the problem. Every
      age has its crises and dangers, so phrasing it thus actually says
      nothing. All one can see is an attempt to justify consolidation and
      rallying around the incumbent by saying, now is not the time to rock
      the boat.

      The point I was trying to make was this: Do a balance sheet. What asset
      value does Mr Lee bring to Singapore NOW, by remaining in government
      and politics? What liabilities does he bring NOW? Which side of the
      ledger is greater?

      Yawning Bread

      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      From: Ho Cheow Seng
      To: mellanie Hewlitt (mellaniehewlitt@...)
      Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 10:21 PM

      Subject: Fw: [Sg_Review] Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go

      Dear Editor,

      Below is my response to the posting on your website re."Adding value -
      Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go". May I request that my letter below be
      given the opportunity of a 'hearing' on the Sg_Review website so that
      subscribers would have a balanced perspective of the scenario that is
      being played out.

      With regard to what Sociology Professor Chua Beng Huat was reported
      to have said and which was subsequently reported in the Straits
      Times, I have the following comments to make:

      That LKY should go because he is an anachronism is quite debatable.
      That he could still have value for Singapore in the 21st Century,
      taking into consideration his vast experience and his international
      standing, is something I could still vouch for. That he has done a
      lot for Singapore and is unquestionably the architect of Modern
      Singapore needs no dispute. But this is quite another matter.

      The sad fact for Singapore is that, although no one is indispensible,
      there is at the moment (and for as far down the road as we can see at
      this point in time) no-one with a credible mass base and of sufficient
      international stature to hold this tiny island-state together in the
      event of a major political crisis, whether that crisis be national,
      regional or international in origin. And we are situated in the midst of a
      region as well as placed at a moment in history where signs of potential
      social, political and religious turbulance are more than just
      writings on the wall.

      Perhaps Singaporeans have only themselves to blame for this sad state
      of affairs; for having allowed themselves to be seduced into
      accepting that issues that are in reality associated with 'the
      cravings of the flesh' precede those that relate to the dignity of
      being 'human'. So we became de-politicised and apolitical. In due
      course we ignored or blissfully forgot about the crucial need to
      provide that germane environment for latent/potential national
      leaders to to be nourished and developed so as to facilitate that critical
      process of future political succession.

      Yes, for the moment we seem to be at an impasse. But does the
      repetitive belly-aching of the sort that appears from time to time on
      local internet forums, such as this one, provide any clue to the
      answer/solution that we are seeking for? The right to criticise, for
      any criticism to be taken seriously, must be attended by the ability
      to provide solutions. This may well sound cliched but it bears being
      repeated, nonetheless.

      Ho Cheow Seng
      Subscriber of Yahoo Sg Review
      ehocs777@...

      ------------------- Original Message ----------------------------------

      From: <Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com>
      Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 1:40 PM
      Subject: [Sg_Review] Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go

      Adding value
      26 January 2004
      Yawning Bread
      January 2004
      http://www.geocities.com/yawning_bread/

      Sociology Professor Chua Beng Huat was reported by the Straits Times
      to have said, at a seminar organized by the Institute of Policy
      Studies earlier this month, "He should just go."

      "He" was Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

      No one else picked it up. No follow-up commentary in the press. Yet I
      am sure Chua spoke for a great majority of Singaporeans.

      Without detracting from his great achievement when he was Prime
      Minister for three decades 1959 - 1990, today, Lee has become a
      liability.

      Two gaffes last September were widely noticed by the public, though
      once again, the media were too restrained to call them gaffes.

      Nearly a diplomatic incident

      His wife, Mrs Lee, had a stroke while in London. She was rushed to
      hospital, but was put in a queue for a brain scan. Lee phoned Tony
      Blair to ask for his assistance, and later, on his return to
      Singapore, publicly expressed thanks to the British PM for helping her
      jump the queue.

      Blair's office was aghast. They denied that he or his staff did any
      such thing. There would have been uproar from the British public if
      they thought their Prime Minister participated in an act that could be
      described as an abuse of power.

      The thought never seemed to have occurred to our Senior Minister.

      Nearly a domestic incident

      The Singapore doctors who rushed to London to attend to Mrs Lee had
      some disagreement with the British doctors. (The Straits Times was
      later to quote the Singapore doctors casting aspersions on the
      competence and professionalism of the UK team). They decided to fly
      her back to Singapore as soon as she was stabilised.

      A Singapore Airlines flight was chosen, and all its first class and
      business class passengers were asked to take another flight [1]. The
      plane was then converted into a flying hospital to take her back.

      On his return, Lee publicly praised Singapore Airlines for being so
      prompt and efficient in converting the aircraft and responding to an
      urgent need. The mainstream press duly carried his praises and once
      more cheered the flag carrier.

      On the bulletin boards, some upstart asked, well who's going to pay
      for that flight? Why should Singapore Airlines, a publicly-listed
      company with quite a few private shareholders, bear the cost?

      After a few days, the Senior Minister's Office said that Lee would pay
      for the flight. Payment had been offered before the talk appeared on
      the bulletin board, it claimed. True or not, we don't know. Believed
      or not, is another matter.

      Blind spots

      Both instances were serious blind spots, easily attributable to being
      in power, and having his way, for too long. The perks of rank, which
      would be unacceptable in other democracies, are quietly allowed to
      slip through. This is what happens when a towering figure dominates
      the political scene, when opposition parties are nearly snuffed out,
      and worse, when he has neutered the media.

      We came close to a diplomatic accident with Britain. We nearly stepped
      onto a landmine exploding in the face of the entire government for
      abuse of priviledge, and this, at a time when the government's
      credibility was already stretched thin by the continuing economic
      gloom.

      Undermining the institutional legacy

      In September too, Lee suddenly announced that even after his son Lee
      Hsien Loong became Prime Minister, and after Goh Chok Tong had
      retired, he would still remain as Senior Minister.

      At one stroke he damaged a political institution - that of cabinet
      government. The right thing to say would have been, "whether I stay in
      the cabinet or not is not for me to say, but for the future Prime
      Minister to decide if I can be of help."

      Diplomatic politesse it certainly is, but it at least preserves the
      figleaf of the primacy of the PM's position. But, no. Lee decided he
      would stay and said it out loud.

      Reminding all of the impossibility of change

      The style of the announcement aside, the fact that he stays on is the
      grosser liability. It is very difficult for anyone to believe that
      anything will really change in Singapore if he sticks around.

      Perceptions and sentiment are very important.

      For example, look at Thailand. Thaksin's program is far from complete.
      Hindsight might even judge his fiscal policies reckless. But through
      style alone, he has turned economic pessimism to hope. And there's a
      buoyancy that is giving that country a rare, rare thing - a virtuous
      cycle.

      Singapore? Most observers think we need some really drastic changes,
      some paradigm shifts, if you'd forgive an overused term. But most
      observers also think, it's not happening. Nothing is going to change
      down here, except most grudgingly, always too little, too late,
      because nothing changes up there.

      Adding value

      Once in a while, the press reports of some intervention by Lee in
      important matters of state. One is supposed to get the impression,
      that if not for him, such matters would not be well handled.

      A few years ago, the Singapore government was getting the short end of
      the stick in the Suzhou Industrial Park venture, beaten at its own
      game by the Suzhou municipal authorities. At the height of the
      impasse, there was much trumpeting that Lee communicated directly with
      Jiang Zemin, and got Jiang's commitment to rein the municipal brats
      in.

      As far was we, the public, can tell, nothing resulted. And are we to
      be surprised? Jiang was running a country of 1.5 billion people poised
      precariously between economic boom and social catastrophe! He had his
      own mountain of a problem to deal with: his own succession. What was
      Suzhou Industrial Park compared to all that? Who was Lee compared to
      all that?

      Then there was Malaysia, Mahathir and the water supply problem. Lee
      wrote notes to Mahathir. Mahathir wrote back, and then changed his
      mind. The problem was the personality of Mahathir, and there was
      nothing that Lee could have done about that.

      Now we have Lee saying he is personally taking on the Singapore
      Airlines pilots, to make sure they don't stand in the way of needed
      restructuring by the airline, in the face of low-cost competitors.
      Don't we have another cabinet minister whose portfolio includes air
      transport? Are we saying the other ministers are incapable of handling
      the situation? If they are, then what's with all the boasting about
      getting the best and brightest to serve as the PAP team?

      I am looking hard to see where Lee adds value - today, not yesterday.
      I can't find it. I hardly need to look where he subtracts value.

      How to add value then? There is more dignity in going than hanging on.
    • Mellanie Hewlitt
      Comments: Mellanie Hewlitt At the insistent request of one of our readers, we circulate the discussion thread below for your reading pleasure. Please
      Message 2 of 2 , Feb 17, 2004
        Comments: Mellanie Hewlitt
        At the insistent request of one of our readers, we circulate the discussion
        thread below for your reading pleasure.

        Please understand that this newsgroup receives a huge amount of feed-back and
        articles and we regret that not all articles will be posted in our daily news
        letters.

        Ho CS <ehocs777@...> wrote:
        From: "Ho CS"
        To: "Mellanie Hewlitt"
        CC: "Yawning Bread"
        Subject: Point of Departure: Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go
        Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2004 14:49:32 +0800

        Dear Mellanie,
        Thank you for your prompt response.

        The tone of my last letter to you may partly be attributed to frustration in getting my reply to the "writer for 'Yawning Bread' " published on the Sg_Review website. However I am surprised to hear you say that you did not receive any letters from me. Every of the several letters that I sent was to the same address as shown in the email letters you had sent me; and each time a copy of those letters was also cc. to you.

        Following is my reply both to your last letter ( in which you labelled me an 'adorer' of Lee Kuan Yew) as well as to "Yawning Bread's" response to my original reply to Professor Chua Beng Huat's speech which was reportedly published in the Straits Times. I sincerely hope you would be able to assist in getting this latest letter published in full on your website. I am also sending a copy of this letter to "Yawning Bread" in the hope that they would also consider publishing it on their website.

        For a few months up to early July 2003 ( i.e. just before I was admitted to the hospital for a very major operation and subsequently laid off from many daily activities for 6 months), I had a series of exchanges with several subscribers on your website. Then you promptly collated all the exchanges, mine included, and had them all published on your website. I was impressed by your efficiency and business-like impartiality. I continued to engage other subscribers on various issues pertaining to Singapore on your website because I had the impression then that the primary objective of Sg_Review was to provide not just another forum for only "opposing" views (i.e.to oppose for the sake of opposing), but a forum which functioned like a 'market-place' offering your subscribers different and differing views and perspectives on the multifarious issues affecting Singapore. I thought this very commendable as such activities are a crucial part of the process of educating some segment of our
        people about what Democracy is and how it could work successfully in different situations. Do remember that although many countries aspire to be Democracies, the process takes time, and different countries, because of different, particular circumstances are at different points along this evolutionary route.

        I do not wish on this occasion to want to take you (Mellanie) to task for labelling me as an adorer of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. There is nothing derogatory to adore someone.You, like me and people in general do have people whom we adore. Perhaps the problem here is your usage of "adore" to convey what you actually intend to mean. In this instance you might have used the word inappropriately. But I'll leave the matter to a more opportune moment to continue my linguistic discourse. For the moment it is enough for me just to say that an adorer/devotee of LKY I am not though I do have a healthy measure of respect for him as being pre-eminent among the founding fathers of Modern Singapore. Most important of all I respect him for the courage he displayed in acting out his conviction when he was a rising political star in the 1950's and particularly in the early years of his office as PM of a young and independent Singapore. Many people, in particular aspiring politicians and armchair critics,
        have lots of conviction. But conviction, alas, amounts to nothing more than effervescence when it is not equally backed by courage.

        Many people like you are unable to appreciate this aspect of Lee Kuan Yew because you were all either too young to understand what had happened or was happening, or, simply put, you were all not yet born. To have read what the man did in the past for Singapore is not quite the same thing as to have seen the man actually in action then. The former process affords a vicarious, second-hand experience and it can never give you a fair and full measure of the man. It is like the difference between being only able to smell a durian and having the chance to actually taste it. In the second instance you get the full flavour of both scent and taste.

        I can vouch at least for the passion, courage and conviction of Lee Kuan Yew because I had lived through those 'tumultous years'. I sang "God Save The King" and then "God Save The Queen" in the Primary and the Secondary School, and, just before I took my O-Levels I switched to singing "Majullah Singapura". Then as a young man and for a very short while, I learnt to sing "Negara-ku" before reverting very happily to singing "Majullah Singapura" again.

        I have personally witnessed several incidents arising from the "Maria Hertog" affair. And as an innocent 13/14 year-old teenager I marched down streets behind Communist-inspired workers on strikes chanting the Malayan Communist theme-song,"I Love My Malaya". I witnessed the Chinese Middle School Students unrest, the struggle between the then socialist, non-Communist PAP and the Leftist, Peking-oriented Barisan Sosialis, the unfortunate racial riots in the early 1960's and, "Confrontasi".

        "Confrontasi" or "Confrontation" was launched by the then President Sukarno of Indonesia to foil the plan for the formation of a multi-racial Malaysia which would include the current East Malaysian States and Singapore. Soekarno was against a multi-racial Federation of Malaysia because he perceived the nascent Federation of Malaysia then as a neo-colonialist scheme by the British colonialists to perpetuate their presence and influence in this part of the world as well as to contain the growing powers of countries in this region deemed unfriendly to the British and the West in general. And I still remember starkly how frightened many Singaporeans felt when the then Lee Kuan Yew-led Singapore Government turned down an appeal by President Suharto, who ousted Sukarno, and a subsequent appeal by the then PM of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman (on behalf of the Indonesian Government ) not to hang an 'Indonesian operative' who had been caught, arrested and convicted for planting and attempting
        to detonate an explosive device at the old Odeon Cinema as part of the anti-Malaysia Confrontation campaign. When the sentencing of the convicted Indonesian operative was published in the press there was widespread outcry in Indonesia and demands were made, by several Indonesian Military leaders, of their Government to provide them the necessary warships for them to lead an invasion against Singapore to teach Lee Kuan Yew a lesson. Despite the very emotionally-charged regional political situation and the vociferous threats, Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues stood their ground and the convicted 'terrorist' was subsequently hanged in accordance with 'the law of the land'.

        Now Lee Kuan Yew could have influenced his colleagues and got them to agree to give in to the demands of the Indonesians. And being the foremost among 'the old guards' he would have been able to persuade his colleagues to change course. But he did not. Was Lee Kuan Yew merciless or lacking in compassion on that occasion? Or had his action more to do with his acting as he was expected to do or should do as the popularly-elected PM of an independent, sovereign nation, ie. The Republic of Singapore? To have given in to the demands, under pressure, of the Government of a much, much bigger country for a criminal act of 'terrorism' committed on our sovereign soil by one of their nationals/citizens (who was actually carrying out the orders of the Establishment of the day), would have been tantamounting to granting Indonesia the rights of 'extra-territoriality'. That was unthinkable for LKY for that would mean seriously undermining Singapore's status as an Independent and Sovereign nation as
        well as setting a precedent with undesirable ramifications for the young, struggling Republic both in the short term and in the longer term.

        In my reply to Prof. Chua, my focus was not Lee Kuan Yew. He was incidental to my reply. If the writer for "Yawning Bread" had read my letter with the care and attention that it deserved, he/she would have found the thrust of my message in Paragraph 3, which I now quote for his/her convenience:


        " ... Singaporeans have only themselves to blame for this sad state of affairs; for having allowed themselves to be seduced into accepting that issues that are in reality associated with 'the cravings of the flesh' precede those that relate to the dignity of being 'human'. So we became de-politicised and apolitical. In due course we ignored or blissfully forgot about the crucial need to provide that germane environment for latent/potential national leaders to be nourished and developed so as to facilitate that critical process of future political succession."


        When I wrote the above paragraph, uppermost in my mind was that the 'materialistic' Singaporeans had allowed the real Agenda of a General Election, that should have to do with Freedom and the Rights and Dignity of a People called Free, to be relegated and subsequently to be lured into giving priority to secondary issues such as the en-bloc Upgrading of their HDB flats and the general improvement of social and recreational amenities in their neighbourhood. Worse, they were seduced into accepting that should they cast their votes a certain way, they would be given priority when the overall HDB Upgrading Programme was ready for implementation. So peripheral and self-serving issues supplanted crucial and fundamental national issues in a General Election of a young nation aspiring towards evolving into a full-fledged, First-World Democracy.

        In my reply to Prof. Chua I also voiced my concern about the need for a strong and effective leadership capable of holding Singapore together in the midst of local, regional or international crises that could arise from any of a number of multifarious isssues ranging from the political, to the religious, to the cultural. The writer for "Yawning Bread" smugly dismissed my point as an example of 'scare-mongering', to quote him/her. In this connection I'd like to point out that September 11, the bombing of the Marriot Hotel in Bali and the fortunate and timely discovery of an explosive-device planted in the vicinity of an MRT station in Singapore (that would have caused considerable destruction, loss of lives, great suffering and fear nation-wide, had the device been successfully detonated) testify irrefutably to the gravity of the situation in our midst and serve also to validate my point. To wave aside incidents such as the ones just mentioned as mere 'scare-mongering' simply exposes
        the writer's extent of knowledge and real understanding of current affairs be they local, regional, world-wide, current or historical. It is only too apparent that the writer's knowledge is merely ankle-deep and extend to as far as between the front and back covers of the book/several books he/she happened to have read.

        Then the suggestion by the "Yawning Bread" writer that "LKY should just go" so as to give others a chance to prove their leadership mettle is laughable and pathetic. India's independence was not handed over to Ghandi, his compatriots and the Indian people, courtesy of the political enlightenment of the British Imperialists; and neither was China's liberation from foreign, imperialistic domination the outcome of demands by the equivalent of Human Rights movements in the civilised Western Democracies on such grounds as that it was immoral and a gross violation of civil and individual rights to colonise and enslave an entire nation. Imagine having a signboard such as the one "Chinese and Dogs Not Allowed" planted on native soil albeit within the bounds of premises designated a foreign embassy. Mao Tse-tung and his legendary compatriots of the Long March as well as thousands of poor Chinese peasants lost beloved ones, relatives, close friends, comrades and fellow countrymen as part of
        the high price they had to pay for ridding their country of the foreign imperialistic powers that occupied various parts of their beloved homeland.

        What is the point I'm trying to drive home here? It is precisely the fact that both the Mahatma and Mao fought and struggled long and hard, endured great hardships, and readily put their lives on the line daily, for their country and their people. Both these men earned their rights to lead exactly just as History has shown down the centuries how the mantle of leadership fell only on the shoulders of the strongest, the bravest and the ablest in the group/tribe/community. Asking Lee Kuan Yew to make his exit so that others would have a chance to lead would be to ridicule, downgrade and degrade that calibre of leadership we seek that would ensure Singapore's survival as a viable, cohesive and united, strong and prosperous nation, not just for us now, but for our progeny as well in the future.

        Finally, on balance how does the scale tilt? I would that LKY be around for as long as he is able to continue to make a valuable contribution to Singapore's continued advancement, to share with the younger leadership whatever guidance and benefit of hindsight and wisdom that he has acquired over the years , as well as for whatever advantages that might accrue to Singapore through him from his networking over the years with individuals or groups of people in positions of power and influence in various parts of the world. And do not take this point lightly. Singapore's ability to survive intact as a political entity in the critical early years of its emergence as a young, independent nation was to an not inconsiderable extent, due to the friendship and networking Lee Kuan Yew had with powerful and influential people in countries that could be counted upon to come to Singapore's aid. I believe, based on my observation and reading on current affairs, Lee kuan Yew's international social
        circle and political networking over the years have grown both in strength and in scope. And so has his status as an international statesman. All these achievements of Lee Kuan Yew cannot be but accounted as assets to Singapore. In short the scale tilts in LKY's favour.

        There is yet another issue that cannot be conveniently neglected when we want to consider asking Lee Kuan Yew to go. Since the 1950's he has stood as a candidate in the General Election in the Tanjong Pagar Constituency. And he has not changed constituency and has won in every General Election since then in that same constituency. Until the Tanjong Pagar constituents feel he has outlived his usefulness for them and for Singapore, or, until the people of Singapore can convince LKY's constituents that it's time for him to go, Lee Kuan Yew stays. True to the democratic tradition, the choice to stay or to go is not one Lee Kuan Yew can do anything about. That most critical decision resides finally in the people. Do Singaporeans have the right to exercise this decision? And are they able, freely and without fear or favour, to exercise that right, intelligently and in accordance with the dictate of their conscience? These questions encapsulate that most critical test for Singapore's
        Democracy. Any Democracy, for that matter.

        Ho Cheow Seng.

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Mellanie Hewlitt
        To: ehocs777@...
        Cc: yawning@...
        Sent: Saturday, February 14, 2004 10:43 AM
        Subject: Re: [Sg_Review] Point of Departure: Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go


        Dear Mr Ho

        I am sorry if you feel that way. Let me share with you several facts;

        a) You may visit the Yawning Bread website and you will see for yourself who the actual writer is:

        http://www.geocities.com/yawning_bread/mainpage.htm

        http://www.yawningbread.org/


        b) I have not actually seen your counter-reply to Yawning bread. I have posted your original reply. Please try to understand that this is not a chat room so if the thread for the debate becomes too long and tedious, many readers will simply trash the newsletter.

        c) What you call "Selective Journalism" we call a "different opinion". This is a newsgroup that is dedicated to frank discussion on local politics. We try to discuss public policy from ah honest perspective that the local govt owned networks are unable to provide.

        If your article is a long adoring love letter to Mr Lee, then we have a wealth of avenues in the SPH newspapers who holds the Lee family up as shining icons. There are mountains after mountains of govt sponsored websites and articles which towes this politically correct perspective.

        Pls understand that we try to be different from the local media and if you really wish to spew adoring love letters to LKY, you will find SPH editors more then willing to accomodate your articles.

        Incidentally We also get mountains of articles from readers. Many are what we call "hate mail" against the PAP govt and Lee family which we also do not publish (you may also call this selective journalism perhaps). We simply cannot post everyone's opinion!

        Finally, having said all that, I will still give your article due consideration so pls re-post it. PLs also understand that there are 3 other editors behind sg review and I am not always around to edit daily postings.

        I do hope that you remain our reader and continue to contribute your articles.

        kind rgds

        Mellanie Hewlitt



        Ho CS <ehocs777@...> wrote:

        From: "Ho CS"
        To: "Yawning Bread"
        Cc: "mellaniehewlitt"
        Subject: Re: Point of Departure.
        Date: Monday, February 02, 2004 8:08 PM

        Dear Editor,
        I wrote a letter in response to what Sociology Professor Chua Beng Huat was
        reported by the Straits Times to have said at a seminar organized by the
        Institute of Policy Studies.

        I have just received a reply to my letter from "Yawning Bread" which was
        unsigned, leaving me totally in the dark as to who the "writer" of this
        letter might be.(Please see below for reference). As it is my firm principle
        never to discuss issues of state/current affairs or communicate in public on
        any issue with anyone who fights shy of disclosing his/her identity, I am
        uninclined to proceed further with the current discussion unless the
        "writer" of the letter published below is prepared to disclose his/her full
        name. I did so when I wrote my response to the good Professor's reported
        speech. In this connection I must admit I just got to know about Yawning
        Bread and might need some advice/information with regard to the protocol of
        this web-site.

        Please note that you have published in sequence my reply to the worthy
        Professor's speech and Yawning Bread's response to my reply as mentioned
        above (whoever he/she might be). Subsequent to Yawning Bread's response I
        replied to Yawning Bread but have been unable to get a
        response/counter-reply to my letter. It appears YOU are practising
        "selective journalism" which is clearly contrary to the declared principle
        of a free and fair exchange of views. By returning my letter as
        "undeliverable" (rather under-handed and ungentlemanly), and so deprive me
        of the opportunity to share with subscribers of your site as well as of
        Yawning Bread my points of views on the 'bone of contention' you are guilty
        of the very same criticism of being "undemocratic" and "grossly unjust"
        which you seem to champion on your website. Unless you practice what you
        preach on your website and until you show you do have the courage of your
        conviction, all is alas, but "an empty story/ told by a fool/ full of sound
        and fury/ but signifying nothing". Sad, indeed very sad!

        Ho Cheow Seng
        ehocs777@...

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Yawning Bread"
        To:
        Cc: "Ho CS"
        Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 6:59 PM
        Subject: Re: Point of Departure.


        > Dear Editor,
        >
        > Kindly permit me to respond to some points raised by Ho CS
        >
        > > he could still have value for Singapore in the 21st Century,
        > > taking into consideration his vast experience and his international
        > > standing,
        >
        > I think this is debatable. Once we remove the hagiography for his past
        > work, what does he represent in the minds of the international audience
        > today? I believe an honest reading would be extremely mixed. As much as
        > he represents single-minded determination to achieve economic growth,
        > he also represents in many non-Singaporeans, authoritarianism,
        > anti-democratic instincts, eugenics and unwelcome comment on other
        > countries' internal affairs.
        >
        > > although no one is indispensible, there is
        > > at the moment (and for as far down the road as we can see at
        > > this point in time) no-one with a credible mass base and of
        > > sufficient international stature to hold this tiny
        > > island-state together in the event of a major political
        > > crisis, whether that crisis be national, regional or
        > > international in origin.
        >
        > Yet this forms part of my very argument. So long as he stays around in
        > politics, it is going to inhibit the healthy growth of a new leadership
        > that has the genuine respect of the people. As I said in my essay, he
        > represents the impossibility of change. He is perceived to hold the
        > final veto. In such a discouraging scenario, it stands to reason that a
        > good fraction of people who might otherwise speak up and contribute
        > their efforts, might be turned off. "What should I try to sell my ideas
        > and effect change when the cards are stacked against me?" is the
        > unspoken question. The next time the PAP laments that they find it so
        > hard to find "good people to join their team" we should ask ourselves
        > whether sensible people might be deferring because they don't want to
        > work under a veto. And those who do join the team immediately get
        > tarred by the public's perception that they are lackeys, so try as they
        > might, they can never establish their own credentials with the public.
        >
        > One might argue that it's all perception, and that in actual fact Mr
        > Lee Kuan Yew might be open to persuasion and very democratic
        > proceedings in cabinet. But this is unknowable. In any case, in
        > politics, perception itself is substance. Just as we say it's not only
        > that justice be done, it has to be seen to be done, so it is with
        > politics. If we want an open environment of competitive ideas -
        > economic, social, political - it is no use just say saying we want it.
        > Given our history, i.e. our legacy of authoritarianism and the
        > resultant incredulity about the sincerity of the government in
        > listening to other voices, it is necessary to make large gestures just
        > to obtain a small shift in perception.
        >
        > > we are situated in the midst of a region as well
        > > as placed at a moment in history where signs of potential
        > > social, political and religious turbulance are more than
        > > just writings on the wall.
        >
        > This is the kind of scare-mongering that is part of the problem. Every
        > age has its crises and dangers, so phrasing it thus actually says
        > nothing. All one can see is an attempt to justify consolidation and
        > rallying around the incumbent by saying, now is not the time to rock
        > the boat.
        >
        > The point I was trying to make was this: Do a balance sheet. What asset
        > value does Mr Lee bring to Singapore NOW, by remaining in government
        > and politics? What liabilities does he bring NOW? Which side of the
        > ledger is greater?
        >
        >
        > __________________________________
        > Do you Yahoo!?
        > Yahoo! SiteBuilder - Free web site building tool. Try it!
        > http://webhosting.yahoo.com/ps/sb/
        >



























        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "Yawning Bread"
        To:
        Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 10:27 PM
        Subject: [Sg_Review] Point of Departure: Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should
        Just Go


        >
        > From: Yawning Bread
        > To: Mellanie Hewlitt
        > Point of Departure: Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go
        >
        > Dear Editor,
        >
        > Kindly permit me to respond to some points raised by Ho CS
        >
        > Ho CS:
        > > he could still have value for Singapore in the 21st Century,
        > > taking into consideration his vast experience and his international
        > > standing,
        >
        > I think this is debatable. Once we remove the hagiography for his past
        > work, what does he represent in the minds of the international audience
        > today? I believe an honest reading would be extremely mixed. As much as
        > he represents single-minded determination to achieve economic growth,
        > he also represents in many non-Singaporeans, authoritarianism,
        > anti-democratic instincts, eugenics and unwelcome comment on other
        > countries' internal affairs.
        >
        > Ho CS:
        > > although no one is indispensible, there is
        > > at the moment (and for as far down the road as we can see at
        > > this point in time) no-one with a credible mass base and of
        > > sufficient international stature to hold this tiny
        > > island-state together in the event of a major political
        > > crisis, whether that crisis be national, regional or
        > > international in origin.
        >
        > Yet this forms part of my very argument. So long as he stays around in
        > politics, it is going to inhibit the healthy growth of a new leadership
        > that has the genuine respect of the people. As I said in my essay, he
        > represents the impossibility of change. He is perceived to hold the
        > final veto. In such a discouraging scenario, it stands to reason that a
        > good fraction of people who might otherwise speak up and contribute
        > their efforts, might be turned off. "What should I try to sell my ideas
        > and effect change when the cards are stacked against me?" is the
        > unspoken question. The next time the PAP laments that they find it so
        > hard to find "good people to join their team" we should ask ourselves
        > whether sensible people might be deferring because they don't want to
        > work under a veto. And those who do join the team immediately get
        > tarred by the public's perception that they are lackeys, so try as they
        > might, they can never establish their own credentials with the public.
        >
        > One might argue that it's all perception, and that in actual fact Mr
        > Lee Kuan Yew might be open to persuasion and very democratic
        > proceedings in cabinet. But this is unknowable. In any case, in
        > politics, perception itself is substance. Just as we say it's not only
        > that justice be done, it has to be seen to be done, so it is with
        > politics. If we want an open environment of competitive ideas -
        > economic, social, political - it is no use just say saying we want it.
        > Given our history, i.e. our legacy of authoritarianism and the
        > resultant incredulity about the sincerity of the government in
        > listening to other voices, it is necessary to make large gestures just
        > to obtain a small shift in perception.
        >
        > Ho CS:
        > > we are situated in the midst of a region as well
        > > as placed at a moment in history where signs of potential
        > > social, political and religious turbulance are more than
        > > just writings on the wall.
        >
        > This is the kind of scare-mongering that is part of the problem. Every
        > age has its crises and dangers, so phrasing it thus actually says
        > nothing. All one can see is an attempt to justify consolidation and
        > rallying around the incumbent by saying, now is not the time to rock
        > the boat.
        >
        > The point I was trying to make was this: Do a balance sheet. What asset
        > value does Mr Lee bring to Singapore NOW, by remaining in government
        > and politics? What liabilities does he bring NOW? Which side of the
        > ledger is greater?
        >
        > Yawning Bread
        >
        > --------------------------------------------------------------------------
        ------------
        >
        > From: Ho Cheow Seng
        > To: mellanie Hewlitt (mellaniehewlitt@...)
        > Sent: Friday, January 30, 2004 10:21 PM
        >
        > Subject: Fw: [Sg_Review] Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go
        >
        > Dear Editor,
        >
        > Below is my response to the posting on your website re."Adding value -
        > Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go". May I request that my letter below be
        > given the opportunity of a 'hearing' on the Sg_Review website so that
        > subscribers would have a balanced perspective of the scenario that is
        > being played out.
        >
        > With regard to what Sociology Professor Chua Beng Huat was reported
        > to have said and which was subsequently reported in the Straits
        > Times, I have the following comments to make:
        >
        > That LKY should go because he is an anachronism is quite debatable.
        > That he could still have value for Singapore in the 21st Century,
        > taking into consideration his vast experience and his international
        > standing, is something I could still vouch for. That he has done a
        > lot for Singapore and is unquestionably the architect of Modern
        > Singapore needs no dispute. But this is quite another matter.
        >
        > The sad fact for Singapore is that, although no one is indispensible,
        > there is at the moment (and for as far down the road as we can see at
        > this point in time) no-one with a credible mass base and of sufficient
        > international stature to hold this tiny island-state together in the
        > event of a major political crisis, whether that crisis be national,
        > regional or international in origin. And we are situated in the midst of a
        > region as well as placed at a moment in history where signs of potential
        > social, political and religious turbulance are more than just
        > writings on the wall.
        >
        > Perhaps Singaporeans have only themselves to blame for this sad state
        > of affairs; for having allowed themselves to be seduced into
        > accepting that issues that are in reality associated with 'the
        > cravings of the flesh' precede those that relate to the dignity of
        > being 'human'. So we became de-politicised and apolitical. In due
        > course we ignored or blissfully forgot about the crucial need to
        > provide that germane environment for latent/potential national
        > leaders to to be nourished and developed so as to facilitate that critical
        > process of future political succession.
        >
        > Yes, for the moment we seem to be at an impasse. But does the
        > repetitive belly-aching of the sort that appears from time to time on
        > local internet forums, such as this one, provide any clue to the
        > answer/solution that we are seeking for? The right to criticise, for
        > any criticism to be taken seriously, must be attended by the ability
        > to provide solutions. This may well sound cliched but it bears being
        > repeated, nonetheless.
        >
        > Ho Cheow Seng
        > Subscriber of Yahoo Sg Review
        > ehocs777@...
        >
        > ------------------- Original Message ----------------------------------
        >
        > From:
        > Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2004 1:40 PM
        > Subject: [Sg_Review] Adding value - Lee Kuan Yew Should Just Go
        >
        > Adding value
        > 26 January 2004
        > Yawning Bread
        > January 2004
        > http://www.geocities.com/yawning_bread/
        >
        > Sociology Professor Chua Beng Huat was reported by the Straits Times
        > to have said, at a seminar organized by the Institute of Policy
        > Studies earlier this month, "He should just go."
        >
        > "He" was Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
        >
        > No one else picked it up. No follow-up commentary in the press. Yet I
        > am sure Chua spoke for a great majority of Singaporeans.
        >
        > Without detracting from his great achievement when he was Prime
        > Minister for three decades 1959 - 1990, today, Lee has become a
        > liability.
        >
        > Two gaffes last September were widely noticed by the public, though
        > once again, the media were too restrained to call them gaffes.
        >
        > Nearly a diplomatic incident
        >
        > His wife, Mrs Lee, had a stroke while in London. She was rushed to
        > hospital, but was put in a queue for a brain scan. Lee phoned Tony
        > Blair to ask for his assistance, and later, on his return to
        > Singapore, publicly expressed thanks to the British PM for helping her
        > jump the queue.
        >
        > Blair's office was aghast. They denied that he or his staff did any
        > such thing. There would have been uproar from the British public if
        > they thought their Prime Minister participated in an act that could be
        > described as an abuse of power.
        >
        > The thought never seemed to have occurred to our Senior Minister.
        >
        > Nearly a domestic incident
        >
        > The Singapore doctors who rushed to London to attend to Mrs Lee had
        > some disagreement with the British doctors. (The Straits Times was
        > later to quote the Singapore doctors casting aspersions on the
        > competence and professionalism of the UK team). They decided to fly
        > her back to Singapore as soon as she was stabilised.
        >
        > A Singapore Airlines flight was chosen, and all its first class and
        > business class passengers were asked to take another flight [1]. The
        > plane was then converted into a flying hospital to take her back.
        >
        > On his return, Lee publicly praised Singapore Airlines for being so
        > prompt and efficient in converting the aircraft and responding to an
        > urgent need. The mainstream press duly carried his praises and once
        > more cheered the flag carrier.
        >
        > On the bulletin boards, some upstart asked, well who's going to pay
        > for that flight? Why should Singapore Airlines, a publicly-listed
        > company with quite a few private shareholders, bear the cost?
        >
        > After a few days, the Senior Minister's Office said that Lee would pay
        > for the flight. Payment had been offered before the talk appeared on
        > the bulletin board, it claimed. True or not, we don't know. Believed
        > or not, is another matter.
        >
        > Blind spots
        >
        > Both instances were serious blind spots, easily attributable to being
        > in power, and having his way, for too long. The perks of rank, which
        > would be unacceptable in other democracies, are quietly allowed to
        > slip through. This is what happens when a towering figure dominates
        > the political scene, when opposition parties are nearly snuffed out,
        > and worse, when he has neutered the media.
        >
        > We came close to a diplomatic accident with Britain. We nearly stepped
        > onto a landmine exploding in the face of the entire government for
        > abuse of priviledge, and this, at a time when the government's
        > credibility was already stretched thin by the continuing economic
        > gloom.
        >
        > Undermining the institutional legacy
        >
        > In September too, Lee suddenly announced that even after his son Lee
        > Hsien Loong became Prime Minister, and after Goh Chok Tong had
        > retired, he would still remain as Senior Minister.
        >
        > At one stroke he damaged a political institution - that of cabinet
        > government. The right thing to say would have been, "whether I stay in
        > the cabinet or not is not for me to say, but for the future Prime
        > Minister to decide if I can be of help."
        >
        > Diplomatic politesse it certainly is, but it at least preserves the
        > figleaf of the primacy of the PM's position. But, no. Lee decided he
        > would stay and said it out loud.
        >
        > Reminding all of the impossibility of change
        >
        > The style of the announcement aside, the fact that he stays on is the
        > grosser liability. It is very difficult for anyone to believe that
        > anything will really change in Singapore if he sticks around.
        >
        > Perceptions and sentiment are very important.
        >
        > For example, look at Thailand. Thaksin's program is far from complete.
        > Hindsight might even judge his fiscal policies reckless. But through
        > style alone, he has turned economic pessimism to hope. And there's a
        > buoyancy that is giving that country a rare, rare thing - a virtuous
        > cycle.
        >
        > Singapore? Most observers think we need some really drastic changes,
        > some paradigm shifts, if you'd forgive an overused term. But most
        > observers also think, it's not happening. Nothing is going to change
        > down here, except most grudgingly, always too little, too late,
        > because nothing changes up there.
        >
        > Adding value
        >
        > Once in a while, the press reports of some intervention by Lee in
        > important matters of state. One is supposed to get the impression,
        > that if not for him, such matters would not be well handled.
        >
        > A few years ago, the Singapore government was getting the short end of
        > the stick in the Suzhou Industrial Park venture, beaten at its own
        > game by the Suzhou municipal authorities. At the height of the
        > impasse, there was much trumpeting that Lee communicated directly with
        > Jiang Zemin, and got Jiang's commitment to rein the municipal brats
        > in.
        >
        > As far was we, the public, can tell, nothing resulted. And are we to
        > be surprised? Jiang was running a country of 1.5 billion people poised
        > precariously between economic boom and social catastrophe! He had his
        > own mountain of a problem to deal with: his own succession. What was
        > Suzhou Industrial Park compared to all that? Who was Lee compared to
        > all that?
        >
        > Then there was Malaysia, Mahathir and the water supply problem. Lee
        > wrote notes to Mahathir. Mahathir wrote back, and then changed his
        > mind. The problem was the personality of Mahathir, and there was
        > nothing that Lee could have done about that.
        >
        > Now we have Lee saying he is personally taking on the Singapore
        > Airlines pilots, to make sure they don't stand in the way of needed
        > restructuring by the airline, in the face of low-cost competitors.
        > Don't we have another cabinet minister whose portfolio includes air
        > transport? Are we saying the other ministers are incapable of handling
        > the situation? If they are, then what's with all the boasting about

        === message truncated ===


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