In a Straits Times report on 10 July, five out of the nine new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) list Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew as their favourite politician. United States president, Barack Obama, is second with two votes of confidence, with one each for former South African president, Nelson Mandela and another US president, Benjamin Franklin.
New NMP, Associate Professor Paulin Tay Straughan, who is also vice dean of NUS’s Arts and Social Sciences faculty, gushes as she says, “I never envisaged that I would enter politics, but I had hoped that I would get to meet Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and tell him how much I admire him,” she told the Straits Times. “I hope to do that soon.”
To Mr Terry Lee Kok Hua, a veteran unionist, MM Lee is the “Father of Singapore”. “He has transformed Singapore from a Third World to First World nation that now provides Singaporeans with better jobs, better pay and a better life.”
MM Lee is admired for his “wisdom, vision and foresight” by Mr Teo Siong Seng, managing director of shipping company Pacific International Lines, for “transforming this tiny city with virtually no natural resources into one of the most developed countries in the world today.”
Indeed, MM Lee seems to be admired by the oldest and the youngest of the new NMPs. Mr Laurence Wee, 63, related how he had watched the debate between Mr Lee and Singapore’s first chief minister, Mr David Marshall, in the 1950s and went away awed by Mr Lee. “I was impressed with MM Lee’s calmness and composure during the debate,” says Mr Wee, who is Executive director of Presbyterian Community Services. “I thought to myself then that Mr Lee held the future of Singapore.”
To Ms Jocelyn Yeo, 30, winner of numerous medals for swimming for Singapore, MM Lee “epitomizes leadership”. “His wisdom, strength and courage in making decisions that shaped Singapore are greatly admired,” she says. “He was and is truly a leader among leaders.”
Nominated Members of Parliament are said to be selected because they can provide alternative views. Hopefully, their seemingly deep admiration for the Minister Mentor will not prevent them from doing so.