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Govt should hold MM accountable for remarks

The following is a letter sent to us by a TOC reader.

I am reluctant to resurrect the troubles that brewed over MM Lee’s remarks that related to the Malay-Muslim Community but I feel the need to raise a point on accountability that has not yet been resolved.

First, I believe it is better for the Malay-Muslim Community to try to consider MM Lee’s words contextually and constructively. We could also try and keep in mind the positive things that MM Lee has done for the Malay-Muslim Community over the decades. That aside, this letter is not about the merits of his remarks.

Having read and learnt about MM Lee’s incisive world-view and strong convictions, I can understand his rationale behind those observations. As an individual, Mr Lee Kuan Yew may be entitled to say those things. However, as a Minister and a representative of the Government, his words and actions are attributable to the Government. Therefore, he cannot be held unaccountable if such words had the effect that it did.

It is insufficient for the PM to merely say that he holds a different view. If the remarks are wrongful, they must be corrected. If the views are not to be attributed to the government, then they must be clearly repudiated. This must be so even if the words were spoken by the nation’s founder himself.

I have such respect for MM Lee and his dedication to Singapore that I half-suspect that he might approve of this reproach on the Government. It would be too easy for me to let sleeping dogs lie and to quietly yet uncomfortably accommodate for the words and actions of a political giant. It would be much simpler to join the crowd that asserts the existence of a climate of fear and that the Government does as it pleases. But I am convinced that the right thing to do would be to speak up.

Therefore, I have to say that the PM must make clear that his Ministers, including MM, hold themselves accountable for their words and actions. This would send a strong and reassuring signal to Singaporeans that the Government is not only deeply committed to the rule of law but also has a measurable respect for the people’s sentiments.

Thank you

Ahmad Firdaus Daud