It is hard to imagine a time in Singapore when there is no Lee Kuan Yew. The two are inextricably linked and some would even say that there would be no modern Singapore without Lee Kuan Yew. Indeed, it is sometimes hard to separate the man from the country.
No one can deny his far reaching contributions to Singapore but it has reached a point in time when he should genuinely take a step back and retire for good. Far from aiding the PAP, he is now hampering their efforts at rejuvenation.
In an interview with CCTV, Mr Lee “warned of the dangers of Singapore moving towards a two-party system andelecting weak and ineffective governments”. Mr Lee is clearly an intelligent man. It therefore puzzles me that he would make such inflammatory statements barely three months after the worse election results the PAP has ever had.
With all due respect to a veteran politician such as Mr Lee, I question the logic behind that statement.
Political rhetoric aside, there are many successful countries in the world with two or more dominant parties. It is therefore a weak argument at best to imply that if Singaporeans voted for another political party besides the PAP, it would lead to a weak and ineffectual government.
Mr Lee further declared that he would be “very sorry for Singapore” if it ever went down the road of having a two-party system in parliament.
A genuine choice at elections is the hallmark of democracy. Singapore is supposed to be a democratic nation. Indeed our school children recite the words “to build a democratic society” as part of the pledge every single day!
What is the point of democratic features such as elections if attempts to utilise these features are dismissed and discouraged? Now more than ever, Singaporeans realise this and want a stake in their country. They want robust political debate and accountable leaders.
Above all, they want to have a real choice and to vote for the candidate they feel best suits the job, irrespective of party.
If Mr Lee goes on making assertions such as these, he will no doubt alienate many PAP supporters and reinforce existing support for the opposition parties.
Gone are the days when Singaporeans can be cowed by scare tactics. The political landscape has changed. With the advent of the internet and a new generation of Singaporeans who have either lived or studied abroad, threats and fear mongering can only go so far.
Since GE 2011, the younger Lee has indicated that the PAP needed to “listen to the people” and to rejuvenate itself. This show of contriteness is however destroyed by the utterance of such sweeping statements by Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Mr Lee is an astute man. He must therefore be aware of the implications of his actions on the PAP. With that assumption, I must regretfully come to the conclusion that he is either misguided, oblivious or both.
I may not have agreed with some of Mr Lee’s actions but I have profound respect for the man and will not hesitate to give him the credit that he deserves. It is therefore embarrassing to read these interviews for such statements are beneath someone with such a fine intellect.
Mr Lee, please do not destroy your own legacy by making such ill conceived remarks.
I feel that it is time for Mr Lee to gracefully bow out and give the PAP a fighting chance.
It is time for Singaporeans to have a true stake in their country. There will always come a time in one’s life to let go and move on.
Mr Lee, with all due respect, that time is now.