By Teo Soh Lung
It seems strange that Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee, who is also the son of former cabinet minister Lee Yock Suan should issue a statement yesterday (21 Nov) accusing “friends, sympathisers and proxies of Workers Party (WP)” of spreading falsehoods and half-truths online.
He should have known better. The use of the terms “sympathisers and proxies of WP” immediately reminded me of the accusations made against me by the first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. In 1986, he had accused me of being a sympathiser of WP and called me the lieutenant of its leader, JB Jeyaretnam. While I was a sympathiser of the WP and indeed of all opposition parties, I was no lieutenant or proxy of JBJ.
Name calling is the trademark of People’s Action Party (PAP) leaders. Desmond Lee probably learnt the technique from his father, who in turn learnt from his mentor, Lee Kuan Yew. It is a tactic that worked well in the 1980s because there was no internet. There was only the print media. That I was called a WP sympathiser and lieutenant of JBJ was on print and probably scared the daylight out of members of the public then who were always terrified of being associated with the opposition. I did not rebut the statement because not being a politician, I didn’t even think of doing so.
After all, I thought, maybe erroneously on hindsight, what the media reported were the bare allegations of Lee Kuan Yew and his unquestioning assistant, Prof S Jayakumar.
Most Singaporeans today, especially young Singaporeans, are no longer afraid of being associated with the opposition.
Indeed, after the 2011 general election, it is fashionable to be associated with the opposition. What is so wrong with being friends, sympathisers and proxies of WP or for that matter, any other opposition political party?
The PAP often forget or choose to deliberately forget that Singaporeans have matured and they know they have rights as well as obligations.
While they may appreciate what the PAP government have done for the country, they also know that the government would not have succeeded without their contributions. They have a right to choose who they wish to support without being members of any political party or the PAP. They have a right to publish their views online. They have a right to criticise the PAP. There is no necessity for such a high ranking minister as the Minister of State for National Development to make such unsubstantiated accusations against Singaporeans. His time is better spent in managing the country than picking fights with “friends, sympathisers and proxies of WP”.