By Singapore Democrats
At an SG50 conference on Thursday, Mr Lee Hsien Loong said: “…if you don’t have a certain natural aristocracy in the system, people who are respected because they have earned that and we level everything down to the lowest common denominator, then I think society will lose out.”
Aristocracy is defined as a government by a minority privileged class whose political power is derived from hereditary nobility. These people believe themselves to be superior to the rest of society and see their status and power as a birthright.
Is this how Mr Lee sees himself – as nobility?
His statement tells us a lot about his vision for Singapore – where he and his ilk remain in power because they perceive themselves as superior to the rest of society (the “lumpen masses” as his late father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, puts it) and expect to be obeyed and served.
To be very clear, aristocracy (rule by nobility) is anathema to democracy (rule by the people). The two cannot co-exist.
Aristocracies maintain political control by prosecuting dissidents and rewarding their supporters. Is this why Mr Lee said in 2006 that he needed to “fix” his opponents and “buy his supporters over?”
Aristocracies also equate themselves with the country. Is this why Mr Lee said in a PAP conference last year that “If the PAP fails, Singapore is in deep trouble”? (The truth is that there are many Singaporeans who can take Singapore forward but don’t want to be part of the PAP because they see it as the problem, not the solution.)
This is the danger for Singapore. At a time when openness and democracy are needed, the Prime Minister talks about a “natural aristocracy”. It is such kind of arrogant and tone-deaf statements that should scare Singaporeans. It is the clearest sign yet that Mr Lee is not in tune with the aspirations of the Singaporean people.
Class-based societies have long proven to be untenable and have been rejected all over the world. Yet, Mr Lee talks about it as if it is a good thing. His statement belies his tears and apologies during the last election in 2011.
Unlike the PAP, the SDP pledges to build a democratic and inclusive society. We believe that the political system should empower and serve ordinary Singaporeans, not the so-called aristocrats. We want a system that gives everyone a fair start in life and provides equal opportunity for all.
Undemocratic rule through aristocracy (disguised as meritocracy under the PAP system) has no place in Singapore and our future.
This is what distinguishes the SDP from the PAP.
This post was first published at Singapore Democratic Party’s website