Below is a Facebook note shared by Mr Benjamin Pwee about the Lee family saga which is unfolding in social media. Mr Pwee was responding to an article written by Straits Times’ Chua Mui Hoong, “Time to reflect and seek the common good”.
Below is the note in full by Mr Pwee and reproduced with permission.
Well-written, Mui Hoong. I have kept silent till now, now it’s my turn.
I too knew Lee Kuan Yew (LKY) up-close-and-personal in the six years I was in the Foreign Service, acting as his interpreter, notetaker and follow-upper on all his dealings with China. And his inimicable personal style of austere leadership came through in every conversation I was involved with him. And for all the criticisms levied against him, he was a historical leader and man of and for a specific time in Singapore’s history.
Lee Hsien Yang (LHY) and Lee Weiling (LWL)’s first salvo was to question if Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) is being true to LKY’s values. For me, this is the heart of the current saga that has meaning for all Singaporeans. Whilst matters of the will and personal motivations make for exciting soap drama, these concern the Lee family personally. It does not concern us.
What DOES concern us, is the 2 younger siblings’ use of this house/will incident, to bring into question LHL’s leadership integrity and (ab)use of state/government authority and powers to achieve personal desired ends. Including all the claims of phones being tapped, overseas travel being restricted, friends being affected, etc.
And on this count, our role as Singaporeans is to look back at the performance and track record of the current government’s and political leaders’ use/misuse of state organs and authority to achieve pre-intended goals, without sufficient public consultation, or proper debate in Parliament, or legal respect for private property. And this is not about the few and far in:between instances of things with national heritage or historical value. Its about entering personal property without consent of owner, defining what constitutes permissible free speech and what doesn’t, and other less significant incidences.
So we as members of the public indeed need not be involved with matters of the will or the house or motivations of the players in the current saga. Our role and responsibility is to seriously consider the claims of LHY and LWL against LHL, the government and the current ruling party, and to look back at their track record, way of handling disputes, style of government, and ask ourselves, WHICH of LKY’s values do WE as a voting population want OUR democratically elected political leaders to continue, and which of LKY’s values, style, style of government, way of handling disputes, and means of achieving desired ends, do we NOT want our elected leaders to continue.
And the current house-and-will saga is merely the foil to spotlight this core issue up publicly for us to see and consider.
I would like to end by personally appealing to LHY, LSF and LWL, to stay on in Singapore and step forward to be part of a small but growing group of credible voices who CAN fearlessly bring the current political leaders and government into public account, for the good of all Singaporeans. Don’t jump ship and leave, and leave lesser mortals like us to try play this role. Be part of the credible politically balancing voices that Singapore so desperately need. And one doesn’t have to be in politics or be in opposition to do so.
Benjamin Pwee served in Administrative Service of the Singapore Civil Service for eight years, holding various posts in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. From 1995 to 1998, he was the First Secretary (Political and Economic Affairs) at the Singapore Embassy in Beijing, where he acted as interpreter and note-taker during Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s visits to China. He was also involved in key projects like the Singapore-Suzhou Industrial Park and the PSA-Dalian Port Development projects. In both ministries, Pwee served under then-Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng. (Wikipedia)
Mr Pwee is currently the Managing Director of E-deo Asia, a regional business strategy consultancy firm and also the Secretary General of Democratic Progress Party. He has contested in the General Election in 2011 and 2015 at Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.