by Alfian Sa’at
Those who say to Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling: “Please don’t make your spat public, the world is laughing at us, I feel embarrassed when I have to explain to my overseas friends what is going on”, are you for real?
I think you’re either being disingenuous or hypocritical if the Oxley saga makes you feel embarrassed and awkward, but not these other questions, which I regularly get from my foreign friends:
– How come your prime minister is the son of a former prime minister?
– Meritocracy, really?
– How come your prime minister’s wife is the director of the national wealth fund?
– What does meritocracy mean in your country?
– Why do you ban chewing gum?
– Why do you cane people who spray graffiti?
– How come you’re supposed to be a ‘developed country’ but your press freedom ranking is so low?
– Why do you hang people who sell drugs but not people who take them?
– How come your country isn’t ready for a non-Chinese Prime Minister?
– Why do you criminalise what consensual adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms?
– Why are there so many incidents of domestic worker abuse and suicides from your country?
– Why do people from your country visit ours and do things they wouldn’t do in yours, like littering, speeding, and shouting ‘so cheap!’ at everything?
Really, what is this selective shame? I can tell you that I don’t feel embarrassed at all explaining what’s happening with 38 Oxley Road. So here are a few things you can tell your foreign inquisitors: It’s a dispute over a will. There are serious questions to be asked about whether there has been an abuse of power. Like every other political system all over the world that emphasises checks and balances, we need to enforce safeguards that ensure our politicians do not act with impunity, and do not use state organs to further their personal interests.
You know how Trump is being investigated for potential obstruction of justice, or all those conflict of interest lawsuits regarding his business holdings and the emoluments clause, not to mention the ostensibly nepotistic practice of putting Ivanka and Jared in politically influential positions? Same thing in our country: if there’s any wrongdoing, the media has an obligation to expose it, and the law must take its course.
And lastly, I don’t feel embarrassed because I have never thought that our Prime Minister, or the PAP for that matter, ever represented the best of what my country has produced. (Can I interest you, instead, in some of our brilliant sportspeople, our filmmakers, our artists, our tenacious and courageous activists?) There are many other Singaporean things I am fiercely and passionately proud of and well…Lee Hsien Loong and his party are not on that list.
This was first published on Alfian’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission.