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Tan Jee Say: “Dear Prime Minister, please think of Country, Family, Colleagues, and resign now”

Former civil servant and Secretary-General of SingFirst, Tan Jee Say has written an open letter to the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, asking for his resignation. Citing five reasons why PM Lee should resign, Mr Tan made a plea to PM Lee to think of his country, family and colleagues and to step down as the Prime Minister.

Below is Mr Tan's letter in full

Prime Minister,
Republic of Singapore.

cc President Dr Tony Tan, ESM Goh Chok Tong
Dear Prime Minister,

"Dear Prime Minister, please think of Country, Family, Colleagues, and resign now"

I know, along with many Singaporeans, that you must be feeling very troubled these two and a half weeks. But we also know that you are a man with a very strong will. As you told Singaporeans at a rally during the 2015 General Election, "Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him or give it up."

But giving up does not necessarily mean weakness in a person if it is done for noble reasons that are for the greater good of society. In view of what had happened between you and your siblings in the last few years that exploded in full public view only recently, I would like to make this plea to you, "Dear Prime Minister, please think of your Country, Family and Colleagues, and resign from the premiership now!"

Here are my 5 reasons :


For Country

1. You have become a liability to the nation. You have mishandled your dispute with
your siblings which led them to make serious allegations of your abuse of power and your wife's pervasive influence on government even though she does not hold any elected or official position; these allegations warrant an independent inquiry by a special committee.

They have tarnished the special "Singapore brand" of honest and clean government that is free of abuse of power and conflict of interest. This "branding" has won us tremendous goodwill among investors, buyers of our products and services and friends around the world. It has been carefully built and nurtured around the Lee Kuan Yew legacy which has now sadly been discredited. If this is not put right without delay, the adverse impact on our economy and national well-being will be felt in the years to come.

2. Your priorities are misplaced. You wasted an entire year of the nation's time, brainpower and resources on politicising the elected presidency. As a result, economic challenges have been neglected with slow growth in jobs, wages and productivity.

Your economic targets centred around 2% annual GDP growth are low, uninspiring and lacking in ambition and vision. You have no answers to the challenges of economic disintermediation caused by geopolitical and technology changes. Instead of strengthening alliances with key players to deal with problems together, you have antagonised the biggest economic power in the region. Unless we mend our ways, we will end up with no friends when we need them most.


For Family

3. You had not been in the best of health. Your fainting at last year's National Day
Rally was the latest public manifestation; it added to your woes and scared everybody. The dispute with your siblings will add stress to you and likely impede any recovery you hope for.

This can and will detract from your prime ministerial duties. You have given your entire life to public service with the last 13 years as PM, so no Singaporean will begrudge you if you decide to stop and smell the roses. There is a time for everything and now is the time for you to step back and do something different for and with your family.

4. Not being PM can be positive for your children. They will flourish under their own steam and unconstrained by any consideration of impact on official status or obligations. They can even go into politics without inviting any suggestion of nepotism.

For example, Najib Razak went into politics after his prime minister father Abdul Razak had died, likewise for Hishammuddin Hussein, the son of Hussein Onn, the third prime minister of Malaysia. Similarly, Mukhriz Mahathir was elected into the Federal Parliament 5 years after his father Dr Mahathir had stepped down as PM.


For colleagues

5. Several of your ministerial colleagues have been dragged into the dispute. In addition to your good self, DPM Teo Chee Hean and SMS Indranee Rajah have been accused of lying by your siblings, and Minister Shanmugam has been called unethical by Dr Lee Wei Ling.

I believe your code of conduct for ministers, even if informal, requires them to protect and defend their honour and integrity in a court of law by taking out a legal suit against the accusers immediately, but if they do not do so or fail to clear their good name in their legal suit, then they should do the decent thing of resigning from their respective positions in the government without delay.
You can start the process of redeeming your honour by initiating the legal action now and ask your ministers to follow suit to redeem theirs. This would be leadership by example at its best, the same way your late father Mr Lee Kuan Yew demonstrated with his legal suit against Tang Liang Hong that was joined in by his ministers.

This matter of your family feud has consumed and distracted the entire nation. We have to get on with our lives. Please resign now so that the nation can move on to tackle the critical challenges ahead of us. It is the only right thing to do, the only thing you must do without any further delay.

Yours sincerely,
Tan Jee Say