Is Prime Minister Lee engineering his grand exit?

by Joseph Nathan

BIG SPENDING has become the new hallmark of the current 4G People’s Action Party (PAP) politicians. From their lavish year-long Bicentennial Celebration to more lavish National Day Rally (NDR) dinners, they are no longer behaving like the Old Guards, who take engagement with the people and spending of public money seriously.

True, there were some monetary transfer to the Pioneer and Merdeka generations but these “narrowly distributed” dividends are like peanuts when compared to their dividends in the form of their own remunerations and benefits.

As for Goods & Service Tax (GST) voucher and utility rebates, just look at the recent increase in our utility bill to see just how much is given and how much is also taken away concurrently. Our Purchasing Power is being reduced, slowly but surely. At this rate, the poor and the working class will only get poorer. If so, why are we electing politicians who no longer care if we live or die?

Even if we forgive the PAP for their failure to deliver the Swiss standard of living for Singaporeans, I wonder if they have also forgotten about their promise of creating a Stakeholder Economy for us where every citizen can receive regular dividends from our economic success. Now that our former President Tony Tan has stepped down and retired, I wonder who can we asked about this “unfulfilled” promise?

Of late, we can see almost every minister labeling “affordable” on every of their policy and then rehashing them as “success stories” despite their years of miscalculations and having to catch up on several of the policy-curves. Are these “affordable” labels their new talisman?

What I cannot understand is why isn’t any of the 4G politician even remotely concerned about the hardship that Singaporeans are facing. What are they busy with?

Now that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (PM Lee) has unveiled his audacious Greater Southern Waterfront redevelopment, I do wonder if he is engineering his Grand Exit.

Looking Back:

Since PM Lee is supposed to retire after this upcoming election, it is highly probable that he is trying to cement his own legacy to impress upon future generation of his greatness, and also probably to impress upon foreign investors and delegates visiting our country that he is the man responsible for the success of ultra-modern Singapore.

As PM Lee clearly has the worst election record among our three prime ministers, he seriously needs a spectacular win at the upcoming election to erase his past poor records, as otherwise, all the physical monuments that he has erected or erecting will mean nothing, and he will always be seen as one who is the weakest. His antagonists will have their last laugh in teasing him ceaselessly. He has to score and he must score really big.

Here lies the irony. When he lost badly in GE2011, he actually cried publicly and seeks the support of Singaporeans to give him another chance.

That approach was logical. Now that things are again degenerating into even being more contentious and divisive than before GE2011, why is he defying logic by taking such an extravagant approach instead of being remorseful and show some sincerity in addressing our pressing concerns?

Enters the Magical Maestro:

PM Lee is no fool. Like a shrewd politician, he had magically waved his magical wand during NDR 2019 over the Greater Southern Waterfront and turned it into “The Panacea” that will solve all our current and future economic and social woes.

Why is the great maestro embarking on such an audacious project that stretches over 100 years when Singapore is only 54 years old? If PM Lee could not deliver on his earlier promise of transforming Singapore into an open and inclusive society despite after spending 15 years in office, then how is he going to deliver on this even more audacious undertaking that even late Lee Kuan Yew or our First Cabinet leaders will not have the courage to imagine?

Question and More Questions:

No one has yet to asked him as to where is he going to find the sand needed to reclaim the massive Southern Waterfront project without being accused of plundering the eco-system of our neighbours. If we have to end up importing such a humongous amount of sand, can we expect other ASEAN neighbours and environmental-related NGOs to keep quiet, and is this ethically right or morally wrong?

As for his 4G team, can they truly support him in such an audacious undertaking to stop rising tide of up to 4m when they could not even manage the flooding at Orchard or stay ahead of the many policy curves?

The Greatest Gamble:

Without a comprehensive plan that is well supported by project feasibility and environmental impact studies and matched with financing structures needed to support such a grand scheme of thing to maximize revenue and keep the project sustainable, his Grand Plan is looking more like a Big Gamble.

If it goes out of control, then instead of addressing the issue of rising tides, we may all end up being burden by a rising debt that even our future generations may not be able to bear. Why is PM Lee so hard-pressed to be taking such a big gamble with the future of our children?

Blessing or Curse?

If the Greatest Gamble is already in play, I think many of our opposition leaders now risked being humiliated, snookered or even checkmated by this great Magical Maestro in the upcoming election if they remain complacent or keep to their “same old” approaches. Missing by a slim margin is not an option for some.

The review by the EBRC is a macro-issue, beyond the reasonable control of the opposition. They can pre-analyze or “chope” their preferred SMCs or GRCs for all he cares as without a concerted strategy that can seriously rattle the PAP, all those “eager-beavers” are already playing into his hand. Why are they foolishly helping the Great Maestro, election after election?

Supported by their inherited well-oiled machinery from the old PAP and new expertise garnered from Smart Nation, PM Lee can have every predictable outcome predicted and contained. Given the high stake, he is unlikely to be leaving anything to chance this time around. He needs to have every threat contained and contingent against.

As such, he will draw every threat into the open. There can be no surprise. Every card must be opened and analyzed. His greatest threat has yet to be drawn into play and that is discomforting for PM Lee.

He will use all the tricks available to ensure a Big Win in the upcoming election. How I wished he could be as serious in addressing our immediate concerns instead of those of his party.

The Great Proclamation:

PM Lee was right to proclaim at NDR 2019 that “everything else must bend at the knee to safeguard the existence of our island nation”. This is a time-tested proclamation that every nation must take very seriously.

Here lies the irony – are his 4G politicians also bending their knee to safeguard our nation or are they using this proclamation to propagate the prosperity of their own party and interests but at the expense of our nation? This potential discrepancy needs further analysis and discussion.

Is Party-Politics the New Cancer?

If their latest announcements are all about the PAP winning big in the upcoming election instead of addressing the hardship and suffering of the people, I wonder if the Great Magician could have made a serious miscalculation here which underestimates the intelligence of the middle ground and patriotic grassroots leaders who can swing the votes against them. They are no fools either.

If so, then we can see with greater clarity that they are actually dedicating all their time and resources into trying to win big in the upcoming election. Aren’t these 4G politicians or even PM Lee himself undermining and contradicting the very essence of this Great Proclamation? Will the middle ground and patriotic Singaporeans continue to stay passive this time around?

Who are patriotic and who are party-centric is now much clearer for all to see. For the prosperity of our country, we must all be patriotic first and always. Party-politics is the new cancer that we must fight at all cost to keep our country viable and successful. This applies also to the opposition too. There can be no exception.

GE2019 or GE2020?

When it finally rains this November, we need to be asking if it is going to be a blessing upon our nation or otherwise. Opportunities are like water, and once they evaporate, then all is lost. The ruins of many great nations and the fall of many great men attest to this reality.

It is sad that some Singaporeans choose to keep their fingers crossed or close their eyes and ears when we still have the opportunity to make a difference. Our religious faith, penances and prayers, and even all of our wealth and success, will mean nothing if we choose to close our conscience to embrace these harsh realities that are plaguing our nation and fellow-citizens.

Our Collective Consciousness to act in good faith matters, and may just save us as a nation if we can make it clear to all politicians that Singaporeans are no fool or pushover. Public office has to be about service to the people and nation first, and always. Political parties can come and go but nation, once collapsed, is a lost case.

Nation at a Crossroad:

As we have reached a critical crossroad of our Nation Building, we should be asking ourselves if we truly value our blessings and success as a nation. If we do, then we ought to awake our Collective Consciousness and think critically about PM Lee’s Great Proclamation and take corrective action in this upcoming election. If our politicians are serving their self-interests instead of the people, then we are already in a crisis.

If these 4G politicians can roll back on the promises of LKY with their “zero-value” of our HDB or tinker with our CPF, then all their new promises are likewise empty promises that can be rolled back or reduced once the election is over.

That explains why LKY was often quoted that the day will come when the PAP will fail the people and be voted out. If Singapore is to degenerate at this pace and collapse under poor leadership, then future generations will be blaming us and cursing at his name. Isn’t the legacy of LKY worth saving? Are all his loyalists dead too? Who can or will save his legacy?

Time to rekindle our Collective Consciousness and be patriotic because future generation of Singaporeans cannot afford to be burden should this Great Gamble goes wrong. It is wiser to play safe and take calibrated approach. “All or Nothing” gambling mentality is just too reckless an option.

This is one article that I hope I am wrong or will be proven wrong. But if I am right, then I think the coming months are going to be gloomy and dark when everything becomes contentious and litigious. Hope such dreadful days will never dawn upon us.

Time to wake up and think critically because Singapore deserves better…

This article was first published on Mr Nathan’s Facebook page and reproduced with permission