“Politics is for every citizen,” says PSP’s Lee Hsien Yang. In a lengthy post on his Facebook page today (30 June), Progress Singapore Party’s Lee Hsien Yang—who is not contesting in the upcoming general election—talked about his involvement in politics, adding that the People’s Action Party (PAP) has lost its way.
He started off recalling his youth, growing up in a family that is at the centre of Singapore politics, saying that it would have been only natural for him to enter political office as well.
“But political leadership in Singapore needs to be much more than about one family or one man,” he said.
“The empirical evidence shows that dynastic politics causes bad government,” added Mr Lee, saying that when people enter politics on the back of their family name, they are often evaluated based on their parent’s performance, not their own merits.
Mr Lee, who is the son of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and brother for Singapore’s third Prime Minister Lee Hsien Yong, said that this gives them an unfair advantage that “undermines meritocracy”.
He asked, “How can we expect politicians to hold each other to account, if they are blood relations?”
Mr Lee then said he chose to enter the world of business instead and contribute to his nation via volunteering in other institutions beyond his corporate roles.
“I wanted to forge my own path, to be my own man and a man of my word.”
When it was announced that Mr Lee had joined the PSP as one of its newest members just last week, there was wild speculation about where he might contest in the upcoming elections. It was confirmed today, though, that Mr Lee would not be standing for elections this year.
Mr Lee elaborated in his post, “I have chosen not to stand for political office because I believe Singapore does not need another Lee.”
“I am involved through speaking up, by supporting candidates and parties I believe in, by contributing my time, ideas and resources to causes I support, and by seeking an open and independent media,” he added, saying that he is interested in politics.
He continued, “I do not seek power, prestige or financial rewards of political office. I hope to be a catalyst for change.”
Mr Lee went on to talk about the various ways one could get involved in politics.
“Amongst others it needs citizens to be aware of and contribute to the public discourse in the country, to support political parties one believes in, and to help them reach out to other voters,” he said.
“It is support for an independent media and for open and transparent government. It is being engaged, speaking truth to power, volunteering one’s time and contributing financially or otherwise for causes that one believes in.”
Mr Lee stressed, “Politics is both the right and the duty of every citizen.”
The younger of the Lee brothers went on to emphasise the importance of diversity in parliament and leaders who are receptive to this varied voices.
“Our country needs a broad and diverse parliament with members who care for its citizens and the future of our nation and hold themselves accountable to the citizens. It needs people from different walks of life who can imagine, inspire and execute. We need new ideas to reinvigorate Singapore.”
“We must have genuine discussions and rigorous debate involving a diversity of Singaporean voices as we seek to navigate the challenging waters ahead. We need leaders who listen and who are receptive to those voices and needs.”
Mr Lee went on to noted that many Singaporeans have approached him to stand for political office, saying he is “deeply humbled” by this. He added that Singaporeans are “troubled” that the country no longer has the leadership it needs, criticising the PAP for losing its way.
“Sadly, the current government has failed its people. The rising anger and frustrations of the populace speaks for itself. The PAP has lost its way,” said Mr Lee.
He then called for people to speak up and take action by openly discussing the issues the country faced, supporting independent journalism, and calling for transparency and accountability in government.
He said, “Vote fearlessly. Rescue the future of the country we love. Politics is not just for politicians. It is for every citizen.”