Good or bad, every Prime Minister leaves behind a legacy. If we have to pinpoint and predict the legacy of the Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong now, it could be one that straddles the 4 Ss.
Sue Own Citizens: PM Lee has recently been awarded S$262,327.22 in damages and legal cost for the defamation suit against Leong Sze Hian. It’s a slap in the face that the entire amount was donated by Singaporeans. Leong is among a string of citizens sued by PM Lee. This is no doubt one legacy of PM Lee.
Succession Woes: PM Lee has said several times that he would not wish to continue in his role beyond the age of 70. He turns 70 next February and as things stand, he is likely to remain PM for more years to come. The PM-in-waiting Heng Swee Keat has stepped aside and a successor is not even yet identified. Singapore’s reputation for smooth leadership transition has taken a hit. This is another unfortunate legacy of PM Lee.
Sibling Squabbles: The feud between PM Lee and his siblings continues unabated, occasionally rearing its ugly head in the news cycle. The Lee family squabble has brought discomfort to Singaporeans watching from the sidelines. It is not only a domestic affair; it has garnered massive international attention. PM Lee will long be remembered for his sibling squabbles while in office.
Surrendered GRCs: PM Lee is the country’s first Prime Minister to lose a Group Representation Constituency or GRC to the opposition (Aljunied in 2011). After losing a second GRC (Sengkang) last year, PM Lee came up with a label for opposition voters – “free riders.” Whichever way you look at it, it’s a dreadful thing for a leader to call his own citizens “free riders”. The GRC was once held as an impregnable fortress for the People’s Action Party but under PM Lee, the GRC is anything but a fortress. He will be remembered for losing GRCs to the opposition.
With PM Lee likely to serve for quite a while longer, will there be more Ss to add to the four identified here?