Singaporeans appreciate the good work done by the government, says Lydia Lim in an excellent article in the Straits Times today, but adds:
“Should they be faulted for also wanting leaders who can attract and inspire through the power of ideas, values and a clear vision of the future?”
But Singapore’s leaders are not short of ideas and charisma. Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who was prime minister from 1959 till 1990; his successor, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong; and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who took over in 2004, are all highly articulate and capable.
It’s true they have sued opposition leaders and foreign publications critical of them and won every time they went to court in Singapore.
But there can be no doubt about their popularity. If Singapore is virtually a one-party state with only three opposition members among the 93 members of parliament, that is because the people voted for the ruling People’s Action Party.
Singapore’s leaders are accused of stifling criticism — but they can be more candid sometimes than the local media is prepared to be.
Speaking about the world economic crisis to the Foreign Journalists’ Association yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said:
“Singapore must be prepared for several years of slow growth.”
I don’t see the quote in the Straits Times front-page report headlined: PM does not expect global recession. Instead he sees a long downturn, then years of slow growth.
I saw the quote in the Reuters report, Singapore may face years of slow growth after recession.
Quoting PM Lee, Reuters also reported Singapore may face US challenge on bank secrecy laws.
That report too seems to be missing from the Straits Times.
That is why I liked Lydia Lim’s article — because it’s refreshingly different from what usually appears in the Straits Times.
Lydia Lim referred to Barack Obama.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister Mentor Lee Kuan can also come up with a memorable phrase or image. Like this one about the way out of the recession. Channel NewsAsia reports:
Borrowing a Chinese saying, PM Lee said Singapore must cross the river by feeling the stones. Without imitating any model blindly, it will transform, grow and remake itself to rethink strategies in this new environment.