Wednesday, 15 September 2010

The much heard about NYT interview with Singapore's Minister Mentor

There was an interview last week between Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and the New York Times which brought about varied response from Malaysians and Singaporeans alike. I must say that the interview was very reflective of his years as Singapore's numero uno and of course his worries for Singapore's future. What would have been a great interview to many was however slightly marred by his negative observation of Malaysia and what could have been if Singapore was not ousted out of Malaysia in 1967 by the then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman. 

I suspect Mr Lee Kuan Yew never got over the fact that he was outwitted by Tunku politically when Singapore was ousted in 1967 and also with the Singapore GE around the corner he is starting his "PAP Government is the only one for Singapore" campaign earlier. As usual Malaysia will always be a boogie man in the elections.

Not surprisingly, Malaysia's former Minister Dr Mahathir did not like what Mr Lee Kuan Yew said about Malaysia in the interview and in fact wrote a scathing response:


2. His assertion in his interview with the New York Times that "Race relations (would be) better if Singapore (had) not (been) "turfed out" (of Malaysia) is worth studying. Is it true or is it fantasy?

3. Before Singapore joined the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, there was less racial politics in the Federation of Malaysia. In 1955 the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

4. The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them one million unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.

5. In the 1959 elections the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC won easily though Kelantan was lost. PAS with only Malays as members was rejected. Racialism even when implied failed.

6. In 1963 Singapore became a part of Malaysia. Despite having promised that the PAP will not participate in Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak politics, Kwan Yew reneged and the PAP tried to displace the MCA in the Alliance by appealing to Chinese sentiments in the Peninsular. Of course the slogan was "Malaysian Malaysia" which implied that the Chinese were not having equal rights with the Malays. If this appeal to Chinese sentiments against the Malays was not racial, I do not know what is racial.

read the full posting by Dr Mahathir here.

In Singapore, a blog not so friendly with the Singapore led PAP Government has this to say:

MM Lee uses political card again to defend Singapore's political system

With the increasingly unpopular PAP regime fast losing support among young Singaporeans, PAP strongman Lee Kuan Yew has played the race card again to defend the PAP’s system of governance in another desperate attempt to frighten the electorate.

In an interview with New York Times, the octagenarian leader chided younger Singaporeans for taking things for granted and “believe that this is a natural state of affairs, and they can take liberties with it.”

‘They think you can put it on auto-pilot. I know that is never so,” he said, without substantiating his statements with concrete evidence (as usual).

Lee added that he was fine with “opening up to discuss policies and issues such as disparities”, but not race, language and religion which few Singaporeans are interested in anyway.

He issued a veiled threat that “this society would be finished” if racial politics came into play.

“The easiest way to get majority vote is: ‘Vote for me, we’re Chinese, they’re Indians, they’re Malays’. Our society will be ripped apart. If you do not have a cohesive society, you cannot make progress,” he claimed.

His warped logic formed the basis of the introduction of the GRC system in 1988 to enable minority candidates to be represented in Parliament. However, what was not mentioned was the fact that there are many ethnic minority candidates who triumphed against Chinese candidates, the most notable being the late opposition leader J.B. Jeyaretnam who won in the Chinese-majority ward of Anson in 1981 and 1984 against two different PAP Chinese candidates.

When asked about his “tough positions” against the “communist threat” and his political opponents, Lee replied:

“In a multiracial situation like this, it is.”

There are many multi-racial countries in the world like Singapore such as the United States, Australia and United Kingdom and all are prospering and functioning democracies.

Please read the whole article and the comments section which is an eye opener to me at least.

My take is we should expect more or less the same from Mr Lee Kuan Yew as the Singapore Election cycle comes and goes but whatever the man is, I will respect him as one politician who has the vision and the steel courage against the protesting few, to ensure that Singapore has a single school system from the onset which has helped greatly in its development.

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