Singapore is a small country with a very short history. We have only 3 Prime Ministers (PMs). Taking a closer look at their characters, we can easily see the reasons why PAP support is on the decline.
First PM: MM Lee Kuan Yew (LKY)
He was known to be a very strong and tough person. He knew that Singaporeans’ support was crucial for his success, and he knew very well that as long as he did the right thing, Singaporeans would support him.
In his rally speech on SIA Pilots Strike in 1980, he specifically mentioned the support from Singaporeans: “… I gave them (SIA pilots) a choice: continue this and I will by every means at my disposal, teach you and get the people of Singapore help me teach you a lesson you wouldn’t forget. And I am prepared to start all over again. Or stop it…”
Many didn’t like his way of treating opposition parties, but he did the basis of a leader well – He valued us, and he delivered.
In one of his later interviews, he mentioned: “They want jobs, if they don’t get jobs, and they have no income, and they can’t feed their families, we have a revolution!” “How does the voting another man to be the government and he can’t produce the jobs, how does that help you?”
Apart from that, in his vision for Singapore in the earlier days, he mentioned: “… Keep Singapore happy and make the people feel that they are wanted, not step children or step brothers but one in the family, and a very important member of the family…”
Aren’t these the problems we are seeing today? Do we worry about jobs? Do we feel ourselves as important members of the family?
Second PM: ESM Goh Chok Tong (GCT)
He was softer than LKY, not by nature, but by decision. He decided as a PM, he needed to soften the approach LKY took. Despite this, he still protected the people and made us proud. The Michael Fay incident was a good prove of his brilliance. In one of the interviews, he mentioned:“… on the longer terms, it was good for us, that Singapore is prepared to stand-up against mighty America.“
Many didn’t like his ‘HDB upgrading carrot’, but he did the basis of a leader well – He protected the sovereignty of Singapore.
Another thing that he did well is the “Public Service for The 21st Century (PS21)”, he revolutionised the public services, which provided us with great e-services that we had today.
Those who didn’t understand Singapore would feel that Singaporeans are cowards, but Kishore Mahbubani (Former Ambassador to UN), answered this very clearly in History Of Singapore (Discovery Channel):
“They (Singaporeans) have experienced the most dramatic increase in standard of living than any people have experienced, probably since the beginning of man. And then you ask these people: Why aren’t you revolting? Why aren’t you going out on the street? But why should they?”
Today, have our standard of living changed for the better? Now, let’s take a look at our current Prime Minister, in which you will see the huge contrast.
Third PM – PM Lee Hsien Loong (LHL)
His approach is unclear. But generally viewed as anti-Singaporeans.
Firstly, why would anybody support a leader who kept labelling his people as racists, xenophobes and bigots? Over time, context will be lost, but labels will remain. Nowadays, whenever people are unhappy with Singaporeans, the quick reasoning will be “because Singaporeans are Xenophobic…”
Anton Casey’s audacity is fuelled by all these. If this is not stopped, more and more Anton Casey will come our way. Do you think this is the type of Singapore we want?
Secondly, after the Little India Riot, rather than condemning the act strongly (as was done for SIA Pilots Strike), in the interview with Channel 8, PM Lee compared the crime rate of Singaporeans with those workers and concluded that those workers have lower crime rate than Singaporeans. This is totally inappropriate, such comparison should not even have been made in the first place.
Standing on PM Lee’s side, that statement could be because he wanted to protect his immigration policies or it could be that his command of Chinese is not good enough. Nevertheless, it is important for me to bring this out now rather than later so that PAP has more time to prepare a response as this will definitely be a hot topic during election.
Had he put Singaporeans’ interest in the first place, as what the previous two PMs did, the situation will be very different today.
The Road Ahead
The basis of a pilot is to fly the plane. What is the use of a pilot who refused to fly the plane? The basis of a leader is to protect his people. What is the use of a leader who refused to protect his people?
If Singaporeans can support LYK despite his stance against oppositions; if Singaporeans can support GCT despite his ‘HDB upgrading carrot’; there is no reason why Singaporeans would not support LHL despite his immigration policies. Can’t PM Lee see the root of the problem?
PAP can continue to do ‘sugar coating’, but it will not work. All these will explode again during election.
There are many many things that I can say, but it will take a few books to put those down. For now, the immediate task for PAP is to Stop the Labels – Respect Your People.
Our leaders are very lucky to be governing a country where the people are smart, hardworking, understanding and law abiding. If Singaporeans are like other nationals, PAP would have been ousted in the previous election, not the 15 years, which LKY projected in his book. This is evident when we looked at the SBS Bus Strike, Little India Riot and the Cricket Riot – Singaporeans don’t do those.
PAP should learn to value Singaporeans, not fight against them. Most Singaporeans understand that Singapore is never a welfare country and never should it be. Going to the other end of the spectrum of acceding to every single request will be just as bad as it is now.
LKY positioned himself as a Tough Prime Minister – ‘Listen to me, I know what is right for you.’ Indeed he knew. GCT positioned himself as an Approachable Prime Minister – ‘How can I help you?’ Well, he indeed helped a lot, and even went down to help Ying, the ‘National Treasure’ juggler.
PM Lee should disregard the list of requests others put up to him, at least for now. The first thing that he must do is to stop making changes and think about how he wants to position himself. What kind of Prime Minister does he want to be? Being too defensive on the immigration policies will make him appears as anti-Singaporeans; doing “U-turn” is just as bad.
PAP had challenged the oppositions to step into GRC and they did. May I challenge PM Lee to shun those who praise him every day, and take a step down to understand his people?
Remember BOSS wisdom: “The basis of a leader is to protect his people, failing which nothing else matters.”
I sincerely hope this pill is not too hard to swallow. If you think I should have written a private letter instead, well, I did, but he never read. Majulah Singapura.