Democratising The Lee Kuan Yew Model Of Governance?

Picked this up from Catherine Lim’s blog:

She was talking about PAP’s or MM Lee’s knuckleduster approach, and about economic thingys. Interesting read, but it is still too generalised.

Governance is a big word after all; and that is basically what good leaders are bothered with in their stepping into politics.

Elfred can’t write better than Catherine does, but in this… She needs to understand what is PAP, or generally what is a political party. As I have said many times, it’s just humans behind the name.

Actually, governance is not easy to the laymen on streets, but ‘knuckleduster’ is pretty simple for anyone in politics even if it belongs to some barbarians. It’s simply that the bigger kid can bully the smaller one regardless of who is right just because of selfish greed over the entire jug of candies. What a happy family it’d be…

Of course, if this is so simple, then China over thousands of years across various regimes will just take up a knuckleduster, and problem solved. Of course, if China does do so internally, China’s knuckle could be aiming at Singapore anytime soon.

As many mainlanders’d see Singapore, Singapore is only that meagre. When Singapore loves this knuckleduster approach, China should love it more, and apply it on Singapore ever more legitimately as Singapore’s love for knuckleduster on itself…

This is the kind of boomerang thing that China is infamous for in its culture. In Chinese: 以牙还牙;君子报仇十年不晚。

So when Catherine touched on China in relation to Singapore’s governance style in that article, I laughed. When I was visiting the Chinese recently, it was shared to me that China can’t just follow Singapore’s style of governance by some prominent Chinese. Which is understandable.

That shows that they understand the risks behind Singapore-style governance. China has been ‘enjoying’ its own doses of domestic revolts, or just public disturbances or riots. While many cases were covered up, China cannot afford to be politically any less sensitive, or heartless, to its people.

Imagine Premier Wen were to declare that he’d rather be feared than be liked (In Chinese: 本主席不要人民的爱戴,只要人民对我的恐惧。)as MM Lee was quoted by Lim… It’s unimaginable. Because he’d be inviting large scale revolts, making an entire China a Tibetan war zone.

Obviously, China is not Singapore, Singapore is not China. But since we are talking about the future, China and Singapore do share a same prospect: Globalisation.

And globalisation shalt re-shape Singapore’s political landscape drastically.

PAP: The Way Forward. (I)

Strangly, in Catherine’s article, she doesn’t explore PAP in depth. While MM Lee is indeed the most powerful element in Singapore, but MM Lee is surrounded as well in a fresh political situation by the time as PM Lee is. The party called PAP is now not just a membership list as in the past when it first started, and there is no longer British colonial masters to handle with, nor do we have ideological enemies as the communists.

PAP has indeed changed over the years, and in fact, Goh Keng Swee has ‘retired’ leaving behind a well-known piece at his departure from public office. It goes something like this…

When the world don’t listen to you anymore, it’s time to go.

It’s a summary from a couple of Goh Keng Swee’s quoted lines. It shows very well that around that time, also about when Toh Chin Chye and the old veterans left, PAP was at the crossroad of change indeed. And since, batch after batch of technocrats flood into the parliament, regularly caught absent or dreaming away in the half-emptied hall.

If people tell me that PAP has not changed, I’d laugh. That’s a reason why many people, especially Elfred’s generation and earlier ones so miss the first few batches of PAP political leadership.

MM was there, is there, all the time. The situation has been changing nonetheless. And since MM’s legacy, it has been many decades ago. If he is still a fighter, he’d not be fighting the communists now, but fighting the nosenses in private education sector plus the Charity, plus the compounding transport situations, plus the unsettling cost problems which has been a more than 20years problem, plus many more others.

In my view of the MM, he is wise, but to speak of ‘democratise Lee Kuan Yew Model of Governance’ is not really that fair. That is because MM Lee now is facing a situation not really entirely because of his model of governance.

Remember MM’s expressing of concerns over the overblown property and stock markets back then? He knew. He spoke. What had happened? It’s a big ‘caveat emptor’ but in the political sense, and people screamed at the gahmen, including for its impossible target of how many millions of future population which target MM has recently spoke out against as well.

Use your common sense, if this is MM’s model of governance, I’d be laughing all the way to Oxley drive…

In Chinese, there is a saying: 三个臭皮匠,一个诸葛亮。

Assuming Mr Lee Kuan Yew is the 诸葛亮 (Zhuge Liang) who is so influencial, but as technocrats flood in and the civil sectors expand and younger generation of officers (who could be as pompous as the British) having their own aspirations: 三个臭皮匠足以抗衡一个诸葛亮。

It simply implies that situation may not really be the issue with MM’s knuckleduster. Or if anyone will assume all the forum moderators, ministers, MPs or civil servants will share MM’s ideology?

Naturally unlikely.

Knuckleduster approach is the basic problem that civilised political thinking in China has been around for. The knuckleduster is such simple tactics, or just natural instinct, that if the knuckle is still there, it might not necessarily have to be MM Lee’s.

You don’t need too much wisdom in governance to learn from beasts. But the first batch of leaders under MM were still very much missed by the people, and there must have been something more than knuckleduster.

PAP: The Way Forward. (II)

In the old Chinese thinking including even Confucius, the real thinking of Confucius over social class is often misintepreted as general public read Confucius word by word.

Who is Confucius? He was best known to be a jobless wanderer, getting his followers to starve along with him in his many years of idling. What is Confucianism? It’s hence the thinking and story of an ambitious loser who was jobless for many years; a philosophist’s work as a result of being an idling wanderer for many years.

Now Catherine Lim should know this if she thinks Singapore goes by Confucianism.

Loads of rubbish, ie.

With Singaporeans’ general standard, what do Singaporeans know about Confucianism?

Confucius’ main ideology was basically a challenge to authorities in his time, refusing to yield to knuckledusters. If Dr Chee have walked that much distance in protest to Parliament House, Confucius had travelled to and fro central China in protest to the then messed up authorities in search for a better gahmen.

That is Confucianism. He was an idler, a jobless, he wanted to be a political leader. He made it… into history, revered by idiots who don’t understand him at all. He happened to be the prominent advocate of what description that SM Goh had invented to describe Singaporeans who migrate: Quitter.

Confucius himself saw no prospect in his kingdom, or motherland… which was obviously why he had left his infamous 周游列国 in history, a feat of many many years he spent on.

Whenever Singaporeans linked PAP gahmen to Confucianism… I’d hence laugh. I mean, do Singaporeans actually know of what they actually venerate??? Hahahahaha… Pretenders have always been an issue in a joke, actually that also makes Elfred’s thinking on the future of Singapore…

Can we leave Singapore in the hands of pretenders?

But Confucius did provide a considerable option: Migrate.

I once read Redbean’s quote of Confucius. I laughed. He should have quoted Zhuang Tsu. But this kinda joke has been around Singapore far too long, and I sorta got used to it.

Politics… a really clean and good government must be based on solid quality. We can’t just pretend we know politics, because even if you have an A in political science, don’t know means don’t know.

Here reveals the truth of Singaporean politics in this era. Since hollowness is so ok, which political elements need to be real solid? That is a very good question. From this historical base, now we can barely just touch on the future of Singapore, and PAP.

Interested to know more? Read on then.

PAP:The Way Forward. (III)

Let’s not fantasize about democratising any form of governance. Governing a nation requires real solid political thinking, and that requires a level of cultural doses. Any tizzy attempt to tinker a form of governance will come at an expense of huge political casualties.

When I mean political casualities, that is not only refering to oppositions being fixed, it also includes the people on the streets.

PAP started basically as an hyper idealistic entity in Singapore. We all should know that. One can say, PAP leaders were the super minority among the massively uneducated, rogues, communists and sympathizers, richer and more influencial British by-right choices and bla bla bla… and when Singapore joined the Ferderation, Singapore was the obvious minority as well.

Minority, minority, minority. PAP started out as an opposition as well.

While many current PAP members see PAP as invinsible, there is why a cause for MM’s alarm because “we’re not infallible”, and PAP should never be complacent. The party is indeed not infallible. Catherine would have to understand this if she needs to apply her thoughts on the current version of governance, especially if she tried to add MM in as a factor for discussion.

The way forward for PAP will hence have to be on a very thin line. While Mr Lee Kuan Yew is still in the cabinet, Mr Lee Hsien Loong is actually the Prime Minister. The chemistry in the governance now is highly interesting. Until now, Elfred is still observing where this governance will be heading to.

The major problem of Singapore governance is still this: Critical lack of apt thinkers.

Which also means we are a society stucked in mud of some sort. Within a family, speaking with knuckles is only barbaric. What else? If there shall be any political fight, it shalt be among Singaporeans in this homeland. Or simply, it’s family violence.

If anyone think that we can build a tower upon a weak sheet of carbon paper, then we can dream about building a nation upon a thin and disorganised social fabric, of promoted hype in competition. Why not?

But can we?

PAP: The Way Forward.(IV)

Lee Kuan Yew’s model? I rather Catherine focuses on Lee Kuan Yew’s era. MM’s governance was a result of his lieutenants who had come from the great political reality of that era, and were greatly attached to the people and the reality of the grounds.

MM himself has his own characters, traits, personality and belief. But his ‘governance’ was obviously a result of capable ministers while MM provided the leadership to organise the efforts.

What has been happening since Mr Lee Kuan Yew stepped down as PM is not an accurate way to gauge current affairs. What been happening before and after technocrats replaced the parliament as the major influence is the current issue.

MM’s initial direction for Singapore was to hope for a merger with Malaysia, where Malaysia shall become a permanent economical power house to power Singapore, as China is to Hong Kong. But this is currently impossible so politically to speak. So Singapore’s strategy has to be its reliance on national reserves.

If PAP were to harbour the hope of an eventual merger with the North, a racially sensitive politics will be in concern within local politics, albeit subtly. But there is an issue as well since Singaporeans, hence new party members, since the 80s have grown to believe the infallibility of Singapore, regards over Singapore’s realistic constrains were seemingly dilluted into oblivion. Where in the past, we were constantly reminding ourselves of our limitations and stressed upon the well-being of our workforce or human resource, this has become rather ‘easy’ nowadays by a surge of focus to entertain the rich, and snobbish. But Singapore’s constrains remain largely unchanged.

With globalisation, our constrains become even more critical, but seemingly less bothered with by the current generations. We are still a pile of barren rocks compact with millions of mouths to be fed, and of a population whose fathers had effected riots, joined the communists, and marched the streets under poor governance and conditions. Why can’t chaos return if governance fails again?

But you cannot tell anyone not to be complacent… because in their minds, Singapore is infallible, people will always readily vote only for PAP no matter what and how many unpopular policies and scandals are produced, and how you fixed dissidents you thought are disgruntled.

Democracy is not some elixir handed down by divine hands that could solve all headaches. Democracy only works when there are political talents indeed for good choices, and you will need politically apt population to make democracy works for a nation. As such, if MM Lee is politically apt himself, naturally he would pick or elect political talents for enhancing his governance.

Who would want to pick assholes to destroy his own creation?

The issue about democratising is hence a question thrown back at the population at large… If you don’t let the knuckleduster do the trick, can the whining people choose properly in the first place?

As this discussion comes to this point… can anyone so tell me, what is the way ahead for PAP? Are you qualified to do so in the first place?

Cute little question.

Always remember, PAP or any party is just a name. Politics is never something stagnant, nor a straight line. Democracy is far from perfect for this highly imperfect world. The real knuckleduster almost likely is due to your very self.

We have a 100% educated population. How many would tell me you are talking something better than your knuckles…?

In Future: No Defamation Lawsuits?

It’s no secret that Elfred is no fan of Defamation lawsuits. The future holds much promise against the over-convenient uses of defamation lawsuits as a political weapon.

Frankly put, your fame gets a penalty just by filing for defamation against another, why commit political suicide on such lawsuits?

If you cannot convince the public that you are anything better, you probably won’t convince anyone with such lawsuits.



  1. Commons
    Posted March 25, 2008 at 3:03 am | Permalink

    You made two assumptions in your arguments:

    1. Other people are not qualified to tell PAP what to do.

    2. That people are not able to make a proper choice.

    These are not new. They have been openly as well as subtly put forth by many others who think that only the “enlightened” are qualified and can make proper decisions for this tiny red dot.

    Well, please keep thinking like this; it’s your own view and conclusion. It will be good for you as well as the PAP, I believe.


    P/S: Why bother to take note of what Catherine Lim has written? I don’t even read what she writes. I don’t believe an academician will be able to change the character of Singapore.

  2. elfredinario
    Posted March 25, 2008 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Actually, if there are assumptions then (converting yours):

    1. Politically incapable thinking people are not qualified to be involved in politics.

    2. That politically incapable thinking people are not able to make a proper choice.

    Frankly put, whether MM is enlightened or not at every point in time, I myself is observing. Whether PAP is enlightened or not is decided, ironically, by the people.

    I believe you have not understood my post, but it was just a off-hand thought on Catherine’s article, which my post is actually coherent all along with myself.

    The reason why I bring in the discussion of Confucius, which is linked repeatedly to Singapore politics cum governance, into this article is already obvious in itself. We have simply too many pretenders. It’s as Goh Keng Swee’s small mischief by throwing a bible’s paragraph (The Noak) into a directive… Even if it is so ridiculous, most civil servants would kiss it. Hahahahaha… … Confucianism is like The Goh KS experiment.

    By Confucianism, MM Lee would have called up Elfred the Loser telling him to report as a minister. See?

    It’s just a joke. People who are real good has little wish to be under or in the company of pretenders.

    Without solid thinking, if you think democracy will help Singaporeans choose a leader, I’d have to laugh… and laugh… and laugh. Pretenders are always pretenders.

    And leaving Singapore into the hands of pretenders… is dangerous. Leaving Singapore into the hands of pretenders on a pile of barren rocks is more so; as if leaving a cake to an ignorant baby sitting beside a bunch of inhuman ants.

    If it is one Catherine, of cos nothing can be changed. If it is one Elfred, of cos nothing should be expected (which is why I am not really keen to be an MP). If Singaporeans can think… Anything is possible.

    So don’t look down on one lady.

    There is no need to agree with she writes, Common. She may not agree with what I write. If PM reads this, he might wanna kick me. If MM reads this, he might wanna give me a kiss. See? Don’t limit yourself to exposures.

    I am just glad you are here leaving your thoughts behind. See? It’s too an exposure to me as well. Hahahaha…

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