Minister Mentor rebuts human rights groups' criticism of Singapore
By Sue-ann Chia
MINISTER Mentor Lee Kuan Yew last night dismissed human rights organisations' criticisms of Singapore's style of governance, saying that they were trying to 'do us in'.
In a robust rebuttal of these groups' assertions that Singapore is not a liberal democracy, he said that they had never run a country and did not know what was needed to make Singapore tick.
'There is a conspiracy to do us in. Why?... They see us as a threat,' said Mr Lee at an hour-long dialogue during the Economic Society of Singapore's annual dinner.
Explaining why these groups regarded Singapore as a threat, he said it was because they saw that the Russians and Chinese have been coming and studying Singapore's success story and picking up pointers.
The leaders of these countries ask 'how does this little country with so little talent keep its ruling party in place and run a tight ship, honest, and effective, and make progress?'
'Can they (the Russians and Chinese) do it? I don't know. But they are picking up points here and there.'
Mr Lee was responding to a question on whether Singapore needed a Western-style liberal democracy to succeed.
He said groups which advocate the need for liberal democracies were prescribing universal rules for the whole world.
But he threw down this gauntlet:
'My question is to them, have you ever run Singapore? Do you know how we got here? What were we? What we are now? And how we can become better?
'We are not stupid people. They give us all these advice... Who are they? Have they ever run a country, created jobs for community and given them a life? We have and we know what it requires.
'Nobody (who) advocates this has any idea what they will do to a society if you implement these rules.'
Mr Lee believes each country will have to decide which political system suits it best.
'Different people have different cultures and forge different consensus and seek different solutions to their problems,' he said.
But he was also quick to acknowledge that the People's Action Party (PAP) will not always have the answers:
'I'm not saying the PAP government will always be supreme, will always be honest, will always be A-plus.
'The day it is no longer honest, it should be out. And another party should come in, with equally honest people.'
Turning to the opposition, Mr Lee said:
'We are not trying to block them. We are trying to force them to collect a group of people equal in competence...When we fail, they have a team that can take over.
'But unfortunately, they can't do it. Because the people with ability, drive, ambition and energy don't want to come into politics. If they wanted to, they will join us (the PAP).'
For Singapore to continue to succeed, it needs to find the next generation of top notch leaders.
Mr Lee said the present generation of leaders could last at least two terms.
But if they did not find talented people with the drive and energy and integrity to match the demands of the job during this time, 'then I say, the future is in doubt'.
'The system is there, but it cannot run with mediocre men. You need top men.'
The PAP has managed to recruit good people and its leaders had, in turn, won the trust of Singaporeans through their integrity and honesty - values which the PAP still holds true today.
He said the task of finding new leaders is no longer his:
'I've done my job. I've passed it on to the next generation. Chok Tong has passed to the next generation.
'If you have a competent team on board, honest and dedicated, it will last. If you have bums, then even with best of institutions, it will fail.'
[It is not a conspiracy. It is culturalism, philosophical arrogance, and ideological colonialism. As a fan of Star Trek, these human rights advocates are violators of the Prime Directive, and are arrogant activists ideologues.
That said, Singapore's support for the Iraq Invasion is hypocritical if the explicit reason for the invasion was to install democracy in that country. No doubt Singapore's pragmatic position is that the Saddam Hussein regime in the region is promoting instability and uncertainty, but if the pretext of the invasion is to build a democratic Iraq, then that same pretext can also be use to justify invading Singapore if the ideologues are to be believed.
In any case the day of the ideologues are numbered. The (economic and ideological) primacy of the United States has peaked. They will still be influential for some time. A hundred years, maybe two. The defenders and promoters of US-style democracy will then be seen as quaint nutcases.
The US may still retain its status as the land of innovation and creativity. Or the creative talents may swarm to some other shores.]