Undying Beliefs Of An Old Man

Looking frail and tired at a ‘Future of Asia’ symposium in Tokyo on 24 May, Mr Lee Kuan Yew continued to insist that (PAP) ministers can easily earn more in the private sector and thus must be paid millions to be ministers.

He said Singapore is very careful in selecting its new leaders, allowing them to work with senior leaders for long years before they take over the leadership. He added this is to ensure that leaders understand the intricacies of government and also maintain high standards of honesty and duty.

“I hope that successive leaders will bring in carefully selected people who have got the potential to do more than something for themselves. They’re not paid very much to do that. It must be a bit of a sacrifice, because the people with the potential to be ministers can easily earn bigger figures outside in the public sector,” he said.

I think Mr Lee still refuses to believe that brilliant people do not need to be paid tremendous amounts to serve. Even in the US, where CEO’s and Wall Street Bankers can earn tens or even hundreds of millions, there is no shortage of brilliant people who put aside their careers and join an Administration when called upon by a new President. There are also people who spend tens of millions of their own money to get elected as Senators, Mayors and Governors because they want to serve and to give back to the community. People like Michael Bloomberg, for instance.

Equally, there is also no basis to Mr Lee’s implication that talented private sector people who earn millions make the best ministers, and thus the country must pay huge amounts to lure them from the private sector. Indeed, there is even evidence that some brilliant private sector people who can earn tens or hundreds of millions in the private sector don’t do so well in the public sector. People like Henry Paulson or Paul O’Neill, for instance.

It looks like Mr Lee will hold on to his belief about ministerial pay to his dying day. Instead of seeing that good Singaporeans do not want to join the PAP because of what it is, and that good Singaporeans who are opposed to the PAP do not want to join politics because of the climate of fear he has created, he still chooses to believe that good people don’t want to join PAP purely because of their selfish money reasons.

The debate on Ministerial pay is over. PAP won. But the country lost because it has accepted Mr Lee’s and PAP’s belief underlying Minsterial pay– that it’s all about money and sacrifice.

While I do not advocate paying peanuts, I believe that the Lee & Lee era passes, once there is genuine political freedom in Singapore, we will have brilliant people who will have political ambition, who are willing to put aside their careers when called upon to serve. Indeed, I believe that there will be a new generation of leaders who will want to spend their lives in politics and public serviceright from the start, rather than having to be parachuted in from the private sector by the PAP.

Too bad Mr Lee won’t live to see that day.


About politicalwritings

Someone who sees beyond PAP and "opposition" in Singapore politics. To understand more please see the Top 10 link below.
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14 Responses to Undying Beliefs Of An Old Man

  1. Joe says:

    He only cares about money and power, therefore he thinks everyone else cares only about money and power. No surprise. What is he going to do with his money when he is dead? Disgusting.

    • henry says:

      He wont give it to the Gov and you wont get a cent either.

      But lets see if he can get out and use his knuckle duster.. oh, and his hatchet too.

      I believe there is a kingmaker in the background.. far more influential and powerful than him with more years ahead. At the moment its just a shadow.

  2. Bill says:

    Very well said!

  3. Pingback: Daily SG: 29 May 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  4. Kelvin Tan says:

    How about seeing it from another perspective? That he is aware of that some of these good people dislike the PAP but will be willing to join it provided they are paid high enough?

  5. 'Mat says:

    Can’t you see that rear admirer Teo Chee Hean is now the one with the knuckleduster and the hatchet?
    And yes, he is loitering in the cul-de-sac in Hougang.

  6. Richard says:

    The old ways of doing things are about to give way before a new consciousness that shall envelop the world.
    I hope Mr Lee will re-look at this money policy which did not work,or else PAP should have more home grown talents.

  7. Sally says:

    I hope he will however, live to see the day when his Tanjong Pager ward is won over by an Opposition A Team. He deserves to see the hard truths that his engineered democracy will come crumbling down, including his empire. And for all the ruined lives and families he sent in exile, bankrupt or dead, unless he repent before he meets his maker. I am not mean by saying this. I am just a person who wants to see justice done, and karma paid for by the perpetuator, instead of being passed onto his children.

  8. KAM says:

    Another way to soften this is: where will Singapore be, if not for money and trade?

    The old man is not too far from the truth in Singapore. Most Singaporeans are materialistic. Many of them are not willing to give up their money to pursue politics. The question and root cause is WHY? Because an evil cycle of money makes the world go round, and the expensive cost of living in Singapore, where a COE can buy a small house in Spain. Where the current PM wants all the rich people to dump their monies here as a tax haven. Where Formula 1 and fancy parties attract all sorts of flies to Singapore. Where the rich race-car driver can speed through the city at 180kmh without being stopped by our traffic police who are busy putting out tickets for our poor motorcyclists parking illegally, etc.

    When is enough enough? 3 warm meals. Good education provided by state schools (and no parents volunteer or family donations). Clean streets. Clean air. Fair wages. Family time. Saturday and Sunday off. Time to smell the roses and plant some bonsai in the balcony.

    What has become to Singapore?
    I would give a big fat F (Fail) mark to LHL.
    He screwed up the clean green Singapore which he inherited. He has zero charisma and therefore can only use money to entice people to work for him.
    Shame on him. History will tell.

    • Lee says:

      Wow! You Sir, are so right! I do not know much about our political scene, but I believe that our current leaders have forgotten some basic governing principles – that the duty of a government is to ensure The Good Life is enjoyed by all its citizens; it serves the role of protector, facilitator as well as a consultative guide for the people. I think the ruling elites have a poor understanding of The Good Life, and the human condition (wisdom that is not cultivated in school, and often lacking across the board). To me, it is a terrible assumption to commensurate the happiness, welfare and thrivability of our people to economic growth. My heart weeps when I see many members of the elderly community living less than dignified lives. My heart weeps when I see an education system that favours the wealthy and creates an environment of unequal means. My heart weeps when our teens are unconsciously trapped in the self-destructive ways of a society that attaches an economic value to every damn thing. We are a society that has lost its grip on our cultural distinction. In our cultural confusion, we choose to model Singapore after the typical capitalist den of sin. We used to pride ourselves on being an efficient and orderly city built on a foundation of integrity and sincerity . While much of our governing body is thankfully not as corrupt as other countries, they are starting to forget that the man on the street has a soul too, and he is not a resource to be taken advantaged of. I think most of us have forgotten how to live. I hope I made some sense despite being a little idealistic :p

  9. Tea-Party Member says:

    Well said, I was just watching the documentary “Edge of War”, which chronicles Hitler’s actions to enable the Nazi party to take power and later his staged Polish attack on Germany to justify his attack on Poland. There were some uncanny resemblence to our own history that made me wonder about the riots, union strikes, communist threats (Hitler used this too) and ISA arrest. Someone had certainly learned from Hitler. Perhaps that’s where the eugenics theory, that certain Chinese groups are far superior or that better educated mothers produce smarther babies came from too

    • Saycheese says:

      If you think of the PAP as a fascist party that even copied the British Fascist Party logo, everything that LKY did was true to form and predictable.

  10. RichDad says:

    I have low expectations of any government, but for the highest paid PM, ministers and MPs in the world, so how about just some REALLY affordable public housing, health care and public transport? Okay, okay, I know, that’s too much to ask from “Hotel Singapore”.

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