Blame GCT and Lee Jnr, not LKY

In Political governance on 03/10/2012 at 5:26 am

(Or “Why blood is always thicker than water”)

Following this post wondering why shumeone very senior from ST was dredging up quotes from a long time ago to show that one LKY preferred S’poreans to FTs; JG, a reader, responded in defence of LKY. Before readers brand her a “running dog” like the ST chap, pls remember that she wrote this: on why the PAP will fail: ’cause “always behind the curve”. And also remember that the FTs are “betterest”policy took off when his son became PM.  

(BTW, JG, you may not have heard the rumour that LKY was alleged to have said that he tot that DPM Teo would have made a better PM than his son. He was rumoured to have muttered this after it was alleged that his son told him to desist from campaigning for (or is it against?) the PAP in last year’s GE.)

I have a different take. When he was PM, he was on the “right side” of the immigration debate. As shown in the 1971 speech, he was shrewd enough to realise that certain FTs will fit in (eg : M’sians), certain won’t. And preserving social ethos is as important as iimmigration numbers. And the need to weed our reliance on FTs.

Under GCT and LHL the immigration policy went on “auto-pilot” and by definition, went astray. They took in FTs by the bus loads to gin up the GDP.

Throughout this period, LKY streneously defended the Govt. Asked S’porans to “grow their spurs”, either fast growth or be prepared to send your kids to work as maids overseas etc. Why the change?

I think its because when it comes to his own son, his instinctive paternal reaction is to defend. I dare say that the old LKY would have disapproved of the way LHL handled many issues. The old LKY dares so say things, and take position, like saying that certain cultures won’t fit in (eg : Filipinos), so hold them off in terms of immigration. The old LKY wouldn’t fumbled the way the “national conversation” was handled. And wouldn’t ditter for so long about fire or not fire Wong Kan Seng, Mah Bow Tan.

After GE2011, LKY volunteered to step down from cabinet. After he volunteered, GCT no choice but to follow. I think he recognised immigration is now a big bugbear. And he recognised we’ve taken in quantities and qualities that make integration difficult. So he spoke what you pointed out in your article.

But a father’s love for his son, can sometimes still blind him to objectivity. That’s why I think its easier for him, if his son were not in charge. He can be a bit more Mahathir like. With his son, he can’t and won’t.

  1. Wow… what a wholesale rewrite (or made-up or whatever) of history. Taking what LKY said in 1971 to prove that he opposed the immigration policies 30 years later is complete BS. He has not objected when boatloads of Chinese came on shore in the last decade or two while he turned away boatloads of Vietnamese refugees (Singapore was too small to accommodate them.)

    I have my theory on why LKY took in so many Chinese immigrants. Regardless, a major policy like immigration has to have LKY’s endorsement (just like blowing billions on Merrill, UBS.) Everyone knew that the buck stops there! His famous quote from 1988 – “Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.”

    LKY did many good things for the country but he has had his share of bad judgments as well…

  2. There is no denial that LKY did many good things for the country in the past 30 years or so but he has had his share of bad judgements as well after that.

  3. […] – Musings from Singapore: The politics of personalities: Book reviewers and panellists – Gintai: Build barriers to obstruct the handicapped? – SG Web Reviews: The wrong way to invest – Blogging For Myself: School Fees from 2013 – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Blame GCT and Lee Jnr, not LKY […]

  4. Complete speculation. Let’s not encourage a cult of personality, which the MSM already does. LKY is not some oracle. Some govt policies good. Some not so good. Constitutional principle of collective responsibility.

  5. I first got the impression that LKY is losing his objectivity, when it comes to his son, after reading interviews on him in recent years. And when you compare what he said in the pre-LHL (ie. 70’s, ’80’s, ’90s) vs post-LHL (like in the speech about immigration), you see him say things or support stuffs that the old LKY would probably not approve.

    Anyway, here’s a good example from the horse’s mouth himself :

    Page 428 of LKY’s “Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going”. Quote :
    Qn : You said earlier that you’re not interested in perpetuating a dynasty, yet over the years that’s a label or accusation …

    Ans : No. There are just certain stereotype .. to bring me down a peg or two .. I had not the slightest doubt that he would make it… Look, who could better him – mentally, in political experience, in linguistics abilities? Nobody.

    No ministers has any doubt that Loong can get down to that minister’s details of problems and work through them – every angle of it, whether finance, traade or whatever. Its a gift. He’s got my mathematical and numerical capabilities and see alternatives. And he’s got his mother’s retentive capacity for words and ideas. You test him.

    Harvey Newman Jr., an American from Harvard .. in ’67 .. I met him. When Loong went to the US to do his Artillery course, he (met Newmann). He then wrote to me and said Loong was quite remarkable. Newman’s a man who loves words. He’s a real estate man and made a fortune there but his love is for language and poems. He writes poems. I’ve got 3 books of his. Apparently, he had asked after a difficult word and Loong gave him the answer just like that. He was astounded. And Loong is not into English literature, he’s in mathematics. I had not the slightest doubt that he was going to be outstanding. He is what he is, he doesn’t have to strive extra hard. He just does it.”

    To those of us who somehow feel that under LHL’s “leadership”, something seems to be missing, does this not help explain things a bit ?

    Anyway, on that same point, the most interesting part about LHL’s ND Rally speech is towards the end, when he was showing “Before” and “After” slides of Singapore landmarks.

    He showed Marina Bay and said : “Marina Bay, today a special skyline recognized the world over but when I see it I wind back to this. It was not even land, was sea. I used to take a boat .. If you are old enough you will remember. You go past the breakwater which protected the harbor out to southern islands, St John’s Island, WHERE I WOULD GO WITH MY PARENTS, MY FATHER WAS VISITING POLITICAL DETAINEES. That is then and today it has become an icon like this.”

    Visiting political detainees in St John’s island as a typical weekend activity? As casual a remark, as some kid writing an essay : “How I spent my weekend .. my parents brought me to the zoo”? This after the Govt explained why ISA is still needed and that it had never been used for political purposes, only to handle violent extremists?

    PS : I’ve not heard of that rumor.

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