July 15, 2008

'Western groups don't want Singapore to be an example'

THE office of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew yesterday issued a statement elaborating on comments he had made last Friday about human rights groups attacking Singapore's style of government.

These groups, as well as non- governmental organisations (NGOs) and the Western media, have an agenda, said his press secretary Yeong Yoon Ying.

'They do not want Singapore to be an example to other countries of how the free market plus the rule of law, and stable macro-economic policies, can lead to progress and success, but without Western-style 'liberal' democracy,' she said.

MM Lee had said at an hour-long Economic Society of Singapore dialogue that these Western groups were in a conspiracy to 'do us in'.

They perceived Singapore as a threat, he said, as Russia and China are studying the island's success story.

He was responding to a question on whether Singapore needed a Western-style liberal democracy to succeed.

Yesterday, Madam Yeong prefaced her statement by noting that Mr Lee was 'somewhat tired and did not speak clearly enough' at the end of the long dialogue.

She then pointed out that the Western groups are not concerned about Singapore.

'We are not significant enough. And they have other more pressing human rights issues in Africa, like Zimbabwe, and in Asia, like Myanmar, to tackle.

'However, these Western groups see China, Russia and several Gulf oil states studying Singapore's system to select features to improve their own systems.'

They do not want Singapore to be an example, she said. Specifically, they want it to adopt 'adversarial politics, Western-style media, contending pressure groups and a changing of the political party every few years', she added.

They want every country to conform to such a model if it was to be successful and considered a democracy in good standing, Madam Yeong said.

She highlighted Taiwan, saying it followed 'their prescribed route and changed parties in government'.

For two terms and a total of eight years, former president Chen Shui-bian of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) brought 'stagnation and regression' to Taiwan, she said.

'The press, radio, TV media multiplied and ran wild competing for scoops, corruption spread from the president's family, staff and throughout the government.'

Taiwan's society grew more divided and 'hatred' grew between the Pan Blue (Kuomintang) political party, made up mostly of recent arrivals from China, and the DPP, mostly older immigrants, she said.

But Singapore's People's Action Party, in office since 1959, is incorrupt and inducts fresh blood 'of some of the ablest and most committed of Singaporeans'.

She added: 'It has been successful not just economically, but in providing a safe and secure environment where Singaporeans can fulfil their human potential.'

Western groups consider this contrary to 'liberal' democracy, she noted.

'They therefore are rooting for candidates who want to dismantle our system, and disapprove of opposition MPs such as Chiam See Tong and Low Thia Khiang because they are working within the system.'

Madam Yeong acknowledged that Singapore has not solved all its problems.

'Our political system will continue to evolve.

'But it cannot do so to satisfy the preconceptions of human rights groups, NGOs and Western journalists.

'It must develop in response to the needs of a changing world and to fulfil the aspirations of a new generation,' she said.