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The Political Compass - Please take the test


Economic Left/Right: -5.62
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.21


I'm the most misunderstood person on this forum.
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Alfrescian (Inf)
Re: The Political Compass



Super Moderator
Re: The Political Compass

a natural balance of the righties in the real world perhaps? :biggrin::biggrin::biggrin:

done a retest after a long while, here are the results:
Economic -2.62 ; Social -1.69

still very much a libertarian~!~!~! :p:p:p

Thick Face Black Heart

Alfrescian (InfP)
Generous Asset
Re: The Political Compass

Retaking test now.

"Possessing marijuana for personal use should not be a criminal offence." -- STRONGLY AGREE!!!!!!!!!!


Re: The Political Compass

came back to browse and did the test again.. and found that i've migrated even further left on the economic axis.. (or has the test shifted to the right?)

Economic Left/Right: -8.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.21


Alfrescian (Inf)
Every day I am reminded of how many things were left undone. Thirty years ago they provided that no drugs be put on the market which were unsafe for hogs and for cattle. We want to take the radical step of doing the same for human beings. Anyone who says that Woodrow Wilson, as great a President as he was, and Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, that they did it all and we have nothing left to do now, is wrong.

One dollar, one vote

When it comes to setting policy, the views of businesses and the rich seem to count for more

GOVERNMENT of the people, by the people and for the people was Abraham Lincoln’s famous mantra. But which people? Do governments respond to the concerns of the average voter or do they merely cater to a privileged elite?

On the face of things, governments have catered largely to the common man over the past few years, at least in the realm of finance. Europe is limiting bankers’ bonuses and discussing a financial-transactions tax that will apply in 11 EU members. In America, Congress passed the blizzard of regulations collectively known as the Dodd-Frank act, which has prompted a lot of grumbling on Wall Street (even though financial-industry lobbyists were heavily involved in the process). Most importantly, regulators throughout the rich world have agreed to higher capital ratios for banks, which will not only make them safer but should (in the long run) limit some of the pay packages that have caused such disquiet.

Yet a new paper* from Martin Gilens of Princeton University and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University suggests such moments are rare, in America at least. They use statistical analysis to work out who most influences policy, and the results are depressing for those who believe in democracy. The authors conclude that “Not only do ordinary citizens not have uniquely substantial power over policy decisions: they have little or no independent influence on policy at all.” Those with the biggest influence are the economic elites (defined as those in the top 10% by earning power) and interest groups representing business. By contrast, “mass-based” interest groups such as trade unions have little or no impact.

The authors arrived at this stark conclusion by examining 1,779 surveys of American opinion on policy issues taken between 1981 and 2002. In each case, the surveys had established the income level of respondents. For the views of special-interest groups, the authors used lobbies ranked as powerful in Fortune magazine’s “Power 25” lists plus a further ten industries that spent heavily on lobbying.

In cases where a proposed policy change had low support among the wealthy (one in five in favour), the policy was adopted about 18% of the time. When four in five wealthy people supported a plan, the prospects for adoption rose to 45%. In contrast, it did not matter whether a policy change was backed by the vast majority, or only a tiny minority, of those on average incomes; its chances of adoption were around 30% either way. Business-interest groups, however, were much more successful in getting their way (a similar success rate to the wealthy).

The research does not necessarily show that the average voter is losing out; as it happens, the views of the wealthy and those on average earnings are closely linked (although there is a negative correlation between the views of citizens and business-interest groups).

But the analysis backs up earlier work by Larry Bartels of Princeton, author of a book called “Unequal Democracy”, and the general thesis of the late political scientist, Mancur Olson, that government can be in hock to special interests. This may be truer in America than elsewhere since its campaign-finance laws are so liberal: $6 billion was spent on the 2012 elections. This system forces candidates to spend much of their time raising money from the wealthy and from business. Even if no direct quid pro quos are involved, candidates may simply absorb the views of the better-off by osmosis.

The danger is of a vicious cycle in which politicians adopt policies that favour the better-off; this gives the wealthy more money with which to lobby politicians, which leads to more favourable legislation and so on. The surge in inequality over the last 30 years could perhaps be attributed, in part, to this process.

The flurry of new regulations notwithstanding, many people believe that Wall Street has done rather better than Main Street out of the crisis, even though it was the source of the problem. The Tea Party movement was at first fuelled by resentment of the bank bail-outs of 2008. In Europe, the rise of populist parties may owe something to the same factor.

The risk in the long run is that the excessive influence of the better-off may prompt an overreaction. If resentment grows strong enough to propel populists to power, they may push through policies that are bad not just for the financial sector, but for the economy as a whole.



Test was too long! completed it anyway. my results was...

my results was

Economic Left/Right: -0.50
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: 1.38


Low’s reminder timely, don’t whitewash Lee’s dubious ways

Workers’ Party (WP) secretary general, Low Thia Khiang, has paid a glowing tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister who passed away earlier this week.

At a specially convened session of Parliament to recognise Mr Lee’s 60 years of life work in helping build the nation, Mr Low described the former as “an extraordinary political leader born out of that turbulent and uncertain era.”

Mr Lee had “traversed among the big countries and promoted Singapore’s values to them and the potential benefits that Singapore could provide.”

“He had won the respect of the leaders of these major powers,” Mr Low said. “Without his efforts, our economy could not have been successful and Singapore could not have achieved its status and its living space today.”

However, Mr Low also tampered his accolades with a word a caution – that Singapore’s progress was achieved on the back of sacrifices made.

“I don’t think that the PAP one-party rule is the key to Singapore’s fast economic development, and strong social cohesion,” Mr Low said. “This is because many Singaporeans were sacrificed during the process of nation building and policy making; and our society has paid the price for it.

“This is why Mr Lee is also a controversial figure in some people’s eyes. He crafted policies based on the situation then, and made rational judgment out of the interests of the country.”

This nonetheless does not mean that the choice and the implementation of policies should just be based on purely pragmatic considerations.

“[It] should also take into consideration human nature and their sensitivity,” Mr Low explained. “Only by doing so can we avoid hurting people’s feelings and creating resentment. If accumulated over a long time, that resentment could become a potential political crisis and affect people’s unity and their identification with the country.”

Mr Low’s remarks seemed to have sparked a mini-rebuttal from one of Mr Lee’s parliamentary colleagues.

indraneeIndranee Rajah, an MP in the late Mr Lee’s constituency of Tanjong Pagar, seemed to have taken umbrage at Mr Low’s remarks about how “many Singaporeans were sacrificed during the process of nation building and policy making.”

“It was not people who were sacrificed but the things which would have made us a lesser people, a lesser country than we are today,” she said, without mentioning Mr Low or his speech.

Singapore gave up “laziness, corruption, division, hatred of other races”, she added.

“The other kind of sacrifice we were asked to make, was to set aside divisions and animosity in the interest of national unity,” Ms Indranee said.

She seemed to have misunderstood what “sacrifice” means which, basically, is to give up one good for a greater one.

And most would agree that laziness, corruption, division, hatred, animosity are not “good”, and indeed these are things to be eradicated, not sacrificed.

Channel Newsasia also picked up Mr Low’s point just minutes after he had delivered his speech in the House.

Studio guest, Devadas Krishnadas, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Future-Moves Group, was asked for his views.

He said Mr Low was not wrong in what he said because “the initial decades of independence saw a trade-off being made between individual freedoms and political space”, among other things.

“But what I think is not controversial is that those sacrifices paid off,” Mr Devadas said, without elaborating.

“And the recognition that sacrifices had to be made is being given today through the Pioneer Generation Package,” he explained.

“A very tangible $8 billion that recognises that that generation did the most and perhaps got the least [out of the] progress of Singapore because by the time we became far more affluent than when we started they [were coming] to the end of their working lives.”

Mr Devadas said that Mr Lee never denied that sacrifices had been made.

“It’s in his books and in his speeches and I think to his credit he was always upfront with saying that there’s a price to be paid, and if we elect to enjoy present pleasures without paying that price, then we have the certainty of paying a higher price in the future,” he said.

Both Ms Indranee and Mr Devadas seemed to have missed completely what Mr Low was driving at, which was a deeper and more profound point – that while Mr Lee had had to make and take decisions based on pragmatic considerations at the time, governance cannot be based just on pragmatism alone.

Because if it were, and if governance was devoid of humaneness or compassion, this will lead to resentment which in turn could break society apart.

This was the point Mr Low was making, and it is an entirely valid and serious point.

This was the point Mr Low was making, and it is an entirely valid and serious point.

While he did not mention specific incidents or names, one would guess that Mr Low was referring to (perhaps at least in part) the political detainees whom Mr Lee had incarcerated under the Internal Security Act (ISA), some of whom had spent decades in detention, without ever being formally charged in a court of law, let alone be allowed to defend themselves in open trial.

To sugar-coat such serious matters by saying it was instead “laziness” and “divisions” which we were asked to sacrifice, and that we are somehow making up for the sacrifices through the Pioneer Generation Package now (even though we have been prosperous many years ago), is to wholly ignore the other side of the Singapore story – the sacrifices of those, besides the victors, who had also played their part in the building of our nation.

Indeed, it is also to do Mr Lee a great discredit to try and whitewash what he himself had openly admitted.

In his book, “Lee Kuan Yew – The Crucial Years”, author Alex Josey quoted Mr Lee [emphasis added by this writer]:

“There were moments in 1964 and in 1965 when we felt that perhaps we were going the way of so many other places in the world.”

“We have departed in quite a number of material aspects, in very material fields, from the principles of justice, and the liberty of the individual.”

“620 criminal detainees… 100 of whom are murderers, kidnappers and armed robbers.”

“To let them out would be to run the very grave risk of undermining the whole social fabric.”

“[There were 620 criminal law supervisees, men] on whom the due process of law were unable to place even an iota of evidence.”

“[Lee admitted that all this was true.] We have had to adjust, to temporarily deviate from ideas and norms. This is a heavy price. We have over a hundred political detainees, men against whom we are unable to prove anything in a court of law… Your life and this dinner would not be what they are if my colleagues and I had decided to play it according to the rules of the game.

“So let us always remember that the price we have had to pay in order to maintain normal standards in the relationship between man and man, man and authority, citizen and citizen, citizen and authority is the detention of the 620 men and women under the Criminal Law Temporary Provisions Ordinance. But it is an expression of an idea when we say Temporary Provisions.”

So, to conclude, Mr Low perhaps was saying that those days of “temporarily deviat[ing] from ideas and norms” are over, and that government today should be more humane, wiser, and open, to prevent the disintegration of society because of seething resentment which could result from the iron-fist method of rule.

And indeed, this is a timely reminder to all of us – that while we express gratitude and respect for Mr Lee at this time, it is also important to see the many facets of the man in perspective, and learn also from his mistakes, and not just from his successes.


Workers’ Party secretary-general, Low Thia Khiang, was criticized for his speech in a special session of Parliament dedicated to commemorating the late Lee Kuan Yew.

In the middle of his speech, Mr Low questioned whether “PAP one-party rule is the key to Singapore’s fast economic development, strong social cohesion and the unitedness.”

He then pointed out that “many Singaporeans were sacrificed during the process of nation building and policy making; and our society has paid the price for it,” and explained: “This is why Mr Lee is also a controversial figure in some people’s eyes.”

(Contrary to reports by AFP, he did not directly call Mr Lee a controversial figure).

Viewers criticised him for making political comments at a time when the nation was still grieving for the loss of their founding father.

Commenting on Facebook, John Amos Tan wrote: “Very disappointed at his speech. Wrong time and wrong topic.”

Mr Low had also pointed out that the PAP’s success in building the nation, while undeniable, has come at a price. He said, “many Singaporeans were sacrificed during the process of nation building and policy making; and our society has paid the price for it.”

Viewers criticised Mr Low for trying to score political points during a eulogy and expressed their disappointment at his failure to give Mr Lee enough credit.

“Very sad. The Opposition refuses to acknowledge all the good things that Lee Kuan Yew has done,” said Ibrahim Hassan.

However, some also praised Mr Low for speaking up for Singaporeans, pointing out that parliament should be a place where different perspectives are challenged.

“The parliament is not a memorial service hall. A parliament speech does not have to be a eulogy singing only praises. Kudos to Low Thia Khiang for daring to speak up and provide a balanced perspective. Time to move on from an era of fear of speaking up and challenging the ruling party,” said David Wong.

Almost two thirds of Mr Low’s speech was dedicated to praising Mr Lee’s achievements. Mr Low credited Mr Lee for making Singapore the prosperous and safe nation that it is today.

Mr Low said: “This is the main reason why Singapore can leap from the Third World to the First World within one generation. The success arose not just from Mr Lee’s extraordinary fighting spirit and his tenacity, but also from his sincerity.”

Towards the end of his speech, he credited Mr Lee for Singapore’s social cohesion despite its diverse population. “Singapore today is united regardless of race, language and religion. This is an achievement that is not possible without Mr Lee,” he said.

At the end of his speech, Mr Low said: “My deepest respect goes to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.”

Singapore’s daily newspaper TODAY misquoted Mr Low as saying: “Mr Lee did what was right, but silencing opposition has risked disconnecting Singaporeans from their own society.” Mr Low did not make this statement.

It has since apologised and corrected the mistake.

Low Thia Khiang is currently the leader of the Workers’ Party (WP).

The WP currently holds 7 out of 86 seats in a PAP-dominated Parliament.

The PAP, People’s Action Party, is Singapore’s ruling party. It has been in power since 1959.

Lee Kuan Yew was the Prime Minister for 31 years from 1959 to 1990. He stepped down thereafter and took up an advisory role in Cabinet.

He left Cabinet in 2011 after the PAP received its lowest share of the total vote, at 60%.

Mr Lee passed away on March 23. He was 91.

His son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, has declared a seven-day period of mourning.

The PAP government has also revoked the right to demonstrate and hold protests at Hong Lim Park, the only place where Singaporeans may freely do so.

The Straits Times and TODAY paper have also warned users that during this time of mourning, insensitive remarks will be removed and users may be banned.

This comes amid a series of efforts by the government and the government-linked media to set the tone for remembering Lee Kuan Yew.

Experts have also noted that the PAP has largely succeeded in constructing a dominant narrative which it has used as a tool for nation building.

A flurry of articles commemorating Lee Kuan Yew’s life and legacy have been published, reaffirming that narrative.

The full transcript of Mr Low’s speech can be found here.


MPs pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew in special sitting of Parliament
AsiaOneThursday, Mar 26, 2015

- See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapo....0x64GTze.dpuf

SINGAPORE - Members of Parliament (MPs) from both sides of the political divide filled Parliament on Thursday in a special session honouring the Republic's first Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away on March 23 at the age of 91.

The solemn session was especially poignant with a bouquet of white flowers placed on Mr Lee's empty seat in the House. Most of the MPs were dressed in black and white during this period of mourning.

One speech that differentiated itself from others was by Mr Low Thia Khiang, secretary-general of the Workers' Party, who said that Mr Lee was a "controversial figure in some people's eyes" as many Singaporeans were "sacrificed" during the period of nation-building.

"I do not think that a one-party governance is crucial for the economic prosperity of Singapore, and neither is it key to maintain social cohesion and national unity," Mr Low said in his Mandarin speech.

"In the process of nation-building, some Singaporeans were sacrificed, and our society has paid a price for it," he added, causing a mild stir in the chamber.

However, Mr Low acknowledged Mr Lee's contribution to the nation, and said that he was largely responsible for Singapore's prosperity.

[email protected]

Here are the speeches from other Members of Parliament:

Full speech by Dr Ng Eng Hen:

Today this House mourns the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore. Mr Lee was our longest serving and most illustrious member. When Mr Lee was admitted to Singapore General Hospital a few weeks ago for pneumonia, Singaporeans from all walks of life, watched anxiously, increasingly worried as his condition worsened.

Paying your last respects at Parliament House
Mr Lee Kuan Yew makes last trip to Parliament
Remembering Lee Kuan Yew
Istana guard: "For one last time, 'MM coming'"

Despite the outpouring of deep wishes and fervent prayers - elderly men and women with arthritic joints knelt and prostrated themselves for his recovery - Mr Lee's chair sits empty today. His loss is deeply felt. A nation cries out in mourning. No one moved Singapore as Mr Lee did - not in life, sickness or death. We in this House, together with all Singaporeans here and abroad, weep that Mr Lee is no longer among us.

Why this deep sorrow for one man? Why do tears flow uncontrollably for thousands on his passing and memory?

Simply put, Singapore would not be what it is today without Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He was that bright night star that guided us all, an impoverished and fearful nation through independence. He envisioned, then drove Singapore to become a success story - as he promised, from "mudflats to a thriving metropolis"1 that countries all over have sought to emulate. Today, Singaporeans hold their passports with confidence and pride.

Mr Lee's vision and tenacity rallied and energised a nation to overcome seemingly unsurmountable odds. He coaxed, pushed Singaporeans to do what was difficult, but ultimately right and good for their long term interests. With his powers of persuasion, his clarity and confidence became ours, the people's - the mark of a great leader.
Photo Gallery:
Singaporeans pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House: Day 2
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Straits Times, Berita Harian
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Singaporeans pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House: Day 2 - 7
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Mr Lee is no longer with us, but I believe as many do here, that each generation will discover anew his wisdom in building the sturdy foundations of a thriving Singapore. His life is like a treasure chest. Each visit through his many deeds and words reveals pearls of wisdom and nuggets of sound advice, as I found for this eulogy.

For such a monumental life, any eulogy will fall short and I seek your pardon. But to honour his memory and remind us what his life stood for, I propose to capture the essence of Mr Lee through his speeches - the very words he used in this Parliament.

Even at the dawn of his political career, Mr Lee identified closely with the hopes and aspirations of common Singaporeans. In his first election in 1955, he told the voters of Tanjong Pagar, that out of 25 divisions, he wanted to represent "workers, wage earners and small traders, not wealthy merchants or landlords." This was why he "chose Tanjong Pagar, not Tanglin".

The residents of Tanjong Pagar believed and trusted him and elected him by a handsome margin. Astonishingly, Mr Lee would be returned as their MP for 13 subsequent elections. He would serve as MP for Tanjong Pagar for 60 years from 1955 to 2015, and is the only MP that Tanjong Pagar has ever had. I doubt this record will ever be broken in our Parliamentary history.

But Mr Lee and his Government did not get re-elected time and time again because they dispensed sweet words. Indeed, Mr Lee would often warn voters against silver-tongued politicians offering empty promises. He gained a fearsome reputation as one who eschewed the easier, more popular but ultimately wrong paths, as he recounted in his book, Hard Truths.

Flattery fell flat on him as did lofty but pretentious ideals. For Mr Lee, the acid test for any idea or proposal was how it would make Singapore stronger. If it weakened this country's foundations, he would reject it, even if it was politically incorrect to say so and attracted widespread criticism.

If it would make Singapore better, then no obstacles, no preconceived notions, no preset habits were too deeply entrenched to uproot or overcome. Indeed, he would attack these hindrances squarely and vigorously, to improve our circumstances. That was the Lee Kuan Yew the world knew and respected throughout his political life.

In 1968, an MP asked in Parliament, how the British withdrawal would impact Singapore. Mr Lee told Singaporeans plainly that the British bases made up 20 per cent of the GNP and tens of thousands of jobs would be lost.

To overcome this drastic impact, Singaporeans would have "to adapt and adjust, without any whimpering or wringing of hands, as a way of life which they have been accustomed to over 30 years comes to an end."
Photo Gallery:
Singaporeans pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House
Click on thumbnail to view photos. Source:
The Straits Times, AFP, AsiaOne readers
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When another MP followed and asked if economic aid from the British could ease the effects of the pull-out, Mr Lee's quick and unequivocal rejoinder was that any aid should "not make us dependent on perpetual injections of aid from the outside", that "…we cannot change our attitude to life, that the world does not owe us a living and that we cannot live by the begging bowl... The best way of meeting the problem is to go about it quietly and intelligently discussing our problems in a low key and with as little fuss and bother as possible."

There was steel in the tone of these replies but Mr Lee revealed later in 1999 that he knew how serious the problem really was.

He said: "1968 to 1971… were critical years for our young republic. We knew we either made it or we would fail. We worked hard, we worked smart, and most important we worked as a team. By the time the British withdrew in Oct 1971, we had avoided massive unemployment..."

"With as little fuss as possible" in those critical years would mean a fundamental overhaul of what Singaporeans had indeed become accustomed to but could not afford. To stop the rot, Mr Lee rooted out corruption, and attacked the malaise that afflicted our society and economy. What followed would re-make the work environment, industrial relations, schools, skills upgrading, productivity, defence and security - ridding Singapore of unsavoury, unproductive and unsustainable habits and customs inherited from its past.

A slew of legislative reforms followed in this House. Amendments were made to Employment, Industrial Relations, and Trade Unions Acts that put an end to the disruptive labour strikes. Bills were passed to build technical training institutes, forerunners of today's ITE, Polytechnics and Universities to educate and upgrade the skills of the workforce. Work hours were extended and the number of public holidays slashed. None of these bills was popular.

We in Government and as MPs on the ground know how difficult it is to carry unpopular policies, even if they are right. Why did Mr Lee and his Government choose to persuade Singaporeans to do, again and again, what was necessary but painful? Mr Lee himself provided us the answer. He said in 1968 in this House, "If we were a soft community, then the temptation would be to leave things alone and hope for the best.

Then, only good fortune can save us from the unpleasantness which reason and logic tell us is ahead of us. But we are not an easy-going people. We cannot help thinking, calculating and planning for tomorrow, for next week, for next month, for next year, for the next generation. And it is because we have restless minds, forever probing and testing, seeking new and better solutions to old and new problems, that we have never been, and I trust never shall be, tried and found wanting."
- See more at: http://news.asiaone.com/news/singapo....0x64GTze.dpuf


Note: The views expressed in this article are the writer's own and do not represent any organisation, the editorial team and/or the editor.

The following has been sent to us by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. The reader was sitting in the Stranger’s Gallery at Parliament yesterday and was infuriated at Mr. Low’s speech.

low thia khiang

In his speech at the Special Parliament Session yesterday (see below), Low was one of 11 MPs scheduled to speak. Beginning his speech by complimenting Mr Lee Kuan Yew as an extraordinary political leader, Low went on to talk about how Mr. Lee built the little island up from scratch, and how there was significant progress in Singapore and Singaporean’s lives.

But in between his speech, he craftily sneaked in his criticisms of Mr Lee, 119 words to be exact, to attack Mr Lee for sacrificing Singaporeans during the process of nation building and that he did not take into account human nature and sensitivity.

To most of us, these accusations will seem odd, as we are now witnessing thousands of Singaporeans queuing up to pay their last respects to their founding father. If there was sacrifice, one would imagine that the people readily sacrificed for what they know is the larger purpose of survival, and not because of political beliefs. If there was sacrifice, and it was against humanity, would we see people voluntarily lining up for 8 hours to just say a simple “thank you”?

For sure Low knows this. He is too shrewd to think that parliamentary immunity protects politicians from public opinion. So who was he speaking to?

One possibility is that there is ground unhappiness that the WP is slowly looking too much like their compatriots in white. Local Singaporean blogger Mr. Brown once posted a picture of WP leaders with a caption like, if you stare at the picture long enough, blue looks like white, riding on the black/gold, blue/white dress buzz at that time. This must have gotten into some of the party’s supporters.

Remember how the PAP came about in 1961? The original PAP was infiltrated by communists with the intention of seizing power and creating a red Singapore in support of the growing communist movement at that time. The communists agitated for violence and industrial unrests, to prevent Malaysia from forming. Unable to contain the factions, the PAP split into Barisan Socialis and PAP. The unions that formed much of the political architecture also split because of this, forming the Singapore Association of Trade Unions and NTUC. The Barisan-SATU alliance continued the agenda of violent and unrest, whilst the PAP-NTUC, with less than 20 unions out of the more than 100 unions at that time, focused on economic development and jobs.


(The Barisan also wore white-on-white – familiar?)

Over time, the smaller PAP-NTUC alliance progressed, whilst the Barisan-SATU group, which held most of the ground, dwindled. So what happened to Barisan eventually? It folded into the WP in 1988.

workers party logo

(Barisan Socialis isn’t dead – members folded into the Worker’s Party)

So could it be that Low, the wily politician was playing his chess pieces on this occasion? Dedicating most of his speech to praising Mr Lee, he sneaked in 119 words to also run him down so that at his own party caucus, he can look at his cadres and say, “see, I’ve got balls to scold him even as he laid in his coffin what”.

Whatever it is, I join the rest of my Singaporeans and pay my utmost respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. For us, he gave his life and his greatness is beyond any form of politicking or provocation. Every single blade of grass, every single building, every single Singaporean’s life, we have benefited from his sacrifice.

This is the truest definition of the word sacrifice.

The following is Mr. Low’s speech in full, from Parliamentary records:

“The founding Prime Minister was an extraordinary political leader born out of (a) turbulent and uncertain era. Singapore at that time was a small island and an unnoticeable city. Economically, it relied on entrepreneurial trade. Militarily, it relied on the protection from the British troops.

When Singapore was forced to leave Malaysia, I don’t think many would have believed that Singapore could survive on its own, not to mention to have imagined our achievements today. We all know that during that period the country was to be rebuilt from scratch, and there was high unemployment rate. Our neighbours were not particular friendly either.
To survive we must have a global vision, attract foreign investments and become part of the international market. However this could put Singapore in danger of becoming big countries’ vessel and the pawn in the international political arena which can be sacrificed at any time.
These internal and external challenges were a great test for Mr Lee. With outstanding wisdom and courage, he traversed among the big countries and promoted Singapore’s values to them and the potential benefits that Singapore can provide. He had won the respect of the leaders of these major powers. Without his efforts, our economy could not have been successful and Singapore could not have achieved its status and a living space today.

For a small country to survive, besides a strong military defence, the political space is the key to maintain national interest and survival. In Singapore, fighting for independence and continuous political struggle awakened Singaporeans’ political awareness. In the process of political movements and fighting together, consensus was forged between the people and Mr Lee, as well as a common direction and mutual trust. This is the main reason why Singapore can leap from third world to first world within one generation.
The success arose not just from Mr Lee’s extraordinary fighting spirit and tenacity, but also from his sincerity. However, I don’t think that the PAP one party rule is the key to Singapore’s fast economic development, strong social cohesion and unitedness. This is because many Singaporeans were sacrificed during the process of nation building and policy making and our society has paid a price for it.

This is why Mr Lee is also a controversial figure in some people’s eyes. He crafted policies based on the situation then, and made rational judgements out of the interests of the country, however the choice and implementation of policies is not just a rational decision, it should also take into consideration human nature and the sensitivity. Only by doing so, can we avoid hurting people’s feelings, and creating resentment. If accumulated over a long time the resentment could become a potential political crisis and affect people’s unity and their identification with the country.

From my dealings with Mr Lee in Parliament, I don’t think he was an autocrat who didn’t listen. If you have strong reasons and tight arguments, and can win him over in a thought through policy debate, I think he will consider your views.
I also know he was someone who hated empty-talking because he thought time was precious and there were too many things to do.

Singapore is a multiracial society and every race has its own language and culture. In the early years of nation building everyone hoped to maintain their advantages in this new country. How to manage the various conflicts of interest, unite people and build a national identity was a tremendous challenge.

Countries with similar situations as we were in the early days are still facing the same social conflict brought about by multiracialism, multiculturalism. Some even face the danger of disintegration. Singapore today is united regardless of race, language and religion. This is an achievement that is not possible without Mr Lee. My deepest respect goes to founding prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew.”



Lee Kuan Yew, no stranger to controversy

While he may have developed Singapore from economic backwaters to a First World Country, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew still had his fair share of controversies. A man of his status might have been revered by many, there are also many dissidents who want to bring him down.

We delve into 13 controversies he was embroiled in:
1. Operation Coldstore

Operation Cold Store might not have made it to our history textbooks, but its controversy is still much debated till today.

On 2 February 1963, a security operation named Operation Cold Store was launched, resulting in the arrest and detainment of over 111 left-wing activists, including key figures in opposition party Barisan Socialis. While government records noted that Operation Cold Store was to safeguard against communist attempts to create chaos nearing the Singapore-Malaysia merger, others hold different views. Former journalist Said Zahari, and one of the detainees arrested in the operation, felt that it was a political play by Mr. Lee and his team to rid PAP’s opposition.

Last December, former Barisan Socialis leader Dr. Poh Soo Kai, a detainee in the operation, posted a commentary on Australian website New Mandala, alleging that “Operation Coldstore was a set-up against Lee’s political opponents”. PM Lee Hsien Loong responded by saying that there was “no doubt” Barisan Sosialis was formed under the instigation of Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) leaders, and its leader Lim Chin Siong was a communist.
2. Media should be the government’s mouthpiece

“Freedom of the press, freedom of the news media, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of the integrity of Singapore, and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government.”

– Mr. Lee Kuan Yew said at the General Assembly Of The International Press Institute At Helsinki on 9 June 1971.

Mass media in Singapore is carefully monitored and regulated, with two monopolies in the scene – Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) dominates all the dailies while the Media Corporation of Singapore (Mediacorp) controls the broadcasting media locally.

In 1998, Cherian George, then a journalist at The Straits Times, stated in a conference paper that “Singapore’s newspapers are, at least in part, willing partners of the state … In the end it is difficult to avoid the conclusion, as much as one may want to, that Singapore’s political and press culture is sustained not just by coercion, but also by consent.”

Guess this explains why we’re ranked 153 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index.
3. Stop at Two

In the late 1960s, Mr. Lee implemented a stringent Stop at Two family planning campaign as he was worried that Singapore’s growing population would have an adverse effect on Singapore’s then-developing economy.

In 1970, sterilisation and abortion were legalised. The campaign also advocated for women to be sterilised after having their second child. To entice women into undergoing the sterilisation procedure voluntarily, the government offered those without an O-level certificate seven days of paid medical leave and $10,000 in cash incentives. Strong disincentives were also implemented to deter couples from having more than two children, such as the lack of education priorities for the third or fourth child, fewer economic rebates, a higher delivery fee with every additional child, and penalty in housing assignments.
4. Land Acquisition Act

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After independence, land-scarce Singapore needed adequate land supply for developmental projects. The Land Acquisition Act was enacted in 1967, which gives the government the power of compulsory land acquisition to acquire private coastal and inland properties for public developmental purposes. The act also regulated the compensation to landowners with properties acquired by the government. In a nutshell, this Act facilitated the government’s acquisition of private land for public benefit, minus the extra financial cost.

Needless to say, landowners felt that their rights were infringed on, to which Mr. Lee retorted that it was a necessary move for greater public good:

It would have been uneconomic and impossible to develop if we have had to acquire the property under the ordinary machinery of the Land Acquisition Ordinance with a right of appeal in the case of every award contested, to the High Court, with two assessors who are both trained and accept, as part of their ethos, the right and sanctity of private property. This becomes all the more compelling when vast sums of public revenue are being spent on developing huge areas like Jurong, Toa Payoh, Bedok. The whole of the Bedok reclamation scheme, from Bedok right up to Tanjong Rhu, would not have been possible if the concept of private property and all the rules and regulations that have been elaborated over hundreds of years were complied with …

5. Graduate Mother’s Scheme
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In 1983, the ‘Great Marriage Debate’ was sparked off when Mr. Lee urged Singaporean men to pick highly educated women as their wives, as he was disturbed that a substantial number of graduate women remained unmarried. He perceived the phenomenon as “a serious social problem”. His views triggered unhappiness amongst the certain groups of people in the population, including graduate women.

The subsequent year, the Graduate Mothers’ Scheme (GMS) was announced to arrest the growing trend of the well-educated having fewer children. Matchmaking agency Social Development Unit (SDU) was established for graduate men and women to socialise, while a Social Development Service (SDS) was set up for non-graduates. Under GMS, graduate mothers were given priority school admission for their children. Other incentives include tax rebates and housing priorities for graduate mothers with three or four children, an attempt to reverse the consequences of the Stop at Two campaign. The scheme was eventually abolished in 1985, after public outcry in the 1984 general elections.
6. Eugenics

So when the graduate man does not want to marry a graduate woman, I tell him he’s a fool, stupid. You marry a non-graduate, you’re going to have problems, some children bright, some not bright. You’ll be tearing your hair out. you can’t miss. It’s like two dice. One is Jack, Queen, King, Ace, other also Jack, Queen, King, Ace. You throw a Jack, Queen, King, Ace against dice two, three, four, five, six, what do you get? You can’t get high pairs, let alone a full flush.

LKY’s firm belief in eugenics is so strong, that they eventually led to the creation of the SDU and GMS.
7. Francis Seow
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In 1956, Francis Seow joined the Singapore Legal Service and was promoted to Solicitor-General in 1969 and held office until 1971. He served directly under then-Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and rose to the rank of a senior counsel to a Commission of Inquiry during the Secondary 4 examination boycott in 1964 before the merger with Malaysia. In recognition, Seow was awarded the Public Administration (Gold) Medal but eventually left to join private law practice in 1972. In 1976, he was elected a member of the Council of the Law Society and became his firm’s president in 1986. His new role led to his falling out with Mr. Lee as Seow got involved in politics of the Law Society, using it as a platform to attack the government.

Mr. Lee passed an amendment to the Legal Profession Act under Section 38 (1) depriving the Law Society to comment on any legislation unless asked by the government. In the 1988 general election, Seow contested the Eunos Group Representation Constituency under Worker’s Party and lost marginally to PAP. However, just before the election, Seow was accused of receiving political campaign finance from the US to promote democracy in Singapore and was thus detained without trial for 72 days under the Internal Security Act. In his semi-autobiographical To Catch a Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew’s Prison, Seow wrote about his experience of being detained. He accused the Singapore government of “authoritarianism” and “abusing human rights under then-PM Mr. Lee”. He also claimed that he was tortured, sleep deprived and subjected to intense cold conditioning.

On the flip side, late criminal lawyer Subhas Anandan wrote about his experience with Francis Seow in his autobiography, describing him as “someone who is fuelled by deep-seated motives but did not have what it took to be a leader”. He also said that Mr. Lee must have been astonished that someone “could lie so glibly like Francis Seow”. He added:

It is very difficult to confront a man who is lying when only he and the other person know the truth. I don’t think Lee was in a position to go into details because some of his conversations they had must have been quite serious and he was not prepared to discuss the circumstances. Francis Seow took full advantage of Lee’s difficulty, lied through his teeth and came out victorious. But his victory was short lived because in the end the statute was amended. He was statutorily terminated and had to cease being the president because he had been suspended before and the new amendment will not allow him to hold office in the Law Society.

8. The Hotel Properties Limited Saga

After stepping down as Prime Minister in 1990, Mr. Lee found himself in some controversy shortly after. The Far Eastern Economic Review reported that Mr. Lee and his eldest son bought condominiums in land-scarce Singapore at discount prices – an allegation Mr. Lee strongly denied.

It all started when Mr. Lee’s younger brother, Dr. Lee Suan Yew, a non-executive director, purchased a unit called Nassim Jade in a Hotel Property Ltd (HPL) condominium project. HPL issued a price list on the respective prices of each Nassim Jade apartment and was slated to be put on sale for the open market on 17 April 1995. In HPL’s “soft launch” on 14 or 15 April, a group of potential customers were given first-hand opportunity to purchase apartments.

At the soft launch, Mr. Lee’s wife, Mdm Kwa Geok Choo picked an apartment to buy and was quoted a seven percent discount – two percent more than the usual discount offered. Mdm Kwa told Lee Hsien Loong about this. The younger Lee was interested and was offered a 12 percent discount of $437,412. It was also alleged that Mr. Lee and son later bought two units at HPL’s project Scotts 28 condominiums in October 1995, bagging a five percent discount each. Mr. Lee got $416,252 while the younger Lee received $643,185 in discounts, which they later donated to charity. It was also said that Mr. Lee’s entire family was in on the deal, with her daughter, brothers, sister, sister-in-law and his wife’s niece having purchased apartments in the two condominium projects in 1995.

This matter was brought up by Workers’ Party’s J.B. Jeyaretnam. Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong instructed the Ministry for Finance to investigate, since there was a public perception of impropriety. A statement issued by the Lees said that “neither the SM nor the DPM sought any preferential treatment from HPL in these purchases. HPL and its associates have not sought any favors from the SM or the DPM.”

On the issue of integrity, Mr. Lee said

At no stage did my wife or I think or feel we were doing anything irregular or improper. They were open and above board transactions. Caveats were openly lodged by our solicitors in our names in the Land Registry to give notice to everyone, unlike some buyers who have not lodged caveats and so their identities are no known. These caveats gave my name as purchaser of the Nassim Jade unit at the price of $3,578,260 and our two names as purchasers of the Scotts 28 unit at the price of $2,791,500. If my wife or I thought that there was anything improper in buying the properties because my brother was a non-executive director of HPL she would not have proceeded with the purchases. She expected all legal procedures and permissions to be obtained.

His full speech made in parliament can be found here.

On 26 April 1996, Goh vindicated their names with no findings of improprieties involved. He said:

They had agreed with the purchase prices and did not know what prices were quoted to or paid by other purchasers. There is nothing wrong with cabinet ministers purchasing properties to live in or for investment, or selling their own properties.

9. International Herald Tribune

In 1994, Mr. Lee, together with his son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Goh Chok Tong sued International Herald Tribune (IHT) and journalist Philip Bowring for defamation. Bowring implied that the younger Mr. Lee achieved his position through nepotism.

In 2010, Bowring wrote an Op-Ed piece named ‘All in the family’ on 15 February. This resulted in the three Singaporean leaders’ threat to take legal action against The New York Times Company, the parent company of IHT. IHT eventually apologised for misleading readers into thinking that the younger Mr. Lee did not attain his position through merit. A total of US$114,000 in damages were awarded, on top of legal costs.

In response, watchdog group Reporters Without Borders has asked Mr. Lee and other senior officials to stop suing journalists for libel.
10. Islam

In Mr. Lee’s controversial book titled Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, he wrote that Singapore was “progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came” and that Singapore can “integrate all religions and races except Islam”. He also persuaded Singaporean Muslims to “be less strict on Islamic observances”, as a result of their difficulties in integrating due to religion.

In 2011, a WikiLeaks cable claimed that Mr. Lee “characterised Islam as a ‘venomous religion'”, to which he refuted. Instead, Mr. Lee said he discussed about “extremist terrorists like the Jemaah Islamiyah group and the jihadist preachers” who had perverted Islam, a version which “the overwhelming majority of Muslims in Singapore do not subscribe to”.

Nevertheless, the anonymity of WikiLeaks sources undermines the credibility of what was said.

Back in the early days of Singapore with her newfound independence, Mr. Lee was the one who advocated building a Singaporean identity under the umbrella of multiculturalism. Later, Housing Development Board (HDB) allocation schemes also included Ethnic Integration Policy to promote racial integration and harmony. According to national ratio, every precinct would have inhabitants from all ethnic groups.
11. Suing opponents into bankruptcy


Chee Soon Juan:

Chee Soon Juan was sued for defamation by Mr. Lee and then-PM Goh Chok Tong after the 2001 general elections, as a result of his allegation during the campaign about a loan to Indonesian President Suharto. Chee was ordered to pay Goh S$300,000 and S$200,000 to Lee after being found guilty. He was unable to pay the amount and was declared bankrupt in 10 February 2006. In 2005, following the National Kidney Foundation saga, Chee published an article in the Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) newspaper, questioning the Singapore government’s role in the scandal. He was ordered to pay damages to Mr. Lee and PM Lee Hsien Loong. In 2012, Mr. Lee and Goh accepted Chee’s offer of paying a reduced sum of S$30,000 to annul his bankruptcy, making Chee an eligible candidate in the 2016 general elections.

J.B. Jeyaretnam:

In 1988, J.B. Jeyaretnam, leader of Worker’s Party, was sued for slander for alleging that Mr. Lee had abetted Teh Cheang Wan’s (a HDB architect) suicide and covered up Teh’s corruption. Jeyaretnam lost the lawsuit and was ordered to pay Mr. Lee S$260,000 in damages plus costs.

In 1995, Jeyaretnam was sued twice for libel by Indian PAP leaders after publishing an article in WP’s newsletter alleging that a number of those involved in the event Tamil Language Week were government “stooges”. Damages of S$465,000 and S$250,000 were awarded.

In 2001, J.B. Jeyaretnam was declared bankrupt as a result of overdue damages he owed PAP ministers.
12. Certificate Of Entitlement (COE)

Mr. Lee once wisely said:

I knew that once people in Singapore could have a car, they’d never give it up. So, before it got out of control, I said you need a Certificate Of Entitlement before a car is yours; and the permitted up-tick in number of cars depends on what the road capacity is. That was the first move. So, you bid for it. If you issue more entitlement certificates than is prudent, roads are jammed. Then a younger generation took over and says, well, why not have more cars and we charge them by usage on the roads instead of just purchase? I told them, okay, okay, have a car, have more cars! But once you’ve got a car, you will never give it up.

Mr. Lee knew that having too many cars would ruin our efficient road network and hinder traffic flow for a true urban utopia should consist of an interlinkage of mass transit.

Of course, many Singaporeans did not concur with this scheme, complaining about the several thousands of Singapore dollars required to obtain a COE.

However, given that Singapore is an affluent city-state with the highest concentration of millionaires per capita, the implementation of COE serves as a deterrent to more people being car owners. With more cars on the road, this means that we could potentially face even more traffic jams.
13. High ministerial pay

Since 1994, the high salaries of our ministers have been a controversial issue.

Mr. Lee had emphasised time and again about “the need for a competitive ministerial pay to attract committed and capable people who will serve the country”, because he “always held to the belief that public servants need to be paid well, or they will succumb to corruption”.

In 2012, despite PM Lee accepting a 36 percent pay cut to S$2.2 million, he is still the world’s most well paid head of government – four times Barack Obama’s yearly salary.
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is still The Man

While detractors have been quick to criticise Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, it is imperative to bear in mind that he is, after all, only human. Whether we perceive them as bad decisions or not, several have far-reaching repercussions that affect us to this day. One of the most controversial topics of all-time would be the Stop at Two policy, which many still believe to have led to today’s low birth rate. Nonetheless, most of the policies he implemented benefited Singapore more than the harm a minority of his policies did.

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that this man is intertwined to metropolis Singapore and the peace and stability we enjoy today.

Featured image via edmw img
With reference to Wikipedia, Under The Willow Tree, Wikipedia, Asia One, Singapore’s Politics Under The People’s Action Party, Wikipedia, Your Dictionary, NewspaperSG, Wikipedia, sgforums, The Real Singapore, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Channel NewsAsia, East Meets West: Human Rights and Democracy in East Asia, journalism.sg, atimes, National Library Board, Giants of Asia: Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew: Citizen Singapore, Urban Systems Studies, historySG, Tang Talk, The Best I Could: From the Case Files of Subhas Anandan, Asiaweek, National Archives of Singapore