Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gestures during his meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, April, 2, 2013
Singapore is well-known for its efficiency and order, but during a visit to Washington the city-state's prime minister displayed a less advertised attribute — humor.
In an after-dinner speech Tuesday to U.S. businessmen, Lee Hsien Loong made a couple of jokes that could pass for stand-up comedy. He drew laughs — and some groans — with his quips, including one about China's environmental problems:
- "Beijing residents joke that to get a free smoke all they have to do is open their windows!" Lee said.
- "(In) Shanghai, if you want some pork soup, you just turn on the tap," he said.
His audience appeared doubtful if that was good taste, until he added, "That's their joke, not mine!"
Singapore PM Lee cracks jokes at China's expense, risks hurt feelings
PM Lee: Poor sense of humour
Singapore PM draws laughs in US speech
No Laughing Matter
PM Lee humors his American audience about China during an after-dinner speech
Singapore's Prime Minister is funny
Singapore PM draws laughs in US speech
PM Lee joking about pork soup
UN chief delivered hard-hitting final Speech warning leaders not to rewrite Constitution
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a hard-hitting Speech in his tenth and final speech at the U.N. General Assembly. His Speech was directed against a host of world leaders from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to South Sudan’s Salva Kiir Mayardit
In the Speech filled with frustration, Ban charged that: “In too many places, we see leaders rewriting constitutions, manipulating elections and taking other desperate steps to cling to power.”
Adding: “My message to all is clear: serve your people. Do not subvert democracy; do not pilfer your country’s resources; do not imprison and torture your critics.”
Although the Government of Singapore has changed the Republic’s Constitution a few times (including a pending change to the Elected Presidency scheme); although the ruling party has been accused of gerrymandering elections to give itself an unfair advantage to cling onto power; although citizens who have been detained without trial allege torture; it is highly unlikely that Ban was targeting Singapore in his Speech.
UN General Assembly Opening Session
Singapore’s succession struggles
When Lee Hsien Loong collapsed during the National Day Rally speech on 21 August 2016, it shocked not only many Singaporeans, but also leaders from around the world. Although he recovered quickly and was able to finish his speech after a short break, the incident drew attention to the issue of leadership succession in a country that has long experienced predictable politics with little change.
While Singapore maintains the appearance of a democracy, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has dominated politics since independence by creating significant barriers to political opposition — currently the PAP control more than 90 per cent of seats. In order to maintain this level of control, the PAP has successfully transferred power to the next generation of hand-picked leaders. But presently, the leadership succession is still unclear despite the fact that the current prime minister is already 64 years old.
This level of uncertainty is a new development in post-independence Singaporean politics, which has become used to the dominant role of the PAP. The party’s first leader and prime minister, the late Lee Kuan Yew, has often been affectionately called the nation’s founding father. His successor, Goh Chok Tong, was widely seen as a seat warmer for the current prime minister, who is the son of the elder Lee.
Singapore's prime minister openly criticized the United States over the government shutdown and ongoing deadlock over the debt ceiling, calling them "problems you have created for yourself in a game of chicken."
The government shutdown led U.S. President Barack Obama to cancel his attendance at the APEC Leaders' summit just days before he was meant to arrive. The summit finishes today in Bali, Indonesia. Aside from Taiwan, Obama is the only leader missing among the 21 economies of the APEC group, which together account for half the world's output, 45% of its trade and 3 billion of its inhabitants.
Here TRE takes a deeper look at PM Lee Hsien Loong’s embarrassing CNN interview (video), which was not reported by Singapore’s mainstream media.
In an interview with CNN’s Patricia Wu on the sidelines of the recently concluded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, PM Lee openly criticized the United States over the government shutdown and ongoing deadlock over the debt ceiling, calling them “problems you have created for yourself in a game of chicken.”
He said the Americans “are unable to get their act together”, and that Washington’s behavior sends a “negative signal which will last much longer than the shutdown”.
The question of the humongous salaries that PM Lee Hsien Loong and his self-serving ministers pay themselves from taxpayers' money has been the subject of public outrage but PM Lee and his ministers merrily continue to help themselves with the unconscionable emoluments oblivious to public outrage. This is because they are the Government and have the power to pay themselves outrageously without having to answer to the electorate that elected them. Just imagine our PM Lee drawing four to five times the salary of the President of the United States of America Mr. Barack Obama. It is preposterous for PM Lee to think that his position and responsibility are equal or superior to the American President to justify his exorbitant salary. So too are our self-serving ministers if they think they are superior to their American counterparts to justify their humongous salaries. PM Lee simply rides roughshod to any public protest.
But PM Lee shows himself to be less courageous when he faces foreign questioners on his and his ministers' astronomical salaries. In a recent interview with an astute interviewer Ms Patricia Wu of CNN, he was found to be nervous and fumbling with embarrassment when asked to comment on Singapore's lawmakers being some of the highest paid in the world and whether Washington would attract better talents if their salaries were more competitive. PM Lee was quickly put on the spot and caught off guard by Ms Patricia Wu's question. His unsteady answer was that they may have competitive salaries but were far from being the richest lawmakers in the world. They operate a clean system, an honest system, and are paid what their job is worth and what their quality is worth and are expected to perform. And if they don't, they have to go or (shrugs his shoulders) the electorate will vote them out.
Obviously not satisfied with his answer, Ms Patricia Wu pressed on with her question and before she could finish her question, PM Lee cut in and with a pained look and obvious discomfort gave a rambling irrelevant explanation. Not getting a straight answer from PM Lee, Ms Patricia Wu gave up and moved to another topic, allowing PM Lee a relief to his discomfort.
During an interview with the CNN Hsien Loong said that anyone in his team would have to go if they did not perform. This statement has been quoted by some bloggers as a reason for Boon Wan to go since the MND is losing several billions for building HDB flats for the people. The issue is not that simple as it is made up to be.
How shall a minister’s performance be judged, in particular, like the case of building public flats? Should the measurement be about making profit for the govt or building affordable housing for the people? Or should it be about building enough flats for the people are reasonable prices, not affordable prices, and without having to wait for several years? Or should it be about building enough flats to meet the demands of the people without incurring huge losses.
The above questions are quite straight forward reality. In the current case, the issue is not just about the losses, or is it about the losses? And what is this loss, or is there really a loss? This can only come to light if the details of the costing are laid on the table. Then it could become an issue of productivity, efficiency and taking care of the interests of the people. Or it could become an issue to taking care of the interests of the party.
Tharman outshines his fumbling boss, named Finance Minister of the Year by Euromoney
Question: Do Tharman make a better Prime Minister than Lee Hsien Loong?
Global Times, 13 Oct 2013
Singapore's Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will receive the Finance Minister of the Year award by Euromoney magazine in Washington on Sunday, local media reported.
The accolade recognizes Tharman's "over-arching role" in shifting Singapore's economic growth model from one dependent on an ever-expanding working population to a steadier platform of increasing productivity, Euromoney said on Saturday.
The shift is taking place even while Singapore's status as an innovative trade and financial services hub to diversified export markets is being maintained. Full story
PM LEE 8 YRS AGO: PAP MAKES LIFE BETTER FOR ALL SINGAPOREANS
At the PAP rally on 8 Dec last Sunday, LHL was in a desperate and panicky state. He talks about the opposition “checking” on them. He mentioned the word ‘checkmate’, clearly indicating that he is clueless about the notion of modern democracy. So, how is he going to appease the citizens?
Well, if you read his speech carefully, you could really feel the desperation. Phrases like ‘If the PAP fails, Singapore is in deep trouble. We shall not fail’, ‘We don’t make empty promises’ and so on, certainly reflect his desperation.
Worse, for the first time, the PAP openly mentions about the possibility that it may not be able to form the govt (see TRE article – ‘First time PAP admits may not be able to form govt‘). Why? just to scare us to continue to vote for him and his party?
PM succession doesn’t have to follow old ways
Chan Chun Sing’s promotion to full minister back in August reignited discussion on who is poised to be the next Prime Minister. Succession is expected around the year 2020. Most observers believe Heng Swee Keat and Mr Chan are frontrunners for the job, followed by the likes of Tan Chuan Jin and Lawrence Wong. All four, with Sim Ann, were part of the newly elected “fabulous five” in the 2011 General Election.
Prevalent in the discussion is the legitimate concern that should one of these end up as the next PM, he or she will have less than ten years of political experience on taking over. PM Lee himself lamented recently: “I had twenty years apprenticeship before I took over as PM. I don’t think any other PM in Singapore is ever going to be as lucky as me.”
In that sense, this is a problem the PAP has created for itself. It had two elections — 2001 and 2006 — to produce a successor, but didn’t. For a party that takes pride in its long term planning over short term opportunism, this was a jarring failure.
Singapore's mid-life crisis as citizens find their voice
Singapore's Speaker's Corner has seen increasingly vocal debate
The passing of Lee Kuan Yew, who has just turned 90 years old and is in frail health, will be another turning point for this micro-state, a moment when its citizens will once again contemplate their uncertain future.
The elder Mr Lee has always taken a pessimistic view of his country's vulnerability. He wept publicly when it was ejected from Malaysia and has repeatedly warned his citizens not to relax their vigilance, whether it was against communist subversion in the 1960s, or against the declining birth-rate in the 21st Century.
In one of his most recent statements he pondered gloomily whether Singapore would even exist in 100 years time. It was down to the competence of the government, he said. If we get a dumb government, we are done for.
Lee and Lee - The job has changed
The city-state of Singapore appears to have run squarely yo mid-life crisis nine years after Lee Hsien Loong became Prime Minister and two years after an embarrassing general election outing by his ruling People's Action Party (PAP) and eighteen months after a humiliating by-election defeat. The question observers in some circles have begun to ask is this: Just exactly where is the Singapore Leader?
In a country where leadership has traditionally been decisive, clear in your face, the government under Lee in recent years has been uncharacteristically muddling through a mini-crisis of confidence. There has been compalints by Singaporeans about the seemingly unchecked entry of foreign workers into the country, the growing rich-poor divide, high cost of housing, an overworked public transit system that has been plagued by delays and breakdowns and scandals involving top civil servants.
Even the one thing that Singapore has been bragging right over in the past - its high annual economic growth rate - is now fading as the country becomes a matured economy and settles into modest growth rates. The mood of the nation is turning sour with the population "wanting to have the cake and eat it too", as Eugene Tan, an assistant Law Professor at Singapore Management University (SMU) said.
PM Does Not Move Me
What LKY should have done
Catherine Lim and LKY
From LKY to LHL – succession management and baton passing
Succession is always a tricky issue. Even in otherwise smooth transitions, tensions can linger. For example in 1988, after it had already been decided that Goh Chok Tong would be the next Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew publicly said that his first preference was Tony Tan, who turned down the job, and that GCT had a wooden TV speaking manner, such that once LKY advised him to see a psychiatrist about improving it, to which GCT merely replied that psychiatrists are for curing madness, not for speech therapy. If he felt any irritation at being asked to see a shrink, he did not show it.
Shortly after being confirmed, GCT was asked about his own succession plans, and readily identified Lee Hsien Loong as the most promising of the young Ministers. Despite LHL’s suitably modest reply that the decision was up to the Cabinet and the party, to everyone it was a given that LHL will be GCT’s successor, and indeed the view “GCT is only a seat warmer” dogged him through much of his premiership. With no world wide web as propagation tool, the view was mostly heard as snide commentary and crude jokes in coffeeshop conversations, and any media comments along the line were vigorously countered. Even a commentary like this by Catherine Lim was seen as suggesting that he was not really in charge, and drew an immediate rebuke.
Simply by staying in office till 2004, GCT proved the seat warmer characterisation incorrect, but it certainly impacted the political scene for quite a long period. 20-odd years on, with the kind of loud buzz we constantly find circulating around the Internet, it is hard for everyone to remember the tense atmosphere of the first GCT years.
PM Lee hopes to have successor team in place before turning 70
PM Lee Hsien Loong (R) at "Ask the PM" programme on Channel NewsAsia
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday hinted that Singapore must have his successor and the next team to govern the country in place well before he turns 70.
Mr Lee, who is 61, was asked on the Channel NewsAsia programme 'Ask the PM', if he intends to stay on as prime minister beyond the age of 67, the age Mr Lee Kuan Yew stepped down and handed over the reins to Mr Goh Chok Tong.
Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser asked Mr Lee what qualities should the next prime minister have, and if he had such a person in mind. Mr Lee replied: "We have good talent. We have people who have the commitment, the ability, who have the experience collectively to make the system work
PM Lee Hsien Loong believes another Lee Kuan Yew would be the ideal choice as leader for Singapore
Other than the valorization of the LKYian leadership style (an element that has landed the PAP in its plight of increasing political irrelevance) in Hsien Loong’s belief that another Kuan Yew would be ideal for Singapore. Full story
LHL: "Ideally, we have another LKY"
I found this later: "Ideally, we have another Lee Kuan Yew".
I have been pushing the point that the very good is not good enough for us. We need to be great and bearing in mind that the good is the enemy of the great. I am glad the PM feels the same.
Of course the times are different and we will not get another LKY. In the same way Abraham Lincoln isn't George Washington but we need a transformational leader.
Weaning S'pore off the Great Man leadership style
Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is a great leader
Yet, after witnessing a week of salutary tributes on the occasion of his 90th birthday, I wonder if Singapore might have a Great Leader problem.
Not so much a dearth of them - although that is a future possibility that may have to be reckoned with one day.
But that Singaporean society has become so wedded to the idea and style of Great Man leadership that we do disservice to our past, and are ill-prepared for a complex and unpredictable future.
Singapore relooks elitist policy
As Lee Kuan Yew celebrated his 90th birthday last week, one of his legacies – an elitist leadership – was given a few hard jolts.
Whether the founding leader had intentionally devised it or simply encouraged it through his scholars-as-leaders policy or eugenics theory, a form of elitist environment has taken a grip on Singapore.
It created a new breed of highly-paid civil servants, some of whom became dominating and arrogant, who helped to govern a questioning middle-class population – not the best of combinations.
The LKY legacy and what coat-tailed MPs don’t understand
Many time, we heard Ministers and MPs complaining that Singaporeans are ungratefully. If you at postings on the Internet and social media, most of the comments are negative towards the ruling party AKA PAP. This is very untrue. Yes, if you only read those negative comments, you may come to a conclusion that there is a disaster in Singapore and citizens are being locked up or sued till bankrupt. The fact is, it would be hypocritical for any Singaporeans to sit there in their air-conned room, earning those salaries they do and able to walk safely in the night streets and not be grateful of the good governance that brought about these comfort, safety and prosperity.
Here is what the new generation of coat-tailed MPs don’t understand, all these achievements were possible with the 1st generation of opposition AKA PAP who became the government, led by none other than LKY himself. His daring vision for economic prosperity and stability for this country allows it to be transformed within 40 years to what we have today. Of course, along the way, his ruthless authoritarian control of the state, the law and citizens allowed all these to happen, to the expense of human rights, a robust and just judiciary and politician diversity.
On its wake, rearing a generation who are fearful of the government, apolitical or even indifference to unfairness in the system, a civil service that is only obedient to the ruling party instead of serving Singaporeans and other who practically worships them like god (with benefits attached of course!)
Changes needed to avert "mid-life crisis": ESM Goh
Singapore is now at an inflexion point of its development as a society, where there is a need for some changes to avoid a "mid-life crisis"
A day after Our Singapore Conversation Chairman Heng Swee Keat gave the nation an overview of issues which concerned the people most during the discussions, Mr Goh has also weighed in to talk about averting a "mid-life crisis" for the country.
"I dare say that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet are having a tougher time governing Singapore than Mr Lee Kuan Yew and I had. And it is not going to get easier," said Mr Goh.
That's because today's external environment is more complex and uncertain.
PM LHL has a more difficult task as Prime Minister of Singapore than MM Lee era
At least you you know the situation is different btw the LKY time and LHL time. LKY time was "Survival" to build a nation from "S****". Singapore was basically a swampland. The achievable is obvious and not naked to the eye. LHL time (current) is different. The country has already being developed. All the necessary Infrastructures are up and running. His task is more difficult. It is more on GDP growth - to keep the economy robust, without which the country will be spiralling downward
As for the current team, I think they lack the fire in the belly and the altruism. As LKY famously said before, how do you recreate those conditions of the 50s and 60s that brought the likes of Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaratnam, him and others together, to fight for a common cause which was 'survival' and when "more GDP growth" was not a phrase for us to use at that time? You can't
To imply that our PM ignores the livelihood of the people, social development, and environmental issues does not gel with the facts. The fact that there are problems on the ground doesn't mean that the PM is not concerned, just because you disagree with the govt's handling of the problems. The question you must ask is whether the government is responding to the problems or is it sweeping them under the carpet?
Netizen asks is LKY protecting his son by naming TCH as submitor of 6.9m whitepaper?
The latest twist to this is LKY. On page 223 of his latest book, ‘One Man’s View Of The World‘, LKY said “DPM Teo Chee Hean has put up a White Paper. Let’s wait a few years for it to be implemented, to see if the measures work”.
Ehhh… how come DPM TCH? I thought the White Paper is the Govt’s and it comes with strong leadership from the top? You mean, on such an important issue as diluting the Singapore core to below 50% by 2030, this wasn’t something driven by the top leader? Is this another example of PM Lee’s “missing in action” leadership?
Or, is LKY throwing TCH under the bus, having realised the White Paper was a mistake? Protecting his son?
Race to find PM Lee's successor is on
While Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that his successor has not yet been chosen, his actions over the last few weeks suggest that, at the very least, the field is starting to narrow.
First, there was the appointment of Education Minister Heng Swee Keat - already two years into helming his ministry, and fresh from organising the Our Singapore Conversation - as the chair of a yet another key national committee, one to commemorate Singapore's 50th year of independence.
Then on Wednesday, Acting Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing was promoted to full minister and made Second Minister for Defence.
The Independent: Predictability suffers as PM No 4 remains elusive
I HAVE LOST MY RESPECT FOR LEE KUAN YEW
Fast forward to 2013 and my opinion about LKY is totally reverse of what I had for him back in 1996. First of all I totally lost my respect for him, who is supposed to be an intellect; for grooming his moronic son to take over the premiership. Don’t you think LKY know that his son is not PM material? Yet he still persists in doing so resulting in Singapore having one of the most incompetent group of people in the government now. By being a weak and incompetent PM, Lee Hsien Loong attracted a group of similar people like Vivian B., Chan Chun Sing, Lui Tuck Yew to name a few.
As the social media open me up further to the deeds of LKY, I started to wonder about the time he cried when Singapore was separated from Malaysia. Did he cry for Singaporeans? If he did, then why is your PAP government giving Singaporeans such a hard time in terms of Healthcare costs, Owning a home, Job opportunities, High Tertiary Education costs, Overloading the country with Foreigners? If you can cry for Singaporeans, you should uphold your love for them by looking at successful people centric policies of the Nordic countries and some European countries like Denmark and Switzerland. Is that so difficult to do?
My heart grieves every time I see an old Singaporean searching through a dustbin to look for aluminum cans. Is this what LKY’s legacy is about? From all the great books and write-ups about LKY, if the elderly in Singapore have to resort to picking cardboard boxes to survive then I would say that he has failed the people of Singapore miserably. No amount of great tributes can take away this fact.
Singapore is more than one man, however great he was. Was. Recently he was seen in a wheelchair. The guy is...what's that word, errr, old. What do you expect, this mortal coil that affect all great and small. This cult of Lee does more harm than good to the Singaporean psyche of little red dot punching beyond its weight.
You mean we can't go on without him? Yes we can.
To think we cannot disrespects the former PM. Respect him, but not deify dear Harry. FFS. Imagine this, he is not even dead yet and there is so much fanfare about his birthdays and books. Why the hell is his birthday news BTW? If 16 September is anything to remember for, it should be Malaysia Day, when Singapore joined the Federation and it sealed Singapore's fate and separation from Malaysia 2 years later in 1965. Not the old guy's birthday, tremendous respect though I have for him.
Of Swiss and sampans
Wow! When I saw my Facebook newsfeed exploding with pictures of sampans, I was wondering what on earth could have sparked off these series of memes
As it turned out, our Supreme Leeder has put his foot into his mouth yet again (see previous examples here and here)! Comparing Singapore to a sampan! Clearly, he has forgotten his predecessor's promise to give Singaporeans a "Swiss standard of living", never mind that most of Singapore has never been to Switzerland - the promise is thus effectively so vague that he must have thought himself capable of getting away with not making good on it.
I remember a similar 'promise' (more of an exhortation, in hindsight) made by my Mum back in my formative years. Study hard, become a doctor, earn lots of money and have a good life.
GENES CAN BE INHERITED BUT NOT PERFORMANCE
The PM’s performance was the focus of the media interview at the end of SingFirst’s walkabout in his Ang Mo Kio GRC yesterday. It is common knowledge and widely felt among Singaporeans that the economy has become less robust and society is more divided, stressed and unhappy.
He has failed to repeat his father’s achievements as PM.
Lee Hsien Loong’s dismal record is unimaginable given that he has been “trained” as minister for 20 years before taking on the job as PM in 2004. Neither have the genes from his father been of much help. He might have inherited intelligent genes from his father but certainly not his performance. Unhappiness with their MP’s performance as PM was evident from our conversations with several groups of AMK residents in our walkabout. We met many residents who were severely affected by PAP’s policies that did not create a trickle down effect for the lower to middle class families, even in the PM’s GRC.
The Credit For Singapore's Success
During the past fortnight, many accolades were heaped on the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister, who died on 23 March. Many of the accolades ignored the contributions of others who contributed to the Singapore success story.
Who were some of these people? Mr Lee's fellow cabinet ministers in the 1960s and 1970s such as Dr Goh Keng Swee, Dr Toh Chin Chye, Mr Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, Mr Hon Sui Sen and Mr Lim Kim San.
Unlike Mr Lee who remained at the centre of political power, these men stopped participating in legislative duties and have dropped out of public view, and possibly public consciousness, for more than a quarter of a century. Mr Lee said:
"I'm not a one-man show. You see my picture everywhere; it make it easier for you to symbolise it with one man. Don't believe it is a one-man show. It cannot be done."read more
Lee Kuan Yew turns 90
Lee & Lee - The job has changed
Former PM Lee Kuan Yew in the limelight
"One World's View Of The Man"
Lee Kuan Yew on death: I want mine quickly, painlessly
A Post-LKY Singapore?
PM Lee In The Limelight
‘Ask the PM’ TV forum
Schools Should Instil Spirit Of Service: PM Lee
Important to balance govt's key goals for S'pore: PM Lee
PM Fist Bumping at a Dialogue Session
Tweaks or Tricks - PM's NDR 2013
Trust will determine success of policy shifts: PM Lee
Singapore remains a sampan, but an upgraded 2.0 version: PM Lee
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Lee & Lee - The job has changed
PM's National Day Rally Speech
PM: We will track you down even if you think you're anonymous
Websites of Singapore President & PM hacked