Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Coalition Government One Day In Singapore?

PAP considering possibility of forming coalition govt one day: PM Lee


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singaporeans generally feel more secure these days, but one of the government's tasks is to remind them that this is a result of a continuing act of will, and an appropriate sense of insecurity is very helpful.

In an interview with The Financial Times, Mr Lee was asked by the publication's chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman, if Singaporeans still need to feel insecure, after having come a long way since its independence in 1965.

"You don't have to be paranoid but you do have to take risks very seriously," said Mr Lee.

PM Lee's interview with the Financial Times


The Financial Times report then goes on to suggest that Mr Lee "hints that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government".

The British newspaper quotes Mr Lee saying: "It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated - you're getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now."

Based on this portion of the FT report, an earlier version of the Channel NewsAsia report was headlined "PAP considering possibility of forming coalition government one day: PM Lee."

Coalition govt not on my mind: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has clarified that the possibility of Singapore having a coalition government was not what he had in mind when he was interviewed by the Financial Times

What he meant was that there could be a day where the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) is no longer dominant, but to think that therefore instead of that, Singapore will have a "stable two party system is naive", he wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.

In the FT interview published on Saturday, which has been widely shared online, FT chief foreign affairs columnist Gideon Rachman wrote that "PM Lee hints that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government".

He then quotes PM Lee as saying: "It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated - you're getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now."

related: Coalition Govt was not on my mind: PM Lee

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Deconstructing PM’s denial

In fact, after FT published their report, Singapore mainstream media the Straits Times (ST) and Channel NewsAsia (CNA) did the same. Although the interview covered numerous issues, ST homed in on PM Lee’s apparent admission that “the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of forming a coalition government one day”. The ST article was published online (12 Apr) the day following the FT article and carried the title, “Coalition government possible in future, says PM Lee”.

However, that ST article has since been removed. Fortunately, TRE has found a copy of the deleted article on Google’s cache [Link]

Like ST, CNA zoomed in on PM Lee’s apparent admission in an article on Saturday [Link]. The article at first had the headline, “PAP considering possibility of forming coalition government one day: PM Lee“, but the headline was subsequently changed to “PM Lee discusses S’pore politics, nanny state label in FT interview“.


PM hints of coalition politics


It was a very direct question loaded with possibilities, something no Singapore journalist would ask of his/her PM.

With the results of the 2011 election as a backdrop, Financial Times journalist Gideon Rachman asked: So can you envisage a day when the  PAP is not running Singapore? The PM threw a bombshell of sorts. “It could well happen. I don’t know how it will work but it could happen.”

The report went on to say: “A little later, he hints that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility  one day of forming a coalition government.” It then quoted the PM as saying “it may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated – you are getting used to more complicated – you’re getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now.”

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WHEN WOULD IT BE NECESSARY TO FORM A COALITION GOVERNMENT?


Recently, an article published by the Financial Times (FT) quoted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as having said that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government. (See here.) These remarks were supposedly made to a columnist over lunch at the Park Terrace of the Royal Garden Hotel in London.

This was picked up by both the Straits Times and Channel News Asia, which ran headlines stating “Coalition government possible in future, says PM Lee” and “PAP considering possibility of forming coalition government one day: PM Lee” respectively.

However, Mr Lee later clarified on Facebook that a coalition government for Singapore was “not on his mind“. He said that what he meant was that “I could imagine a situation one day where the PAP is not dominant, but that I had no idea how that would work, or whether it could be made to work at all“

Singapore not run by PAP one day? It could happen: PM Lee


Yahoo Newsroom - A Singaporean snaps a selfie with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the 2014 Singapore Day event in London. (Photo from PM Lee's Facebook Page)

It could well happen, hinted Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a recent wide-ranging interview with the Financial Times that was published online on Friday.


“It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated — you’re getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now,” he said while sitting down to the one-hour lunch interview at the Royal Garden Hotel in London last month.

Noting that he isn’t sure how a two-party system will work, PM hinted that the ruling party which has been in power since 1959 is beginning to contemplate the possibility of someday forming a coalition government.

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PAP considering coalition gov’t? Far from it!



On 11 April, the Financial Times (FT) published a report of an interview it had with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. In that piece by Gideon Rachman, the paper said Mr Lee hinted that “the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of one day forming a coalition government.”

That “hint” seems to be based on a remark made by Mr Lee in that same interview: “It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated – you’re getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now,” Mr Lee was reported as having said. [Read the interview here.]

The local broadsheet, Straits Times, picked up the story and had this as its headline in its report of Mr Lee’s comments:

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PM: Naive to think SG will have stable 2-party system

In an interview with the storied Financial Times (FT) during his recent trip to London, PM Lee was asked if he could envisage a day when the PAP is not running Singapore

Mr Lee replied mildly, “It could well happen. I don’t know how it will work but it could happen.”

He then hinted that the PAP is beginning to consider the possibility of forming a coalition government one day. Mr Lee said, “It may not be one team in, one team out, it may be more complicated – you’re (i.e. the British) getting used to more complicated than that in Britain now.”

This is how the Financial Times reported it (11 Apr) [Link]:


When would it be necessary to form a coalition government?



A coalition government is formed in many western democracies when no single party is strong enough to command a decisive majority. This sometimes results in political gridlock and a hung Parliament. Coalition governments are also more unstable and short-lived, and prone to internal conflicts and rivalries. This can have a lasting negative effect on national level policy making and long term planning.

But beware, for the PAP may attempt to build a coalition government if the opposition gain enough seats to prevent the PAP from having an outright majority of Parliamentary seats. To prevent the opposition from completely overtaking and overhauling national policy, and exposing the rot that has accumulated beneath the surface over the past 5 decades of uninterrupted PAP rule, the PAP would have prepared for this outcome well in advance.

The PAP may try to initiate informal dialogue and communication with the opposition when it sees the opposition rapidly gaining more seats, in order to convince the opposition to approach fundamental national policy issues in the PAP way. The PAP may also try to co-opt opposition leaders and members as friendlies so that if a coalition government were to be formed one day, the PAP would not be dealing with political adversaries, but political allies.


Lunch with the FT: Lee Hsien Loong


As the Singaporean prime minister settles into his seat for lunch, I am fussing with my tape machines – two of them, just in case one fails. Lee Hsien Loong smiles faintly and says: “The NSA will give you a copy.”

It is an unexpectedly subversive remark from a man I had expected to be the epitome of earnestness. The prime minister has a reputation as a cerebral technocrat, without a frivolous bone in his body. He even looks austere – tall, slim, grey hair and dressed in a dark suit and tie. So the biggest surprise, during our lunch, is how often Lee laughs.

Over the course of the next hour, a variety of grim subjects provokes an incongruous chuckle or a broad smile – the Japanese occupation of Singapore in the second world war, the west’s mishandling of the revolution in Ukraine, China’s fear of separatist movements and the bankruptcy of Iceland. It is not, I conclude, that the Singaporean prime minister is a callous man. It is just that his way of taking the edge off the most difficult topics is to laugh while discussing them.

11 candid quotes from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Lunch with the Financial Times interview

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong provided unusually candid answers in response to questions posed during the Lunch with the The Financial Times interview published on April 11, 2014

The interview was conducted during PM Lee’s trip to London last month. He was interviewed by Gideon Rachman, the publication’s chief foreign affairs columnist

Besides his frank replies, what was insightful about the interview was that Rachman noted how PM Lee barely touched his food, which consisted of halibut and pistachio crème brûlée.

Such a typical Chinese man who doesn’t fancy non-Chinese food.

Food For Thought



The FT Rachman, obviously distracted by the delicious piece of grilled halibut and prime minister's pistachio crème brûlée - both largely untouched, it was noted - made an ill attempt at humour when he asked Lee if he always knew he would go into the family business, into politics.

When the guy who told pork chop soup on tap and free smoke at open windows jokes failed to respond in like vein, Rachman was rudely reminded that the PM has successfully extracted apologies and damages from media organisations, including the FT, for suggesting the Lee family has benefited from nepotism.

The Sunday Times printed in full the interview by Financial Times's chief foreign affairs columnist, Gideon Rachman. Except the menu for lunch at the Park Terrace of the Royal Garden Hotel in London, with prices indicated. Maybe they wanted to steer clear of Baey Yam Keng's gaffe with the $2.50 nasi padang meal plus bandung drink and Teo Chee Hean's $1.80 chicken rice.

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Great responses to PM’s, minister’s BS

I’m sure you read about the lunch PM had with the FT. PM was going thru dad’s Hard Truths as interpreted by a faithful, dutiful son. Did you notice this?
I fight off an urge to reach across and grab a couple of his raspberries. Under most circumstances, this would be a faux pas but it would be a particularly gross move with a Singaporean …
A regular TRE poster pointed out, Gideon Rachman wrote that he “fight off an urge to reach over and grab a couple of his (LHL’s) raspberries”. Don’t know for sure if he intended it but “raspberry” is British slang for making a fa-rting sound by blowing thru pursed lips. In effect he may be underhandedly saying LHL is talking bull. The joke is on LHL on this one.

Gideon Rachman (Ex-Econonist) is one of FT’s finest, in a team full of brilliant, irrelevant people. The PM’s team must have been mad to let him anywhere near our PM who can barely manage to handle our local running dogs reporters and editors.


Succession planning for S'pore leadership under way: PM


PM Lee (second from left) meeting editors of the Asia News Network at the Istana on Tuesday for an hour-long dialogue which was moderated by Straits Times editor Warren Fernandez (third from left). -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Succession planning for Singapore's top political leadership is well under way, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Mr Lee, who is 62 this year, said he is making sure a new team, with new leaders capable of taking charge of the country, is ready.

His goal is to ensure the country continues to thrive after he is no longer the prime minister, he said at a dialogue with regional media editors at the Istana.

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Asia News Network's dialogue with PM Lee



ASIA would benefit from strongly supported leaders in China, Indonesia and India, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a discussion with Asian editors as elections get under way in the latter two countries which are also two of Asia's largest democracies.

A strong mandate will make it easier for businesses and regional affairs to be managed in a cooperative way.

"I think it's good for Asia if the countries have capable, responsible and strongly supported leaders," he said. "Then you can do business, then you can manage regional affairs collectively and in a cooperative way."

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Singapore’s Lee Hsien Loong answers question on possibility of a third PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says Singapore might have another PM Lee, but he doesn’t think “it goes in the family”.

Lee, who has been Singapore’s prime minister since 2004 and is the eldest son of the city-state’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, was asked in an interview whether Singapore could see a third PM Lee.

“It could be. There are many Lees in the world. I think we are the most common surname among the Chinese. But I don't think that it goes in the family,” he replied to Hu Shuli, the editor-in-chief of Caixin Media, a Chinese news publisher.

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Hsien Loong fields question of possibility of third PM Lee


Singapore could have a third Prime Minister Lee as it is a common Chinese surname, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does not think "it goes in the family". -- FILE PHOTO: ZAOBAOPublished on Feb 17, 2014

Singapore could have a third Prime Minister Lee as it is a common Chinese surname, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong does not think "it goes in the family".

In an interview with Chinese magazine New Century, published by Caixin, Mr Lee was asked if there could be a third PM Lee in Singapore.

He replied: "It could be. There are many Lees in the world. I think we are the most common surname among the Chinese. But I don't think that it goes in the family."

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related:
‘Ask the PM’ TV forum
Important to balance govt's key goals for S'pore: PM Lee
PM Fist Bumping at a Dialogue Session
Trust will determine success of policy shifts: PM Lee
Singapore remains a sampan, but an upgraded 2.0 version: PM Lee
PM: Facing new media's challenges
Lee & Lee - The job has changed
Former PM Lee Kuan Yew in the limelight
ESM Goh Chok Tong in the limelight
PM Lee In The Limelight