Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Singapore After Lee Kuan Yew

8:58 PM By Barry Smyth , No comments

As the Singapore moves on from the funeral of Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), no doubt we can expect some new publications celebrating the life of the man who has been called by many as the founding father of Modern Singapore.

It is a lofty title and one some Singaporeans believe is not quite as deserving as it seems. After all in 1965 Singapore wasn’t a back water fishing town, indeed it was already a thriving metropolis with a solid transportation infrastructure, health care, school system and so on and certainly far ahead of its’ neighbours too in many of these areas. 

Lets face it LKY certainly did have a hand in continuing the blue print that was laid out and to forge Singapore as it is today. And yes its' also true he didn’t do this alone and if credit is to be given to him as a leader then let credit also fall to the many individuals behind the scene who performed all of the actions that made it possible for Singapore to continue to grow. Nevertheless LKY deserves nothing less than our respect for being the leader that he was. He was the man his country needed him to be for the time that he lived in, and his love for his country and his desire to see it prosper was one of his driving forces.

Indeed, there are also many stories of how ruthless a leader LKY was of how he never gave his enemies a chance. In fact some never even saw it coming and ended up in Jail as a result or banned forever from their home, their own stories now blacklisted from Singapore’s bookshelfs. One day that may change and perhaps we can lift up the hood a little a learn a little more about the real Singapore but for now those stories will remain hidden, locked away for fear of how Singaporeans themselves may take them.

LKY also helped to form the PAP, a democratic party that has been in power for so long that some people believe it will never change.  And although the world has moved on since 1965 the party still seems to employee the same heavy handed tactics of old. The vote for us or you won’t get your HDB upgraded approach and the squashing of the media that has lead to Singapore being ranked 150th out of 180 countries globally in the Worldwide Press Freedom Index in 2014 still continues today.

There is no minimum wage in Singapore and yet despite that fact that in 2014 the Cost of living survey ranked Singapore 1st, as in the most expensive city in the world to live. There is a clear divide between the earning power of individuals in Singapore, and many at the lower end are in fact Singaporeans themselves. And while there are the plus sides like CPF, a fund that is in essence each Singaporeans retirement policy, as the community continues to age the government have made sure that it won’t have to foot the bill for elderly care by making it mandatory to maintain a minimum amount there forcing many elderly Singaporeans back into the workforce in order to survive.

So yes, LKY may have been one of the founding fathers of Modern Singapore and helped to make Singapore what it is today. But that still needs to improve and change with Singaporeans being put first, ahead of the needs of the country. That won’t happen with PAP which is still continuing with the same tired old polices of old, a party that has become so entrenched in Singapore that removing it and replacing it with any other is a herculean task and one that will cause a year of disruption if not more, and to say that of any political party is a very scary thing indeed. Many will vote for PAP out of habit, others out of fear of that very change itself and the fallout that will ensue. All wrong reasons for voting for PAP of course, but then the good reasons are much fewer than they use to be.

So, farewell LKY, thank you for your help to bring this country to where it is today. But now it’s time for change, for a new leader to emerge who will put Singaporeans first and find the balance between maintaining a country and it’s citizens that in my opinion has been lacking for so long. Here’s to the next generation of politicians, it is time to make yourselves known. And I wonder who the next leader will be who can fill the shoes of LKY and lead Singapore to the next stage of its maturity in this shrinking global economy. Who will put it’s citizens first, and profits second. Who will put education for it’s citizens first and others second. Who will put health care for the elderly first and the balance of your medisave account second. Who will actually earn the millions of dollars that they are paid and do what needs to be done and do away with the bullshit.

As we move into the next general election in 2016 let us remember that we are voting for the future NOT what has happened in the past, that we are voting for a party that will bring with it the right degree of change to continue to make Singapore a great nation, and if that means some unrest as part of a transition then so be it. If it’s the right party with the right polices in the end it won’t matter.

So, roll on 2016, and let us hope that a new leader emerges for this new age as the world watches and wonders what changes will take place in Singapore after Lee Kuan Yew.

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