Which one – Heng, Chan or Ong? And what about the PAP, will it be around forever?

Sense And Nonsense - by Tan Bah Bah

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Predictably chewing gum cropped up in a media dialogue during PM Lee Hsien Loong’s Washington trip. But thankfully, not all the discussions were so stuck in the early 2000s. At least two or three more newsy and relevant Singapore issues came up for public airing – not for the first time also but still very much worth our close attention.

Well, here it goes – again. I quote from the dialogue PM Lee had with David Rubenstein, President of the Economic Club of Washington DC, on 23 October 2017:

Rubenstein: Singapore, years ago, received some international attention. I think your father was against chewing gum.

PM Lee: Yes, he was – impeccably.

Rubenstein: He did not want anybody chewing gum in Singapore, and you could be fined for that.  Is that still the policy?

PM Lee: No you cannot be fined for chewing gum. What we did was to ban the import of chewing gum, and fortunately, we are not a native producer.

Rubenstein: Oh, so how do you get it then?

PM Lee: Well, some people smuggle it in.

Rubenstein: Oh okay. I thought his concern was that people were picking on buses and putting it under the bus chairs.

PM Lee: I think that the final – I am not sure if it was the final straw or the final wad – was when somebody took a lump of chewing gum, stuck it on the train door and the train stalled. So he decided that that was a good reason to pursue the matter, which he had wanted to do for a very long time.”

Goodness gracious, there are so many important problems facing the world and we are still talking about chewing gum. My sole contribution to this scintillating exchange is that the MRT has been stalling for more reasons than train doors being jammed by Spearmint, Trident or Wrigley’s. Ask Khaw Boon Wan or Desmond Kuek.

Fortunately, Rubinstein went on to other more serious matters. Those that the DC people as well as Singaporeans should be more interested in –  the Singapore political leadership transition and, as a slightly touched on but still significant aside – the PAP’s dominance and will it end?

Who will be the next PM?

Rubinstein brought this question up, among others:

“Now you have announced, I think publicly, that after the next election, you probably will not stay for a full term? Is that correct?”

PM Lee: No, I do not want to stay the whole term. I have said that soon after the next election, I strongly hope that there will be a successor ready, and in position to take over from me. And I really should not be Prime Minister beyond 70 if I can help it at all.

“So, when you do step down as Prime Minister, what might you consider doing?”

PM Lee: I will think about it then. I hope I will still have something valuable to contribute.

Christine Tan of CNBC asked the same leadership question in an earlier interview. Briefly, PM Lee, 65,  said: “I am ready (to step down). What I need to make sure of is somebody is ready to take over from me…I think it is very likely that he is in the Cabinet already. But which one? That will take a while to work out.”

Moderator Evan Osnos of the New Yorker asked him again at PM Lee’s dialogue at the Council of Foreign Relations on 25 October.

The PM’s reply: “My aim is not to be Prime Minister beyond 70. I’m trying very hard. I have got a strong team in Cabinet. I have got strong people in the team, and, among themselves, they have to take a little bit of time to sort out who should be the next leader.”

My very humble response, which probably many Singaporeans would share with me, is:

With all due respect to their obvious capabilities, are Chan Chun Sing, Ong Ye Kung and Heng Swee Keat the best that we have to be the next PM? If, by simple analysis and deduction, they are the three most likely.

The best or, by default, the best that the PAP are literally throwing at us.

And is there a glimmer of hope in an ever so subtle nod to the inexorable cycle of human history that power does not last forever for anyone, in the exchange between PM Lee and Osnos? PM Lee said in an earlier part of his interview to a question about American politics: “In politics, no party stays in power forever, and at some point, another party will come in and another mood will take over and you will have another president who will pursue a different approach.”

As a party shot, Osnos brought this point right back at the end of his dialogue: “Earlier you said, no party stays in power forever. Does this apply to Singapore?”

PM Lee: “I’m sure it does. I do not know when it will happen but I will not make it happen sooner than it needs to be.”

Oh dear, the thought of having so many more years of group think is not very appetising nor healthy for this country.

Sense And Nonsense is a weekly series. Tan Bah Bah is a former senior leader writer with The Straits Times. He was also managing editor of a local magazine publishing company.

 

101 COMMENTS

    • 1

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      Think so too, with rising China , he’ll probably choose a better Chinese speaking successor who is at the same time equally strong in English , n overall knowledge

      • 0

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        If chinese speaking is all that matters, we must have been a flop with China all tgese years with the Lees and the Goh. We need someone who truly appreciates China’s rise but can also speaks to the sentiments in Malaysia and Indonesia. Probably Chan Chun Sing fits the bill. But he needs to look less boyish and dumb. I mean physically.

  1. 8

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    It’s about time we need competent and reliable leader who think about own singaporean wellbeing first. not about how much they can greedily ravage our CPF and our pockets to their coffer? We don’t need foreign trash as it is almost half our population. No need Finger pointer or Empty mouth hailer with nothing to benefit the true majullah singapura people. Get competent & reliable people who can do the job right. No need nepotism & cronyism of higher bullshit with millions dollars salary by wayang and dramas. LKY was the most reapected and competent leader but not now, sadly but true.

  2. 0

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    It depend on the majority so called singaporean,wise ,idiot,fool,or stupid , whoever you are ,you decide your lives’ own consequence & Fate?!

  3. 1

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    logical sense, the weakest, softest and easiest to control will be the one! being outstanding, too bright or shiny likely won’t be the chosen one. remember woody?

  4. 0

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    Either Chan or Ong. Heng may choose to remain MP after next GE, just like his ex colleague Lee Yi Shyan who had a stroke & relinquished his Snr MOS post after GE2015.

  5. 3

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    Singapore’s next leadership transition will center around the PAP leaders if stupid Singaporeans continue to vote for the PAP in the next elections. The central issue is how do you change the mindset of this tyrant majority ? This is a tall order to fulfil. Letting out hot air is not the solution. Because all mass media is under the PAP Govt’s control, it’s not easy to reach out with your message to the ordinary Singaporeans. If you are an activist who is keen to see a change in our political landscape, get to work on the people you know who are part of this tyrant majority. If you cannot convince them to dump the PAP, how do you win over strangers in this tyrant majority ???

  6. 1

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    Lee will put a hand picked successor who will rubber stamp his diktats. Chan chun sing fits very well. He will be a obedient son of Tg Pagar. Sinkies with thier kiazi mind set will endorse blindly.

  7. 2

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    Oh God, not these clowns, two of them entered into parliament riding on the coat tails of some ministers, they did not even win any elections on their own. What have they done what leadership have they shown?

    • 1

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      I truly agree with you on the stupid CCS. However, personally, none of the PAP members is good enough regardless of how well they carry themselves. Because they are still with PAP despite what they have done clearly do not give them any moral standing anymore.

    • 2

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      Christopher I concur with your views. PAP makes policies not for the betterment of the public but more for its member’s benefits and self survival. Anyone who goes along with such mentality is not fit to lead. His international standing, personality traits means nothing. We need people like Goh Keng Swee and Toh Chin Chye who speak their mind and willing to stand up to principles.

    • 0

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      Balasubramanian, I agree with you 100%. The pioneer batch is really great compared to these shit we are having now. Goh Keng Swee is a doer and a planner. Toh Chin Chye has more integrity in his little finger that all the PAP members put together.

  8. 0

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    Singapore’s next leadership transition will center around the PAP leaders if stupid Singaporeans continue to vote for the PAP in the next elections. The central issue is how do you change the mindset of this tyrant majority ? This is a tall order to fulfil. Letting out hot air is not the solution. Because all mass media is under the PAP Govt’s control, it’s not easy to reach out with your message to the ordinary voter Singaporeans. If you are an activist who is keen to see a change in our political landscape, get to work on the people you know who are part of this tyrant majority. If you cannot convince them to dump the PAP, how do you win over strangers in this tyrant majority ???

  9. 1

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    Change Prime Minister??wait til AFTER the next election when all the goondus whom complain about PAP now,will again be the Goondus who will vote for them.

    • 0

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      GY did it fully willing and aware. The Indians sweetened the deal for GY by giving him the Chairmanship for some Indian university.

      Of course, the hypocrisy soon showed and he was ousted after 1 year plus. No way the Indians were going to tolerate a Chinese outsider for long.

      Recently ST did some pity pieces about his wife’s battle with cancer or something. Maybe to gauge his popularity for a political comeback.

  10. 0

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    Singaporeans got to be foolish to ever think these gentlemen would ever make the grade of being a leader. We have yet to find a leader better than Dr. Goh Keng Swee or the late LKY even though I do not think much of the later.

  11. 0

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    They will be around forever so long as the opposition dont buck up. WP needs a stronger pool of candidates (theyre probably the most likely to form our altenative government, just need time to gain momentum) and SDP needs to stop their extremly provocative approach and give a bad rep to opposition.

  12. 0

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    “WHEN THE TOP IS CROOKED, THE BOTTOM WILL NOT BE STRAIGHT”

    THIS DESCRIBES HOW THE ROTTON GOVT EXEMPLIFIES ITS “BAD ACTION” FOR ITS CIVIL SVS AGENCY TO FOLLOW.

    ROTTON PAP STOLE THE IDEAS AND SUGGESTIONS FROM OTHERS TO THEIR CREDITS.

    THEN, THE CRONY MINISTERS EARNED THE SALARIES AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS’ WELFARE AND HAPPINESS, LIKE MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AND OTHERS.

    FOLLOWING WHICH, THEY DEPRIVED ME OF ANY JOBS FOR DECADES.

    AND WHEN YOU TRY TO EXPOSE THEM, THE CRONY MINISTERS LIKE KHAW BG, TURNED AROUND AND SAID “WE’LL NOT LET YOU TALK.”

    AND THEN, WHEN YOU THREATENED TO SUE THE CIVIL SVS LIKE CPFB, AS IN MY DECEASED BROTHER’S CPF ISSUE, THE CRONY MINISTER INDRANEE AMENDED THE LAW TO PREVENT ME FROM SUING THE GOVT.

    WHY? TO CURRY FAVOUR AND TO PLEASE HER CURRENT BOSS, JUST LIKE HER COMRADE, CHAN CHOON SENG, AFTER LKY’S DEATH AS BOTH ARE FROM THE SAME LKY’S TANJUNG PAGAR GRC?

    SO, ONLY THE ROTTON GOVT CAN SUE ANYBODY THEY LIKE TO THEIR ADVANTAGE, WITH THE HELP OF THE KANGAROO COURT IN SG.

    IN A SIMILAR FASHION, THE FORMER NUS GRADUATE’S EXPERIENCE IS ANOTHER UNFORTUNATE CASE. SEE BELOW LINK.

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156785679834196&id=607344195

  13. 0

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    Chan Chun Sing is likely to be the next Prime Minister as he is tall and was in charge of LKY red box, following his instructions for decade
    Besides, some speculate that his daddy is the son of Monica Lee!
    The recent China visit, he was standing at the position of Prime Minister as he was right in the middle of the group
    ♻Netizens believe that he has close relationship with the superpowers

Comments are closed.