It sucks being PM Lee

Posted on 12 March 2012

Here’s why.

By Belmont Lay

Pink as the bing on your cheery. Pink cos you are so very. Pink it's the color of passion. Ah, cos today it just goes with the fashion.

It is hard not to feel bad for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong some times.

His stylist always insists that he wears some ridiculous orangey or pinkish shirt, perhaps owing to the fact that it has something to do with softening his countenance.

He has to deal with pesky online websites such as Temasek Review Emeritus instead of taking the time off to go soak in the jacuzzi.

And worst of all, his daddy has to be Lee Kuan Yew.

Just imagine: If your father is His Leeness himself, wouldn’t you be freaking out every single day?

I mean, seriously. What is a man left to do after his father has pretty much done everything to establish Singapore?

How does one try to fill those gargantuan shoes left behind? Or avoid filling them?

Either way will result in being caught in a bind.

Sure, PM Lee can always be his own man and not emulate his daddy’s ways.

But think about it. What if he can never walk out from the shadow his father casts? Well, not because he doesn’t want to, but rather because the shadow is so long and vast it covers a stretch from Singapore to the North Pole.

And some say all the way to Mars.

What if everything he ever did or will do is being viewed in terms of his father’s successes?

Well, it comes as no surprise then that in the March 9 seating in parliament where PM Lee had to publicly explain why there is no fixed time frame for calling a by-election in Hougang, he sounded as if he was bending over backwards to accommodate his father’s views.

As reported in the very reliable The Straits Times on March 10 — if you happen to have read it, you will notice that there is only one word that summarises the rationale for not calling for a by-election within a certain time: History.

And based on this rationale of history, very broadly, emerges at least two simple reasons with Lee Kuan Yew featured prominently inside.

First, PM Lee said that then-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew mooted the idea in 1965 to do away with any time frame to call for a by-election due to Singapore’s “own experience of elections and of government”.

As a matter of fact, the only period Singapore had a time frame imposed was during those years when Singapore was a part of Malaysia.

Second, related to the first point, is a very long explanation that quotes Lee senior:

“The Constitution therefore reflects a political philosophy that emphasises stable government, and the view that in elections, voters are primarily choosing between political parties to be given the mandate to govern the country, rather than between individual candidates to become MPs.”

Take note that this political philosophy that is written into the Constitution is most likely excreted by LKY too.

Therefore, very broadly, and not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill, there are two responses to these explanations.

One, there appears to be some kind of non-sequitur where the premise and conclusion just don’t flow.

Very oddly, I don’t know if you feel it too, but why is a by-election seen as a destabilising factor that deters a stable government?

Couldn’t the argument also take a turn, and the point is to insist that an election is the start to achieve a stable government?

Of course, what PM Lee said, rather implicitly, wouldn’t be very hard to understand if we take what he meant to mean that the law is made to be advantageous and in favour of the political party that is the incumbent to widen the base for stability.

Then it would make perfect sense.

And that wouldn’t be the main gripe of today’s missive.

Two, and more importantly, as PM Lee had to quote his daddy — to apply his father’s logic, so to speak, even in this day and age, he is inevitably finding it very hard to emerge from his father’s legacy.

That would be the main gripe of today’s missive.

There was his father saying something in 1965 and here he is in 2012 running through those lines again.

I think we all have heard before that the only constant is change.

The skyline has changed, the perspective about building casinos has changed and even the brand value of the PAP has changed.

But in Singapore the only constant is Lee Kuan Yew.

Tell me, how many other ways could PM Lee have phrased himself in parliament to sound as if he is not saying, “…and that’s the bottom line, because my father said so!”?

Well, plenty. But like I said, it’d be hard to be a contrarian if your father is you know who.

Then again, it’s probably not PM Lee’s fault.

Maybe there is a need to abide by tradition.

But then again, and more critically, will PM Lee really ever get to publicly say “I disagree!” to the ideas mooted by his father.

Tell me, how should this situation work?

Does it suck to be PM Lee or what?

And look, if any one of you out there were to find yourself in PM Lee’s shoes, you’d most likely have broken out into a hissy fit and left home a long time ago.

Yet, despite the odds, he became the leader of a nation.

So, to make PM Lee feel better, we’re going to elect him as the candidate for Cooler Than You section for the next few weeks at least.

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  • Stevenlim

    Good attempt at trying to be cute, congratulations!

  • WW

    Gosh, this was almost witty.  But it failed.  Quite a boring rehash of stuff.  Can you be a bit more original?  Referring to his shirt is quite lame really.  Reminiscent of a mediocre TR Emeritus attempt at humour.

  • Kin

    Well, he could always join the Opposition and re-write history. To be known as the son that fingered his father. Respect for him would soared higher than he ever dreamt…..

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