24 February 2015
By T K Chua
I do not know the exact intention of Zainuddin Maidin’s piece on Lee Kuan Yew. In the midst of his praise for Lee, he insinuated many things that are either half-truths or outright baloney.
For one, comparing our Twin Towers and F1 fest with Singapore’s achievements is simplistic and naive. Why not compare our expansive Putrajaya with Singapore’s puny Istana? Why not compare our luxurious private jets with the commercial planes that Singapore’s leaders’ travel in. Why not compare the size of KLIA and klia2 with Singapore’s Changi Airport?
Physical structures are but only one tiny aspect of the two countries’ respective achievements. The more important comparisons one should make should be in the areas of the soft system – managerial ability, work culture, productivity, and organisational strength.
It is a myth to say that Singapore is small and therefore easier to build and manage. Perhaps we should ask how Singapore is able to build without much sand and cement and to have adequate water supply without the natural catchment areas we have.
Perhaps we should ask why a tiny island without oil and gas can have a currency that is now more than two and half times the value of our ringgit.
We should also ask why, despite its allegedly heartless rat race capitalist system (when compared with our caring equitable NEP system), Singapore is able to provide decent and clean housing for most of its citizens.
Has anyone watched the debates in the Singapore Parliament, even if they are between ministers and backbencher MPs? The ministers do not come up with answers that are vague, ambiguous, and confusing. Issues are discussed and debated with clear facts and figures. Decisions are put forth with strong reasons and justifications.
Zainuddin is a seasoned journalist and a former minister. If he has not recently watched a debate in the Singapore Parliament, may I suggest that he do so to get a better picture of the quality of discussion there.
I agree the Chinese are probably one of the more difficult people to govern. They are like carrots; every one you pick up is a head. It is just my opinion, no intention to hurt anyone in particular.
But Lee’s success in disciplining them and containing their social behaviour and chauvinism cannot be due to his authoritarianism alone. That would be too simplistic an argument.
The Chinese are difficult, but they are also very pragmatic. Lee was able to show them leadership by example, giving them pragmatic and workable solutions and enforcing policies and programmes without fear or favour.
It is another story if the intention is to belittle, coerce, bully, and intimidate.
Even an authoritarian needs brains to work.
T K Chua is an FMT reader
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Original Source: freemalaysiatoday.com