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From Public Apology to Calling for Public Confidence, Is this a Political Crisis or a PAP Reformation in the making?

    First, PM Lee Hsien Loong made a public apology to Singaporeans - the first in Singapore history.  And then, DPM Tharman called for public confidence - another first in Singapore history. It makes Oxley House disputes or allegations clearly not a family matter.       

In Singapore, the government led by the Prime Minister has enjoyed high prestige and reputation. This is why in defamation cases, the prime minister can enjoy higher damage payment.  And we usually see people saying sorry to the prime minister and hardly we see our prime minister or ministers saying sorry to Singaporeans. (except election time).

The government never says sorry because they have high confidence. In the past 60 years, with Internal Security Act, the PAP government has shown great confidence in public administration. It is strange to call for public confidence if this is only a family affair.  Throughout the years, even in the passing year of Lee Kuan Yew, the government never has such a calling.

Because Oxley House is now an international news. The calling of confidence is targeting international investors, foreign governments, international organisations and bodies.  They are wondering why a safe haven country gets into a mess just because of a house.  

A stable country and her institutions are alleged to act under fear and favor. Is there a political crisis arising from the miscalculation of Lee Hsien Loong? Is he underestimating the danger, damage or challenge as the Oxley House dispute is at least two years already? Or simply, PM Lee never considers such damage and allegation can threaten the stability of Singapore.  He has underestimated the intelligence of his siblings.      

Of course, foreigners also look at the allegations raised by PM Lee’s sister and brother. How independent is the judiciary if foreign investments or companies get into troubles with local administration or local companies? Is there a “big brother’ monitoring my investment or company activities?

Public apology is for local consumption and international confidence is to ensure foreigners Singapore remains a safe hevan.

Singaporeans may get used to the allegations as we have seen people being challenged and sued in Courts. But foreigners, except journalists, do not have such experience. Even PM Lee says most allegations are not accurate, however, it seems there are some or ‘little’ allegations are true.  Can these allegations be the critical ones resulting a public confidence calling?

Anyhow, PM Lee is only prepared to answer these allegations in parliament.  He is going to use this platform to answer or argue his case.  Is this his ‘own’ political crisis or a political crisis of the People’s Action Party?

It reminds me of the Protestant Reformation that challenges the Roman Catholic authority in Rome.

The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era. In northern and central Europe, reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and Henry VIII challenged papal authority and questioned the Catholic Church’s ability to define Christian practice. They argued for a religious and political redistribution of power into the hands of Bible- and pamphlet-reading pastors and princes.
In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max  Weber wrote that capitalism in Northern Europe evolved when the Protestant (particularly Calvinist) ethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their own enterprises and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth for investment. In other words, the Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated emergence of modern capitalism. (wikipedia)

At the same time, there was a counter reformation. The Catholic Reformation was the intellectual counter-force to Protestantism. The desire for reform within the Catholic Church had started before the spread of Luther. Many educated Catholics had wanted change – for example, Erasmus and Luther himself, and they were willing to recognise faults within the Papacy.

The Oxley House dispute is centred around Lee Kuan Yew value. Demolition or not represents different values - Lee Hsien Loong version (conservative view?) and LKY’s wish (reform view? Starting from zero). It is like a mini reformation and counter reformation.  

We also note that Lee Hsien Yang has said he is not an opposition. He wants to see changes within the system - a reformed PAP.

No matter what type of reformation Hsien Yang is aiming, he has enlightened Singaporeans and highlighted the allegations openly outside parliament.

Singapore needs a rethink and revaluation of Lee Kuan Yew value or legacy. It is again not a family matter. Singapore’s future depends on how we redefine Lee Kuan Yew value.


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