In the wake of Workers’ Party Lee Li Lian’s stupendous victory in Punggol East by-election, it is timely to remember what was once said by an ex-civil servant when he warned PAP of its elitist excesses and power obsession:
Former Head of the Civil Service, Ngiam Tong Dow was interviewed by MSM in 2003:
Q. With all this pessimism surrounding Singapore’s prospects today, what’s your personal prognosis? Will Singapore survive Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew?
A. “Unequivocally yes, Singapore will survive SM Lee but provided he leaves the right legacy. What sort of legacy he wants to leave is for him to say, but I, a blooming upstart, dare to suggest to him that we should open up politically and allow talent to be spread throughout our society so that an alternative leadership can emerge. So far, the People’s Action Party’s tactic is to put all the scholars into the civil service because it believes the way to retain political power forever is to have a monopoly on talent. But in my view, that’s a very short term view.
It is the law of nature that all things must atrophy. Unless SM allows serious political challenges to emerge from the alternative elite out there, the incumbent elite will just coast along. At the first sign of a grassroots revolt, they will probably collapse just like the incumbent Progressive Party to the left-wing PAP onslaught in the late 1950s. I think our leaders have to accept that Singapore is larger than the PAP.”
Mr Ngiam should have become a senior minister with his wisdom and clarity of mind. But guess he wasn’t PAP’s cup of tea. I agree with his insights though my view is if PAP and LKY have to be told that Singapore is bigger than them, something is terribly wrong, For any political party to be reminded of this, it means that they have lost sight of who is master, who is servant and their duty to the people. And it shows that they have become dictators who try to bend and break the people to their will at every turn.
But as Mr Ngiam rightly pointed out, there is a universal law that says all things will atrophy and end eventually. Yes, even the seemingly omnipotent Lees and the strong grip that PAP has on this country, Our country.