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Throughout his life, Mr Lee Kuan YewLee has held the view that heredity determines intelligence and, therefore, the elite in society must be given priority when allocating stateresources. In 1967, he said that every society has approximately 5percent of the population:$CUT$
who are more than ordinarily endowedphysically and mentally and in whom we must extend our limited andslender resources…
He repeated his ideas in 1969, thistime more forcefully:
Free education and subsidised housinglead to a situation where the less economically productive people inthe community are reproducing themselves at rates higher than therest. This will increase the total population of less productivepeople. Our problem is how to devise a system of disincentives, sothat the irresponsible, the social delinquents, do not believe thatall they have to do is to produce their children and the governmentthen owes them and their children sufficient food, medicine, housing,education and jobs.
In his 1983 National Day Rally, Mr Leereiterated his life-view:
If you don’t include your womengraduates in your breeding pool and leave them on the shelf, youwould end up a more stupid society…So what happens? There will beless bright people to support dumb people in the next generation.That’s a problem.
As recently as 2008, Lee re-stated hisposition at the Singapore Human Capital Summit:
You marry a non-graduate, then you willworry about whether your son or daughter is going to make it touniversity. You marry another graduate, especially if she gets afirst or an upper second and if you get a first or upper second.Chances are you don’t have to worry about them. They will lookafter themselves.
We present these quotes not as red meatfor PAP’s detractors to hurl more invective at Mr Lee. In fact, asobjectionable as these views are, we would like to see politicaldiscourse remain civil and respectful. Anything else would distractus from the central problem of reforming the way our country isgoverned.
From education to healthcare to thewage structure, Mr Lee’s elitist outlook permeates public policy.Indeed, the PAP has not been diffident in lavishing state resourceson people it defines as intelligent and capable, its ministerincluded.
This has led to a Singapore that has been seeing our fortunes take a turn for the bleaker as we presentedin our piece We must turn Singapore around.
Singaporeans, in increasing numbers, are seeing thetrain wreck in slow motion and are making their views known: Change is not only necessary but also urgent.
The current crop of ministers know thisand, every so often, they come up with measures like MedishieldLife and the Pioneer Generation Package. Unfortunately, such policies aremeant more to placate critics than a genuine attempt to resolve theunderlying problems that its elitist model has engendered.
Consider, for example, the move to paycleaners a minimum wage. While the Government is loathe to betray itsviews of subsidising “stupid” and “economically unproductive”people, it cannot ignore the crescendo of opinion against theinjustice and dangers of growing income inequality in this country. But minimum wage for cleaners only ignores workers in other vocations who are still paid aless-than-survival wage? Are they not entitled to a living wage?
This is the problem that Singaporefaces today: We have a ruling party that is unable or unwilling to extricateitself from the philosophy of its founder which has, to put itmildly, become an anachronism as far as the present and future needs of ourpeople are concerned.
Unless the younger leaders of the partyjettison Mr Lee’s unfortunate view of humanity, the PAP will continue to makepatchwork revisions to policies which will only confuse andexacerbate the malaise in our society.
The PAP must go beyond spouting buzzwords which are ultimately vacuous when not accompanied by meaningful policy change. Remember former prime minister Mr Goh ChokTong’s adoption of the “kinder, gentler society” slogan and hisvision of creating a “gracious” and “compassionate” society?It has resulted in the Wee Shu Mins, Amy Cheongs, and Anton Caseyspopping up with disappointing regularity. And when altercations breakout, Singaporeans belittle each other on the kind of jobs they hold or the type of cars theydrive.
The divide is picking at the seams of our community; sooner orlater society will come apart.
If Singapore is going to succeed as anation, we need a very different governing outlook. The SDP hasarticulated a vision antithetical to the PAP’s. We believe that ifstate resources are limited, then all the more they should be used to assist thetrampled and voiceless; to give those in non-elite circles a leg upso that they can compete fairly. There are no “intelligent” and”stupid” people, only exploitative ones – and they should notbe at the seat of political power.
We believe that “compassion” is notmerely a word in a slogan, it is an ideal that can be attained withthe right people in government. Competition, individual reward, andmeritocracy present enormous problems when they are not tempered by an equallystrong regard for compassion.
It ison such a philosophy that our alternative policies – be they healthcare, housing,population, education, treatment of our minorities – are derived.Only when we have a clear idea of the kind of country we want forourselves can policy-making be carried in a coherent and effective manner.
This is what the SDP is workingtowards, it is an alternative Singapore that we hope to persuade ourfellow Singaporeans to help us build.