Sunday, August 03, 2008

Democracy, Justice, Equality, Peace, Progress

Choice quotes from Singapore's political leaders.


"If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought."
- Lee Kuan Yew as an opposition leader, April 27, 1955

"If we are to survive as a free democracy, then we must be prepared, in principle, to concede to our enemies - even those who do not subscribe to our views - as much constitutional rights as you concede yourself."
- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, Sept 21, 1955

"Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no way you can govern a Chinese society."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997

"If I were in authority in Singapore indefinitely without having to ask those who are governed whether they like what is being done, then I would not have the slightest doubt that I could govern much more effectively in their interests." - Lee Kuan Yew, 1962

"You're talking about Rwanda or Bangladesh, or Cambodia, or the Philippines. They've got democracy, according to Freedom House. But have you got a civilised life to lead? People want economic development first and foremost. The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997

"What are our priorities? First, the welfare, the survival of the people. Then, democratic norms and processes which from time to time we have to suspend."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1986 National Day Rally

"There is nothing to forbid anybody from nailing his colours to the mast, and indeed it is the safest way to do it. Nail your colours to the mast, defend it and say,"This is my flag, this is what I believe in. I believe in open debate, arguments, persuasion, I hope to win by votes." But start manipulating innocent professional groups, cultural groups and make them support political causes, whether its freedom of the foreign press or whatever, then I say you are looking for unpleasant linkages with what has happened in the past."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"The People's Association is a government organisation to promote government policies."
- Wong Kan Seng, Straits Times, Mar 22 2003

"I make no apologies that the PAP is the Government and the Government is the PAP."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Petir, 1982

"The ideas of individual supremacy and the right of free expression, when carried to excess, have not worked. They have made it difficult to keep America society cohesive. Asia can see it is not working.. In America itself, there is widespread crime and violence, old people feel forgotten, families are falling apart. And the media attacks the integrity and character of your leaders with impunity, drags down all those in authority and blames everyone but itself."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Sept 1995

"For Singapore, its test for its own democracy must be whether it fit and serve the interests of its people and conditions, and not serve some abstract ideal that the Western media thought it ought to conform to. If in 10 years, Philippines, Taiwan and Korea were better societies because they adopted the US model, Singapore would hurry to catch."
- Goh Chok Tong, 1995 National Day Rally

"Political reform need not go hand in hand with economic liberalisation.. I hold unconventional views about this.. I do not believe if you are a libertarian, full of diverse opinions, full of competing ideas in the market place, full of sound and fury, therefore you will succeed."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 2005

"I think in Singapore, we stand a chance of making the one-man-one-vote system work. With amendments as we have done, you know, like GRCs.. We need to make it work. And I believe with pragmatic adjustments, given these favourable conditions, we can have more open debate."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"One-man-one-vote is a most difficult form of government.. Results can be erratic."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Dec 19 1984

"I'm not intellectually convinced that one-man-one-vote is the best. We practise it because that's what the British bequeathed us."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1994

"There is nothing to prevent you from pushing your propaganda, to push your programme out to the students or with the public at large...and if you can carry the ground, if you are right, you win. That's democracy."
- Lee Kuan Yew telling students to form political parties, Straits Times, Feb 1, 2005

"If you are a's our job to politically destroy you. Put it this way. As long as JB Jeyaretnam stands for what he stands for - a thoroughly destructive force - we will knock him. Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man And His Ideas, 1997

"I feel sanguine enough to say that there has never been a better set of conditions for open democratic politics because there is no need for unified front politics."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"If we had considered them serious political figures, we would not have kept them politically alive for so long. We could have bankrupt them earlier."
- Lee Kuan Yew on political opposition, Straits Times, Sept 14 2003

"Once in a while, Think Centre says they want to go to the Speakers' Corner and they want to plant 100 flowers there, let the 100 flowers bloom...It's a signal - speak your voice, be heard.
- Lee Hsien Loong, National Day Rally, 2004

"I know some people want even greater freedom. But where politics is concerned, I prefer to ease up slowly rather than open up with a big bang. When Gorbachev opened up the Soviet Union with his glasnost, the Soviet Union collapsed with a big bang. We should, therefore, pump the air into the political balloon slowly. I don't intend to change my name to 'Goh Ba Chov'!"
- Goh Chok Tong, 2001 National Day Rally

"I am encouraged also because I see more and more people write letters to the press and sign their real names. That's a good sign, a good tendency. To run a democratic system, you must have democratic impulses in the people. There must be a cultural basis for that system. It's not just having a constitution and saying," Well, there you are, the system is democratic."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1990 National Day Rally

"Now if democracy will not work for the Russians, a white Christian people, can we assume that it will naturally work with Asians?"
- Lee Kuan Yew, Asahai Shimbun symposium, May 9, 1991

"Our people should feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas or simply be different."
- Lee Hsien Loong, Inauguration Speech, Aug 12 2004

"They say people can think for themselves? Do you honestly believe that the chap who can't pass primary six knows the consequence of his choice when he answers a question viscerally, on language, culture and religion? But we knew the consequences. We would starve, we would have race riots. We would disintegrate."
- Lee Kuan Yew, The Man & His Ideas, 1997

"They say, oh, let’s have multiparty politics. Let’s have different parties change and be in charge of the Government. Is it that simple? You vote in a Division Three government, not a Division One government, and the whole economy will just subside within three, four years. Finished."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Today, Aug 15 2008


"If it is not totalitarian to arrest a man and detain him, when you cannot charge him with any offence against any written law - if that is not what we have always cried out against in Fascist states - then what is it?"
- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Legislative Assembly Debates, Sept 21, 1955

"These powers will not be allowed to be used against political opponents within the system who compete for the right to work the system. That is fundamental and basic or the powers will have destroyed the purpose for which they were forged."
- Lee Kuan Yew speaking in Parliament on the Preservation of Public Security Act, a precursor to the ISA, Oct 14, 1959

"We have over a hundred political detainees, men against whom we are unable to prove anything in a court of law. Nearly 50 of them are men who gave us a great deal of anxiety during the years of Confrontation because they were Malay extremists. Your life and this dinner would not be what it is if my colleagues and I had decided to play it according to the rules of the game."
- Lee Kuan Yew speaking to the Singapore Advocates and Solicitors Society, Mar 18, 1967

"We have to lock up people, without trial, whether they are communists, whether they are language chauvinists, whether they are religious extremists. If you don't do that, the country would be in ruins."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1986

"The same law applies to me. Nobody has sued me for libel because I do not defame my enemies."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Success Stories, 2002

"Most libels, and I have taken about 30 actions, take place at election time. It has not stuck because I am prepared to go before a court, stand in the witness box and face the most aggressive of lawyers who can cross-examine me on my personal history."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, Sept 30 2002


"The way to build a cohesive society is to ensure that every Singaporean is treated equally, and that the rich and powerful are not favoured over ordinary Singaporeans, Mr Goh Chok Tong emphasised last night."
- Straits Times, Aug 12 1991

It is essential to rear a generation at the very top of society that has all the qualities needed to lead and give the people the inspiration and the drive to make it succeed. In short, the elite.. Every society tries to produce this type. The British have special schools for them: the gifted and talented are sent to Eton and Harrow."
- Lee Kuan Yew, August 1966

"If I tell Singaporeans - we are all equal regardless of race, language, religion, culture. Then they will say,"Look, I'm doing poorly. You are responsible." But I can show that from British times, certain groups have always done poorly, in mathematics and in science. But I'm not God, I can't change you. But I can encourage you, give you extra help to make you do, say maybe, 20% better."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Success Stories, 2002

"The human being is an unequal creature. That is a fact. And we start off with the proposition. All the great religions, all the great movements, all the great political ideology, say let us make the human being as equal as possible. In fact, he is not equal, never will be."
- Lee Kuan Yew, from a speech during the 1960s, Success Stories

"We must encourage those who earn less than $200 per month and cannot afford to nurture and educate many children never to have more than two... We will regret the time lost if we do not now take the first tentative steps towards correcting a trend which can leave our society with a large number of the physically, intellectually and culturally anaemic."
- Lee Kuan Yew, 1967

"There are some flaws in the assumptions made for democracy. It is assumed that all men and women are equal or should be equal. Hence, one-man-one-vote. But is equality realistic? If it is not, to insist on equality must lead to regression."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Create 21 Asahi Forum Tokyo, Nov 20 1992


"Repression can only go up to a point. When it becomes too acute, the instruments of repression, namely the army and the police, have been proved time and time again in history to have turned their guns on their masters."
- Opposition leader Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, May 5, 1959

"If I have to shoot 200,000 students to save China from another 100 years of disorder, so be it." - Lee Kuan Yew evoking the ghost of Deng Xiaoping whilst endorsing the Tiananmen Square massacre, Straits Times, Aug 17, 2004

"Without the elected president and if there is a freak result, within two or three years, the army would have to come in and stop it"
- Lee Kuan Yew on what would happen if a profligate opposition government touched Singapore's vast monetary reserves, Straits Times, Sept 16 2006


"I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn't be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn't be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervene on very personal matters - who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what people think."
- Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, Apr 20 1987

"Every Singaporean who owns a flat can double his value in today's terms within the next 15 to 20 years. In other words, in the next 20 years, we can make everybody worth twice as much, at least."
- PM Lee Kuan Yew, National Day Rally, 1990

"We've got to compete ourselves from now on with developed countries, not with developing countries, because we are going to compete in the developed country league."
- Goh Chok Tong, 1992 National Day Rally

"Earning money is not the sole objective of life or education. A community of any quality should have a whole range of skills and interests. They should paint, write, perform, visit art galleries and enjoy world-class concerts. Only then will they form a vibrant, rounded, interesting community."
- Goh Chok Tong, 1999 National Day Rally

"In the next decade, we need to think and act like revolutionaries. We have to innovate, not merely imitate. We will succeed not be following the footsteps of the incumbent, but by introducing new dimensions into play. We need Singaporeans who can lead the way in creating new wealth for our economy."
- Goh Chok Tong, 2000 National Day Rally

"New Singapore will be one of the world's finest, most liveable cities. Arts, theatres, museums, music and sports will flourish. Singapore will be a lively and exciting place.. Our city will not only have depth, but also the richness of diversity. But above all, Singapore will a home for Singaporeans."
- Goh Chok Tong, 2001 National Day Rally


Anonymous said...

Thought provoking. Thanks for post and research.. very extensive.

Anonymous said...

Wish the 66.6% can read this and see for themselves what a bunch of incorrigible liars we have in the parliament.

Anonymous said...

What strikes me is that we are about 2-3 years away from the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and I myself am unsure as to whether we have progressed as a nation, or as what PM Goh has aimed for, a "livable" country.

It is indeed insightful to read such quotes past and present, and perhaps it will inform Singaporeans that even leaders shuffle back and forth on what they say and proclaim, casting a doubtful shadow on notions of credibility and validity.

Thanks and looking forward to viewing your next film.


Anonymous said...

Todays' article in the "new" ST is rather insulting.
Why they hate Singapore
Western detractors are getting the jitters as others copy our model
By Chua Lee Hoong, Political Editor

Amazing propaganda...

Anonymous said...

I must congratulate you on your First Class research. It's a whole bunch of CONTRADICTIONS OF IDEAS, BELIEFS, THINKING, IDEOLOGY, PHILOSOPHY AND CONVICTIONS from the mind of a DEMENTIA over the ages of his life culminating in SELF-CONDEMNATION. HIS SINS HAVE FOUND HIM OUT AND RUN AFTER HIM. In the first place, I wonder how he got his double first in Constitutional Law at Cambridge. Was it a freak or a flaw at Cambridge University? More dirt will be dug out after his demise, "The evil that men doeth lives after them, the good is interred with their bones". I shall forward this invaluable research to friends, families, freaks and foes in SIN and abroad so that when there's a drastic change of a more just, equal, peaceful, progressive and democratic government by the people, for the people and with the people, the SIN exodus and self exiles will return to celebrate and propel SIN forward to a more CIVILIZED DEVELOPED NATION.