As Singaporeans Increasingly See the Light, the Arc May Be Starting to Bend
I have frequently accused Lee Hsien Loong and his family of corruptly using state resources to stay in power and promote his and his wife’s financial interests. Of course he only stepped into his dad’s shoes and inherited a system that was set up to protect his interests. This system has been so successful in perpetuating the family’s hold on power and its financial interests that it has been copied by many totalitarian states worldwide including Communist China. All power centres funnel up to LHL or his wife who between them control most of the economy through Temasek and GIC as well as a web of statutory boards and other corporate entities like Changi Airport Group and SingHealth. They also control Singaporeans’ housing through HDB and their savings through CPF. All media is state media and the few online publications that strive to maintain a sliver of independence are hemmed in with restrictive laws designed to starve them of capital and income and ensure that they rigorously self-censor, as when The Online Citizen (TOC) removed one of my articles after the Editors, Remy Choo and Kumaran Pillai, received a midnight phone call from Shanmugam.
I have frequently pointed out how state resources have been used to fix elections, most notoriously in 1997 when JBJ was denied victory in Cheng San after a combination of threats to withhold HDB upgrading and MRT stations from the residents, propagated through state media, and actual criminal offences under the Elections Act perpetrated by Lee Hsien, Loong, PM Goh Chok Tong and Tony Tan.
More recently I have pointed out that it is corrupt for Lee Hsien Loong to use state resources to intimidate and silence critics, in particular by the dusting off and weaponising of the archaic law of criminal defamation, as in the recent trial of Terry Xu from TOC and Daniel De Costa. Back in March 2012 I wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) entitled “Challenging Singapore’s Defamation Laws” in which I said:
As The Wall Street Journal is aware, my father, Reform Party founder Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, was sued numerous times for defamation, culminating in being bankrupted over a few words in an article published in the Workers’ Party newspaper that he did not write and in a language (Tamil) whose written form he did not understand. This resulted in him losing his seat in Parliament and not being able to stand again before he died, which was of course the key objective. Since then it has been clear that defamation suits are too useful a tool for the ruling party to give up.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been quick to use the defamation tool himself in the past, having sued a number of international publications. He has also sued numerous individuals, including my father. In the 2011 election Mr. Lee said that “in the heat of an election campaign…you will find unwise speeches being made, which is why sometimes, after elections, you’ve got court cases to deal with.”