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Her Master’s Voice Halimah and Silver-Tongued Shanmugam Don’t Seem Able To Get Their Stories Straight

In her opening address today to Parliament setting out the Government’s priorities for the remainder of the current term President Halimah said:

“Meritocracy has provided opportunities, but as the country prospers, those who have already done well will naturally seek to pass on their advantages to their children.

We will do our utmost to combat this tendency. We must not allow advantages and privileges to become entrenched and persist over generations. This would weaken and fracture our society,”

Shock! Horror! Is President Halimah even suggesting the existence of nepotism in Singapore? I have always been led to believe that Lee Hsien Loong earned his position as the youngest ever BG, followed by his meteoric rise to MP, Minister, DPM and then PM, purely on merit and who his father was had nothing to do with it. Again and again, from the 1980s onwards, it was drummed into me and into the whole of Singapore, initially by the PAP Old Guard of Devan Nair (before he fell out with LKY) and S. Rajaratnam, that LHL was a superman and that it would be wholly unfair to hold such a talented person back who was clearly the best qualified and cleverest person in Singapore, if not the world, and deny him the Premiership merely because of who he was related to. This was of course picked up by state media, whose editors first LKY and now LHL appoint, often directly from the ISD, and amplified by other PAP institutions and individuals who set up an Animal Farm-like bleating that this was simply meritocracy and how dare you question it.

Nepotism was stood on its head, transforming it from being an indicator of corruption and bad governance to the best policy for picking a new generation of leaders. Certainly LKY’s own unscientific and disproven beliefs in genetic and racial superiority provided a convenient excuse for promoting his eldest son (though it seems not to have extended to his other children). In fact LKY’s view was that it was a waste of time helping the (undeserving) poor in Singapore because by the second generation the cream had risen to the top.

LHL has shown that he agrees with his father, even saying in an interview with the plagiarist Fareed Zakaria at the Institute of Policy Studies in 2015

“You want people to stand up, not scrape and bow. But if you don’t have a certain natural aristocracy in the system, people who are respected because they have earned that and we level everything down to the lowest common denominator, then I think society will lose out … If you end up with anarchy, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be delivered with brilliance.”

Of course LHL wants Singaporeans and foreigners to forget how easy his ascent was in Daddy’s company and instead, like all entitled people, believes it is his right because he has earned it. He also wants you to think that the installation of his wife as CEO of Temasek, rubber-stamped by a board that he appoints and pays, was not corrupt but again purely on merit, as though there were not dozens if not hundreds of Singaporeans better qualified. And don’t you dare ask him what she gets paid because that is not your right to know!

Such blatant nepotism and conflicts of interest permeate every level of the PAP, from the PM downwards, from the PM and his wife to the Auditor General who is married to a PAP Minister to an Attorney General who was LHL’s personal lawyer to Josephine Teo’s husband getting one of the top positions at Surbana while Chairman Liew Mun Leong’s illegal deployment of his FDW outside his home was not investigated by her Ministry . Even after he was fired, her husband landed on his feet again securing a new similarly highly paid job with another GLC. Again this is just shrugged off as the inevitable result of meritocracy, just as the lack of Malay and even Indian representation in the top scholars and ranks of civil servants and top military brass is also portrayed with the added implication of racial superiority.

Of course Halimah’s speech is not her own, since the Government, i.e. LHL, writes the speech setting out the Government’s agenda. So does this mean that LHL has become a sudden convert to the idea that nepotism is wrong, even if dressed up by appealing to a fake meritocracy and innate superiority and fitness to rule, as evidenced by his claim to be a “natural aristocrat”? This is as unlikely as LHL voluntarily disclosing what he has paid his wife over the last twenty years or what his family’s assets are. He continues to advance his son’s career, currently head of the Technology Agency and almost certainly being groomed for the top office. No, as with everything the PAP does, it is to fool Singaporeans into thinking that, even if there is no democracy, freedom of expression or transparency about the reserves the next generation of interim leaders, until Hongyi is ready to take over, will be folksy ordinary people like them. That is why the folksy Lawrence Wong, with a degree from a mid-ranking non-Ivy League US university, has been elevated over his Cambridge educated rival Chan Chun Sing, at least for now. Of course the next PM cannot be a woman or minority race (nor can the next PM after him) but at least he can strum a few chords on a guitar.

Meanwhile Shanmugam, in an interview with the South China Morning Post at around the same time, seemed to contradict Halimah’s speech. When asked for his views on the new leadership, he trotted out the familiar PAP cliches and humbug about how the new leaders had spent decades preparing for office in contrast to other countries which he disparaged by claiming that anyone can be elected leader. Shanmugam said that LHL had spent 20 years preparing for the role of PM before he was elevated by his dad (sorry I meant the Cabinet) in 2004. What was astonishing was that Shanmugam appeared to be defending hereditary monarchy or dictatorship since LHL’s ascent, courtesy of his dad, was meteoric and his wait before assuming the Premiership was largely window dressing since he and his father were undoubtedly the real powers behind the throne during the interregnum of Goh Chok Tong. He omitted to say that, again courtesy of his father dealing with any potential opponents, LHL had faced no real competition. In a democracy, any potential leader’s ascent will likely face competition at every level, which will allow voters to judge the strength of his character and the quality of his policies. Even in China and Russia leaders face competition. LHL’s ascent was more akin to that of Kim Jong Un of North Korea. Similarly he has been able to keep details of his family’s finances as well as other likely embarrassing secrets out of the public’s view since the media in Singapore work directly for him and he appoints the editors. Without access to information or the alternation of power that is the hallmark of democracy it is impossible to say whether LHL has performed well compared to other leaders but there is certainly enough reasons to doubt whether Singapore’s economic performance is as great as the PAP claim (see here, here, here) Certainly he has performed poorly in making his citizens richer except for a small PAP-connected elite and a large number of foreign expats and tax avoiders. If faced with real competition it is highly doubtful that LHL would have lasted this long.

So people do not be fooled. Singapore is not even a meritocracy. It is a country which is treated as the property of one man and his family, with what is left over to be shared among his friends and cronies in the PAP as well as foreign expats who sing his praises. Meanwhile you will be bamboozled into paying more into the Government than you ever receive back and even your own savings and the overpriced housing will not belong to you. There is no transparency on the reserves and you will be told things are fine and the Government is safeguarding it for future generations. This will not change just because Halimah reads a few right-on sentiments from a fake script prepared by LHL and his spin doctors. If you want to see a real meritocracy then you need to pluck up the courage and replace this government.


  1. ” …If you want to see a real meritocracy then you need to pluck up the courage and replace this government.” – I agree.


  2. Dear All Singaporeans! & Govt!
    Please voice to support Suffering Tamils in Srilanka! “Sinhala only” brutal racist inhuman leaders forces police Bureaucrats Diplomats thugs continue their Open& Secret agendas on Landgrabs & HR abuses & denial of implementing Indo-lanka pact, destroyed over 1800 Hindu temples in the past! HR- violators/ Genocide masters Come to Singapore for treatment & go BACK without any conseqvences! Same! SG Tamil leaders shd invite SL Tamil leaders CVW RS GGP VM to meeting to help full Autonomy to NESL & UC Tamil speaking region! Get help from China India USA EU Canada Norway etc & UNHCR/ UNSC! Tamil refugees shd get educations jobs trainings etc! Please water & help Tamils in Srilanka Now!


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