[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

[Can Singapore fail?]
“In 1981, Singapore’s long-ruling People’s Action Party was shocked when it suffered its first defeat at the polls in many years, even though the contest was in a single constituency. I asked Dr Goh Keng Swee, one of Singapore’s three great founding fathers and the architect of Singapore’s economic miracle, why the PAP lost. He replied, “Kishore, we failed because we did not even conceive of the possibility of failure”.”

That was one of the three possible scenarios Singapore will face after the retirement of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew (MM Lee). That anecdote was shared by Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore in a seminar this afternoon.

In his opening address, he had acknowledged the sensitivity of the topic and that it was a politically charged topic.

The topic, Singapore Beyond Lee Kuan Yew: Institutionalising the Singapore Way, from Prof Mahbubani's viewpoint was answered using three questions. One of which was the possible scenarios Singapore will face after the retirement of MM Lee. The other two are whether it is legitimate to pose the question of Singapore’s prospects beyond MM Lee and what has Singapore done to ensure the protection of MM Lee's legacy.

I was quite encouraged that he did not side-step the question but dealt with it honestly. Prof Mahbubani also cited Samuel P. Huntington, who is well known for his works on democracy, which I had blogged about more than a year ago when I tried to analyse the prospects of democracy in Singapore.

To cut to the chase, I will summarise the answers that were provided. Firstly, Prof Mahbubani acknowledged that it is legitimate to discuss Singapore’s prospects beyond MM Lee. Citing MM Lee's achievements in nation-building, his wise advice as a statesman and his power to rally and persuasiveness. "His retirement will naturally create a huge political vacuum," he adds.

To answer the second question, seven important measures were stated. The development of an exceptional education system, national service which has been deeply ingrained into Singapore's DNA, strong public society and strong civil society, a politcal party that has managed to win elections over time while dealing with the successful transitions of two Prime Ministers, multi-racial harmony, meritocracy and a culture of honestly in the public, private and people sectors.

For the final, three scenarios were posed: Singapore will make a smooth transition, the legacy of MM Lee will be reversed, and a mixed third scenario where the PAP continues to rule Singapore successfully but it has to do so with a strong opposition movement. The latter two are quite unlikely and improbable.

These three scenarios resonate with the elements of transition to democracy - transformation, replacement and transplacement.

But the key point that I feel he was trying to make is that one needs to consider failure when attempting to succeed. What I took home is this: we should look at how we can fail, why others fail and what we can learn from those who have failed.

And this is part one of my post on the Temasek Foundation – Nanyang Technological University Asia Journalism Fellowship Seminar which was held at the National Museum this afternoon.

I will blog about part two tomorrow, which is based on Ho Kwon Ping's opening message and perhaps paint the mood of the question and answer session.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank NTU SCI Assistant Prof Cherian George for allowing me to attend this seminar.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

“Remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 10:26:00 pm

Blogger Ephraim Loy 黎传志 said...

inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 1:39:00 am

Anonymous moshedyan said...

when its time for you to retire
its time to go
even winston churchill who saved britain from fallin into the nazis' hands also retired gracefully

Wednesday, April 29, 2009 10:41:00 am

Blogger Ephraim Loy 黎传志 said...

Point taken. I get what you are trying to say.

Thursday, April 30, 2009 1:02:00 am

Anonymous moshedyan said...

[i]There is no V-shaped; now the optimistic scenario is a U-shaped recovery, a deep U, a fat U, and if we are lucky, gradually recovering from the later part of this year or early next year.

But if we are not lucky, it could be an L-shaped problem - economy is still shrinking, after a while it doesn’t shrink so fast, it stops shrinking, but it stays at the bottom a long time before slowly picking up again, no growth or poor growth for several years to come.

PM Lee Hsien Loong


do you liked shapes?
in the end
its still a useless overpaid deadweight shapes
obama is laughin his head off
and who is he?
the masterchef son of leekuanyew
so when it time for us to buy our groceries
do we buy an L shape vegetable
or a U boat susage meat?

onced again
you needs not answer
if you are uncomfortable with it
thank you

Saturday, May 02, 2009 11:07:00 am


Post a comment

<< Home