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A gracious society? I’d settle for a gracious government

Posted by theonlinecitizen on January 9, 2008

By Andrew Loh

At a dialogue marking the 40th anniversary of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Iseas), Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said that Singapore “will take more time to develop and mature culturally as a people” before we attain the status of a ‘gracious society’.

He also believes that Singapore will not achieve this in his lifetime. (Straits Times)

While MM Lee may perhaps be right in his assessment, he failed to mention what could be another contributing factor – perhaps the most important one – which sets the tone for Singapore society.

This is the public words (and behaviour) of leaders in government.

In a small nation like Singapore where government leaders are seen and heard virtually everyday in the news, what our leaders do and say have an impact on how society takes its cue – especially with a government which is all-pervasive, all-powerful and which is involved in just about every aspect of our lives.

Thus, perhaps government leaders should be more aware of the influence that they have over how society behaves.

The Man and His Tough Talk

MM Lee himself is known as a “tough talker” at times. Some of his public comments still remain vividly etched in the minds of Singaporeans.

In the book, The Man and His Ideas (1997), MM Lee perhaps made his most candid (some would say alarming) comment on Singaporeans and Singapore society:

“It’s like with dogs. You train it in a proper way from small. It will know that it’s got to leave, go outside to pee and to defecate. No, we are not that kind of society. We had to train adult dogs who even today deliberately urinate in the lifts.” – Lee Kuan Yew on Singapore society, The Man & His Ideas, 1997

The analogy which MM Lee used is a most interesting one. Likening Singaporeans to “adult dogs”, and using the example of defecation and urination, it is not only derogatory and demeaning, it is also well ungracious, to put it mildly.

In the same book, he also spoke about writer Catherine Lim, who had written an article titled “The PAP And The People – A Great Affective Divide”, published by The Straits Times in 1994.

“Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister…She would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac…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 other way you can govern a Chinese society.” – SM Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997

The above two quotes give one an insight into MM Lee’s thinking on two fronts: One, how he views (or viewed) Singaporeans and Singapore society as a whole, and two, how he reacts to being challenged politically (even if it is only a perceived challenge).

In both instances, the words he used – which must have been selected with some thought – are telling.

Perhaps the MM Lee quote which would summarise his entire philosophy in government and in politics would be this one:

“Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli was right. If nobody is afraid of me, I’m meaningless.” – Lee Kuan Yew, 1997, South China Morning Post.

It is also interesting to note that the above 3 quotes were made in 1997, 10 years ago. Has MM Lee mellowed since? Have his words been more measured since 1997? If the General Elections of 2006 were any indication, one would have to say no.

A gracious People’s Action Party?

Singaporeans will remember how MM Lee was at the forefront of the attacks on The Workers’ Party (WP) candidate, James Gomes, during the elections in 2006, in the hotly contested ward of Aljunied GRC, over the issue of the missing minority forms.

In an election period of just 9 days, MM Lee trained his guns on Gomes for most of those 9 days, even after Gomes had apologized and the WP had wanted to move on and focus on the bread and butter issues which Singaporeans were concerned about.

“When I call a man openly, you’re a liar, you’re dishonest, and you do not dare to sue me, there’s something basically wrong. And I will repeat it anywhere and you can’t go and say, oh, I have apologised; let’s move on. Can you commit a dishonourable — maybe even one which is against the law — an illegal act and say, let’s move on because I’ve apologised? You may move on but you’re going to move on out of politics in time.” — MM Lee Kuan Yew on James Gomez, Channelnewsasia, May 2006

MM Lee further went on and accused WP secretary general Low Thia Khiang and its chairman Sylvia Lim “of trying to cover up for Mr Gomez and asked its chairman Sylvia Lim to “come clean” on the entire episode.” (CNA)

Singaporeans were disappointed, to say the least, at the incessant attacks on Gomes by the PAP and particularly MM Lee himself and unease at such behaviour began to have a negative impact on the PAP’s campaign. On May 4, two days before polling day on May 6, the PAP finally said that they will deal with Gomes after the elections and that the PAP would focus on other issues from then on.

PM Lee Hsien Loong said:

“We have taken the matter as far as we can for now. After the elections, there will be time and opportunity for a proper public resolution.” (CNA)

Gomes was immediately detained by the police on 7th May, the day after Polling Day. Curiously, the police “decided it would let Mr Gomez go with a warning instead as he had been cooperative and had not committed any criminal offences before.” (CNA)

In the heat of the moment?

PM Lee himself was caught by his own words during the elections in 2006. At a lunchtime rally in UOB Plaza on May 3, PM Lee said:

“Right now we have Low Thia Khiang, Chiam See Tong, Steve Chia. We can deal with them. Suppose you had 10, 15, 20 opposition members in Parliament. Instead of spending my time thinking what is the right policy for Singapore, I’m going to spend all my time thinking what’s the right way to fix them, to buy my supporters votes, how can I solve this week’s problem and forget about next year’s challenges?”

Singaporeans were aghast at PM Lee’s use of the phrases “fix the opposition” and “buy my supporters votes”. The next day, the press secretary to the PM “clarified remarks made by Mr Lee at the lunchtime rally”. (CNA)

“Explaining Mr Lee’s remark, his press secretary said Mr Lee had meant to say that if there were many more opposition MPs in Parliament, the government and opposition would spend all their time and energies countering each other, and Singapore would be worse off for it.”

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong’s remarks labeling Singaporeans who decided to leave Singapore for greener pastures is also vividly remembered. In his National Day Rally speech in 2002, then-prime minister Goh said:

“Fair-weather Singaporeans will run away whenever the country runs into stormy weather. I call them ‘quitters’… Look yourself in the mirror and ask, am I a “stayer” or a “quitter”? Am I a fair-weather Singaporean or an all-weather Singaporean?” (Link)

Singaporeans, particularly those who had left, did not take too kindly to the remarks. It was seen as unreasonable and unbecoming for a prime minister to ridicule fellow Singaporeans.

Déjà vu

In more recent times, government ministers have also made “ungracious” remarks.

In April 2006, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, was reported to have said the following, regarding the government’s plans for retirement villages for the elderly:

“My personal view is, our land is expensive. But we have nearby neighbours in Johore, Batam and Bintan. The elderly want to reach their doctors within half to one hour. So retirement villages in neighbouring countries is possible, barring the cross-border hassle. It is best to find cheap land on short leases.” (CNA)

Many Singaporeans, especially the elderly, were concerned that the government was thinking of ‘sending them away to a foreign country’ to ‘retire’. Mr Khaw later clarified:

“Of course it’s up to the market to decide, and the market means the families themselves, and if the families say no, we love our parents and we can cope with them at home, then the market is zero, but let’s be realistic.” (CNA)

In what perhaps is perceived as the most insulting remarks in recent years, Minister for Community, Youth and Sports, Vivian Balakrishnan’s reply to PAP MP Lily Neo’s request for more to be given to people on public assistance, drew gasps from Singaporeans.

Dr Lily Neo:

Sir, I want to check with the Minister again when he said on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of “subsistence living”? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

Dr Vivian Balakrishnan:

How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?

The full transcript of the exchange can be found here

On 27 August 2007, when WP Sec Gen Low Thia Khiang questioned the government’s denial of a permit for his party to hold a cycling event, Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs Ho Peng Kee said:

“If you listened very carefully Mr Low, I don’t know whether his hearing aid is with him because he wears one, I said there is a greater potential for law and order problems.” (link) (link)

Minister Ho’s reference to Mr Low’s hearing ability was regarded as below-the-belt and unworthy of parliamentary debate.

In all of the above instances, one thing stands out – the ministers involved did not and have not apologised. If anything were forthcoming, they were mostly couched as “clarification” and nothing more.

Hubris?

From labeling those who broke their government bonds as “bond breakers” and shaming them publicly, to threatening to withdraw public services from opposition wards, from denying opposition wards HDB upgrading, to alarmist remarks about “our women” becoming “maids in foreign countries, foreign workers”, from crude and trite replies from our civil servants (read K Bhavani), to sending in police riot squads to small public protests (read Odex), graciousness doesn’t seem to be a very important trait (or value) in our government.

However, having said all of the above, MM Lee could be right – it will take a long time for Singapore to become a gracious society.

In reference to the British, MM Lee said:

“Even the British, he said, were ‘sitting at a very high level over an empire for nearly 150 years before they developed their culture and then being invaded by football hooligans and foreigners who are now joining them and coarsening their society’.” (Straits Times)

Singapore itself, through government policy, is experiencing an “invasion” of foreigners. Will our own society be “coarsened”? Time will tell.

For now, perhaps government officials should pay more heed not only to what they say in public but also how they say it. Words chosen have an impact on society, especially when they come from a government on which most Singaporeans still look to for direction.

A gracious society? For now, I’d settle for a gracious government – and this, certainly, is attainable within MM Lee’s lifetime.

———————————

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34 Responses to “A gracious society? I’d settle for a gracious government”

  1. talkcocking said

    Just curious, why all the examples you cited are mainly about WP? To be fair, what WP got from PAP were nothings compared to what SDP got from the PAP (eg, jails, legal prosecutions, financial ruins, to name a few). At least WP MPs were only chided from time to time, yet continued to be given the MP allowance. No?

  2. Kaffein said

    Thank you for this well-written piece of article.

    You forgot another major boo-boo when MM Lee criticized about the other countries like Denmar, Finland and Switzerland. I felt ashamed that I have a senior minister who criticized other countries to make Singapore look good.

    http://kaffein-nated.blogspot.com/2007/04/danish-citizen-responds-to-mm-lees.html

    “Don’t take the splinter out of your brother’s eye. Take the plank out of your eye own first.”

    And money cannot buy gracious government.

    Kaffein

  3. William said

    Tough Guy Tough Talk…Tats our government, and these strategies work fantastic, Ya in Singapore, governing the mess of obedient Singaporean like us…Well, they are fortunate to be leaders in Singapore…I have taken up contracting jobs in different countries, and start to wonder that if these PAP ppl were to be the leaders of other countries like Indonesia, Taiwan, Panama, Thailand, you name it, their fate will be entirely different….Tough Guy Tough talk, very Arrogant, and disrespect for people whom they perceive are of lower intelligence

  4. carbang4 said

    This is an excellent article.

  5. blackshirt said

    Mr Lee is just pushing the blame of Singapore not becoming a gracious society to its people. He is just saying that it is not the fault of his leadership. Is he implying that Singaporeans will become more gracious when his lifetime is over? Is he saying that our current state of the society will remain the same as long as he is around? Hmmm…. strange perspective.

    A Bees Gees song lyrics sounded like that – I Started a Joke.

  6. Andrew Loh said

    Talkcocking,

    The reasons why the two WP incidents were cited are:

    1. The James Gomes saga was the overbearing issue in GE 2006.
    2. Prof Ho’s remarks about Mr Low Thia Khiang was recent (2007) and rather personal and was made in Parliament.

    I was trying to point out the ungracious nature of the behaviour of PAP ministers.

    As for your saying that:

    “To be fair, what WP got from PAP were nothings compared to what SDP got from the PAP (eg, jails, legal prosecutions, financial ruins, to name a few).”

    I think you may have forgotten that those who suffered the “jailing, legal prosecutions, financial ruins” included Mr JB Jeyaretnam, Mr Francis Seow and Mr Tang Liang Hong.

    All 3 were Workers’ Party members.

    Regards,
    Andrew Loh

  7. Seeking Salvation said

    I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac…
    the only person he would not dare to meet in the cul de sac is
    Jack the Reaper (Jack says he be back to collect him)

  8. tannery rd said

    What happens on top is bound to filte down. I used to belong to a mega church and recently when I lost my job. I noticed the leadership suddenly lost interest in me. Infact, they openly avoided both me and my wife. I felt very humiliated, cheated and ashamed as I am not a beggar. One day, I met a man on the internet, they called him the great devil and he asked me, why do you feel bad when they are the ones who are really screwed up. This man told me that I had to be very screwed up myself to allow screwed up people to screw my life up. He even asked me whether he could visit my wife when I am not around. So I got angry with him and then he said, good very good and he went on to say, if you are prepared to defend your wife, then why do you find it so difficult to defend yourself against ungracious people. I got the message.

    I think there is a lesson here some where in the area of grace.

  9. Alan Wong said

    LKY, of course I agree with you.

    How can we become a gracious society in your lifetime if our leaders beginning with you are no better that political hooligans or bullys.

    If you happen to belong to a gracious group of people, you would not be that ruthless as in putting your own people away to detention without trial or suing opposition members until bankruptcy which resulted in untold misery to hundreds, if not thousands of families affected by your selfish actions.

    If the previous governments of Singapore had done the same thing to you as what you have done to others, you wouldn’t be what you are today.

    So please stop preaching your ‘holier than thou’ ethics to others.

  10. jest said

    MM said that Singapore won’t be a gracious society in his lifetime. Looking at his age, the real meaning is that Singapore is going to become a gracious society soon – within 10 years, maybe much less. That’s great and positive news.

  11. Peachy said

    I agree that leadership must show by example. Part of the reason for the mindless pursuit of material things and neglect of social graces can be attributed to the focus on economic development, academic excellence and getting there first.

    We have come this far. From economics, we need to move up the rung to social graces. Certainly the leaders can do a lot more to set good example and work towards a civil society, not just a civic society pledged by PM.

    It takes more than a few people to promote a gracious society. Education and travel may help. But it still boils down to whether everyone is willing to loosen up and take it easy.
    People need to realise that it you don’t need to have a louder voice, more pushy, bitchy, or cite connections to get what you want. Not being first is not the end of the world.

    Cheers.

  12. Crazy Dog said

    folks, you think mean testing will just end with hospitalisation? it could be extended to HDB flats etc… gracious people ?? please set the example and be a gracious leader first…..

  13. saintmoron said

    Personally believed that he(LKY) did not intentionally mean to be rude but maybe he was(is) crude by nature or simply egoistic(zi ta-hanyu pinyin).

    Also, noticed how cabinet members ‘exemplified’ themselves with ‘holier than thou’ and ‘purer than pure’ showmanships when they ‘talk down’ to us and ‘shove their policies down our throats’

    Courtesy begets courtesy, curst deserves disrespect.

  14. Daniel said

    “When I call a man openly, you’re a liar, you’re dishonest, and you do not dare to sue me, there’s something basically wrong. And I will repeat it anywhere and you can’t go and say, oh, I have apologised;”

    Now this statement may shred light on why the government doesn’t apologise. It takes on the culture set forth by LKY and it really look like he still in control if he can even make himself appear in election and dictate fear for the voters.

    Imagine this statement is taken to be true, it means that the government will never apologised for anything because if they apologised, it show that they are liar and dishonest. To apologised is taken to be dishonoured, to be liar, and to be dishonest.

    To apologise doesn’t mean a person is dishonest or anymore a liar, let alone dishonour. And moreover, why sue someone who has never lost a case since Singapore’s independence but lost case in overseas. Is this anymore honourable about his remark then ?

  15. vince said

    i think many people hope the days the singapore becomes a gracious society won’t come in Lee’s lifetime. In fact, I believe many patriots hope this WEEKEND won’t come in his lifetime.

  16. Daniel said

    The ruling party running Singapore Inc is nothing but economic version of the Junta. They don’t kill you physically but financially. Junta kill someone physically without explanation in the same way the Singapore version kill you financially without rational reasons.

  17. Leong Sze Hian said

    Leading by example?

    Great article

    It will surely go into the annals of history, as a classic – perhaps the turning point for a more truly gracious society in Singapore!

  18. Dead Poet said

    Wonderful article, if only the MSM would be bold enough to publish it and the leaders were enlightned enough to accept the observations made. Now that would be day we become a gracious society or the day the old man dies. Which ever it is, I just hope it is within my lifetime.

  19. 1/2 dDead Poet said

    More gracious or not, I really dunno la. All I know is I prefer this TOC to the old one. The old one was getting a bit stale and smelly like my Bata slippers. This one Fresher, more variety, less losoh and lau piaoh.

  20. The Pariah said

    Applause to Andrew Loh for putting together a collectible collection of ministerial comments. Puts things in sobering perspective, doesn’t it?

    As I quoted Shakespeare in my blog at http://www.singaporeenbloc.blogspot.com:

    “Virtue is bold, goodness never fearful”.

    In a way, we Singaporeans deserve the kind of government we get. It takes two hands to clap …

    Just as I started with applause for Andrew Loh, I end with a soundless clap as a Singaporean!

  21. An admirably written article. But what I’m not so clear about is – and sorry if this is too elementary a question – what is the meaning of a gracious society and a gracious government? Does the “gracious” in society mean the same thing as “gracious” in a government?

    And it seems to me that this article implies that an ungracious government is responsible for the ungracious society. But from what I’ve observed, there are many societies that are supposedly gracious, but their governments are not if we were to measure by the same standards.

  22. antz said

    It’s impossible to have a totally gracious society in all…maybe yes…not in this generation but who knows when??,but majority maybe can but not as in the whole of population…no society in the world..can be called a gracious society unless it’s a country made of robots made of heart and brains with wires…that has been installed with wires of graciousness…we are human beings….sometimes we can just blurted out words of rudeness…but we are not even aware of them…so all i can say is up to the individual to make graciousness part of one’s life…it can be started by you,us and me..

  23. With Lee Kuan Yew around, Singapore can not be a gracious society. How they, PAP, treat the oppositions and dissents are very ungracious. So how to expect the citizens to be gracious. The citizens imitate them and treat fellow poor and down Singaporeans disgracefully.

    Graciousness comes from the top leaders, not the below up. Like the father behaving uncloth, the children will follow suit.

    ‘I will sue you’ mentality is not ingrained in most Singaporeans. Every now and then you can hear people voicing aloud this threat.

  24. Charles said

    Politics is hardly gracious even in liberal democracies and political opponents sometimes use under the belt techniques to achieve cheap points. The problem lies not with what the incumbent government has said (even though many of those comments reeks of arrogance and elitism) but the political system that is inherent in Singapore. That opposition and civil society actors cannot rebut these “ungracious”, without being criminally investigated or sued for defamation.

    When you have a system in which the government knows it can say almost anything and get away with it, and win seats in a farcial electoral processes, you are sure that they will make these comments again and again.

    Wake up people. The emperor has no clothes…

  25. mr.udders said

    Where is Robert HO? I miss him…

  26. LEO said

    charles said politics is hardly gracious even in liberal democracies. Had he seen concession speeches by losing politicians in these democracies?. They may fight for every vote with nastiest tactics but the winning losing parties are always gracious to each other in the end. Here, even if you have lost the election, you will still be hounded if your are out of step. Just look at Chee, JB, Gomes and TLH.

  27. Ronin said

    This article is damn right. Our ministers and MPs are leading us to the land of non-graciousness. It is all about MONEY in S’pore. Even our ministers demand top private sector pay.

    When my son was in hospital, this doctor (who is a PAP MP) was downright rude and snobbish when he demanded to awake my son (who had very little sleep during the night before) for examination. The trainee doctors accompanying him looked very afraid of this doctor-MP. If this is the kind of leaders we have in S’pore, what can we expect of its citizens????

  28. Clarence said

    I think this is like a turning point for politics already. LKY and co. are taking “private ownership” the government and treating what they have now as taken for granted.

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And we thought the white PAP uniform was un-stainable? I just hope that we don’t see accounting or financial scandals within the government soon.

    But who am I kidding? Even if it happened, it surely will never make it to print.

  29. Clarence said

    adding on to my previous comment, i think that the current PAP govt have grown too big for their seats and heads and abilities. if they’d shut up for a day, take public transport to and fro work everyday, take cab rides home after midnight (without claiming it from the government coffers), sit down and eat meals in hawker centres (without fanfare greeting them), then they’re qualified to comment at all on normal people’s lifestyles.

    otherwise grow a brain or SHUT THE FK UP.

  30. Gerald C W Heng said

    Thanks for pointing out our Role-Models the Ministers MM PM etc as potentially affecting our mores and behaviour in a growing community within a small Island after a horrible Japanese Occuptaion of WW II. Mr Lee Kuan Yew the founding dynasty of the PAP government is a creature of time and circumstances, just as his Mentor was ,who at Cambridge Fitzwilliams College was a badly wounded WWI British Veteran of just one arm .

    This Veteran was his admired hero. Since the 1959 elections MM Lee has used speeches that portray him as a Chief Gangster Mafia Leader,words like ” fix” “tough and rugged society” “meet you at cul de sac “for fights with knuckle dusters or hatchets. Such graphic speech was and still is intended to frightened and terrorise voters that the PAP leader and team meant business and control things.

    After the WWII Japs Occupation this kind of language is almost God sent for a holy ordering of events and solidarity that Singaporeans never had. Just why the Ministers and his Scion PM Lee Hsien Loong imitate his genre of language style and the Hitman Scenario is really rather surprising and shocking to me and our Quitters from the Singapore that was merged in Greater Malaysia at one time.

    Mr.Harry Lee Kuan Yew admittedly is also an Admirer of the Vatican System of the College of Cardinals in the PAP selection process, a system that points vertically like a pyramid to the POPE as the CEO and Chief Honcho of religion and in case of Singapore a Government of Pope Lee Kuan-Yew.

    At least for the last forty years it has succeeded in really making a third rate country to a first rate one economically !The Pope and its Cardinal are infallible in Catholic Doctrines and their implements in the progress of their flocks to heaven. I have no doubt Mr.Lee Sr and his PAP see it that way and all that tough rough and fixing you talk is merely a tactical means to the heavenly end of PAP perpetual everlasting control, he loves Prince Machiavelli who will stop at nothing to keep political power in the process he has destroyed people who admire and even love him as a founding Pope of Singapore !

    I would have thought after forty years Mr Harry Lee Kuan Yew has mellowed and softened his political touch and graciously retire into the sun-set,after all he has become rich and famous in the process of re-making Singapore ! We just hope his ungenerous surly and cutting or cleaving remarks will not continue to demoralise his people and indeed his Opposition into ineffective pigmies in the political process !

    I may venture to say the Opposition today is more emasculated as any that I know in Western Democracies like in Massachusetts,USA,Canada and Britain ! Democracy especially Opposition Parliamentary Democracy require at least a sort of mutual respect if not affection for each other in political discourse!

    Even when the late President Ronald Reagan on his horse and she was about to fart and defecate had to warn the Queen of Britain, his companion rider that it wasn’t Her Majesty that was farting but his horse was, that is the very essence of grace between two Heads of State, the USA that once was the Rebellion Country from Her Majesty’s Domains !

    When Mr.Harry Lee Kuan Yew became Her Majesty’s CH___Companion of Honor, surely he was put there by representation of the Singaporeans,why should he be turning his fart and shit on his own people ? Affection and love for the people in Democracy is the glue that holds the Society together,the Queen does it by Love,Affection and Gracious Example,Singapore being a Republic has no such luck after being saddled with Lee Kuan-Yew. We should pray for his mellowing retreat soon for his permanent and gracious legacy after he takes leave from us all !

    Gerald C W Heng
    Boston/MA/USA

    a Quitter since 1963 and was a Great and Fond Admirer of the PAP Old Guard Leadership led by LKY the Chief CEO !His co-teamers of the Old Guard never needed to have his kind of tough gangster talk !Dr.Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaretnam, Dr.Toh Chin Chye are rather melodious men in speech and behaviour !

    I think Mr.LKY Sr. should gracious fade into the sunset of politics for a different genre of style to emerge! Nothing wrong with Love and Affection for your people see how the British Constitutional Monarchy keep their people unified and see grace under fire in Parliamentary Democracy of Opposition in Government !Nobody really wants to be Quitter from Singapore,Life’s Choices are Constitutional Rights of Liberty,Life,Property and the Pursuit of Happiness and Joy,Singapores should be given no less !

    Gerald Heng

  31. saintmoron said

    The ‘gangster talks’ and knuckle dusters are only meant to intimidate his subjects.

    See how friendly, courteous and even gracious he was and is with world leaders and neighbouring leaders. Did he ever ‘talk tough’ to his foreign friends and buddies?

  32. […] something to read abt~ Filed under: Animal Farm Posted by: Wastrel E […]

  33. […] apartment or 3 in a private house. Probably not in my lifetime. It’s almost as unlikely as MM Lee seeing a gracious Singapore society in his lifetime. Heh heh ;p Like This Doggie Treat? Bookmark It! Hide […]

  34. KB said

    Personally, whether I am gracious or not would not really be affected by what our government do…I understand the point about how there may be a top-down influence, but I do not think that our ability to be gracious should be defined by our government’s actions. It does not mean that if our government is (as the article put it) “ungracious”, it justifies an ungracious society…Both the government and us Singaporeans should strive to be gracious.

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