20 April 2006

Here Comes The Damage Control

April 20, 2006
Not all young people think like those at forum, says MM
By Lydia Lim
Senior Political Correspondent

THE man in the middle of the controversy that followed his televised forum with a group of young Singaporeans has said he is not surprised by the polarised reactions.

But Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew says he would be wary of believing that the views of the 10 young people he met represent those of their generation.

All 10 who took part in the one-hour forum televised last week, were graduates aged 30 or younger.

Seven were journalists, two were Singapore Management University undergraduates and one was a publications manager in the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Lee told The Straits Times yesterday that he believes, over time, these 'radical English-educated young' will re-order their priorities.

'They will realise that a large majority of Singaporeans are steeped in their respective Asian cultures, whose core values will not be easily displaced,' he said in an e-mailed reply to questions.

Mr Wang cannot help but chuckle at MM Lee's remarks about "these radical English-educated young". Because Mr Wang cannot help but think of MM Lee's own background.

Lee Kuan Yew may be old now, but once upon a time, he was young too. And when he was young, he left Singapore to study law in England. At Cambridge University, no less. And collected Double 1st Class Honours in English law. How much more "English-educated" can you get?

"Your MM has one of these funny wigs too, you know."

In contrast, at least two of our young TV show participants are studying at Singapore Management University, right here at Bras Basah Road. And before that, they probably had to sit through a few years of the Ministry of Education's compulsory National Education talks during their secondary/JC days.

Who's the "English-educated" one here?

Read also Lee Kuan Yew's memoirs about his own university days. Note when he first started messing around in politics. No, not in Singapore. He started messing around in political activities when he was in England. Which was not even his own country.

A young foreigner. A student. Messing around in the politics of another country. The homeground of his colonial masters, no less.

And he has the cheek to say that our young TV show participants are "radical".


Molly Meek said...

He who disagrees with Me is Radical.

(Though I suspect the accused might take the term as a compliment.)

moomooman said...

ha ha.

Well, MM Lee may not be wrong. Neither did he not admit he was once a radical english educated young chap.

He was. And thus he knows.

Cobalt Paladin said...

Mr Lee told The Straits Times yesterday that he believes, over time, these 'radical English-educated young' will re-order their priorities.

I believe he spoke from experience. As he aged, he also changed his priorities. As you said, he may have been involved in political activities when he was in England but his later priorities were instead for our country, Singapore.

moomooman said...

question: Do you think the 10 young Singaporeans on the program are reprsentative of the younger generation? if not, why not?

Answer from MM: Over 70 per cent of the under 30s are non graduates..............

Err... can I say... AH BO THEN.

By the time most guys becomes graduate, they will be about 24 years to 26 years old.

The girls probably finished around 21 to 23.

My kid technically belongs to the 70 percent. And will remain so for the next 20 years.

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Hehee, that's funny.

Also interesting to note is that there can't possibly be any "Chinese-educated young" in Singapore.

Lee Kuan Yew shut down the Chinese schools a looooong time ago. English is the official language of instruction in all our schools, even the SAP ones.

BjornLee said...

ya, he's right. The 10 do not represent the rest of Singapore's youth. You know why? Cos the majority of the rest might be the "bo-chup", "si-mi si Gahmen?" crowd. Now, isn't that worse? How many times has he spoken to Spore youths (honest question here, not rhetorical)? He meets opposition once at a NUS youth seminar once from someguy who made some stupid comments about dictatorship and now this televised forum, he meets "polarized" views again. Is there a pattern here worth following or is someone ignoring it? =)

at82 said...

NO MM Lee is NOT "radical"!

He is the one who introduced ultra "conservative" policies like "elected presidency" with "3 wise men", NMP and NCMP, graduate mother scheme etc into Singapore.

dfgd said...

Mr Lee told The Straits Times yesterday that he believes, over time, these 'radical English-educated young' will re-order their priorities.

Sounds rather threatening so maybe the ST should have elaborated on what MM Lee actually said.

Anonymous said...

This sentence leapt out at me: "he believes, over time, these 'radical English-educated young' will re-order their priorities."

He must be unaware of the great baby boom experiment that's been going on for the last 50 years. This was the generation that popularised rock n'roll, protested the Vietnam War, smoked pot, believed in free love, equality for different races and sexes, and generally had left-wing attitudes.

All through the 1960s and 1970s, the generation older than them said they would come to their senses as they become "responsible fathers and mothers". Guess what. They never did.

Sociologists who have tracked this cohort have found that people's political attitudes tend to be formed by their mid-twenties, and they carry them through life.

Change happens not because a cohort grows older and changes its mind, but because another cohort comes of age with its own distinctive attitudes.

Anthony said...

If he's so upset with these youngsters...

Why the @#%@# did they go on TV then?

Did he honestly expect that these people will not call him out on some of his policies? Isn't that the whole point? Isn't this just a symbolic trotting out of an aged gladiator to take down 10 young punks?

Anonymous said...

Anthony, I believe that MM Lee did expect the 10 of them to raise such issues. I would go so far as to say that they were probably urged to raise such concerns in the hope of associating the 'radical English-educated young' with the Opposition (as they would appear on camera to be overly antagonistic towards MM Lee - symbol of the PAP), thus this would impress upon the more conservative Singaporeans the continued need to vote for the PAP.

Just my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

> Mr Wang cannot help but chuckle at MM Lee's remarks about "these radical English-educated young".

I chuckled too, but for a different reason: Wasn't it not too long ago (i.e. only 30 yrs back) when he called those chinese students who oppsed him "these radical Chinese-educated young"?

Anonymous said...

this 'asian values' / 'going back to our core Asian values' bollocks is just that - bollocks. It's all merely constructed values in which to order our society.

The Asian Values discourse was reinvented by neoliberal capitalist Asian countries in order to justify capitalistic progress. In Singapore it was used not only as a social bonding tool, but also to justify authoritarianism.

one is never bound to some essentialised idea of one's 'core Asian values'.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the 'radical Chinese-educated' were all Communists back then and would have threatened the stability of the country. Now, the 'radical English-educated' are leftists and liberals and would be a threat to the stability of the country.

Ha ha. How ironic. If Tan Kah Kee was around when MM Lee came into power, he probably would have been exiled or imprisoned, not glorified like he is now in the form of a statue outside Chinese High.

Anonymous said...

Do not forget:

LKY was the guy who worked for the Japanese during the Occupation. Prez Nathan too. Radical? Subversive and traitorous too. Lim Bo Seng would have turned in his grave. Why LKY wasn't imprisoned or executed after the war ended, then went on to politics is one of the great mysteries of our time.

Note: I have no problems with the younger Japanese of today who don't buy the revisionist history, who are anti-war etc.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty irritated with the sweeping assumption that us "young punks" will change out minds. i am also surprised and quite disappointed in a man who, in spite being a arrogant pri...person, did achieve great things.

i expected an intelligent man like him to have kept up with the times, but he seemed so out of touch.

i suppose every man has his weakness and his weakness is that he just can't let go - singapore was something he devoted his life to and he's not going to give up any control his has over the running of this country.

Han said...

the sad thing is that majority of those who are unemployed and retrenched and possess skills which are completely irrelevant in a modern global economy are these Chinese educated oldsters who worship at the altar of Asian values and blind respect for authority.

Anonymous said...

shianux, those people you talked about are UN-EDUCATED, not Chinese-educated. The real Chinese-educated do not have blind respect for authority (see the havoc that the real Chinese-educated high school students created for PAP in 1950s-1970s).

That's because the real asian value does not teach blind obedience. (i elaborated more on this on your blog)

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that the SAFFC (Singapore Armed Forces Football Club) doesn't have a commercial sponsor! I learnt this in Today (18 April 2006 issue). According to that report, they haven't had a commercial sponsor for 11 years! As far as funding is concerned, they are taking from the taxpayers' till. Considering that other FC's do not have access to this till, but have to work very hard every year to get sponsors, it seems very unfair, and smells a bit fishy. The SAFFC says, in its defence, that the taxpayers' money are well spent since SAFFC has been in the forefront of promoting the sport, which, undoubtedly, has made strides since the S-league was first conceived more than 10 years ago. But doesn't this apply to other clubs as well? Haven't they made similar, if not greater, contributions? And anyway, what is the SAF doing promoting sports at the national level? Isn't this the preserve of the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sport?

I think that the SAFFC is presumptious in thinking that they are the ones who are playing the major role in the promotion and development of football in Singapore. The SAFFC can hardly do this without having an opposing team to play with. At $300,000 at year over 11 years, that's $300,000 x 11 years = $3.3 million - a large sum by any measure, and a sum that rivals numbers raised in the NKF saga.

I hope this doesn't snow-ball into an NKF-like saga. Apparently, this has been sanctioned by people in high places, but they must have a good explanation for this. While death and taxes are a certainty in life, the use to which tax money is put is less certain. Is there a smoking gun here? Time will tell.

Mr Wang, any opinion?

Anonymous said...

Ye mean LKY and Nathan were actually running dogs for the nips?

I thought general knowledge was some jap swung his palm a little beyond LKY's nose (like in the way that would've upset Wong Kan Seng).