Singaporean Dynasty

We all know that Lee Kuan Yew and his family own Singapore and always will, and no one much minds. After all, he’s one of those rare benevolent dictators who actually improved his people’s lives.

Still, I couldn’t help chuckling when I read this piece on his son Lee Hsien Loong taking over as prime minister.

Lee’s ascent to premier could stir talk of a concentration of power in the Lee family. With the elder Lee remaining in cabinet and his son as premier, the two occupy two of the top government posts in Southeast Asia’s wealthiest country.

The younger Lee’s wife, Ho Ching, is executive director of powerful government investment arm Temasek Holdings, which owns stakes in a crop of Singapore firms such as Singapore Airlines and Singapore Telecommunications, whose chief executive is Lee’s brother, Lee Hsien Yang.

“Stir talk of a concentration of power”? Whatever could lead the reporter to that silly conclusion? Dumbest thing I ever heard. Two strokes of the cane for that journalist.

And remember, Singapore is by far the least corrupt country in Southeast Asia, and one of the least corrupt in the world.

The Discussion: 10 Comments

Dynasty? What dynasty?

The Peking Duck never say, I also never notice. That’s quite a lot of Lee family members in power, hor? A bloodless, corruptionless, and angstless transfer of power to the (very capable) Dragon Son of the Lee clan. Where else

August 10, 2004 @ 9:59 pm | Comment

And I’ve heard it said that freedom of speech in Singapore is somewhat circumscribed, and that politicians who impugn the honesty of public officials may face fines that might just leave them unable to meet the financial qualifications for members of parliament. Clearly, I should be flogged for merely repeating these slanderous rumours.

As you say, it’s sad that Singapore is about the least illiberal country in South-East Asia. It’s also what the Chinese leadership wants their country to be: an orderly, prosperous place where everyone knows their place and no-one rocks the boat.

August 11, 2004 @ 10:35 am | Comment

P.S. I had a Singaporean neighbour/flatmate at university. He photocopied the entry on Singapore from the Amnesty International annual report and put it up on his door.

August 11, 2004 @ 10:37 am | Comment

Did you hear about the famous “Speaker’s Corner” that the government set up, a gesture showing they support diverse political opinion? It’s a little corner in a public park with a sign up saying “Speaker”s Corner” where opponents of the government are allowed to go and speak to whomever wants to listen. Problem is, no one’s interested. I would go by it twice a day on the commute to and from work, and not once, ever, did I ever see anyone there speaking or listening. What a joke.

August 11, 2004 @ 5:41 pm | Comment

Asia by blog

Linking you with the links that matter in Asia: Hong Kong, Taiwan and China Tom looks at China and Taiwan’s diplomacy games. ALN reports that doing good deeds in China sometimes has a price. Richard looks at the release of a book written in 1989 that p…

August 12, 2004 @ 12:39 am | Comment

To be fair to Lee Jnr, who isn’t exactly Jean-Claude Duvalier (‘Baby Doc’) or Uday Hussein, he is well qualified, both academically (an Oxbridge graduate), professionally (several senior management posts including the Armed Forces) and politically.

Should sons of PMs be barred from a country’s top political post even if they are amply qualified?

August 13, 2004 @ 1:35 am | Comment

The Guardian has a brilliant headline today:

Singapore told to feel free

Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Singapore’s founding father, was sworn in as the third prime minister of this tightly controlled city-state yesterday. He called on people to “feel free to express diverse views, pursue unconventional ideas, or be different”.

August 13, 2004 @ 3:52 am | Comment

typo in previous posting – please delete “both”

August 13, 2004 @ 5:27 am | Comment

Asia by Blog – Month in review

Thank you to everyone for the good wishes. Everyone is doing well. Now to keep you going…as part of the Winds of Change team I provide a monthly briefing on Asian goings-on, particularly China and SE Asia. I thought this would give me a good opportun…

August 23, 2004 @ 5:23 pm | Comment

Simon’s E. Asia Overview: Aug 25/04

It’s time to have a look at East Asia and what’s been making the news in Asian blogs over the past month. We cover China (in depth), as well as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore et. al).

August 24, 2004 @ 11:10 pm | Comment

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