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A Few Good Opposition Gentlemen Remind Us that Politics Need Not Get Personal

With all the good things said, the late Lee Kuan Yew could be one hell of a ruthless fella.

Some of his policies have been criticised for stunting Singapore’s growth as a nation.

Amongst them, his penchant for suing opposition politicians to “destroy” them for supposedly smearing his name.

And the most commonly cited, Mr Lee’s tight-fisted control of the press.

With the eyes of Singapore and even Manchester United on Mr Lee’s funeral, it’s heartening to see that his political opponents aren’t taking this chance to push their agendas and take low blows at the man and his party.

Workers’ Party Chief Low Thia Khiang paid a glowing tribute to Mr Lee in parliament yesterday (26 Mar), saying

“Singapore today is united regardless of race, language and religion. This is an achievement that is not possible without Mr Lee. My deepest respect goes to founding prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew.”

What was better said – Mr Low acknowledged Mr Lee’s contributions to Singapore in spite of some methods which he didn’t personally agree with.

All this, in spite of the recent run-in with the PAP over the AHPETC saga.

“He crafted policies based on the situation then, and made rational judgements out of the interests of the country, however the choice and implementation of policies is not just a rational decision, it should also take into consideration human nature and the sensitivity. Only by doing so, can we avoid hurting people’s feelings, and creating resentment. If accumulated over a long time the resentment could become a potential political crisis and affect people’s unity and their identification with the country.”

TODAY newspaper misrepresented a part of Mr Low’s speech, making it sound like he was playing up an opposition agenda.

That Facebook post certainly got some Singaporeans rankled.

redwire singapore low thia khiang today misrepresent

Low didn’t say the line “disconnecting Singaporeans from their own society”.

Still, there was no stinging reply from WP’s Secretary-General.

The man knew he had said enough, and knew what he had said.

Even Dr Chee Soon Juan, who was bankrupted by the ruling party, wasn’t about to make any cutting remarks on such an occasion.

At that time, Dr Chee had a wife and children.

He could have took the chance to remind the world of what a cruel person Mr Lee could be when he wanted to.

But, in a simple condolence letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Dr Chee wrote,

“On behalf of the members of the Singapore Democratic Party, I send you and your loved ones my deepest condolences on the demise of your father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. In this time of personal grief, our thoughts are with you.”

Our Lion of Singapore, Mr Chiam See Tong also chimed in with strongly-worded accolades..

For a man who fought many battles in parliament over more than a decade, he expressed that Mr Lee will “live on in history, remaining for future generations the symbol of Singapore’s success.”

He wrote in his letter to PM Lee,

“He was a great statesman, parliamentarian and a master of public policy. He was there at the time when Singapore was swarmed with numerous problems, ranging from domestic to international issues. He was there, just as Britain needed Winston Churchill during World War II – always taking a strategic and long term view of Singapore.”

On such a big stage, where their voices would be amplified, the empathy of these opposition politicians show us that politics doesn’t have to get personal.

They show us that there’s a time and place to play the political game, that we can fight over policy disagreements, yet not let this political jousting extend to character assassinations.

It’s heartening to see the giants in our midst behaving like gentlemen.



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