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Saturday October 25th 2014

Should Our Prime Minister Step Down Also?

Singapore has been lately rocked  by  unprecedented happenings within the ruling party – first there were the resignations of two of our ex-PMs and now we knew that three ministers were retired in a massive cabinet shake out – Mr Wong Kan Seng, Mr Raymond Lim and Mr Mah Bow Tan.

Some people I spoke to frankly questioned whether our Prime Minister should resign too…

Of the three PMs that we knew of, the current Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsein Loong seemed to be the weakest – both in terms of leadership and forward strategic planning. He is often seen as clueless and lacking in ideas.

He may have also over depend on his ministers to do the job and often went missing when the chips were down.

The fact that he required two ex-PMs roving around in cabinet for the past few years did not augured well for his confidence. Many also speculated that MM Lee Kuan Yew still holds much power within the cabinet when he is  around.

PM Lee should instead retire  both of them one year after been elected into power in GE 2006 so that the population could clearly see that he is the man in charge.  For all the talk about retaining and harnessing the two ex-PMs because of  their expertise and ability, it does not work well for the current PM to have these two political icons sharing  the limelight with him.

The population does not really see much of the PM during the past few years as the two ex-PMs continued to hog the limelight on many occasions. Some even questioned who is the actual PM now? PM Lee was also  often silent on many occasions which  required his leadership to steady the ship e.g  the global financial crisis and sudden huge influx of foreign workers  in our country.

On a scale of one to ten, his past few years’ performance as a PM hovered on the just-passed mark of five. Many have also speculated that Tharman may have make a better PM as he communicates well, seems connected to the ground and most importantly exudes confidence to soothe the raw nerves of a population that is hit hard by the recent influx of foreigners.

It is also clear that PM Lee preferred a leadership style that is very decentralized i.e he will throw the full ministry to you and expect you to take off on your own.

This is probably why the worst performing ministers with the most hiccups were let go.  Hopefully, this major shake-up invariably will push  many ministers to be on their toes from now on. They will have to be held accountable  for whatever that happens within their ministries…

For the  people, they suddenly found themselves voting out two ex-PMs and three ministers.  Ironically, many of them could be voting only for the first time!

We all knew that the three retired ministers unfortunately carried portfolios that were the hardest to impress – transport, home affairs and housing development  all screwed up big time almost immediately after the 2006 GE.

They were mostly  hampered by the sudden decision to pump up our population by more than 500, 000 foreigners  over the past five years to push up our GDP growth. There is no way that HDB can build so many flats given this huge  phenomenal growth of our foreigner population. Our transport system was also pushed to the max.

Many have also speculated that if the PM was to take action then and apologized on the behalf of the ailing ministers,  the protest votes in this GE would not be so serious.

Granted that he seldom publicly chastise his ministers even though they performed badly in their appointed ministries, he also didn’t provide enough confidence to the voters that he is staying very much on top of the situation.  His silence on many issues is also deafeningly loud…

He also strangely allowed his ailing ministers to escape  public scrutiny  by denying responsibility and even communicating pointless rhetoria – much to the frustration of the population.

I remembered clearly a few days before this GE how Mr Mah suggested that our BTO flats are still affordable when the whole country is raising in arms about the sky high housing cost.  

It is also surprising that the PM allowed him the platform to raise such foolish rhetoria which was  printed front page  in the mass media – few days before polling day.

Moreover, even though the public housing cost has reached sky-high proportions for the past twelve months prior to the recent GE, our PM  didn’t really came out to pacify the population relying instead on Hosing Development Minister Mr Mah Bow Tan to defend the housing  affordability issue on his own.

The same thing happened when terrorist Mas Selamat escaped and DPM Mr Wong Kan Seng was in the thick of action – our PM was ominously silent on the matter for a long time.

It was as if he is trying to distance himself from the blame game.

He only later came out to defend DPM Wong when the dust had settled…and the damage was already done.

I hope to see a more vibrant and active PM after this election as he has the caliber and ability to connect with the people. He should also be more visionary and try to motivate  the people when they are going through a tough time viz a viz the past global financial crisis.

He has taken the necessary bold steps to kick out three  incompetent ailing ministers and should follow up with some strong leadership in the near future.

If need to, he should stand next to his minister who is facing the line of  fire if there is any misstep and explained in his usual crispy clear style on why that  certain policy has failed. Ministers should also be made to apologise for their own mistakes and not to wait for the PM to apologise on their behalf a few days prior to polling day.

People do not expect  no-mistake perfect governance but what they don’t cordon is a government that does not acknowledge its short comings and worse still tried to explain away its failings.

There is no shame in making mistakes and owing up to them but please if possible, do not repeat the same mistake again.

Our ministers have all along clearly carried too much load on their shoulder and our PM is also  too long in the shadow all this while.

I have seen how Mr Mah and Mr Wong turned very  uncomfortable and clearly alone when they have  to defend unpopular decisions or failings all on their own the past few years.

PM Lee is a good communicator and together with the newly-promoted popular DPM Tharman, they should try to  persuade and convince a highly-antagonised public why certain unpopular policies are being carried out.

Our PM could not afford to be carrying out his duties the way he did the past five years – silently and very much in the background.

He has to show to the voters that he will call the shots and even chastise his under performing ministers if necessary. 

Many people were softened when he apologized on behalf of his ailing ministers few days prior to pollig day.  For his profound humility shown,  he may have save at least another GRC from falling to the opposition camp.

PM Lee has much to offer and he should not be afraid to take charge from now on…we all want to see clear leadership from him.

If not, the next cabinet minister to step down should be him…

Written By: Gilbert Goh

Reader Feedback

6 Responses to “Should Our Prime Minister Step Down Also?”

  1. pro my foot says:

    No individual person in Sin is able to govern Sin by him/herself. The more autocratic(power-centric) the leader, the more failure he/she will cause and make.

    The Leadership, his/her Cabinet and the people have to work together to make this tiny rock a nation. So far, all the three Prime Ministers behave like they are the Masters of the Land, even their Cabinet Members are aloof, loud and some even cocky and cold toward their constituents during the Meet the MP Sessions.

  2. Paul ANG says:

    You are Right on it, Pro My Foot.

    They think they own the island of this country! Do what they want and keep on telling lies after lies, keep screwing up every things in here..

    One day they will know what will happen next…

  3. KT says:

    Of the three PMs, he is the weakest.

    Time and time again, he fails to exercise leadership when there was a need to do so.

    And you are right, Gilbert, he has this strange, shall I say, bizzare idea, of remaining silent during crises when there was a need to come out and explain to the public why some events happened the way they happened. I still remember the flood on Orchard road, the Lehman mini-bond financial collapse where hundreds of investors were ‘burnt’,and so on and so forth. Nobody came out to say anything until much much later. Where was the PM?

    In other countries like US, NZ, Australia, Japan and NZ, you can bet the PM/President would be the first one to step forward and explain to the public or give assurance that the situation is under control or some measures have been taken to address the issues whenever there is the occurrence of a major crisis.

  4. Pisstoff says:

    He is clearly and obviously the PM for all those foreigners. He cares for them so much, that in the processed forgotten who put him there in the 1st place. He and his bunch of goons became so proud and arrogant, that they felt Singaporean owed them a living. Since the last 5 years nothing good came from their evil mouth except “FOREIGNERS, FOREIGNERS, FOREIGNERS.” As its widely known : FAP ( Foreigner Action Party ).

    The coffeeshop talk :

    1st class citizen = New Citizens
    2nd class citizen : Permanent Residents (PR’s)
    3rd class, soon to be citizen : Foreign Trashs (FT’s)
    4th class, : Foreign Workers (FW’s)
    and lastly … the 5th, the pathetic adopted citizen : Native Born Singaporeans (Sinkies).

    NS for Sinkies but Jobs, Housing, Scholarship etc.. for foreigners.

    So to speak … obviously and no doubt about it … He Should Be The 1st To Step Down, followed by all his idiotic goons. It will be a great blessing for Sinkies, when that happened.

    P.S. And they could jolly well migrate to China, India or Philippine and start his FAP ( Foreigner Action Party ) there.

  5. Marvin Fok says:

    Nobody doubts Tharman’s ability even within the cabinet. In fact it is only 2 ministers, Tharman and Khaw Boon Wan who can still deliver results in the PAP controlled government. As for Khaw Boon Wan, he is a scapegoat for PAP’s bad budget planning to slash the health ministry’s budget every year till it reaches the current miserable 2%. I am surprised that the health ministery is still working with this meagre budget. As for the rest in the cabinet, you can forget about it!

    Should PM Lee step down? I answer is a definite yes, but 60% of the people had shot that idea down!

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