8 Feb 2005

The Straits Times Have Done It Again

The following is from NewSinter.com site.


Today, I came across a Straits Times article on the fabled exchange at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum between MM Lee and Jamie Han. The Straits Times Article published excerpts of the proceedings without indicating what was omitted, as shown in the segment below. I would like to reproduce the actual exchange so it becomes clear that to a large extent, the Straits Times obfuscates the truth and twists it according to the whims of its masters.

ST: Lively Exchanges
Paper: The Straits Times
Section: Singapore
Date published: Wednesday, February 2, 2005
---- [Segment] ----
Student: My name is Jamie Han, history honours student.

I'm not questioning your decisions in the past, I'm sure at those times, there was a need for consensus and stability. But I think we have come to the stage where stability is already here and that, in order to progress, the minority viewpoints have to be heard.

And I'm not saying that the People's Action Party is corrupt or anything now.

The truth of the matter is this: No matter how enlightened a despot is, ultimately, he'll turn into a tyrant if there are no checks and balances in place.

MM Lee: There's nothing to prevent you from advocating that, pushing that strenuously and finally getting a political party to adopt your platform, and we will put it to the vote. That's the democratic way of doing it.
---- [End Segment] ----

Now, I would like to reproduce the actual exchange in full
.

---- [Actual Exchange] ----
Student:
Good evening Mr Lee. My name is Jamie Han, and I’m a history honours student at NUS.

I was frankly rather disappointed at your speech, because I thought you have dealt with the historical... Historiographical problems of history, but as a lawyer, I can see that you are not trained for that area. So anyway, my question is this:

You were talking of general principles in history of looking at the past, and you said that in Singapore, one of the general principles is unity. I do not disagree with you that in this multi-racial society we need unity, but what I am against is...

Are you fetishising unity at the cost of plurality? You said that, maybe it is not part of our culture that we need consensus building and stuff like that, but as the sociologists would tell you, culture is always being made. So...

I'm not questioning your decisions in the past, I'm sure at those times, there was a need for consensus and stability. But I think we have come to the stage where stability is already here and that, in order to progress, the minority viewpoints have to be heard.

And in anticipation of your counter argument that there are channels in which the minority can voice their viewpoints, we all know that in reality these channels are either directly or indirectly controlled by the government.

(MM Lee Laughs)

And I'm not saying that the People's Action Party is corrupt or anything now.

The truth of the matter is this: No matter how enlightened a despot is, ultimately, he'll turn into a tyrant if there are no checks and balances in place.

And so I strongly believe that oppressive acts like the printing act and the internal security act should be reviewed. Since, maybe they are no longer relevant, as we have already reached a stage where stability is here. Thank you.

MM Lee: There's nothing to prevent you from advocating that, pushing that strenuously and finally getting a political party to adopt that platform, and we will put it to the vote. That's the democratic way of doing it.
---- [End Actual Exchange] ----



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