Singapore Beyond Lee Kuan Yew: Institutionalising the Singapore Way

21Apr09

This just may be the first time that the question of what will happen to Singapore after LKY’s death, the very reason this site was founded, has been discussed not only in an academic forum, but in Singapore’s government-controlled media.  The Online Citizen offers the best coverage:

Firstly, whether it is legitimate to pose the question of Singapore’s prospects beyond Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Mahbubani acknowledged that many internationally had raised similar concerns, some expressing pessimism over Singapore’s future after MM Lee; one being Professor Samuel Huntington, who had said: “The honesty and efficiency that Senior Minister Lee has brought to Singapore are likely to follow him to his grave. “ …

However, when it came to the question of a Singapore after MM Lee, his take was that no one can be sure what this will be. He speculated three scenarios, one: a seamless transition, second: a significant reversal of the legacy left by MM Lee, and third: PAP continues to rule Singapore, but with a strong opposition force.

But even Today has a surprisingly detailed article, albeit one peppered with the usual praise and downplaying the “imponderable” possibility of factions or corruption in the PAP:

A PEOPLE’S Action Party (PAP) split by internal schisms. Future leaders bereft of the “huge political legitimacy” that could be gained from endorsement by the man with unmatched moral and historical authority. These are some of the leadership fates that could befall a post–Lee Kuan Yew Singapore, as hotelier Ho Kwon Ping sees it. And such “imponderable” scenarios could help explain why a “system of elders” is now taking shape in the political landscape.

However, aside from that oblique reference to a “system of elders”,  not one word about the role of the Lee family in the future of Singapore.

UPDATE: Full text of Ho Kwon Ping’s remarks.


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6 Responses to “Singapore Beyond Lee Kuan Yew: Institutionalising the Singapore Way”

  1. 1 Imad

    I would like to see some more evidence of such schisms/ cases of corruption in PAP before we can deduce that PAP, or even Singapore itself, will eventually implode the moment MM Lee Kuan Yew passes away. While i’m not Singaporean, although i lived there when i was young during his last years as Prime Minister (1986-1990), i do like Singapore and am concerned for it.

  2. 2 KKK

    It is unlikely that the PAP wlll implode with schism once LKY passes away. The party is too full of yes men for that to happen. However, I suspect Singaporeans will be more likely to pressure the government on contentious issues. Lee Hsien Loong has not proven himself and if he takes one wrong step, the entire PAP could go down because of his mistake.

  3. 3 kpb

    S’pore won’t fall into a civil war or anything. But it’s efficient, peaceful and stable image will be punctured. There will probably be more agitation and chaos when some people become more emboldened after LKY. Lee Hsien Loong will clamp it all down but at a cost that international media will now perceive S’pore differently. Within the ranks of PAP itself, there may be more dissent that will cause trouble for LHL. So things will get more exciting for S’pore after LKY, that’s for sure.

  4. 4 Waiting For Emancipation

    Yes. After the era after LKY will be a watershed. Especially the immediate period after his passing. Already there are 2 camps within the PAP leasership – those aligning themselves behind LHL and those who are more liberal (and foreward looking).

    Remember, the LHL slapping incident, contrary to constant denials by cabinet ministers, and even by the “victim” himself, Dhanabalan, the fact that it DID happen (at a pre-cabinet meeting in 1990) served as a wake-up call to the morre liberalised faction within PAP. Fence-sitters would probably have to take sides upon the passing of LKY, and in most likelihood they would be more pro-liberal than anything else. Because the whole world has changed since the era of internet. To still cloud behind LHL would be to put on obsolete dressing, and it would be detrimental to their own wellbeing should a more capable leader (from the liberal group) emerge, which is a very likely scenerio. So far, LHL had it good being put on the pedestal because of his “white horse” card. His promotion all the way up to Brig-General and co-opted into PAP ranks and ministerial status within a couple of years, etc. had been the result of this factor, and not his capability (if, for anything else, George Yeo and Teo Chee Hean are certainly ministers who are more capable than him (this point has been made clear indirectly by inadvertent remarks made by LKY over the years).

    But we shall see whether LHL can remain in top form in the later years. I believe he can, if only he follows his father’s Machievellan ways. If not, he is dead fish in the waters.

  5. 5 Incredulous

    His son has no credibility whatsoever. He is only in power due to his daddy. In fact, he even insulted our Minister of Finance and slapped our Minister of Development once.

    Once the old man is gone, the fear of reprisals from the old man will be gone, and the Party will likely breakup. The younger and idealistic ones will probably form their own party.

    So I will foresee more political parties forming, and Singaporeans (again without the fear of reprisals) will likely join these parties.

    However, the PAP will no disappear anytime soon. Unless they can offer a more credible Party leader.

    Due to the fact, they already know the political machinery of the PAP; I foresee, our next PM will likely be from a breakaway faction of the PAP.


  1. 1 What makes us ready for a Singapore beyond Lee Kuan Yew « Lee Kuan Yew Watch

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