Sunday, July 13, 2008

Singapore's Lee sees human rights conspiracy

AFP - Saturday, July 12

SINGAPORE, July 12, 2008 (AFP) - Singapore is the target of a conspiracy by human rights groups which criticise the country's governance, founding father Lee Kuan Yew said in a newspaper report Saturday.

"There is a conspiracy to do us in. Why?... They see us as a threat," Lee, 84, was quoted as saying in The Straits Times.

The perceived threat arises because Russians and Chinese have been coming to Singapore to study the small country's success, he said in a dialogue with the Economic Society.

Lee's comments came after an association of global lawyers last week said that, despite its impressive economic development, Singapore fails to meet international standards for political and human rights, and there are concerns about the independence of its judiciary.

"Who are they? Have they ever run a country, created jobs for community and given them a life? We have and we know what it requires," Lee said, without specifically referring to the report by the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute.

But during his dialogue, Lee was asked whether Singapore needed a Western-style liberal democracy to succeed.

"Different people have different cultures and forge different consensus and seek different solutions to their problems," said Lee, who holds the influential rank of Minister Mentor in the cabinet of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Singapore's leaders say the country's tough laws against dissent and other political activity are necessary to ensure the stability which has helped it achieve economic success.