Dear PM Lee,
I refer to your interview by Charlie Rose as reported by Straits Times on 16 Apr 2010.
You said our entire system is founded on meritocracy where you get the job because you are the best man and not because of connections. But according to a Straits Times report on 20 Oct 2009, your father said that China’s princelings like Li Peng’s son and daughter may never be recognised if they weren’t well connected because China is such a big place. Considering that the chance of you becoming the prime minister out of about 2.5 million Singaporean adults is a mere 0.00004%, we don’t need to be as big as China to appreciate your father’s belief that meritocracy aside, you need the right connections to stand out amongst so many Singaporeans. So if you share your father’s beliefs, you shouldn’t rule out the importance of connections and you or at least your father has no moral basis to sue IHT for allegedly saying something that your father essentially believes in.
You said you lose credibility and moral authority if people do not think you are the best man for the job. On what basis do you assert that? Just as you require IHT to prove their assertions, so too must you prove your assertions failing which you have no right to assert them. You have no right to say that you lose credibility when people do not think you’re the best person unless you can prove it. You have no right to say that it is a fundamental issue of fitness to govern unless you can prove it. You said it is a basic Confucian precept that you are allowed to make the right decisions only if you have the moral right. But Confucian moral right comes from being virtuous, not being the best.
You said being put in the same list as Kim Jong II is as good as an attack on the moral fibre of your trust with the people. But the list included so many Asian nations, are you saying it is an attack on all those nations as well? Yet none of the leaders in those nations are even half as bothered as yourself. Why are you so especially sensitive?
You give the impression that you are very insecure as though your very authority can be easily undermined by people saying you are not the best. What if we conducted a survey and found that 33% of Singaporeans find that you are not the best, would that undermine your moral right to govern? If we concede that there may be 33% who think that you are not the best, then why is it such a big deal that one journalist thinks so too? If your worry is that the other 66% may lose confidence in you when they come across the article saying you are not the best, then wouldn’t that make their confidence in you shaky and weak to begin with?
You said the same journalist and newspaper has done it again. But what the journalist has done this time is to merely state facts and the facts speak for themselves. Unless the facts are erroneous, which they are not, you have no basis to make an issue out of it.
You said the IHT can bring their lawyers to prove what they say is true. That shows your basic ignorance of the basic law concept of presumption of innocence. As Mr Shanmugam would always emphasize, it is never up to the accused to prove that he is innocent. The onus is always on the plaintiff to prove the accused’s guilt instead. As such, the onus is on you the plaintiff to prove what the IHT said is false. The onus is not on IHT to prove what they said is true. If you don’t even understand this basic law concept, how can you even say you are the best?
You said your father made a state where there was none. But the state of Singapore was already in the making for 140 years before your father took over. The system that could run without him was not made by him but was bequeathed to him by the British.
Ng Kok Lim