The Workers' Party MP Mr Chen Show Mao has so far shown by his words and actions that he is a man of very careful disposition. He is not known to have said or done anything which could be considered to be uncomplimentary to the PAP leaders or Government. In fact, he could only be the antithesis of the highfalutin former MM Lee Kuan Yew. So before he brought up the analogy of Emperor Tang Tai Zong of the Tang Dynasty China in his maiden speech in Parliament, he would have considered all the pros and cons that this delicate theme could engender. The overwhelming response to his speech, especially the analogy of Emperor Tai Zong, proved him to be a consummate politician.
Two of the three PAP MPs who debated Chen's Tang analogy were rational in their comments. One even commented that Chen should have been given more applause. One woman MP Ms Ellen Lee (Sembawang GRC) voiced a dissenting view of Chen's analogy. She argued that it was inappropriate to compare the PAP to Emperor Tang Tai Zong as he was an autocratic ruler in a feudal era. It is quite possible that there may be some conservatives among Singaporeans holding this view.
Let us examine dispassionately the appropriateness of Chen's analogy. Emperor Tang Tai Zong was one of the most, if not the most, enlightened ruler in Chinese history. He had shown no characteristic of an autocrat and under his sagacious rule, the Chinese people experienced a period of peace and prosperity. He treated his people like his own children and showed concern for any of their distress and sufferings. During his benevolent rule, he nurtured and developed a host of literary, artistic, musical, dance and theatrical talents which were a legacy to modern China. That he was able to achieve all these remarkable achievements was due in no small measure to the constant fearless and far-sighted advice of his famous loyal courtier Wei Zheng. And so the period of Emperor Tang Tai Zong's enlightened rule was given the historical title of Zhenguan golden era (贞观之治）。
Chen Show Mao could not have equated the PAP Government to a feudal ruler but the analogy was meant as a timely encouragement to the PAP leaders to emulate the enlightened adminstration of Emperor Tang Tai Zong which he could not have done this without mentioning the emperor. The fact that the emperor was a feudal ruler, though a benevolent one, could only be taken in a co-incidental sense as the emphasis is on his enlightened administration and not on his status as a feudal ruler.
When Chen made the analogy, he would have expected that there will be some Singaporeans who may hold different views. That is only to be expected in a democratic society and it is hoped that the above exposition would be able to persuade them from any misconception. Mr Chen Show Mao has proved himself to be a sincere and able politician and his analogy of Emperor Tan Tai Zong has been made with all sincerity and not without humility.