PM Lee Hsien Loong has never ceased to try to portray his late father Lee Kuan Yew as the founding father who had brought Singapore from the third world to the present first world. LKY has passed away since 23 March and so far no historian has emerged to give a verdict of this "titan". Perhaps they have not yet been able to reconcile his so-called achievements with some of his character flaws so that they may need a little more time to remedy their thoughts. And so meanwhile Singaporeans would have to be a little more patient to wait for the historians' verdict.
In the meantime let's talk about LKY's political actions which had brought progress and prosperity to Singapore and its people. He was undeniably a dynamic prime minister and he and his old guard ministers like Dr. Goh Keng Swee, Mr. S.Rajaratnam, Mr. Hon Sui Sen and Dr. Toh Chin Chye were really serving the people without any avaricious thoughts of enriching themselves with taxpayers' money. And LKY was fortunate to have the services Dr. Albert Winsemius, a UN Economic Advisor who helped build Singapore to what it is today.
Under the Old Guards, Singaporeans could be said to have enjoyed a reasonably satisfactory way of life with affordable public housing almost universally available to those who needed it. The prices of public housing were indeed very affordably moderate. Complaints of high cost of living were unheard of as prices of commodities were really within the means of low-level income group. With the help of Dr. Goh Keng Swee and Dr. Albert Winsemius the economy really got going and improved tremendously to the extent that it generated an unmistakeable feeling of euphoria among Singaporeans irrespective of their social status. It was the Old Guards and not Lee Kuan Yew , who merely provided the figurehead leadership, who brought the progress and prosperity to Singapore to make it into a first world status. And they have the gratitude of Singaporeans for this change of fortune and their service to the people.
But from the second generation of leadership under Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, the political idealism of PAP seemed to have undergone a critical change. There was no longer the idealism of serving the people but a scramble to raise the salaries of the prime minister and his ministers to an obscenely high level. There were naturally massive protests including a highly critical missive from the famous author Catherine Lim but the hubristic Goh Chok Tong simply adopted a dictatorial attitude in not heeding them. He even adopted an intimidating attitude in his reply to Catherine Lim.
The third generation leadership under PM Lee Hsien Loong is no better. He and his money-minded ministers continued to pay themselves obscenely high salaries while at the same time unabashedly professed to serve the people. Probable as a result of conscience-smitten and as a sop to mitigate the anger of the people, PM Lee and his bunch of ministers reluctantly agreed to a cosmetic reduction of their obscene salaries. But they still continue to pocket millions of dollars from taxpayers' money. Quite ridiculously the pay of the army generals who packed the Cabinet is benchmarked to the pay of the 1000 top Singapore earners. Can you imagine the pay of technicians benchmarking to that of engineers which is an apt analogy?
Compared to the Old Guards, what has PM Lee Hsien Loong done to ameliorate the cost of living which continues to balloon without end in sight? The so-called affordable housing policy is a sick joke as public housing in Singapore has never been so pricey and unaffordable. A coffee shop in Bukit Batak recently changed hand for $31 million and no doubt the owner will be raising the rents of his stallholders which will increase the food prices and the cost of living.
The Prime Minister and his ministers are happily enriching themselves with taxpayers' money for ostensibly serving the people while the lower-income Singaporeans are suffering from trying to make ends meet with the oppressive high cost of living. In this connection it will be incumbent upon the opposition to pursue the issue of the obscene ministerial salaries in their election campaign. The ground is favourable to the opposition and they must not allow this opportunity to slip through their fingers by staying united.