Single party rule ‘best for Singapore’

By John Burton in Singapore and Leora Moldofsky in Sydney

Published: June 22 2006 01:50 | Last updated: June 22 2006 01:50

Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, has criticised Australia and New Zealand’s liberal democratic practices, suggesting that Singapore’s system, under which a single party has ruled since independence, is more efficient.

Mr Lee made the remarks at the end of a nine-day visit to the two countries, which are attracting a growing number of immigrants from the Asian city-state.

Although the democracies of Australia and New Zealand made for “more exciting” politics, the national interest could suffer in a multi-party system, said Mr Lee.

The comments could provoke controversy, particularly as Mr Lee’s visit was meant to improve economic and defence ties in spite of criticism about Singapore’s human rights record.

“Endless debates are seldom about achieving a better grasp of the issue but to score political points,” said Mr Lee about the political systems in Australia and New Zealand.

He said John Howard, the Australian prime minister, “spends all his time dealing with this party politics. The result is you don’t have a lot of time to worry about the long-term future.”

Dominant party rule was the best system for a small, multiracial country like Singapore, Mr Lee said, as he prepared to leave New Zealand, whose population of 4m is similar in size and ethnic complexity to that of the city-state.

The People’s Action Party has governed Singapore since 1959 when Lee Kuan Yew, Mr Lee’s father, was elected prime minister.

Mr Lee blamed Australia’s multi-party system for his failure to persuade Canberra to open its aviation market to state-owned Singapore Airlines, which is seeking to fly the transpacific route from Sydney to Los Angeles.

He said Australia’s National party, the minority partner in the ruling coalition, was against opening up the route because Qantas could threaten in response to cut unprofitable routes to rural areas where the party is strong. Qantas has opposed Singapore Airline’s entry on the transpacific route.

The decision was “a net loss” for Australia because it hurt tourism, Mr Lee said.

His remarks appeared aimed at Mark Vaile, the National party leader and trade minister, who will lead negotiators next month in a review of the bilateral trade pact with Singapore.

Mr Lee was questioned about the treatment of Singapore opposition leader, Chee Soon Juan, who was charged this week with speaking in public without a police licence. He said all political leaders had to respect the law, adding that Dr Chee engaged in “destructive” policies that were meant “to impress foreign supporters”.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

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What scares me isn’t the fact that we have one dominant political party. What scares me is that dominant political party actually believes that a single party rule (aka them) is best for Singapore. Are we not missing out something?

5 Responses to “Single party rule ‘best for Singapore’”

  1. Imagethief Says:

    The bliss of single-party government

    As someone who is cynical about politics, and who has been mostly alienated from the politics of his…

  2. Ted Says:

    As i seemed to notice,, many people in Singapore do look like they are inclined for a one party rule forever too.

    It doesn’t add to anything when many educated and intelligent people also believes that and they argue with logic. Like the KwayteowMan now contributing at Singaporeangle.com.

  3. Wai Kay Says:

    Well everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and who’s to say which view is more morally right? There are always pros and cons to each side and we must approach it objectively.

    Just because I like coffee does not make tea bad.

  4. Stephan Ortmann Says:

    The little red dot in Asia now wants to tell everyone how to do business! It believes it has become a role model and is entitled to export its political system, which makes it very much like another country….

  5. Charles Ruban Says:

    Dear Sir,

    He said John Howard, the Australian prime minister, “spends all his time dealing with this party politics. The result is you don’t have a lot of time to worry about the long-term future.”

    For a Singapore PM to come out with this comment is pathetic.

    How does he know that John Howard does not have time for other issues. Mr Howard is a keen sports person who has time to watch cricket on the field. Do you mean to say being with his electorate is a waste of time.

    Debates in parliment is part and parcel of politics. If a moron of a son is given a seat of parliment by his father, that doesn’t make his a smarter person. After all what debates exist in the Singapore parliment. The MP’s are dogs without balls, they might bark a bit but they do not have any teeth to bite. A yes man system only to serve an elitist group of the politburo kind.

    I wonder what system is “a single party rule” democracy or communist ?

    He travels to Australia and New Zealand and preaches about democracy!!!!. Firstly, his dad a communist traitor used the unions to garner support and turned against them when he had the power. He was never a democratic leader, his pursue in the 1990’s of the Communist conspiracy was indeed a creation of the warp mind to sinle out every group who dared stand against him.

    Mr Lee, you have been a disservice to Singapore, please step down. There are more capable politicians in the opposition who can lead a domocratic Singapore. Your totalitarian regime can only inspire devious dictators for the days of the Iron curtain. They have all perished under a heap of lies and fear inflicted by ruthless dictators. Close at hand Suharto and Mahatir will be forever remembered as leaders with out moral jugdement, just as Stalin once was. Two wrongs do not make a right, just to please your personal agenda does the whole nation need to suffer with your enlighten moronic views ” a single party rule”

    Next election PAP against PAP…… SDP, WP , NDP walkover.

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