Chan Chun Sing: Related?

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Based on Cabinet Minister Chan Chun Sing’s logic:

“I am not related to Mr. Lee’s family. . .my surname is Chan and my wife’s surname is Low.”

Thanks to several readers and netizens for contributing to this post.

If anyone has additional info, please contact me to verify the data so that readers can stay informed. Thank you :)

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PART 1: PAP Chairman KHAW BOON WAN on Politicians

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In 2013, Mr Khaw said that when a person enters politics, there is “no difference between his or her public and private life.” He said the same thing in 2012.

PART 2: NETIZENS on Chan Chun Sing’s BACKGROUND

a) “Ascertaining his relationship is important as it also ascertains meritocracy or nepotism.”
(– Alvin Ong)

b) “According to CCS: my surname is Chan, my wife surname is Low, how are we related to Lee? So he wants to say only Lee’s can be related to Lee? Funny…”
(– Nelson Chan)

c) “CCS became full minister in a short span of time without any significant accomplishment. I wonder why.”
(– Bruce Wee)

PART 3: VERIFICATION + ADDITIONAL INFO

1. CHAN CHUN SING: “I’m Not Related to Mr. Lee”

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Chan Chun Sing at funeral of Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. LKY). Source: AsiaOne

In 2011, a netizen posted a screenshot on a forum, which showed Chan Chun Sing standing behind members of Lee Kuan Yew’s family at the funeral of Mr. Lee’s wife, Kwa Geok Choo.

As to whether he is related to LKY, Chan Chun Sing said:

“I was at the funeral because the Army, under my charge then, was assigned the task of honouring the late Madam Kwa with the ceremonial gun carriage procession. . .My surname is Chan and my wife’s surname is Low. I don’t have any close relatives with the surname Lee as far as I know.”

Source: AsiaOne

  • Reader’s Comment: If Chan Chun Sing was at Kwa Geok Choo’s funeral in the “official capacity as the Chief of Army,” technically he should be dressed in formal military attire. Even then, he should be with other guests or military personnel. 

State-controlled newspaper, The Straits Times, mentioned that Chan Chun Sing’s parents are divorced (in an article dated 8 March 1988).

This ST article (20 August 1988) mentions Chan Chun Sing’s mother’s and sister’s names:

  • Mother: Kwong Kait Fong
  • Sister: Chan Siew Yin

His father’s name has not been mentioned.

The above two images are most likely of Chan Chun Sing’s wife, whose surname is Low. Her first name has not been mentioned.

2. MONICA LEE = Spouse of GEORGE CHAN CHOR CHEUNG

Monica Lee Kim Mon, who married a Chan, is the sister of Lee Kuan Yew. Her spouse was George Chan Chor Cheung, son of Chan Wing from Kuala Lumpur.

Chan Wing made his fortune in 1897 at age 24 with the opening of Hong Fatt Tin Mine. He had more than 20 children and was the richest person in Kuala Lumpur up to 1941. Chan Wing and 15 family members studied in Cambridge University (LKY’s alma mater). He had residences in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. He passed away in 1947.

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George Chan and Monica Lee in an LKY Lunar New Year family photo. Source: Peranakan Association Magazine Issue 1, 2015

George Chan Chor Chueng was a designer involved in the building of Jurong Bird Park [Kwa Soon Bee (brother of Mrs. LKY / Kwa Geok Choo) used to be the Chairman of Jurong Bird Park].

George Chan Chor Cheung passed away in October 2012. He is said by family members to have “never said a bad word about anyone.”

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Nassim Jade Purchases. Image from TangTalk.com

P.S. Chan Chee Chiu is a son of George Chan Chor Cheung. Monica Lee Kim Mon purchased a unit with Chee Chiu in the Nassim Jade scandal.

  • Reader Tip: The marriage record of George Chan Chor Cheung and Monica Lee Kim Mon can be retrieved from the Singapore Registry of Marriages for the month of October 1951.

3. HO CHING’S MOTHER = CHAN Chiew Ping

Ho Ching’s mother’s name is Chan Chiew Ping. She was from Taiping, Malaysia.

4. CHAN SIBLINGS + Mary SEET-CHENG (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

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Alan Chan and sister, Chan Heng Chee. Source: SG Tatler

Alan Chan Heng Loon, Public Service Commission (PSC) Member and former principal private secretary to Lee Kuan Yew, has two “illustrious siblings“: Professor Chan Heng Chee and Chan Heng Wing.

Alan Chan was Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Chan Heng Chee is Ambassador-at-Large for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Chan Heng Wing is a senior advisor in Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mary Seet-Cheng is a Senior Specialist Adviser at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is married to Leonard Cheng Tye Loke, and has the same first and last name as Lee Kuan Yew’s aunt (Mary Seet nee Chua Swee Neo).

There is a “Leonard Cheng Tye Loke” listed in ICIJ’s Offshore Banking database.

4. SEET LI LIN and JHO LOW from 1MDB

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Seet Li Lin partying with Leonardo DiCaprio in Las Vegas and LA. Source: Sarawak Report / FB

  • Reader Tip: Please note this important fact. LKY’s mother’s sister married a SEET whose family has many siblings. One of them, SEET LI LIN, has become NOTORIOUS because he is the right hand man of Malaysia’s Jho Low and the 1MDB Scandal. This has appeared even in the US media. Seet is the son of one of the siblings related to Arthur Seet Keong Hoe (son of Seet Cheng Kang, who married Lee Kuan Yew’s aunt).

Seet Li Lin is a close colleague of Jho Low, both of whom are involved with the 1MDB scandal.

It is interesting that this “Seet Li Lin” has not been mentioned in local media such as The Straits Times.

From Seet Li Lin’s Facebook:

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The PAP Manifesto reminds me of my best pieces of work in college: loads of nice pics, big on fluff, a light touch on content, says a lot yet very little, somewhat convincing but actually confusing. Most important of all, we always get away with it by gaming the system.

Seet Li Lin, 21 April 2011

UPDATE (7 Sept 2015): According to Sarawak Report, Jho Low’s father, Larry Low Hock Peng, is on the list of frozen Swiss bank accounts.

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Larry Low Hock Peng, father of Jho Low. Source: Sarawak Report

A quick summary of names in Jho Low’s family:

  • Grandfather = Low Meng Tak
  • Father = Low Hock Peng, Larry
  • Son #1 = Jho Low
  • Son #2 = Szen Low

5. NG SIBLINGS (Parents and Spouses)

Ng Chee Khern was Chief of Air Force from 2006 – 2009. Ng Chee Peng was Chief of Navy from 2011 – 2014, and was appointed the CEO of CPF in Jan 2015. Former defence chief, Ng Chee Meng, has been touted as a potential office-bearer.

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Ng Brothers | Image by Roy Ngerng

Ng Chee Peng’s wife is Valerie Low Yin Lee, who shares the same surname as the wife of Chan Chun Sing. Ng Chee Meng’s wife is Datin Michelle Lim Bee Leng. Ng Chee Khern’s wife is Elaine Ng, CEO of National Library Board.

Ng Ban Hin and Lee Hang Foe are the parents of the Ng siblings. A photo of them is available on Page 9 in this PDF document.

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Ng Ban Hin (Father) | Source: NLB

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Lee Hang Hoe (Mother) | Source: NLB

6. IVY LIM and NG ENG HEN

Prof. Ivy Lim Swee Lian, CEO of Singhealth, is married to Minister for Defence, Ng Eng Hen.

Ivy Lim Swee Lian has the same first name and last name as Ivy Lim Seok Cheng, sister-in-law of Kwa Geok Choo (Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew). Ivy Lim Seok Cheng’s father was Lim Chong Pang, whose father-in-law was Lee Choon Guan.

Lee Choon Guan co-founded the Chinese Commercial Bank in 1912. In 1932, the Chinese Commercial Bank and the Ho Hong Bank (founded by Lim Peng Siang) merged with the Overseas-Chinese Bank to form the Overseas-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC Bank).

Ng Eng Hen is said to be the nephew of real estate tycoon, Ng Teng Fong (who had 10 siblings).

  • Reader Tip: A forum poster said the Chinese newspapers mentioned Ng Eng Hen as “the nephew” of Ng Teng Fong. Does anyone have a newspaper clipping?
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Ng Eng Hen at the wake of Ng Teng Fong.

6. NG TENG FONG and ROBERT NG

The late Mr. Ng Teng Fong (founder of Far East Organization) was billed as Singapore’s richest man by Forbes magazine in September 2009.

Robert Ng Chee Siong is the son of Ng Teng Fong. Robert Ng is a board member of Temasek and is married to Yeoh Saw Kheng (楊素瓊), the third daughter of Dr. Yeoh Ghim Seng, the former Speaker of Parliament of Singapore (Source: CapitalProfile PDF).

Ng Teng Fong’s family has close ties to the governments of Singapore, Hong Kong and China (Source: PDF document). The Ngs have also enjoyed a close relationship with Lee Kuan Yew.

7. LOW YEN LING

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Low Yen Ling, 2011

Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Social and Family Development, has refrained from revealing the names of her husband and her father in previous interviews.

Could she be related to the spouses of Chan Chun Sing and Ng Chee Meng?

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PAP: Royal Bloodline (Combined Family Tree)

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Verification and some excerpts on “the aristocracy” below.

Presented in 4 sections:

1. Combined PAP Family Tree (image)
2. Excerpts on Meritocracy / Aristocracy
3. Verification (text + links)
4. Additional Info

P.S. Thanks to some hardworking netizens for help with research and fact-checking. Above image of LKY from Facebook.

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2. EXCERPTS on MERITOCRACY / ARISTOCRACY:

1. “Meritocracy means a country picks its best citizens, not the relatives of the ruling class, to run a country.”
— Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (2015)

2. “Without a natural aristocracy. . .society will lose out.”
— Lee Hsien Loong, 2015

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Group photo of founding of OCBC. FRONT ROW: Tan Chin Tuan (Tony Tan’s uncle) is fourth from left. BACK ROW: Kwa Siew Tee (Mrs. LKY’s father) is third from left. Source: NAS / Veritas

3. OCBC has been described as a “clan bank” with “familial ties between the bank’s directors and close networking.”
— The Star, 2011

4. “It is all but impossible to distinguish between legitimate and ill-gotten gains because there is no public disclosure of the wealth of officials and their relatives. Conflict-of-interest laws are weak or nonexistent. The business dealings of the political elite are heavily censored in the state-controlled news media.”
— ‘Princelings’ in China (NYT)

5. The networks of hundreds of GLCs that are popularly referred to as Singapore Inc are not just vehicles for the conduct of business. Collectively they provide an extensive and almost inescapable vehicle of elite patronage and power.

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Chan Heng Chee (left), former political critic, and Lee Kuan Yew during LKY’s visit to the U.S. in 2000.

There have been scholars who have been critical of the government in their youth, but by the time they have arrived in government, they have always transformed themselves into models of elite solidarity.
— Michael Barr, The Ruling Elite of Singapore

6. It makes it a lot easier to understand Singapore if you [begin] from the premise that it is a Chinese family business, complete with a patriarch, an eldest son, guanxi networks and questions of cross-generational continuity.
— Michael Barr, The Ruling Elite of Singapore

7. Guanxi refers to the benefits gained from social connections and usually extends from extended family, school friends, workmates and members of common clubs or organizations. It is customary for Chinese people to cultivate an intricate web of guanxi relationships, which may expand in a huge number of directions, and includes lifelong relationships. The more you ask of someone the more you owe them. Guanxi can perpetuate a never-ending cycle of favors.
— Wikipedia (Guanxi)

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Chua Kim Teng (LKY’s maternal grandfather – centre row, 4th from left), Leong Ah Soon (centre row, 4th from right) Lee Kuan Yew’s mother Chua Jim Neo (centre row, 2nd from left), and her brother Chua Kheng Hoe (last row, second from left) was also related by marriage to Lee family (Family Photo from Lee Suan Yew)

8. “Family ties develop and strengthen over generations through family, clan, or tribal group activities and ceremonies. This family network can be a source of prestige as well as socioeconomic and political sucess.”
— Encyclopedia of Social Networks (SAGE)

9. “Fundamental change to the political regime will have to await Lee Kuan Yew’s demise. . .any legitimacy that Lee has secured through his personal authority will likely pass with him.”
— Cho Oon Khong, 1995

10. “It may not be imperative for us to know the family history of all the faces that appear in Singapore Tatler. But Singaporeans should at least know more about the roots of those who hold this country’s destiny in their hands.”
— Tan Sai Siong (Straits Times)

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11. “Cling to people you can trust — your family, your clan.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1984 National Day Rally (video below)

[youtube.com/watch?v=3ofjSBGmOcY&w=420&h=315;feature=youtu.be&t=10m30s]

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3. VERIFICATION (PAP COMBINED FAMILY TREE)

1. Verification for the right side of the image can be found on this post, re: how Tony Tan is related to PM Lee Hsien Loong.

2. Wee Kim Wee’s mother was Chua Hay Luan. Chua Hay Luan is the sister of Chua Kim Teng (father of Chua Jim Neo, LKY’s mother). Mr. Wee addressed Chua Jim Neo as “cousin” in the preface of a book published in the mid-70s. The preface was mysteriously removed from later publications.

3. This post has some text and links on how Teo Chee Hean is related to PM LHL.

In a 2006 Sunday Times article, Teo Chee Hean paid tribute to Tan Chin Tuan by saying:

‘I remember [TAN Chin Tuan] because he was very kind to my father (Teo Cheng Guan). After the war, he gave my father a job at OCBC and my father worked with him for many years. He was always very kind to our family.’

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Newspaper article about Teo Chee Hean’s great-granduncle.

  • READER TIP: Newspaper article about Teo Chee Hean’s family (mostly about Teo Eng Hock, Teo Chee Hean’s great-granduncle). The man on the right is Teo Chee Hean’s father. The woman in the centre with black cheongsam is Teo Chee Hean’s mother (Mrs. Teo Cheng Guan, or Madam TAN Suang). 张志贤 is Teo Chee Hean’s Chinese name.

4. On Teo Chee Hean’s link to Ivy Lim (sister-in-law of Kwa Geok Choo / Mrs. LKY): Teo Chee Hean’s father and Lim Chong Pang are the same generation. Teo Chee Hean and Ivy Lim Seok Cheng (Lim Chong Pang’s daughter) are the same generation. So they would address each other as 表姐, 表弟. In English, “cousin.” The link is through Teo Chee Hean’s great grand aunt (Teo Choon Lian) and Ivy Lim’s great grandfather (Lim Peng Nguan; spouse of Teo Choon Lian).

5. On Lim Kim San: Lim Chong Pang’s father was Lim Nee Soon. Lim Nee Soon’s daughter, Lim Mui Gek, married Tan Huck Khong. Tan Huck Khong’s uncle is Tan Chong Teck. Tan Chong Teck’s grandson is Pang Kim Hin — Tan Chong Teck’s eldest daughter, Tan Poey Quee, married Pang Leong Chwee and is the mother of Pang Kim Hin (married to Chew Kheng Imm). Pang Leong Chwee’s sister, Pang Gek Kim, is the wife of Lim Kim San. Thus Lim Kim San is the uncle of Pang Kim Hin.

6. On Goh Keng Swee: Lim Chong Pang’s father-in-law was Lee Choon Guan. Lee Choon Guan’s father-in-law was Tan Keong Saik. Tan Keong Siak’s father’s brother had a son named Tan Kiong / Keong Keng, who had a daughter called Tan Siok Kim. Tan Siok Kim was married to Chew Cheng Yong. Chew Cheng Yong’s brother-in-law was Goh Leng Inn, father of Goh Keng Swee.

* Tip: Many of the names mentioned above were the leading pioneers in banking and trading sectors during The Straits Settlements. They also held many leading positions in the municipal commission where they worked closely with the British colonial government in the running of domestics affairs of Singapore.

Hence, they all played influential roles in the politics and economy during that time.

As such, readers are encouraged to do their own reading on these pioneers.

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4. ADDITIONAL INFO:

1. According to several netizens, this is the “main branch” of Singapore’s Royal Bloodline.

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2. This chart shows the intermarriages between Straits Chinese Banking Families in Singapore. Done by Roy Ngerng (originally posted on his blog, TheHeartTruths).

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3. A Feudalism chart showing the 99%’s place in society (image by Amendment Gazette).

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4. Collection of “elitism” quotes by PAP Ministers.

Elitism Quotes (PAP)

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Small collection of quotes by PAP Ministers etc. on the “aristocracy mentality.” Thanks to readers for contributing some of these :)

1. “Without a natural aristocracy. . .society will lose out.”
— Lee Hsien Loong, 2015

2. “I don’t respond to anything on The Real Singapore, which is a Facebook page and website written by morons, commented on by morons, and read and shared by morons.”
— Calvin Cheng, 2014

3. “The problem today is that PAP is a bit too elitist. . .they don’t feel for the people; overall, there is a lack of empathy.”
— Ngiam Tong Dow, 2013

4. “Maybe it made lesser mortals envious and they thought maybe he was a little bit boastful.”
— Charles Chong, MP (on senior civil servant Tan Yong Soon’s S$46,000 five-week course at a prestigious French cooking school)

5. “I feel my own angst riding with the common people. But I suppose it’s good to get the feel from the ground every now and then, to connect with the peasantry.”
PAP Supporter and former Law Society employee, Nicholas-Seth Leong on his second MRT trip in 2012

6. “Please, get out of my elite uncaring face.”
— Wee Shu Min, scholar-daughter of former MP Wee Siew Kim

7. “Remember your place in society before you engage in political debate… Debate cannot generate into a free-for-all where no distinction is made between the senior and junior party… You must make distinctions – What is high, what is low, what is above, what is below, and then within this, we can have a debate, we can have a discussion… people should not take on those in authority as ‘equals’.”
— Former Foreign Minister George Yeo (1994)

8. “They (top civil servants) get paid more, they’re highly educated, and they have bigger egos, bigger than any government employees I’ve met anywhere else in the world. It’s not good or bad, but they consider themselves superior to almost any government employee in the world.”
— Renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith on civil servants’ ego in Singapore (2011)

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9. “$600,000 a year is peanuts.”
— Mrs. Goh Chok Tong (2004)

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Source: FB

10. “We are our own check. The integrity of our leaders, of our MPs. That’s where the check comes from. . .not this seductive lie of check and balance.”
— Goh Chok Tong, 26 August 2015

11. “I didn’t ask for it. That was the rate for the job, that’s what I accepted. You don’t like the rate, I can’t help it.”
President Nathan who doesn’t feel he needs to defend his high salary which was criticised extensively online. (The Sunday Times, 7 Aug 2011)

12. “I don’t think that there should be a cap on the number of directorship that a person can hold.”
— PAP MP John Chen who held 8 directorships

13. “It’s not for the money because some of the companies pay me as little as $10,000 a year.”
— PAP MP Wang Kai Yuen who held 11 directorships

14. “One evening, I drove to Little India and it was pitch dark but not because there was no light, but because there were too many Indians around.”
— Former PAP MP Mr Choo Wee Khiang, in a speech in Parliament in 1992

15. “Smaller Medisave means you’re lazy and work less.”
Khaw Boon Wan (2013)

16. “There’s no ladder to climb when the top rung is reserved for people with a certain name.”
— Forbes (2009)

17. “The elite’s privileged position in decision-making and exclusive formulation of organisational policies will only serve to reflect the elite’s self-interests instead of that of the masses.”
— Classical elite theorist Robert Michels, via Soh Yi Da

18. “Our funds are accountable to the government. I would not believe that transparency is everything.”
— PM Lee Hsien Loong, The Telegraph UK

19. “As an anti-PAP retired civil servant, I can tell you that all the PAP media events are staged with great care. Every photo opportunity is meticulously planned. As a former government press officer told me, we must manipulate the message.”
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20. “We are same — same but different.”
— Lim Swee Say via Teo Chee Hean (2015)

21. “Only rich or corrupt people work for free.”
— Vivian Balakrishnan, when asked about the salaries of Members of Parliament (2015)

22. “The reality as societies developed is that leaders often come from the same social circles, educational backgrounds and even family trees.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 2011

23. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1987

24. “In short, the elite.”
— Lee Kuan Yew, 1966

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Google search for meaning of “Elite”

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For more PAP ministers’ quotes, check out the following resources:

1) Top 30 Quotes from the Ivory Tower (TOC)

2) Photo Album (Martyn See)

3) Great PAP Quotes (Comment saved by Chris Ho)

4) Infamous Quotes by SG Leaders (AskMeLah)

Mrs. Goh Chok Tong and Mrs. LKY

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* Chart and verification below. If readers know of any inaccuracies, please contact me to verify the data. Thank you :)

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Short Version: Mrs. Goh Chok Tong and Mrs. LKY were in the same law firm.

Longer Version:

1) Mrs. Goh Chok Tong (nee Tan Choo Leng) is well-known for commenting that the annual salary of S$600,000 drawn by National Kidney Foundation’s CEO was considered “peanuts.”

This is Tan Choo Leng’s profile page as a Senior Consultant in WongPartnership. Note the line:

“During her practice as a senior partner with another top law firm in Singapore. . .”

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Tan Choo Leng, Senior Consultant | WongPartnership

Mysteriously, the above bio leaves out the fact that Lee & Lee law firm is the other “top law firm in Singapore” where Mrs. Goh Chok Tong was a senior partner.

2) In 1985, Goh Chok Tong commented that he was not worried of being viewed as a “seat-warmer” for the next Prime Minister.

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Source: SG Monitor (8 May 1985)

3) Lee Hsien Loong was sworn in as Singapore’s third Prime Minister on 12 August 2004.

4) Ho Ching became the CEO of Singapore Technologies Engineering in 1997.

5) Winston Tan Tien Hin was a non-executive director of ST Engineering from 1997 – 2011.

6) Former Old Guard Chua Sian Chin’s wife was Alice Tan Kim Lian. He became a partner in Lee & Lee law firm in 1965. Mr. Chua had helmed the Health, Home Affairs and Education ministries.

7) These screenshots show that Winston Tan is the brother-in-law of Chua Sian Chin.

Chua Sian Chin is listed here as the son-in-law (who is married to Alice). Winston Tan Tien Hin and Alice Tan Kim Lian are siblings.

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Source: ST.

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Winston Tan from “Singapore Technologies Engineering”; same mother’s name as above image. Source: ST.

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Wife = Alice Tan Kim Lian.

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SIDE NOTE:

A reader pointed out that “Tan Choo Leng was advising landlords as a senior partner (is that somehow related to why rental is so high in Singapore?).”

One wonders how much money a senior partner in Lee & Lee law firm makes, so much so that $600,000 is equivalent to peanuts.

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All in the FamiLee

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Associated words used by netizens: FamiLEE, LEE-gime, LEEgalised corruption, LEEgacy, and Marry-tocracy.

I was very curious about a Lee Family Tree graphic that was created by Alternative View SG.

I have gathered some excerpts from reliable sources which verify most of the family ties in this Lee Family Tree image.

If readers know of any inaccuracies, please contact me to verify the data. Thank you :)

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* SECTION 1: RUMOURS AND SPECULATIONS

1) RUTH LEE = LKY’s Niece

Wong Kan Seng is married to Ruth Lee Hong Geok, who is rumoured to be the daughter of Lee Suan Yew (Lee Kuan Yew’s brother). If this is true, it makes Ruth Lee LKY’s niece.

Here are a couple of pictures of Ruth Lee and Wong Kan Seng:

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Wong Kan Seng with his wife, Ruth Lee Hong Geok. Image from Veritas.

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Ruth Lee and Wong Kan Seng. Image from RememberingLKY.

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Lee Kuan Yew extended family picture, taken on Chinese New Year’s Eve (1993). From LKY’s memoir, “The Man and His Ideas” (pg-246).

In the above picture taken in 1993, it looks like the woman to the right of Ho Ching is Shermay Lee (LKY’s niece). Her parents are Pamelia Lee and Lee Suan Yew, who have four children.

In a Straits Times interview, Shermay Lee said she has an older sister and younger twin brothers. (Note: I am guessing these younger twin brothers are in the 1993 black and white picture above, in front on the right.)

Pamelia Lee is standing and in the centre of the 1993 photo. Looking at this pictures makes me wonder if the woman to the left of Pamelia Lee is “Ruth Lee,” the older sister that Shermay referred to.

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* SECTION 2: VERIFIED BY RELIABLE SOURCES

This section contains excerpts and screenshots which verify the other family ties in the Lee Family Tree graphic.

1) HO SING = HO CHING’S Younger Brother

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Ho Ching (left; image from SI). Ho Sing (right; image from YTL).

A 2010 Today Online article mentioned that Ho Sing, then 44, is the brother of Temasek CEO Ho Ching.

Ho Sing has worked with several Singapore Technologies-affiliated companies. At YTL, Mr. Ho oversees a growing list of assets in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, China and Japan.

Ho Ching was the CEO of Singapore Technologies Group from 1997-2001. A 2007 NYT article mentioned that a Temasek spokesman was unwilling to reveal Ho Ching’s age or date of birth, although a Temasek bond document in 2005 said she was 52.

As the following netizen says: “I don’t understand why all the secrecy.”

2) HO PENG = HO CHING’S Younger Sister

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Ho Peng. Image from ST.

A 2005 Fortune Magazine interview mentioned that Ho Peng, who was then working as the Curriculum Planning and Development director at the Ministry of Education (Singapore), is Ho Ching’s sister.

Ms. Ho Peng was appointed Director-General of Education in April 2009. She retired from the MOE in March 2015.

3) GRACE FU = DAUGHTER OF JAMES FU

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James Fu was Mr. LKY’s press secretary from 1972 to 1993.

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Grace Fu. Image from Wiki.

Grace Fu, senior minister of state, is the daughter of James Fu.

In 2012, she wrote about the difficulties of “the recent pay cut” in ministers’ salaries. With a 37% pay cut, entry-level ministers would get an annual salary starting from S$1,100,000.

4) KWA CHONG SENG = NEPHEW OF LKY’S WIFE

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Kwa Chong Seng. Image from PSC.

Kwa Chong Seng, PSC member, was the Deputy Chairman of Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited from 1997 to 2012.

“It was in the immediate wake of the HPL affair of 1996 that LKY initiated a series of changes to the relationship between the DCAC and the GLCs — changes that were part of a broader overhaul of the financial sector that finally came to fruition in 1999. Lee Hsien Loong as Deputy Prime Minister was given special responsibility for this project and set about changing the structure — and the personnel — in the GLC sector.

This activity marked a major shift of institutional power away from Goh and Richard Hu and to members of the Lee family and a few Lee loyalists. First the power to appoint board members and non-executive directors of GLCs was transferred from the DCAC to Temasek holdings.

This is significant because it occured around the same time (1996) that LKY loyalist S. Dhanabalan was appointed Chairman of Temasek Holdings and LKY’s wife’s nephew, Kwa Chong Seng, was appointed Deputy Chairman of Temasek Holdings (1997).

It may be significant that at about the same time (1997) Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, was appointed Executive Director and CEO of the Singapore Technologies Group, which is the Temasek-owned holding company for defence-related GLCs.”

(Source: The Ruling Elite of Singapore, by Michael Barr)

5) KWA SOON BEE (LKY’s Brother-In-Law)

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Kwa Soon Bee. Image from KeppelLand.

“Many senior business figures in Asia are related to other prominent figures by blood or by marriage. The connections in Asia are often not obvious to outsiders but they can be a minefield for the unwary.

The mix of marriages and blood relations in Asia can make for some complex webs. Here are a few examples that involve some of Asia’s biggest business names:

Lee Kim Yew, Chairman of the Singapore food company Cerebos Pacific, is a brother of Singapore’s Senior Minister and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Lee Kim Yew’s wife is Gloria Lee, the founder of one of Singapore’s most prominent stock brokerages Kim Eng Securities.

A third brother is Lee Suan Yew, a past director of Singapore’s Hotel Properties Ltd. His wife, Pamelia Lee, has been a senior director at the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board. Kwa Soon Bee, the brother of Lee Kuan Yew’s wife Kwa Geok Choo, is a former permanent secretary of health and a member of the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board.

Lee Kuan Yew’s sons Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang are deputy prime minister of Singapore and head of Singapore Telecom respectively. Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, is head of Temasek Holdings.”

(Source: Big in Asia, by Palgrave Macmillan / 2003)

6) TAN CHIN TUAN (OCBC Pioneer + Tony Tan’s Uncle + LKY’s Uncle-in-Law)

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Group Photograph of Founding Members of OCBC, 1932, showing Tan Chin Tuan (front row; fourth from left) and Kwa Siew Tee (back row; third from left). Source: Veritas / NAS.

  • Kwa Siew Tee is Lee Kuan Yew’s father-in-law.
  • Lee Kuan Yew’s mother-in-law, Wee Yew Neo and Banker Tan Chin Tuan’s wife, Helen Wee (a banker’s daughter), are half-sisters.
  • Which makes Tan Chin Tuan LKY’s uncle-in-law.
  • Tony Tan is Tan Chin Tuan’s nephew. Tony Tan was sworn in as President on 1 September 2011.

This is a picture of Kwa Siew Tee and Wee Yew Neo:

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President Yusof Ishak with Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew’s Parents, Kwa Siew Tee (left) and Wee Yew Neo (right), 1968. | Image from National Archives of Singapore.

This screenshot from Geni (a genealogy directory) states that Helen Wee and Wee Yew Neo are half-sisters.

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Wee Yew Neo. Image from Geni.

These screenshots show that Helen Wee was married to Tan Chin Tuan.

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Family of Tan Chin Tuan. Image from NLB.

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Tan Chin Tuan. Image from Geni.

According to the blog Veritas:

Without the Kwa family network of powerful families, it is questionable whether LKY could have emerged as the leader of the PAP in the 1950s, given that there were many other extremely capable and charismatic leaders in the party. The nexus of Kwa family probably also helped LKY to win the trust of the British, which handed over to him the control of security apparatus. That is the key with which LKY was able to arrest his political opponents.

7) TEO CHENG GUAN (father of DPM Teo Chee Hean):

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Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister of SG.

Teo Cheng Guan was the sixth chairman of OCBC Bank, and the father of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

He was on the same management board as Tan Chin Tuan, Tony Tan’s uncle.

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* SECTION 3: SAY THE WORD AND GET SUED

Definition of “Nepotism”: The practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs. (Oxford)

A summary of how “nepotism” is a sensitive word in Singapore — including publications that were sued for alleging that high-ranking Singapore officials got their jobs through nepotism.

1) “Days after political website Temasek Review Emeritus (TRE) revealed Mr Richard Wan as of one of its editors, lawyers acting for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong issued him a five-page letter in 2012, demanding that the website remove an opinion piece that contained comments which alleged “nepotistic motives” in the appointment of Lee’s wife as head of sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings. After retracting the article, Wan published an apology on the website, and urged TRE readers to refrain from making similar comments.”
(Source: SG Rebel and Asia Sentinel)

2) “The problems created by Lee Kuan Yew’s urge to control most aspects of Singaporeans’ lives are more subtle than nepotism. Lack of political and economic freedom [is] the cancer at the heart of Singapore.”
(Source: WSJ)

3) “In its apology, Bloomberg said its article had implied that Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong had put the Lee family’s interests above the country’s in allowing Ms. Ho’s appointment, and that her husband and father-in-law were guilty of nepotism. Lawyers for the three men accused Bloomberg and Mr. Smith of acting maliciously. The article has been removed from Bloomberg’s Web site and subscription service.”
(Source: NYT)

4) “The Financial Times has apologised and paid libel damages and costs to Singapore’s prime minister and the country’s founding father after accusing them of nepotism.”
(Source: Guardian)

5) “The International Herald Tribune apologised, settled the $678,000 in libel damages, and, as part of the settlement, [columnist] Bowring agreed that he would not say or imply that Lee Hsien Long took office through nepotism.”
(Source: Foreign Policy)

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* SECTION 4: IS NEPOTISM CORRUPTION?

According to Wikipedia:

Forms of corruption vary, but include bribery, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, patronage, influence peddling, graft, and embezzlement.

Some other excerpts:

1) “Corruption comes in different forms and nepotism is one of its most subtle and overpowering forms. . .it marks the destruction of a meritocracy which should be the basis of admissions or employment. The problem with nepotism is even though only a few people in power have the ability to use nepotism for their own gain, its effects are widespread and affect many people.”
(Source: DNA)

2) “Favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism all interfere with fairness because they give undue advantage to someone who does not necessarily merit this treatment.

In the public sphere, favoritism, cronyism, and nepotism also undermine the common good. When someone is granted a position because of connections rather than because he or she has the best credentials and experience, the service that person renders to the public may be inferior.

Also, because favoritism is often covert (few elected officials are foolish enough to show open partiality to friends, and family), this practice undercuts the transparency that should be part of governmental hiring and contracting processes.”
(Source: Santa Clara University)

3) “When patronage, nepotism, and cronyism become popular mechanisms for government to select appointees for important positions, the corruption of collusion (i.e. conspiracy) will unavoidably take place.”
(Source: Government Anti-Corruption Strategies)

4) “There needs to be a change. Singapore is not the Lee Family and we need to get rid of the climate of fear.”
(Source: KJ in IB Times)

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* SECTION 5: CLOSING COMMENTS

X’ Ho on Nepotism:

“Is nepotism not considered corruption? Just consider: LKY’s son is PM, his other son was head of Singtel and is CEO of Civil Aviation Authority, his daughter-in-law is in charge of the sovereign wealth fund, his relative is President. I could go on but it is absolutely clear that the entire family benefited enormously from his ruthless control of the government. The gov lost 40% of the vote in the last election & yet still retains 82 out of 89 seats in parliament? Why? The electoral system has been gerrymandered & twisted to the ruling party’s benefit entirely corruptly. No corruption? Absolute rubbish & nonsense.”
(Source: Chris Ho)

Former ISD Director on PM LHL and Ho Ching:

“She did not marry me and become Temasek Holdings’ Chief Executive Officer. I married her because she had the talent of a CEO.” This was the dramatic revelation of PM Lee Hsien Loong in referring to his wife, Ms Ho Ching, in an interview with Mr. Phil Ponce, host of the Chicago Tonight on WTTW Channel 11 last Thursday. Apparently, this was said to pre-empt Mr. Ponce from popping the question of nepotism in the Singapore government.
(Source: SG Recalcitrant)

Comment:

“You can see they all ‘kaki lang‘ (one of us) — damn jia lat (this is serious).”
(Source: breakaway)

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MORE INFO (re: the “wider” family tree):

1) Why It Might Be Difficult For The Government To Withdraw From Business
(Singapore-Window)

2) “The Lee Dynasty of Singapore”
(Comment)

3) The Beginning of The End of Lee Kuan Yew’s Dynasty?
(CSIS)

Book Review: Hard Choices

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The opening line of this book is as follows:

“Singapore’s economic success masks some uncomfortable truths about life in this city-state.”

The text is very neatly organised into three sections:

I. The Limits of Singapore Exceptionalism
II. Policy Alternatives for Post-Consensus Singapore
III. Governance and Democracy: Past, Present & Future

The chapters cover a wide range of topics, from economics, to inequality, to land mass / population challenges, housing policies, democracy, meritocracy, as well as the concept of defining a national identity.

I like how most of the chapters have a distinct two-part feature, in terms of first explaining the issue at hand before offering viable and constructive solutions.

For instance, Chapter 9 explains why the trend of increasing income inequality in Singapore is worrisome.

Far from it simply being an issue about money, the authors cite an academic paper which correlates a high initial level of high inequality with the decreased likelihood of establishing social programmes that enhance social trust. And why is social trust important? Because it leads people to be “more inclined to have a positive view of their public institutions, participate more in their civic and political organisations, [and] to be more tolerant of [others].”

Historian Thum Ping Tjin’s chapter, “The Old Normal is The New Normal,” is a condensed version of Singapore’s political history (dark events included). This chapter is notably hard-hitting for it demonstrates how the lesson of history is clear — that “only democracy, dissent, and diversity can offer the leaders and ideas required to meet Singapore’s challenges.”

In Chapter 12, Donald Low analyses what went wrong for the PAP during the 2011 General Election (GE 2011). He writes that the Singapore population has become “more demanding of transparency [and] accountability.” Wise advice is laid out, such as how high ministerial salaries contribute towards the weakening of political discourse which is “not conducive to mature, reasoned public debate of our policy problems.” The chapter also suggests that political reforms “founded on the virtues of fairness, equality and resilience” will help sustain Good Governance.

Donald Low ends off the book on a personal as well as social note. He concludes:

“As a liberal, the policy and institutional changes I wish to see are those that would make Singapore a more just city-state, one that prioritises the well-being of its citizens over narrow measures of economic progress.”

The biggest strength of Hard Choices is the diplomatically critical tone throughout the writing. The style is moderate and objective without being too inaccessible to the general reader with an interest in Singapore’s politics and/or policies.

It is this consistency throughout the chapters which renders the writing as effectively persuasive, in terms of why Singapore needs to undergo vital and constructive change in terms of governance. This happens to coincide with a new generation of Singaporeans that are “empowered by the internet and social media,” which as Mr. Low and Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh write in the preface, has enabled citizens to “openly question many of the PAP’s long-held assumptions and beliefs.”

I would definitely recommend Hard Choices to people who may find “anti-government” or “anti-establishment” websites a bit too critical. I believe more than a few Singaporeans would be able to appreciate the book’s presentation of a wide range of pertinent issues, along with real alternatives that should be considered for the betterment of the nation and its citizens.

After all, it’s hard to argue with cool hard logic.

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More Information:

Hard Choices: Challenging the Singapore Consensus (Amazon)
Hard Choices (NUS Press)
Hard Choices (Kinokuniya)
Hard Choices (Review by Howard Lee / TOC)

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AUTHOR BIOS:

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I. DONALD LOW is Associate Dean (Research and Executive Education) at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Donald Low Online: LKYSPP | Facebook

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II. SUDHIR THOMAS VADAKETH  is author of Floating on a Malayan Breeze: Travels in Malaysia and Singapore. He also writes for a variety of publications, including The Economist and Yahoo! SG.

STV Online: Website | Facebook

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III. LINDA LIM is Professor of Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michian, where she also served as director of the 53-year-old Center for Southeast Asian Studies.

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IV. THUM PING TJIN (“PJ”) is a Visiting Fellow at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford; Senior Research Fellow at Sunway University, Malaysia; Research Fellow at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia; Research Associate at the Centre for Global History, University of Oxford; and co-ordinator of Project Southeast Asia.

Thum PJ Online: Academia.edu | Project Southeast Asia | Wiki | YouTube | Interview | TOC | Facebook

Excerpts from “Meritocracy and Elitism”

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Excerpts from “Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City: Ideological Shifts in Singapore”

by Kenneth Paul Tan (2008)

PDF Link to Journal Article: Academia.edu

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Definitions:

1. Meritocracy: Government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability.

2. Elitism: The advocacy or existence of an elite as a dominating element in a system or society.

Extracts from Article:

1) In practice, meritocracy is often transformed into an ideology of inequality and elitism.

2) Robert Klitgaard (1986: 1) discusses how [meritocracy] gets co-opted by the winners, who then become an elitist, “self-conscious, exploitative ruling minority” bent on perpetuating their power and prestige.

3) (cont.) Elitism sets in when the elite class develops an exaggerated “in-group” sense of superiority, a dismissive attitude toward the abilities of those who are excluded from this in-group, a heroic sense of responsibility for the well-being of what the in-group “laments” as the “foolish” and “dangerous” masses, and a repertoire of self-congratulatory public gestures to maintain what is sometimes merely a delusion of superiority.

4) Conspicuously wide income and wealth gaps, instead of serving as an incentive, can breed a culture of resentment [and] disengagement among the system’s losers.

5) Not only has the term “meritocracy” become enshrined and celebrated as a dominant cultural value in Singapore, it has also come to serve as a complex of ideological resources for justifying authoritarian government and its pro-capitalist orientations.

6) Through its long incumbency, the PAP has secured important structural and tactical advantages such as effective control of the mass media, civil service, and para-political grassroots networks. . .a meritocratic electoral process would need to be more adequately competitive to provide an incentive for the “best” people (regardless of social background, ideological inclination, and party affiliation) to come forward and serve as political leaders.

7) Although relentlessly elitist in its recruitment of parliamentary candidates where qualifications and achievements are concerned, the PAP has maintained that its candidates come from all walks of life.

8) To legitimize its choices, meritocracy must demonstrate not only that the “best” are chosen, but also that the “best” can be drawn from any social background.

9) A meritocracy that defines merit almost exclusively in terms of educational and professional qualifications and commercial success has made the traditional PAP-controlled grassroots sector seem much less relevant and effective in contemporary public life.

10) James Cotton (1993: 10–11) observes that the “[PAP] party has … become a shell, a convenient electoral machine for maintaining in office an elite which is ultimately self-selected, self-promoted and self-defined.

11) In a study of the structure of government-linked companies (GLCs) in the early 1990s, Werner Vennewald (1994) observed a high concentration of control in the hands of a small number of permanent secretaries, the powerful civil service chiefs who tend to hold multiple and interconnected directorships of various public-sector bodies and committees. . .Ross Worthington (2003) [concludes] that state-society relations in Singapore are “elitist and oligarchic” with community organizations, trade unions, and industry associations negligibly represented in GLCs.

12) Insisting that PAP government decisions are the best possible ones generates a false sense of security and a general feeling that there is no need to keep a watchful eye on the daily business of government. Such conditions open the way to serious mistakes and corrupt practices in the future.

13) The PAP government is popularly perceived, even by its many admirers, as arrogant, insensitive, compassionless, and convinced of its own superiority, what Ezra Vogel (1989: 1053) calls a “macho-meritocracy.” Vogel also observes how meritocracy emits an “aura of special awe for the top leaders … [which] provides a basis for discrediting less meritocratic opposition almost regardless of the content of its arguments.”

14) As the long-time political winners, the PAP has been able to define merit in Singapore’s politics [and] influence strongly the people’s understanding of who deserves to win. Through higher monetary deposit requirements and increasingly stringent qualifying criteria for various elected positions in government, the PAP has also been able to influence the question of who can afford and qualify to stand for elections.

15) Veteran journalist Seah Chiang Nee (2006) observes how only “a few newer MPs are social workers or people with good community links, but compassion, charity and humility generally rank low in priority in a candidate’s qualities.”

16) The idea that money will draw the “best” people into politics and give them fewer reasons to be corrupt ignores the possibility of people going into politics for the “wrong” reasons: the lure of personal prestige and monetary gain can produce a dangerously intelligent and self-interested class of political elites who will readily compromise the national interest to satisfy their own needs and who will have the unchecked power to do this indefinitely.

17) Through encounters with alternative political websites, the disadvantaged and the disenchanted learn to articulate their condition in ways that the official discourse of meritocracy has excluded.

18) As the economic and political elite are rewarded (or are rewarding themselves) with larger prizes, a vast and visible inequality of outcomes will replace the incentive effect with a sense of resentment [among] those who perceive themselves as systematically disadvantaged.

19) As public-sector careers become more lucrative, civil service and ministers’ salaries will [turn] into a preoccupation with staying in power mainly for the money and achieving this through image politics, vote-buying, and so on.

Source: “Meritocracy and Elitism in a Global City: Ideological Shifts in Singapore,” by Kenneth Paul Tan (2008)

PDF Download: Academia.edu

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kennethpaultan

KENNETH PAUL TAN is Vice Dean (Academic Affairs) and Associate Professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, where he has taught since 2007. His publications include journal articles and book chapters on democracy, civil society, media and multiculturalism.

Kenneth Online: Facebook | Academia.edu | LKYSPP | Interview