Lee Kuan Yew was sui generis


March 29, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew was sui generis

by Terence Netto@www.malaysiakini.com

Asia’s generation of independence-gaining leaders knew little or nothing of how to get the economies of their countries going.

Lee-Kuan-Yew India’s Jawarharlal Nehru, Indonesia’s Sukarno, and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh succeeded in freeing their countries from the colonial powers, but their triumphs were Pyrrhic. The euphoria of independence turned out to as evanescent as morning dew, their countries falling away after gaining freedom, stymied either by the ethnic and religious hatreds that had long bedeviled them, or hobbled by the choice of growth-stifling economic systems, or worse, caught up as proxies in the Cold War rivalry between the West and the communist bloc.

Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore – the names are interchangeable as no founding leader has stamped his mark on his country like Lee did – avoided the fate of these countries and their larger-than-life progenitors.

From scratch in 1959 when Singapore became self-governing, Lee built up the city-state to become an an economic and technological cynosure. He did this through the practice of a capitalism that emphasised no corruption, hard work, meritocracy, low taxes and high savings. And he held the line on the utility of the English language for upward mobility.

The upshot was phenomenal: Singapore rose from an economy whose gross domestic product (GDP) was US$427 per capita in 1960 to US$55,000 in 2013. This increase is stupendous by any measure, more so considering Singapore is without natural resources save a good harbour.

Lee achieved this transformation via methods that scorned the Western view that democracy was the last word in human political development. He was harsh on opponents, jailing them without trial if not bankrupting them with libel suits, and his view of the press was that they should not presume to tell him how Singapore should be governed.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the historian Francis Fukuyama espoused the theory of the “end of history” owing to the triumph of “liberal democracy”. Fukuyama said that the natural wish of humans to be free from repression would eventuate in their choice of a liberal democratic system of governance.

Fukuyama saw that communism’s fall cleared the way for the flowering of a system that believed in limited government, respected individual rights, allowed for free and fair elections, and encouraged governance by informed consent of the governed.

That this theory does not enjoy traction in Confucian societies was suggested, first, by Park Chung-hee in South Korea and, then, by Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, and, later still, by Deng Xiaoping in China.

A Preference for order over disorder

The reason why an authoritarianism that was not draconian fostered growth and order in these Confucian societies was because of the ethos inculcated by the ancient Chinese sage which instilled a preference for order over the disorder of uninhibited political competition, placed family and social obligations to the kin group above individual rights, and encouraged respect for authority if it was reasonably exercised.

In Confucian societies, a quasi-authoritarianism is no reason for resistance, provided there are opportunities for people to become rich, educated and industrious. Rights are secondary to obligations and order is valued more than individual fulfillment.

Lee Kuan Yew understood this ethos which was why he always maintained, in the face of criticism of his heavy-handedness, that he knew his society better than the critics of his methods. Implicit in Lee’s approach was his confidence that Singaporeans would  applaud his quasi-authoritarianism when they see its economic outcome: the transformation of a resource-bereft and vulnerable geographic crossroads into a world hub of transport and trade. Singapore’s GDP was US$1 billion in 1960; in 2013 it was US$298 billion.

SingaporeSingapore’s spectacular economic growth has made Lee’s advice on how to govern much sought after, especially among leaders of countries keen to transform their backward economies.

India has declared a day of national mourning and its Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, a devotee of the economic-growth-as-panacea school, will attend Lee’s funeral in the island-state today, surely a mark of his determination to emulate the Singaporean model of development.

Singapore’s phenomenal economic progress gave Lee the platform to advice even the big powers on matters of geopolitical and strategic interest, with the former US President Richard Nixon an admirer who wryly observed that the “engine was too big for the boat”, by which he meant Lee’s intelligence and ability ought to have had an impact on a widely beneficial scale than just the tiny island he led from obscurity to economic powerhouse.

This brings us to the inevitable question of the what-might-have-been had Lee and Singapore not been, in his words, “turfed out” of Malaysia in 1965. The whole question of Singapore’s merger and separation from its 1963 federation with Malaya and Borneo is so vexed a matter that even after a half-century the subject is suffused with emotion that hinders objective assessment.

It will require a historian of Olympian detachment to unpack the tangled strands and allow the judgmental chips to fall where they may. If history is the record of what one age finds worthy of note in another, that definition implies a changing standard which may not be as impressed with Lee’s achievements as they presently rate on history’s scales.

Late 20th century and early 21st century truisms about economic-growth-as-panacea may not hold for long as the idea of progress takes in a more comprehensive view of human beings finding fulfillment in civil society, unhindered by any idea that the state knows best.

If standards come to that, Lee Kuan Yew’s ratings will waver from its present lofty levels, but then he may contend that history’s scales are fairly bogus in any case and that what matters are the here and now.

READ THIS:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/lee-kuan-yew-an-appreciation.-he-broke-the-model-danny-quah

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/obituary-lee-kuan-yew-the-benevolent-dictator

Lee Kuan Yew’s Political Legacy–Matter of Trust


March 27, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew’s Political Legacy–Matter of Trust

by Bridget Welsh

Lee Kuan Yew 2

As Singaporeans mourn their charismatic leader Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), whose political acumen, drive and ideas defined the young nation and played a major role in its successful development, attention turns to assessment. Moments of transition always bring reflection, and this is especially the case with the passing of the man who both personified and defined Singapore. The fact that LKY has passed on in the pivotal year of the nation celebrating the country’s 50th anniversary only serves to reinforce the need for review.

There is good reason to acknowledge the accolades of a man who has been labeled as one of Asia’s most influential leaders. Most of the media, especially in the government-linked media of Singapore, lay out these reasons well. LKY was a force to be reckoned with, a complex man who made no excuses in his views and was direct in stating his opinions. He trusted few, but chose to collaborate with those who shared his hard work ethic with talent and ideas to develop the busy port of Singapore into a safe dynamic cosmopolitan city-state. He will rightly be remembered for not only putting Singapore on the world map, but as a model that is admired and respected by many the world over.

LKY was a man who was respected, but importantly not loved by all. He used fear to stay in power. From the inception of Singapore’s independence – when it was expelled from Malaysia – the ideas of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘survival’ were used to justify decisions. He promoted the idea that Singapore had to have a strong armed forces, requiring national service in 1967, to protect itself as a nation surrounded by the perceived threat of its Malay neighbors.

The enemies outside were matched by those inside, who had to be displaced and in some cases detained.  Among the most controversial were the arrests of men labeled as communists in Operation Coldstore of 1963 and Operation Spectrum of 1987 (a.k.a. the ‘Marxist Conspiracy’) that targeted social activists who promoted greater social equality and were seen as challenging LKY’s People’s Action Party’s (PAP) authority. Two other round-ups occurred with Operation Pecah (Split) in 1966, which coincided with the year of the arrest of Dr. Chia Thye Poh who was held under detention and restriction until 1997, and the arrests of the ‘Eurocommunists’ in 1976-77. Many others from opposition politics, business to academia faced the wrath for challenging and questioning LKY, his PAP and the politicized decisions of its institutions, castigated in the government controlled media, removed from position, forced to live in exile and, in some cases, sued and bankrupted. In the relatively small city state, it did not take much to instill a political culture of fear by making a few examples.

A main point of contention goes that LKY sparred with Western critics over democracy and human rights, with LKY dismissing these ideas as not part of ‘Asia’s values.’ The debate was never about differences in values, but the justification of holding power in the hands of a few for nearly five decades. Singapore’s political model is at its foundation about the elites, with Lee, his family and loyalists at the core. In recent years, reports in Singapore have highlighted a growing trust deficit in the PAP government that LKY founded. The real deficit that defined LKY and became embedded within the party he molded is that he never fundamentally trusted his people.

The group that received the special focus of LKY’s distrust was the Malay population, who now comprise over 10% of the country’s population. Even as LKY matured as a politician, he continued to reinforce negative stereotypes of this community that rioted over their grievances in 1950, 1964 and 1969 when LKY was in his early years in power, and with whom he expressed hard judgments about their religion, Islam. This distrust was shaped in part by a worldview that was not only shaped by his early experiences in political life but had sharp racial cleavages, drew from eugenics and believed in a clear social order. Part of LKY’s outlook prioritized women as homemakers and disparaged single women who opted not to marry or follow a career – another group similar to Malays that faced discrimination within LKY’s Singapore.

In the heyday of Singapore’s economic miracle, the 1970s through the 1990s, the LKY PAP government worked to win over the trust of its people. It did so by providing for the basic welfare of its citizens, with an impressive housing program, affordable food prices, a living wage, job security, safety, education and opportunity. This involved hard work of LKY’s founding team of PAP cadre, as well as the sacrifice of ordinary Singaporeans. It also reflected the wise realization of LKY that fear was not enough to stay in power. There needed to be a healthy balance of deliverables. The LKY decades of economic growth translated into real rewards – at least through the 1980s.

Singapore’s trajectory of sharing the benefits of development has followed a pattern of diminishing returns, as the country now boasts the highest per capita of millionaires and is the world’s most expensive city, with a large number its citizens unable to save and afford the lifestyle promised in the nation’s early narrative. As much as LKY deserves credit for Singapore’s success, he also should be seen to be part of today’s shortcomings.

Elitism has bred arrogance, and a distance between those in power and those governed. Most of the new leaders of the PAP have come from subsequent wealthy generations that do not fully understand the sacrifices of the country’s working poor – shocking in number – and the obstacles elderly and young people face in an era of high costs. Years of following the LKY’s example and being told that the PAP is made up of the ‘best and brightest’ has imbued a mindset of superiority, a lack of empathy, and frequent dismissal of difference in engagement with the public.

While LKY’s son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has worked to win over support, he has suffered consecutive drops of support in the two elections he has led since he assumed office, failing to match the 75% popular vote height of the predecessor Goh Chok Tong in 2001. Unlike in the information controlled era of his father, Lee Hsien Loong is not able to effectively censor and limit public discussions in today’s wired and connected Singapore.  His recent expansion of social services and incentive packages that provide small sums for pensioners, modest support for health and childcare and tax reductions for the middle class are a drop in the bucket for the growing grievances and costs faced by ordinary citizens.

This has to do in part with the challenge Lee Hsien Loong faces in dealing with his father’s legacy. In 2007 LKY claimed that he governed without ideology. This was not quite true. The ideological foundation of LKY’s pragmatic tenure was materialism. This obsession with money, saving it and forcing the public to save it in rigid regulated ways, assuring that government funds were only given to those ‘worthy’ and loyal and defining the value of the performance of his government ministers by pegging their salaries to growth numbers comprised the lifeblood of LKY’s state. With annual ‘bonuses’ to perform, there is a focus on short-term gains rather than long-term investments.

The irony is that it is not even clear how much money the government of Singapore and its linked companies actually have. Singapore is one of the few countries in the world that does not follow the International Monetary Fund guidelines on its budget reporting. It also does not transparently report losses in many of the financial accounts of the government linked companies (GLCs). Lee Hsien Loong has had to tackle head-on the ingrained pattern of limited government spending on social welfare and services, as he attempts to move away from his father’s restrictive parsimony and secretive mindset that originated from a lack of trust in people

Lee Hsien Loong also has to address the problems of a government dominated economy. Singapore Inc. emerged out of the political economy LKY put in place, with the government and its linked companies controlling over half the country’s economy and undercutting almost all domestic business. LKY did not trust local capital, and did not want to strengthen an alternative power center to his own. As such, Singapore’s economy is not a genuinely competitive one. It favors big business, especially property developers, and those allied with government rather than independent entrepreneurs. Those in the system have apparently disproportionately benefited from it, although the exact amounts and assets remain unknown. The accumulated assets of individuals remain hidden as the estate tax was removed in 2008. What is known is that workers have limited rights in the LKY-shaped political economy. A recent example is the sexual harassment bill passed in parliament that excludes employer liability. The harsh response to the bus driver strike in 2012 is another. Much is made about the limited corruption of Singapore, but few appreciate that the country ranks high on the Economist crony-capitalism index, an important outgrowth of the government dominance of the economy. The ties between companies and government are close, at times with government and family members on their boards and a revolving door that never really closes.

Singapore’s economy also favors foreigners. LKY was to start this trend, with the appeal to outsiders for capital rather than a focus on domestic business. Foreigners may have been easier to engage, as they could always be kicked out. Foreign investment has been extremely important in Singapore’s growth numbers initially in manufacturing and later in services. To maintain global competitiveness, keep wages low and maintain high growth numbers, Singapore also turned to foreign labor – cheap workers to staff their construction sectors and to work as domestic help and foreign talent to bring in ideas and the occasional sports medal. This prioritization of outsiders has fostered resentment. When LKY assumed office he worked to force a nation, but with his passing many in Singapore feel the government he left behind is working for others and undermining the fabric of the nation. The crowded trains, strain on services and displacement of Singaporeans in the job market and advancement have angered many, who now see LKY’s legacy as one that in fact left many Singaporeans vulnerable and worried about survival.

No one can take away LKY’s contributions. He lived a long meaningful life, and shaped the lives of all Singaporeans. This does not mean that there is agreement on what he left behind. Singapore now faces the challenge of moving beyond LKY’s ideas and shaping a more promising future for all of its citizens. An integral part of this dynamic will be moving away from fear, promoting more effective policies for inclusion in the economy and society and building trust. It starts with placing more trust in Singaporeans.

It is arguably the latter that is the hardest. LKY lived in an era where societies trusted their leaders. He was given the benefit of the doubt. The PAP remains a relatively closed institution, with the distrust of those not inside deeply embedded. Today in the age of social media and instant messaging there is not as much leeway to work behind closed doors. There is an urgent need to forge genuine dialogue, connectivity and understanding that moves beyond materialism, and reignites the sense of belonging that LKY forged in his early years.

Singapore today has become a more politically divided nation, with those who strongly defend LKY’s incumbent government, die-hard opponents and the majority in the middle. As the country marks its 50th year it moves toward a different narrative, the task at hand is to forge a new Singapore story, one in which LKY is a valued part of its past, but not a constraint on the dreams and aspirations of Singaporeans’ future.

Bridget Welsh is a Senior Research Associate of the Center for East Asia Democratic Studies of the National Taiwan University where she conducts research on democracy and politics in Southeast Asia.

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2015/03/24/lee-kuan-yews-political-legacy-a-matter-of-trust/

READThe Interview with Dr. Michael D. Barr

http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/2015/03/25/assess-lee-kuan-yew-which-one/

To be both fair and informative in writing an assessment of Lee Kuan Yew requires a level of detachment that seems to be uncommon. Certainly his devotees, whether in Singapore or overseas, don’t usually come close to achieving it as they echo versions of Lee’s own story of how he took the country ‘from Third World to First’, often taking umbrage at those who are more critical. For those of us who are, indeed, more critical, the temptation is to focus on the Lee Kuan Yew who engaged in ‘brass knuckle politics’, and ignore the achievements.

Many of us have friends who have suffered brutality at his hands – or who have been intimidated or suffered discrimination by the system he put in place. It is not easy to put such personal connections aside and give credit where credit is due. Yet despite these burdens, I am pleased to say that this is a temptation in which critics have not generally indulged for a couple of decades now.

At the time of writing it is now a few days since Lee died and while the devotees have been as adoring and banal as one might fear, his critics have been consistent in recognising his formidable achievements. Their (our) record of even-handedness in this regard is only partly inspired by respect for the dead and for his family. Rather it is a recognition of the complexity of this man. As much as some of us might prefer not to articulate it, he was, in all the conventional senses of the use of the term, ‘a great man’ with a long list of achievements to his name.

His critics might (and do) quibble that he did not do this on his own; that he was the leader of a team of talented men (women generally did not need to apply). And this is indisputable.

We complain that the self-serving narrative of his success would have us believe that he built it from ‘a fetid swamp’ (to quote Greg Sheridan in The Australian a few days ago) and we know full well that this is just plain wrong. He and his colleagues had a lot of valuable material to work with: much of it a legacy of British rule (e.g. the administrative system, the Naval Base and English as the lingua franca); some a gift of nature (such as the port); or the luck of geography (being on the Straits of Malacca, near a rising East Asia).

We complain about a long list of seemingly unintended consequences for those who have been left behind by Singapore’s success or crushed by the dominant elite, and we rightly fear that many of these consequences are not as unintended as they appear at first glance – that they are, in fact, implicitly intended and explicitly accepted as part of the deal.

Yet I cannot think of a single critic who denies his record as a successful builder and who doesn’t feel obliged to put on record some recognition of his achievements. I just wish that those of his devotees who know better could find the honesty to recognise his failings so that more casual followers of public affairs would have a chance of reaching a more balanced perspective.

With this preamble behind me, I would now like to reproduce an interview I did with Zarina Hussain of the BBC last week, a few days before Lee died. Zarina used half-a-dozen sentences of the interview in a piece titled ‘How Lee Kuan Yew engineered Singapore’s economic miracle’, which was published on the BBC website, but most of it has not been reported. I have just tidied up some of the grammar.– Associate Professor Michael D. Barr from the School of International Studies, Flinders University is the author of ‘The Ruling Elite of Singapore: Networks of Power and Influence’ and ‘Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs behind the Man.’

Tun Dr. Mahathir: Lee Kuan Yew and I


March 27, 2015

Tun Dr. Mahathir: Lee Kuan Yew and I

by Tun Dr. Mahathir Bin Mohamad@www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT No matter how friendly or unfriendly we are, the passing away of a man you know well saddens you. I cannot say I was a close friend of Kuan Yew. But still I feel sad at his demise.

Kuan Yew became well-known at a young age. I was a student in Singapore when I read about his defence of the labour unions.

I first met Kuan Yew when I was a member of Parliament in 1964 after Singapore joined Malaysia in 1963. We crossed swords many times during the debates. But there was no enmity, only differences in our views of what was good for the newborn nation. He included me among the ultra= Malays who was responsible for the racial riots in Singapore. Actually I never went to Singapore to stir up trouble. Somebody else whom I would not name did.

The Tunku attended the inaugural meeting of the PAP and was quite friendly with Kuan Yew. He believed Kuan Yew was a bastion against Communism. But when the PAP contested in the Malaysian elections in 1964 with Malaysian Malaysia as its slogan, Tunku felt that the PAP’s presence in Malaysia was going to be disruptive for the country.

When I became PM in 1981, I paid a courtesy call on Kuan Yew. It was a friendly call and he immediately agreed to my proposal that Malaysia and Singapore times which had always been the same should be advanced by half an hour. I explained that it would be easier adjusting our time when travelling as we would fall within the time zones fixed for the whole world at one hour intervals.

I am afraid on most other issues we could not agree. When I had a heart attack in 1989 and required open heart surgery, he cared enough to ring up my wife to ask her to delay the operation as he had arranged for the best heart surgeon, a Singaporean living in Australia, to do the operation. But by then, I had been given pre-med and was asleep prior to the operation the next day.

My wife thanked him but apologised. She promised to ring him up after the operation. She did the next evening.
When he was ill, I requested to see him. He agreed but the night before the visit, the Singapore High Commissioner received a message that he was very sick and could not see me.

Still when he attended the Nihon Keizai Shimbun annual conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo, which I never failed to attend, I went up to him at dinner to ask how he was. We sat down together to chat and the Japanese photographers took our pictures promising not to put it in the press. I wouldn’t mind even if they did. But I suppose people will make all kinds of stories about it.

Now Kuan Yew is no more. His passage marks the end of the period when those who fought for independence led their countries and knew the value of independence. ASEAN lost a strong leadership after President Suharto and Lee Kuan Yew.


DR MAHATHIR MOHAMAD is a former prime minister of Malaysia.

Kamil Jaafar’s Tribute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew


March 26, 2015

READ THIS:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2015/03/lee-kuan-yews-singapore

It is an impressive record of achievements.–Din Merican

Kamil Jaafar’s Tribute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

by Tan Sri Kamil Jaafar*

Singapore’s first Prime Minister transformed Singapore from a Third World to a First World country. And he took all steps to protect the country from outside threats.

AMONG the leaders of our region for whom, for different reasons, I have great respect and even admiration, are the late President Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam, President Sukarno of Indonesia, and King Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia.

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew  also falls into this category of leaders of our time, and his passing away is certainly a loss for the region.

This was a man who transformed Singapore from a Third World to a First World country. In his dealings with the world at large, he was truly a remarkable statesman.

The British, in their military wisdom, created fortress Singapore, but soon found out that their guns were pointing the wrong way. Lee, in his time, also created fortress Singapore. Only this time, the guns are pointing the right way. Johor.

It is understandable that he took this position as, in his mind, the geopolitical realities indicated that the threat could come from Malaysia and, by extension, from Indonesia. Being surrounded by a Malay world could, in time, lead to instances of instability that would threaten the young nation of Singapore.

This is the siege mentality that the former Foreign Ministry secretary-general, Tan Sri Kadir Mohamad, mentions in his book, Malaysia-Singapore Fifty Years of Contentions.

This siege mentality led Lee to state to the Malaysian Chief of Armed Forces in 1990 that “… he would not hesitate to move his troops if in any future Malaysian Government, such as one controlled by the Islamic Opposition Party, should ever threaten to cut off the island’s water supply …”

The mutual suspicion and mutual mistrust led to this uneasy and testy relationship between Malaysia and Singapore. From Malaysia’s standpoint, we never entertained any aggressive intentions towards Singapore. There were never any reasons for Malaysia to do that.

We have already removed several irritants in our bilateral relations. There is still unfinished business to tackle but I believe we can now sort things out in ways that would work for the benefit of both countries.

We already made a good start in putting ASEAN as a basis of a constructive and meaningful relationship. I do not think we will want to destroy what we have built through hard work and sweat.

Lee and Deng

Finally, we cannot forget that it was Lee, looking at the geopolitical realities of the time, who advised China’s Deng Xiaoping in 1980 that having the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) radio station broadcasting from Chinese soil “… was not a good indicator of China’s warming relationship with ASEAN”.

Deng subsequently told the CPM leader, Chin Peng, to transfer the  station out of China. It was moved to Thailand. For that we can be thankful to Lee Kuan Yew.

Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar is a former Wisma Putra secretary-general (1989-1996) and former counsellor at the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore (1968). The views expressed are his own.

“Moderate” Malaysia with Hudud–Wrong signal to the World, says G25


March 25, 2015

“Moderate” Malaysia with Hudud–Wrong signal to the World, says G25

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Group of 25Malaysia will send a signal to the world that it has abandoned moderation should the PAS-led Kelantan government be allowed to enforce hudud in the state, said the G25, a group of retired high-ranking Malay civil servants who want a rational discourse on Islam.

The group said Malaysia would be seen as a country governed by religious laws that were subjected to the interpretation of clerics, and urged Putrajaya to protect the Federal Constitution as the country’s supreme law.

“Since Independence, this country has chosen the path of moderation. The Prime Minister has continued to steer the government along this path and has launched the Global Movement of Moderates to show to the world that the country is committed to the principle of moderation.

“The imposition of PAS’s hudud laws will signify to the world that Malaysia has abandoned the moderate path. We will be seen as a country governed by religious laws which are subjected to the vagaries of interpretation of the ulama who are also fallible human beings,” G25 said in a statement.

The group said that a multiracial country with an open economy like Malaysia could not afford to alter the secular character of its Constitution to allow for the implementation of PAS’s hudud enactment.

G25 added that it supported Dr Chandra Muzaffar’s view that the Federal Constitution was not un-Islamic, and said any attempt to amend the Constitution to allow hudud’s implementation would violate the Malaysia Agreement.

It also raised doubts as to whether Kelantan’s hudud law, as detailed in the Kelantan Shariah Criminal Code (11) Enactment, 1993 (Amendment 2015) would succeed in upholding justice, given the diversity of juristic interpretations of the law.

G25 added that the Kelantan government was pushing for hudud without even having met the conditions required for its implementation, as outlined by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Chairman of the World Union of Muslim Scholars.

Al-Qaradawi had said that a society must ensure the economic needs of the people were met, employment opportunities were provided for all, and poverty was eradicated before hudud could be enforced, said G25.

“In light of the above elucidation by Sheikh Qaradawi, can any state in Malaysia claim to have satisfied the pre-conditions in order to allow for the implementation of Hudud?” said G25.

The group also cited Islamic scholar Professor Hashim Kamali, who analysed PAS’s original 1993 enactment and found that it “failed to be reflective either of the balanced outlook of the Quran or of the social conditions and realities of contemporary Malaysian society”.

Hashim, who heads the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS), also said, “the Hudud Bill exhibited no attempt to exercise Ijtihad (creative thought) over new issues such that would fulfil the ideals of justice and to encourage the development of a judicious social policy.”

G25 said that a perusal of the 2015 hudud enactment revealed it continued to emphasise punishment rather than repentance and rehabilitation as espoused in the Quran.

“Many other prominent Muslim scholars such as S.A.A. Maududi, Salim el-Awa, Muhamad al-Ghazali, Mustafa al-Zarqa and Cherif Bassiouni have opined that the application of hudud as an isolated case without providing the necessary context and environment is not only unrealistic, but is more likely to induce the opposite result and frustrate, rather than satisfy, the Islamic vision of justice and fair play.

“In addition, they emphasise that the Hadith, as recorded in Sahih Al-Bukhari, and which is also a legal maxim, provides that Hudud must be suspended in doubtful situations,” said G25.

Hadi3PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is seeking to table a private member’s bill in Parliament during the current sitting ending April 9, which, if passed, would allow the Kelantan government to enforce hudud in the state.

The bill is to amend the Shariah Courts Act (Criminal Jurisdiction) 1965, which limits the power of the Shariah courts to a maximum penalty of RM5,000 in fine, three years’ jail and six strokes of the rotan.

An amendment is required in this law to enable Kelantan to carry out hudud law, after the state assembly on Thursday unanimously passed the Shariah Criminal Code II Enactment 1993 (Amendment 2015).

If tabled in Parliament, Hadi’s private member’s bill only needs the support of 112 MPs, or a simple majority, for it to be passed if the full house of 222 MPs are sitting.

Barisan Nasional (BN) has yet to issue an official statement in support of hudud, while BN Back Benchers Club Chief Tan Sri Shahrir Samad said the 87 Muslim UMNO MPs and 10 Muslim PBB MPs may vote based on their conscience.

However, UMNO MP Datuk Nur Jazlan has already stated he will not support the enforcement of hudud, while Padang Rengas MP Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz became the first minister from the party to dismiss attempts to implement hudud in Malaysia, saying such talk was “stupid” as it could never legally happen.

De facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri yesterday, similarly dismissed the chance of hudud being implemented in Kelantan, saying the private member’s bill on the issue will not get a single vote from Sarawak lawmakers in Parliament. –
– See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/hudud-laws-will-signal-malaysia-has-abandoned-moderation-says-g25#sthash.4yJaYLbV.dpuf

Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore’s Foreign Policy: A Productive Iconoclasm


March 25, 2014

Lee Kuan Yew and Singapore’s Foreign Policy: A Productive Iconoclasm

by Alan Chong

Synopsis

Lee Kuan Yew’s mark on Singapore’s foreign policy is that of applying counterintuitive strategies to improve the island state’s international standing. In retrospect, this has ensured Singapore’s long term viability as a sovereign nation-state.

Commentary

AS SINGAPORE’S first Prime Minister and the point man in negotiating decolonisation from Britain in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Lee Kuan Yew carries an aura of being one of the pioneers of the island state’s foreign policy. His political personality appears to have been directly mapped onto his steerage of foreign policy: cold unflinching appraisal of one’s circumstances, and self-reliance in designing one’s survival strategies, but only up to the point that external parties can be persuaded that it is in their conjoined interests to partner Singapore in pursuing win-win collaborations.

lky-kissingerLee’s autobiography reveals the profile of an energetic, enterprising young man who was confronted with a series of personal challenges in adapting to material scarcity and political brutality, especially during the Japanese Occupation. This was a key formative influence for foreign policy born of dire geopolitical and geoeconomic circumstances.

Not a normal country

Independent Singapore, bereft of a reliable hinterland constructed by the British empire, was literally perceived by its leaders as an island unto itself, surrounded by similarly decolonised but territorially larger nation-states. The initial decade of transiting from colony to independence from 1959 to 1965 was traumatic on a national level. By his own admission, Lee’s initial view that ‘island states were political jokes’ had to be reversed to achieve the impossible. His strategy for a sound foreign policy was to think unconventionally, and in word, to act as an iconoclast – a leader who sets the pace for his followers with a knack for the counterintuitive.

In his own reflections in 2011, following three decades as Prime Minister, then Senior Minister and Minister Mentor, he emphasised the need for Singaporeans to grasp foreign affairs: ‘I’m concerned that Singaporeans assume that Singapore is a normal country, that we can be compared to Denmark or New Zealand or even Liechtenstein or Luxembourg. We are in a turbulent region. If we do not have a government and a people that differentiate themselves from the rest of the neighbourhood in a positive way and can defend ourselves, Singapore will cease to exist. It’s not the view of just my generation but also those who have come into Defence, Foreign Affairs Ministries and those who have studied the position’.

Already in 1966, he was urging students at the then University of Singapore to aspire to bigger dreams in their careers. This would add value to Singapore by enticing the world to take interest in its industry, development, standards of living and sometimes, sheer intellectual insights. He went on to argue that once the great powers and Asian states planted intellectual, scientific and commercial stakes in the island state, Singapore’s fundamental security would be assured indefinitely.

In this sense, Lee shared with his friend and PAP comrade, S. Rajaratnam, an affinity for global imagination – Singapore could literally treat the world as its hinterland if its people and their technical skills were capable of servicing the world’s niche requirements in banking, telecommunications, R&D and indeed diplomacy.

Lee the Philosopher of Foreign Policy

As Lee would have it, international affairs were all about leadership and the making of either good or bad decisions. In a less publicised speech at the Australian Institute of International Affairs, he set out the view that ‘“International Affairs” is as old as the subject of man…[T]he essential quality of man has never altered. You can read the Peloponnesian Wars, you can read the Three Kingdoms of the Chinese classics, and there’s nothing new which a human situation can devise. The motivations of human behaviour have always been there. The manifestations of the motivations whether they are greed, envy, ambition, greatness, generosity, charity, inevitably end in a conflict of power positions. And how that conflict is resolved depends upon the accident of the individuals in charge of a particular tribe or nation at a given time.’

On hindsight, this was more than a fitting epitaph for the first prime minister of the Republic of Singapore. It was a statement of a belief in the possibilities of forging one’s own destiny. We call it today the Singapore Dream of peace and stability, folded into the SG50 milestone of progress and prosperity. Singapore’s foreign policy under Lee’s astute sense was certainly man-made.

Lee’s approach to foreign policy has always been guided by a quixotic mixture of principles of anxiety, nationalistic zeal, and an earnest attempt to dovetail the national interest with some universalist principles circulating in the international order. These compass points have not been clearly prioritised for ostensible reasons of bureaucratic and diplomatic flexibility, and therein lies Lee’s talent for discerning the best path forward for Singaporean foreign policy.

Correct outcomes, not political correctness

Although Lee has never publicly referred to his role in forcing a decision on any particular foreign policy issue, he has never shied away from suggesting that his personal diplomatic heft has enabled him to convey national messages directly to his opposite numbers in foreign governments. The tone of his remarks on relations with China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, the United States and Vietnam in his memoirs suggests that his presence as the authoritative decision maker mattered to foreign perceptions of who could effectively steer policies for Singapore.

As Singaporeans and the world mourn the passing of a giant of twentieth century Asian politics, we will do well not to forget that Lee Kuan Yew was never one to entertain political correctness. He was more concerned with producing correct outcomes even amidst the vagaries in international politics. Perhaps the final reflection should be reserved for Lee’s views on something as controversial as the US intervention in Iraq early in the 21st century.

Despite American dismay over their post-invasion quagmire in rebuilding Iraq in 2003-2012, Lee encouraged the US to complete their mission, notwithstanding his government’s initial disapproval of George W. Bush’s invasion plans, since fundamentalist Islamic terrorists in Southeast Asia and elsewhere would take heart from an outright American withdrawal.

The erstwhile US Ambassador to Singapore conceded a grudging respect for Lee’s sagacity in a confidential cable in 2006 under the subheading ‘Welcoming the United States, but not our politics’. This is Lee Kuan Yew the successful iconoclast.

Alan Chong is Associate Professor of International Relations at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University. He has just published a study in an academic journal comparing Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohamad as exemplars of authoritative decision makers in foreign policy. This is the third in the series on the Legacy of Lee Kuan Yew.

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