Former sec-gen of WP, Low Thia Khiang, asked in Parliament on Wednesday (May 16) whether the Prime Minister would agree that “there is now a political elite class in Singapore” given that the those who are chosen for consideration for the PM position “largely come from the SAF or the civil service”.
The question drew an expected-but-greater-than-usual unfriendly response from Lee Hsien Loong, who started with a very agitated tone.
“My Speaker Sir (heightened tone), this is an example of the way.. not to think about the problem,” he replied dismissively.
He then gave a ‘black cat, white cat” response: “When you look at the person, you ask, is he making a contribution, what are his strengths and weaknesses, what are his contributions, does he or does he not measure up. You don’t ask where did he come from, who his parents are.”
But he was slapping himself. Because Low Thia Khiang specifically asked why the selection criteria were so narrow, Low Thia Khiang specifically asked why “all from civil service and SAF”. Lee was unable to deny that the 3 frontrunners for PM come from the said background.
To make matters worse (and also clearer), Lee added: “Is it good to have people from a wide range? Yes…I have people from the private sector, I have doctors, I have lawyers, I have brought in new people from the backbenchers, some of whom also from the private sector..”
“So we are looking for people wherever we can find them to form a Singapore team.”
But if such people were in his “team”, why were they not given higher positions in Cabinet? Why were so few of them joining PAP in the first place, letting the PAP resort to SAF and other ‘safe places’ to source for ‘talent’? (And then proclaiming we have a lack of talents!)
And just like him, he had to end his speech with a “fix-the-opposition” line: “And the stronger this team is, the harder I make Mr Low’s job.” to spontaneous tapping in agreement from his underlings in Parliament.
Maybe he forgot Low is not the sec-gen anymore. Unlike him, and despite being younger than him, Low was willing to pass the helm to Pritam Singh within the WP.