The Ruling Elite of Singapore: Networks of Power and Influence 9780755619320, 9781780762340

Michael Barr explores the complex and covert networks of power at work in one of the world's most prosperous countr

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For Noah and Tristan

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Illustrations

Figures 2.1. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (Photograph by US Government, available in the public domain) 2.2. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Photograph by Government of Chile, available in the public domain) 3.1. Former President S.R. Nathan (Photograph by Calvin Teo, available in the public domain) 3.2. Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings, with her husband (Photograph by Dave1185, available in the public domain) 3.3 and 3.4. Two views of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building (3.3 by Sengkang, available in the public domain; 3.4 by Michael D. Barr) 3.5. United Overseas Bank Plaza (Photograph by Michael D. Barr) 3.6. Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (Photograph by Michael D. Barr) 3.7. The Islamic Hub, housing MUIS (Photograph by Michael D. Barr) 3.8. Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim (Photograph by courtesy of Debbie Ng) 4.1. The late J.B. Jeyaretnam (Photograph by Michael D. Barr) 4.2. Chee Soon Juan (Photograph by courtesy of Toby Carroll) 4.3. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (Photograph by courtesy of Robin Ong) 4.4. Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (Photograph by courtesy of Alan Travers)

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15 16 23 23

35 36 36 38 38 53 53 57 60

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4.5. Government-linked corporations like SingTel are more than just businesses (Photograph by Michael D. Barr) 61 5.1. Raffles Institution (Photograph available in the public domain) 78 5.2. Hwa Chong Institution (Photograph by Teo Di Kai, available in the public domain) 80 5.3. National Day Parade rehearsal, 2005. The rising importance of the military is one of the most dramatic changes in the character of the national elite (Photograph by Michael D. Barr) 81 5.4. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (Photograph by US Government, available in the public domain) 90 5.5. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Photograph by courtesy of Hoang Kim Hung) 90 6.1. Lee Hsien Loong addresses a PAP rally during the 2011 General Elections. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is seated directly behind him. (Photograph by courtesy of Karen Chan) 99 7.1. Istana, Presidential Palace and home of the Prime Minister’s Office (Photograph by Char Lee, available in the public domain) 114 8.1. Opposition candidates, 2011: (a) Victorious Workers’ Party team leader in Aljunied GRC, Low Thia Khiang (Photograph by Huawei, available in the public domain) (b) Unsuccessful presidential candidate, Tan Jee Say (Photograph by Jacklee, available in the public domain) (c) Member of the successful Workers’ Party team in Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim (Photograph by abdulrahman.elections, available in the public domain) (d) The successful Workers’ Party candidate for Hougang SMC, Yaw Shin Leong (Photograph by Michael D. Barr) 133 8.2. President and former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan (Photograph by US Government, available in the public domain) 137

Tables 3.1. University of Singapore graduates – primary and honours degrees by year, 1968–77 3.2. President’s Scholars by year and gender, 1964–70 3.3. Institutional destinations of 11 of the 1964–70 President’s Scholars 3.4. Numbers of President’s Scholars and SAFOS scholars, 1966–2010

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26 27 28 45

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Illustrations 3.5. Numbers of President’s Scholars and SAFOS, overseas and non-overseas PSC Scholars, 2002–10 5.1. Winners of elite PSC scholarships by ethnicity (where known), 1990–2010 5.2. Total immigrant resident population of Singapore by place of birth and ethnic group 5.3. Resident population by ethnic composition, 1970–2010 5.4. Scholarship winners by school of matriculation, 2002–10 5.5. Proportions of scholarship winners by school of matriculation, 2002–08 5.6. Proportions of scholarship winners by school of matriculation, 2007–08 and 2009–10 6.1. Educational and professional composition of the Cabinet, pre-and post-May 2011 7.1. Key members of the civil service and the military, 2012

xi

46 69 70 71 76 77 79 104 118

Box 7.1. Excerpt from The Star (Malaysia), 21 July 2007

113

Charts 8.1. Real economic growth 8.2. Trade performance in real terms 8.3. Hitting bottom

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140 140 141

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Abbreviations

AMP AO CCA CDAC CEC CEO CPF DBS DCAC GIC GLCs GMD GRC GROs HCI HPL ISD JC MAS MENDAKI MINDEF MP

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Association of Muslim Professionals Administrative Officer Co-Curricular Activities Chinese Development Assistance Council Central Executive Committee (of the People’s Action Party) Chief Executive Officer Central Provident Fund Development Bank of Singapore Directorship and Consultancy Appointments Council Government of Singapore Investment Corporation Government-Linked Companies Guomindang (also known as the Kuomintang or KMT), Taiwan’s Nationalist Party Group Representation Constituency Grassroots Organisations Hwa Chong Institution Hotel Properties Limited Internal Security Department junior college Monetary Authority of Singapore a Malay-Muslim self-help group (the formal title has varied but the acronym has remained constant) Ministry of Defence Member of Parliament

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xiv MUIS NJC NTUC NUS OCBC OMS OUB PAP PMO PRC PSA PSC PSD PSLE SAF SAFOS SAP school SARS SCCC SCCCI SIA SID SINDA SMC SMRT SPH UOB URA WP

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the ruling elite of singapore Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) National Junior College National Trades Union Congress National University of Singapore Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation Overseas Merit Scholarship Overseas Union Bank People’s Action Party Prime Minister’s Office People’s Republic of China Port of Singapore Authority Public Service Commission Public Service Division Primary School Leaving Examination Singapore Armed Forces Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship Special Assistance Plan school Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Singapore Airlines Security and Intelligence Division (of the Ministry of Defence) Singapore Indian Development Association Single Member Constituency Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (the railways) Singapore Press Holdings United Overseas Bank Urban Redevelopment Authority Workers’ Party

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Acknowledgements

In writing this book, I have accumulated a number of professional and personal debts. I would first like to thank Arnaud Leveau, the former Deputy Director of IRASEC (the Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia), who commissioned this manuscript and thus initiated the entire research project. Thanks are also due to his successor, Dr Jérémy Jammes, who saw it through the refereeing process and then sought out I.B.Tauris to publish it. (Perhaps at this point I should also mention that Arnaud’s initial invitation was not to write a book but merely a lengthy briefing paper. That it has grown into a full length book being published by such a prestigious academic publisher as I.B.Tauris is an indication in the first instance of my verbosity, but more significantly of the extraordinary levels of professional generosity displayed by Arnaud and Jérémy personally, and by IRASEC as an institution.) The two anonymous referees commissioned by Arnaud also deserve a particular mention, since between them they have had a decisive impact on the shape and arguments in the book – including the inclusion of a completely new concluding chapter that focussed on future possibilities and the likelihood of a process of democratisation. Next I would like to thank my editor at I.B.Tauris, who has not only helped me with the publication of this book but who also introduced my work to his colleagues, one of whom has now commissioned me to write a history of Singapore. I also owe a tremendous debt to all the opposition and civil society activists who allowed me to interview them during my fieldwork in January 2011, and to several academic colleagues who opened their minds to me in conversation or emails, either during the same trip or at other times. Most of my formal interviewees are mentioned by name in the bibliography, though there are a few more whose contributions did not reach such a tangible outcome, but which were nevertheless valuable to me.

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I am very grateful to two of my PhD students, Ms Natasha Bissett and Mr Muhamad Nadzri Mohamed Noor, for providing introductions and/ or contact details for many of the interviews with opposition activists and leaders that underpin much of Chapter 8. On a more personal level I would like to thank my wife, Shamira, for her patience and assistance as I struggled to produce this book around heavy teaching and administrative loads at Flinders University and in between other research projects. She puts up with a lot, I know, and I want to record my undying gratitude in black-and-white against the remote possibility that one day I might take her for granted.

* * * Considering that parts of the book are dealing with events that are contemporary and continually changing, I should mention something about the timeframe in which it was written and produced. The first version (the briefing paper) was completed and submitted on 30 October 2009 after about three months of research. The first draft of the book was completed and submitted on 1 July 2010 and the reviewers’ comments came back on 21 August 2010. I then spent the period from late August to the end of the year revising the content and writing a new conclusion about the future and democratisation, following the suggestions of the reviewers. I then spent January 2011 in Singapore doing field work on contemporary politics, and came home and re-wrote that final chapter. Then came the Singapore General Elections in May 2011 and I re-wrote it again and also added a completely new chapter (now Chapter 6). This marked the final point at which I worked on the manuscript in a substantive way. Over the rest of the year I did my best to keep names and positions and tables up-to-date and I also took into account the August presidential elections, but the real work was done. In March 2012, when I was going through the first round of edits from the publisher (and taking my last chance to make substantive changes), I had one last shot at getting names and positions up to date. Of course I have no illusions that all of the real-time contemporary details will still be accurate even by the time the book is published in 2014, let alone in a few years’ time. I hope, however, that readers find value in the historical and political analysis, which is much more substantive than the ahistorical snapshot of the situation on the ground as it happened to be in the twelve months from mid-2011 to mid-2012.

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The original communitarianism of Chinese Confucian society has degenerated into nepotism, a system of family linkages, and corruption on the mainland. And remnants of the evils of the original system are still found in Taiwan, Hong Kong and even Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, 1999, in conversation with American academic, Nathan Gardels, cited in Nathan Gardels, ‘The East Asian Way – With Air Conditioning’, New Perspectives Quarterly, Autumn 2009, p. 112

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The original communitarianism of Chinese Confucian society has degenerated into nepotism, a system of family linkages, and corruption on the mainland. And remnants of the evils of the original system are still found in Taiwan, Hong Kong and even Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, 1999, in conversation with American academic, Nathan Gardels, cited in Nathan Gardels, ‘The East Asian Way – With Air Conditioning’, New Perspectives Quarterly, Autumn 2009, p. 112

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Chapter 1

Introduction

What is an ‘elite’? The dictionary defines it as ‘A group of people considered to be the best in a particular society or category, especially because of their power, talent or wealth’. I shall be talking about the elite in a society or a country, meaning the core group of people who occupy key positions of power and influence, and set the direction for the whole society and country. Lee Hsien Loong, 19 March 20051 In our present context, it is essential to rear a generation at the very top of society that has all the qualities needed to lead and give people the inspiration and the drive to make it succeed. In short, the elite. . . . Every society tries to produce this type. The British have special schools for them: the gifted and talented are sent to Eton and Harrow and a few very exclusive private schools which they call ‘public schools’; after that they go to Oxford and Cambridge. And they have legends which say that the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. The Australians too are trying to achieve this. Recently, Prince Charles went to this school at Geelong, which is their equivalent where they try to build the complete Australian with great vitality, outdoor life, and resourcefulness, so that when caught in the bush, the new Australian will learn how to survive, and he will have great qualities of discipline and heart. That is our ideal. . . . The government at the moment – the whole of the Administration – is running on the ability, drive and dedication of about 150 people. . . . Whoever wants to destroy our society need only identify these 150 people and kill them; then the push will be gone. This represents a very thin crust of leadership. Therefore it has to be enlarged quickly but systematically. . . .

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the ruling elite of singapore Social organisation is analogous to military organisation. One battalion comprises of over 60 to 70 officers, 100 to 200 corporals, and about 500 privates. This hierarchy must be. This is life. . . . This pyramidal structure of top leaders, good executives, well-disciplined and highly civic-conscious broad mass can only be produced by our education system. Lee Kuan Yew, 29 August 19662

The Republic of Singapore was born on 9 August 1965 through a formal act of separation from the Federation of Malaysia. Much of the population greeted it with fireworks in the streets,3 but Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew greeted it with tears that were immortalised by the television cameras.4 This historic moment was followed by a short-term breakdown of his health and mental equilibrium, which took months to fully recover.5 A year later, however, Lee had faced his demons and survived. Singapore was starting to look as if it might survive too – a prospect that appeared remote to many observers at the end of 1965, when it seemed more likely that Singapore would have to seek re-entry into Malaysia on humiliating terms.6 It was in this environment – on 29 August 1966, just after the first National Day celebrations (which were more an act of defiance than a real celebration) – that Lee delivered a seminal speech, excerpts of which are given at the opening of this chapter. It was just a speech to school principals, but it set down the fundamental principles on which Singapore’s national ideology and foundational mythology were to rest. Lee promised a hierarchical and unashamedly elitist society, the harsh edges of which were justified at least in the immediate future by the urgent need to work for Singapore’s survival. One of the striking things in that speech is the reference to the 150 or so men on whom Singapore was dependent in the first years of her independence. Lee described this as a ‘very thin crust of leadership’ and declared his intention to enlarge it ‘quickly, but systematically’. The rest of the speech was leading to this point. It is just possible that Lee was exaggerating the thinness of the crust of leadership at that time, but subsequent events suggest that he was deadly serious about using the education system to enlarge it, and to do so without compromising the strictly hierarchical and quasi-military conception of social organisation that the speech also revealed as being central to his social cognition. That speech to school principals in August 1966 is important to this book because it provided the blueprint for producing the elite that has ruled Singapore since independence and which has formed its only fully

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autonomous network of power. It was very much a blueprint of Lee’s own making, generated, as I have argued elsewhere, from his experiences growing up as the talented eldest son in a relatively well-off Singapore Chinese family and educated in institutions that were steeped in a consciousness of hierarchy and elitism. Furthermore, the combination of his supportive mother and his own remarkable academic triumphs at school and university imbibed in him a firm conviction that he belonged to the top echelon of his society’s hierarchy.7 These were very personal convictions, based ultimately on personal experiences. Insofar as his vision had any academic formation, it came as a young adult from his reading of Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History, which was all the rage while he was studying law at Cambridge University after the war. Toynbee’s primary role in the Lee Kuan Yew story was to provide a rationale for his pre-existing elitist impulses, but it also shaped his expectation of what elements serve to invigorate and re-invigorate dominant elites. Toynbee explained civilisational change through a theory of challenge and response, which posited that an established elite eventually loses its ‘creativity’ and then its end comes sooner or later because it begins meeting challenges to which it cannot adapt and with which it cannot cope. It is then inevitably superseded by a new, fresh elite. Lee was not interested in the fatalistic elements of this theory, but he became obsessed with its messages about elite regeneration.8 He latched onto the promises of Toynbee’s challenge and response thesis whereby until elites reach their fatal point they can rejuvenate themselves by successfully and creatively responding to serious and even existential challenges. Inspired by Toynbee, Lee became a firm believer in a pattern of behaviour whereby ruling elites can perpetually transform themselves to stay relevant and can continuously replenish their ranks to avoid the ruptures of regime change, but only for as long as they can keep themselves sharp, nimble and ‘creative’ through successfully facing and coping with new challenges.9 Lee’s selective reading of Toynbee had a direct impact on the subsequent pattern by which he built Singapore’s networks of power and influence. Firstly, he became Singapore’s Jeremiah, identifying challenges and threats with monotonous regularity over his fi rst few decades in government so there would be a ready supply of ‘challenges’. Secondly, he came to focus an extraordinary amount of his attention on the selection and grooming of the next generation of leaders, on the assumption that keeping the elite ever-young and ‘creative’ was a key to smooth generational transfers of power. In fact, it would not be an understatement to say that he became fi xated on the dynamics of elite regeneration, looking always

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for the mechanism that would guarantee the smooth passing of the baton to a new generation. And in his mind it was unambiguously regeneration that he pursued – not merely perpetuation of rule by a clique and certainly not replacement by a rival elite. Hence, Lee’s attention to elite education, elite selection and social engineering more broadly hinged on his presumption of a creative elite’s almost-infi nite capacity to adapt to new challenges and new environments, and was driven by his fear of the ruptures that would follow an episode of elite failure. Yet beneath all the rhetorical flourishes and genuflections to theory, his was essentially a practical politician’s appreciation of elitism. I am not aware of any evidence that Lee ever read the great twentieth-century theorists of elitism such as Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, but even if he had, their complacent acceptance of social disruptions and regime change as essential elements of elite dynamics would have held no appeal.10 Toynbee, however, spoke a language Lee understood (or thought he did). He formed government in Singapore about a decade after he read Toynbee and according to his colleague Goh Keng Swee, he proceeded to cite Toynbee’s challenge and response thesis from the earliest Cabinet meetings.11 The problem for Lee was that his aim of keeping the elite ever-young and creative confl icted with his natural propensity towards autocratic behaviour and surrounding himself with yes men. His autocratic style was a deep-set aspect of his personality and it had a much more powerful impact on his behaviour as a practical politician than any theory he might have read in a book. Even in school he had few friends his own age, but tended to surround himself with younger boys he could dominate.12 This propensity to encourage adulation from juniors developed into a nearly fatal flaw in his early years in politics. Before he came to power, the party faithful used to cringe at the openly fawning attention that Lee accepted from his Parliamentary Secretary, Chan Sun Wing. As the authors of Men in White wrote after interviewing old timers from the 1950s: Such was [Chan’s] influence in the corridors of power that he aroused much envy and resentment among his party colleagues. He was derided as Lee’s blue-eyed boy, favourite and protégé. He was labelled a sycophant for dashing down the City Hall steps every morning to greet Lee when he arrived for work.13 This power relationship must have appealed to Lee because he put Chan in charge of organising both the People’s Action Party (PAP) branches and the

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People’s Association (which was intended to be Lee’s personal grassroots organisation to counteract the influence of the Left). Yet Chan turned out to be a Malayan Communist Party plant. When the PAP split in 1961, the Left faction walked off with most of the PAP’s branches and the whole of the People’s Association, thanks largely to Chan.14 During his early decades in government, Lee found himself surrounded by strong, independent-minded contemporaries who regarded him as merely the first among equals, which was a novel experience that, to give him credit, he seems to have appreciated; but as soon as he had the opportunity to reproduce the pattern of his school days in the Cabinet, he took it. After the oftenreluctant retirement or marginalisation of his strong-willed contemporaries in the first half of the 1980s,15 he surrounded himself with junior ministers who never argued with him.16 It was this disposition towards domineering and self-aggrandising autocracy that proved to be the most significant template for Singapore’s new networks of power and influence as they gradually emerged in Lee’s shadow.

The Singapore system in the literature This book is a study of Singapore’s networks of power and influence – or to use the terminology preferred by Lee and his successors, Singapore’s ‘elite’. It does not sit in an absolute vacuum of literature, and yet this topic has been subject to remarkably little scholarly interrogation. There are some obvious reasons for this oversight, including the reluctance of Singaporean scholars to engage in critical analysis that might involve criticism of their own government. The opaqueness of the system and the smallness of the country have also undoubtedly deterred some potential investigators. Therefore, the literature available on and around the topic is so scarce that it can be reviewed in a few paragraphs. Werner Vennewald made a valuable opening contribution to this topic with his 1994 working paper on ‘Technocrats in the State Enterprise System of Singapore’.17 Vennewald was the first scholar to probe the opaque world of semi-secret government committees and boards that controlled most key appointments in the public sector and he produced a fascinating but instantly dated mud map of the networks of patronage operating in the state-linked enterprises. Yet his work was apparently never intended to produce more than a working paper, limited in both scope and depth, and it has never been adapted for publication in any English-language book or journal.18 Beyond this, there has only been one dedicated book-length investigation of the

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networks of power and it is of relatively recent vintage. Ross Worthington, writing specifically of the 1990s, analysed the Singapore elite using conceptual tools originally intended to describe the modern power establishment in the United Kingdom: the ‘core executive’. In his conception, the ‘core executive’ in Singapore encompassed not only the executive of government, but key members of the military, the legislature, the judiciary, the civil service, government-linked companies (GLCs) and grassroots organisations (GROs) such as trade union and ethnic organisations.19 There may have been some virtue in drawing a comparative link with the United Kingdom – perhaps to underline the features of the Singapore elite that are shared in common with other ruling elites – but I prefer to stay with the more mainstream, and in the context of Singapore, more conceptually informative terminology of ‘elite’ and ‘elitism’: the terminology that Lee Hsien Loong prefers when he is speaking of the ‘core group of people who occupy key positions of power and influence’.20 Regardless of which terminology is used, we are talking about the same thing: the networks of power and influence in Singapore, which, because of their high levels of cohesion, integration and dependence on a single, central source, can be considered to be merely different parts of a single network. Thus far, Worthington’s book is the only serious attempt to analyse the networks of power in Singapore, but it was limited in scope to being a snapshot of the elite networks during the years of Goh Chok Tong’s premiership, informed exclusively through the prism of the ‘core executive’ literature. Leaving aside a few errors of fact that have diminished the book’s reliability,21 it is difficult to imagine any outsider being able to make a more thorough exploration of the networks of power in the Goh years than that made by Worthington, and yet thanks to its ahistorical character, it has dated with remarkable rapidity. If we look more broadly than just studies that focus explicitly on the networks of power, and consider studies of the political system within which the networks of power live we find a little more material, though not necessarily more clarity. To begin with, terminology is problematic and important in this field. Rarely has the Singapore system of governance been seriously called a democracy except by apologists, but neither is it usually called simply a dictatorship except by its more enthusiastic detractors. It is a complex system, full of internal contradictions and inconsistencies, so that it is unlikely that any simple label will completely satisfy or apply at all times. In 1970, Thomas Bellows described the Singapore of the late 1960s as an emerging ‘dominant party system’ – not quite a

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one-party state, but not far from it.22 In the 1970s, Chan Heng Chee called it an ‘administrative state’ run by technocrats and because of the lack of an opposition, or indeed any public political debates, she asked rhetorically, ‘Where has the politics gone?’23 In the 1980s, Singapore’s successful and remarkable record of economic development prompted scholarship that centred on the theme of ‘management’, effectively extending Chan Heng Chee’s thesis of the administrative state.24 This theme was not restricted to defenders of the regime. It was echoed by its international critics of the day, most notably by Frederic Deyo, whose focus was narrowly targeted on labour relations and industrial policy,25 and later by Garry Rodan, whose focus was much broader. The main purpose of Rodan’s 1989 study was to understand the political economy of Singapore’s industrialisation, but in the process he highlighted the government’s ongoing and largely successful attempts to build a corporatist state, along with the high degree of autonomy that the state exercised in pursuit of this goal.26 Corporatism is itself a form of managerialism; it is a political technique designed to reduce all political and sectional contestation to nonconfrontational managerial challenges. The theme of managerialism has continued to be applied by both sympathisers and critics of the regime up to the present day.27 Rodan’s 1989 book also marked the opening of two new pathways towards understanding the nature of the Singaporean political and social system. First, he and others (most notably David Brown) began almost immediately building new analysis on the foundational theme of corporatism, extending the analysis from the traditional and existing scholarship, which studied the government-business-labour relationship, into new fields. Rodan utilised it in a modest way in his analysis of the government’s management of civil society and Brown used it as the foundation of his ground-breaking analysis of the government’s management of ethnicity and society more broadly: he went as far as describing Singapore per se as ‘an inclusionary corporatist state’.28 The second line of analysis triggered by Rodan’s work was based on his insights into the legitimating ideology that the regime was developing, which he called ‘scientism’.29 The essential element of ‘scientism’ was, according to Rodan, ‘the belief that the application of scientific thought somehow . . . neutralised’ politics, effectively leaving the ‘rational or scientific’ professionals in government as the only truly legitimate players on the political field.30 This interpretation intersected with and challenged established literature that accepted the government’s claims that it was ‘pragmatic’ and rational, operating from principles that transcended ideology and other restrictive

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modes of thought. Rodan’s insight on this point provided the conceptual basis for my later analysis of Singapore as a system of governance and politics that worked through and ‘beyond’ the concept of technocracy.31 In an article published in 2006 I argued that the Singaporean form of governance . . . goes beyond the classical model [of technocracy] by acknowledging and embracing the pivotal role of political leadership. It obviates the tension between the political and the technocratic by absorbing the idea of the technocrat into the broader ideal of ‘the elite’, and then making membership of the ‘elite’ a precondition for membership of both. . . . The ideal specimen of the ‘elite’ in this conception is not a colourless technocrat at all, but a highly educated, proactive, courageous, politically savvy problem solver who can lead people, whether as a civil servant or a politician.32 That article was not trying to provide an analysis of the networks of power and influence in Singapore, but in the above passage it did provide a partial description of the core membership of that network. Other elements of the network were described by me and Zlatko Skrbiš in Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project and are pertinent to a preliminary introduction to this book: the networks are highly personal, based substantially on family, friendship and patronage, and they are also predominantly Chinese.33 These realities are disguised by a carefully cultivated cover of regime and social legitimation based upon the twin myths that Singapore is a meritocratic and multiracial society. The power of personal networks and the centrality of Chinese ethnicity is, however, so overwhelming that these elements form the true core of the process of elite selection and elite formation, not meritocracy and multiracialism. True, there are processes with strong meritocratic elements for the induction of outsiders into the personal and patronage networks, and there are some non-Chinese members of the networks of power, especially among the older generation that was inducted into the elite in the 1950s and 1960s, but these qualifications do not diminish the central truth of this analysis. In fact the dominance of Chinese youths from upper-middle class families at the point of entry into the networks of power (elite schools and elite government scholarships), and the lengths to which non-Chinese must go to adapt themselves to the Chinese-dominated milieu have prompted me to coin a new term to describe the Singapore social system: ‘incomplete assimilation’.

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In my 2005 article with Jevon Low, I introduced the term ‘incomplete assimilation’ almost incidentally: At minimum, [members of the minority races] are expected to keep a certain sense of separateness (expressed by external markers such as diet, dress, religion and language) while being prepared to jettison aspects of their culture that confl ict with the national agenda. But to prosper in this society, they need to internalise ‘Chinese virtues’ and become ‘like the Chinese’ in subtle but important ways. In short, they are expected to submit to a form of partial or incomplete assimilation into a Chinese-generated, Chinese-dominated society.34 In Constructing Singapore, Skrbiš and I developed a much more nuanced account of this concept: . . . having established its ideal vision of a Chinese Singaporean, the government has, since the early 1980s, been using this as the template and the standard of its ideal Singaporean. Thus if members of a minority race want to go further than merely meeting the minimum requirements of acceptance and actually prosper in this society, then they need to internalise ‘Chinese virtues’ and become ‘like the Chinese’ in subtle but important ways, even as they are excluded from full participation in this ethno-national project in vital ways. This is what we mean by the term, ‘incomplete assimilation’ – a balancing act between the imperative that minority members need to strive to act ‘like Chinese’ in order to succeed and the insistence that at the end of this process they will continue to be relegated to a minority status. ‘Incomplete assimilation’ is a programme whose goal is perpetually suspended between these seemingly contradictory impulses.35 The incomplete assimilation thesis is an attempt to describe an important element that governs social, economic and political interaction in contemporary Singaporean society, but it finds its most intense and apposite application when it is applied to the networks of power and influence.

The book’s approach I have presented this background to the literature, and especially my particular contribution to the literature, not in the expectation that it will

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automatically convince all readers, but merely to foreshadow the arguments being put in this book, and to provide an indication of how they fit into the scholarly literature on the topic. None of the studies described above is dedicated explicitly to developing an understanding of the networks of power and influence, with the notable exception of the points from which we started this tour of the literature: Vennewald’s 1994 working paper and Worthington’s 2003 book. The field is therefore open for this study of the networks of power and influence, one which will be more historical and hopefully more durable than Worthington’s book, but more focused on the actual networks of power than was the Barr and Skrbiš book. It treats contemporary networks of power in Singapore as the product of a deliberate project that is currently half a century old, and not yet complete. I argue that it is difficult, if not impossible, to make a meaningful analysis of this pattern without such a historical approach, because it is only in the history that the pattern of power can be seen. With this in mind, I am setting out to produce an analysis that seeks to identify the durable patterns that underlie the networks in the hope that I will be able to cast some light that will last beyond the current crop of elites. This means not just starting with the fundamental and relatively unchangeable fixtures of Singaporean political-social realities, but also moving both from the historical to the contemporary and from the general to the particular. If I had to capture the essential character of the networks as they are described in the following pages and chapters, it would not be in terms of an ‘ism’ derived from the social sciences, though several of those do apply. Instead I would do so by describing Singapore as ‘a Chinese family business’, with all roads leading back to the family and the patriarch. In terms of management, if not ownership, it is like the Korean chaebol system of family-based conglomerates, but with just one family and one chaebol. This was not always the case, but it has become so. Furthermore when I hypothesise in Chapter 8 on the future of Singapore and its ruling elite, I suggest that the established pattern of Singapore’s networks of power and influence is likely to last with only incremental changes into the medium-term future – and possibly into the long term – and that even a dramatic regime change or a burst of democratisation is unlikely to disturb the fundamentals of this pattern. The issue of regime change necessarily raises questions about the basis of the regime’s legitimacy in the eyes of its constituents. The system is at heart authoritarian, and yet its political, economic and social structures rely upon the engagement and support of a large proportion of a highly educated population. Leaving aside nebulous questions of how one classifies such a political

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introduction

11

system, the fact that the system works and the country prospers indicates that for all the oppressive features that are used to maintain power, Singapore’s ruling elite nevertheless enjoys widespread legitimacy and support among the population. The matter of how and why it is able to maintain this support is not of central importance in this study of the networks of power and influence, and yet it cannot be ignored completely. Having flagged the issue here, I will now leave it in the background until we turn to the question of future possibilities properly in Chapter 8, where I will place it in the context of the unprecedented opposition gains in the 7 May 2011 General Election and Lee Kuan Yew’s subsequent retirement from the Cabinet. With this in mind, let me outline the plan of this book. Chapter 2 provides a concise summary of my thesis and serves as an extended executive summary of the following five chapters. Chapter 3 is a brief account of the historical evolution of the elite, the basis of its monopoly of power and the nature of its self-perception as a proud, self-satisfied elite. Chapter 4 describes the successful consolidation of Lee Kuan Yew’s personal hegemony in the 1980s. Chapter 5 follows the evolution of the system under Lee’s close tutelage, bringing it up to the point of his retirement. Chapter 6 looks at the passing of the baton from Lee Kuan Yew to Lee Hsien Loong. Chapter 7 places the different elements of Singapore administration and society in their contemporary contexts. It includes a guide to the techniques that will allow anyone with access to the internet to identify most of the significant people in the networks of power and influence in Singapore, along with a substantive, if not complete account of the more important players as they stand at the time of writing. Apart from providing a practical guide to institutions and persons of power, it also provides tangible evidence of many of the claims made throughout the book. Chapter 8 offers some thoughts about the likely shape of the networks of power and influence now that Lee Kuan Yew has stepped down and the opposition has found new strength and vigour.

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Chapter 2

Floor Plan of the Elite

In their detail, the networks of power and influence in the city-state of Singapore resemble a complex and fragile ecosystem – ever-changing, ever active, and ever mysterious to the observer. In their basic principles, however, they could hardly be more simple or transparent. There is just one national elite, one centre of gravity within that elite, and no rival networks of influence – let alone power – that have a life fully independent of the elite. The elite even proudly self-identifies as ‘the elite’.1 This situation firmed up in the second half of the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s and – despite many changes in personnel and some significant developments in the elite’s defining characteristics – it remains true today. A map, or plan, of the contemporary networks of power would therefore consist of a series of concentric circles, something like a map of the solar system with planets circling in evermore remote orbits from the warmth of the sun.2 Until he stepped down from the Cabinet in May 2011, Lee Kuan Yew formed the centre of gravity around which the networks orbited and operated. His son and successor as Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, was very close to the centre throughout the 1980s–2000s, but until 2011 he was substantially working in his father’s shadow. Now that Lee Kuan Yew is no longer in the ministry and his moral authority has been weakened by being implicated in the government’s poor showing in the 2011 General Elections, Lee Hsien Loong has finally and unambiguously established his personal authority over the networks of power and influence. Power is now his to retain or lose by his own hand. Beyond Lee Hsien Loong, there is a series of layers of the network of power whose significance is determined in part by the degree of social

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floor plan of the elite

13

proximity to the Lees. The most privileged and potentially the most powerful are members of the Lee family. Beyond them, we move into an elite network whose members have risen through a more complicated process, with mixed and even contradictory criteria. The inner circles consist mainly of the upper layer of political and administrative leaders in a selection of key ministries, statutory boards and government-linked companies (GLCs), and the country’s two sovereign wealth funds: Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC). Members of this circle of the networks of power need to have a considerable amount of intelligence, education and ability, but beyond these qualifications – and ultimately of more significance – they need to have been socialised into the elite. Beyond the inner circles, there lie extensive mid-range networks of power and influence in official and government-linked institutions such as less central ministries, statutory boards and GLCs. At the outermost perimeter are networks of influence that are marginal except in their own circles and/or communities. The latter networks are still linked to the government and ultimately dependent upon patronage from somewhere close to the centre of power, but they are working in institutions that are not nerve centres of power, such as ethnic organisations, trade unions, universities and Chinese businesses.3

Nature and character of power in Singapore There are at most just five features that between them provide the keys to understanding the nature and the character of these networks of power and influence. If they were listed in historical progression, they would assume the following order: Singapore’s small physical size and population; the formation of the ruling ‘elite’; the patronage of Lee Kuan Yew and his family; the centrality of ‘Chineseness’ in Singapore’s national identity; and the importance, though not to the point of absolute necessity, of a military background. The centrality of Chineseness has been particularly sensitive with members of Singapore’s minority ethnicities because it is built upon the demographic fact that ethnic Chinese comprise a strong majority of the population (74 per cent), and it deliberately downplays the presence of Malays, Indians and ‘Others’ who between them comprise a quarter of the population.4 The country’s small size is the primary, relatively unchanging key to the exercise of power. This feature reduces the task of managing and monitoring the society to such modest proportions that light touches of power are able to achieve levels of control that would make absolute dictators in larger

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14

the ruling elite of singapore

polities envious. It also means that the networks of the elite are very personal in the sense that they are so small that everyone who is important is known to everyone else – usually personally, but at least through a mutual associate5 – which lends itself to the generation of a remarkably homogenous national elite. It is its smallness that most clearly distinguishes this city-state from its neighbours, and indeed from nearly every other country in the world. Singapore’s ruling elite was originally formed from the group of Englishspeaking, English-educated Malayans that gravitated around Lee Kuan Yew in the 1950s and which formed the nucleus of the government from 1959 onwards. The original group consisted of talented and energetic men who took great personal risks to work for a vision of a country in which people of diverse ethnic groups could live in peace and find prosperity – even though the members of Lee’s group were mostly well-educated Anglophones who had only the remotest connection with most of their constituents.6 The personnel have undergone a full turnover but this original group successfully established the basic long-term template for the elite: English-educated professional men who saw themselves as the benefactors of their less-educated fellow nationals.7 Throughout the 1960s, Singapore had a truly collegial leadership in what has become known as the ‘old guard’ of leaders. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was the leading figure among them and the only one whose personal character combined the particular attributes that make an effective political leader, but it is important to note that until after the 1970s he was really the first among a group of strong-minded equals rather than the undisputed ruler.8 Only with the departure or marginalisation of the rest of the ‘old guard’,9 which was completed by the mid-1980s, was Lee able to settle debates in the Cabinet with a word of derision or support, and able to treat the country as his fiefdom.10 It is a point of fascination among observers of Singapore that as soon as he was on the cusp of possessing near-absolute power he chose to step away from day-to-day affairs of administration, leaving this to what was termed the ‘second generation’ leaders, which after 1985 was publicly led by Goh Chok Tong.11 The ‘second generation’ has now been replaced with the ‘third generation’ led by Lee Hsien Loong, but throughout these generational shifts, Lee Kuan Yew remained in the Cabinet for two decades as a Deng Xiaoping-style ‘paramount leader’. In fact until the very end, he retained his old office space in the Istana building, leaving his successors to find their own accommodation.12 In his later years, Lee’s health and limited attention span restricted his capacity to intervene in the affairs of state, but his residual power was such that

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floor plan of the elite

15

Figure 2.1. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

on a whim he could turn policies and programmes upside down: witness his interventions throughout the 2000s on issues concerning Singapore Airlines,13 Changi Airport,14 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)15 and bilingualism in education, which will be discussed in a greater detail in Chapter 6. Singapore’s self-styled ‘Chineseness’ is a direct result of the emerging supremacy of Lee Kuan Yew in the late 1970s and 1980s. This conviction about Chinese ethnic superiority extended not merely to a conviction that Chinese culture was one of the most dynamic and powerful in the world (and certainly more dynamic than the Malay and Indian cultures that he saw as its rivals in Singapore), but also to a belief that ethnic Chinese were physically and mentally superior to Malays and Indians in crucially important ways.16 He expressed his conviction in 1967 at a forum of university students when he was asked by the chair, ‘What is the X-factor in development?’ Lee replied by narrating a parable: Three women were brought to the Singapore General Hospital, each in the same condition and each needing a blood transfusion. The first, a Southeast Asian was given the transfusion but died a few hours later. The second, a South Asian was also given a transfusion but died a few days later. The third, an East Asian, was given a transfusion and survived. That is the X factor in development.17

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16

the ruling elite of singapore

In the early years of Lee’s and independent Singapore’s political life, this expression of his views was an aberration and did not obviously impinge upon public policy, but twenty-five years later, in 1992, Lee was at the top of his game and was willing to give public expression to views that were only slightly less offensive to Indians and Malays: In looking back over the last 30 years, I believe we were fortunate that 77 per cent of our people had strong Chinese traditional values which put emphasis on the strength of the family, the bringing up of children to be modest, hardworking, thrifty, fi lial, loyal and law abiding. Their behaviour had an influence on non-Chinese Singaporeans.18 As a direct result of these changes in Lee’s personal approach to ethnic issues, ‘Chineseness’ now provides the framework for the operation of political, administrative, ideological, social and commercial power and is the most significant dynamic shaping the contemporary networks of power and influence in the country. This is not to say that Singapore’s social networks are in any sense genuinely ‘Chinese’, whatever that may mean, but that the

Figure 2.2. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

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floor plan of the elite

17

society self-consciously operates on social patterns that are perceived by their architects in the ruling elite to be ‘Chinese’. In the context of contemporary Singapore, two of the most important impulses that are attributed to Chinese culture are a propensity to view society as a series of hierarchical relationships and the importance placed on education. These two impulses feed into a style of elitism modelled on the ideal of a benevolent, virtuous, selfeffacing and humanistic cultured gentleman – the junzi idealised by Confucius.19 Under Lee’s leadership, ‘the elite’ came to be regarded as one of the most important furnishings of the new Singapore state and its crucial strategic asset. Its claims to political neutrality and efficiency were consciously identified with traits derived directly from the idealisation of the junzi: supposed freedom from self-interest; a sense of common purpose and contribution to the goal of good government; paternalistic concern for the well-being of citizens; refusal to succumb to sectional interests (including, in this context, the whim of the electorate); and the acceptance of smooth continuity from one generation of leaders to the next. There is also another traditional Chinese cultural impulse that is recognisably important in the Singapore context – guanxi (a traditional style of Chinese networking based upon loose family and other associations, and cemented by client-patronbased reciprocity). This cultural trait is less celebrated than those listed before them, but it is arguably the most substantial and ‘real’ of all of these impulses. By contrast, traditional Chinese cultural traits that are inconvenient in modern Singapore – notably the traditional Confucian denigration of merchants and soldiers – have been discarded without a second thought.20 Lee’s cultural entrepreneurship is a conscious and deliberate exercise in cultural cherry-picking that has been used to rationalise and reinforce the position of Lee Kuan Yew’s family at the centre of political, social, and economic power in the country.21 Yet to speak of Singapore’s Chineseness and Lee’s use of it in these broad-brush cultural terms is only part of the story. It is more basic than this, as the quote from Lee Kuan Yew’s 1967 parable suggests. Ethnic Chinese form the core of society in cultural, demographic, economic and political terms. Merely being ethnically Chinese is sufficient to provide a distinct advantage in employment and career prospects, and in the opportunity to gain access to the inner circles of power.22 There are also networks of power in Singapore that are explicitly nonChinese, but they operate within the meta-template of pseudo-Chineseness, and their power is subordinate to and to some extent drawn from that of the dominant Chinese networks.

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the ruling elite of singapore

Shorn of the nuances, qualifications and evidence that transform simplistic assertions into scholarly enquiry, this is the picture that is being presented in the subsequent chapters of this book. It is not, I should add, a picture that will be universally endorsed by scholars of Singapore – let alone by the regime itself – but I am confident that in its essentials it is correct and adequately defended in this volume.

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Chapter 3

The Creation and Entrenchment of a National Elite

Singapore is tiny. The significance of this simple statement is easily overlooked, but it permeates all that has followed the country’s declaration of independence in 1965. The republic is a thoroughly urbanised city-state with no externally imposed constitutional restraints since 1965, no rural hinterland since urbanisation programmes were completed in the 1970s and no externally imposed judicial restraints since appeals to the Privy Council were abolished in 1993.1 It is a tiny, independent republic, 682.7 square kilometres in area, with a total population of 5.08 million, of whom only 3.23 million are citizens.2 Former Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee – the architect of the Singapore model of economic development – used to emphasise its smallness by pointedly distinguishing between its land mass at high tide and low tide.3 The obvious potential that this feature has provided for a small group to monopolise social and political power has been realised and exaggerated by a series of political and economic decisions that will be mentioned later in this chapter. This overtly political outcome is important, but there is a more fundamental impact of Singapore’s small size that is obvious upon reflection but which needs to be identified explicitly: it was almost inevitable that once a reasonably homogenous social group established its dominance, the pool from which the elite would be drawn thereafter would be small. Furthermore, the members of this elite would most likely attend the same schools and live and work in relative proximity to one another. And so it happened. A serving Permanent Secretary put it this way in interview in 2003:

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20

the ruling elite of singapore . . . Singapore is after all a rather small place. There is something that you might call . . . I won’t call it class, but you would say ‘establishment’, in a modification of the British sense, because it cuts across the civil service it goes into the private sector. It goes into business, it goes into academia even. And mind you, they may not like each other but they sure know each other. . . . It’s after all a rather small place. . . . And you would at least hear of each other if you don’t actually know and if you want to know somebody, you must be a hermit if you don’t know somebody who can get you an introduction to the person you want to know. . . . I think it’s smaller than [the Sydney or Melbourne establishment] because even Sydney is much larger than Singapore. It’s more like Canberra.4

The nascent elite Singapore’s size and compactness makes it an ideal candidate for political autarky, but its development in this direction was never inevitable.5 It had not even been inevitable – nor did it seem terribly likely – that Lee Kuan Yew and his colleagues would be the ones to wield political power after decolonisation. Lee’s group was drawn from a social class whose members called themselves ‘Malayans’. They were English-educated, and their highest achievers had generally completed their education in English universities. They tended to admire the British, their liberal values and often their socialist ideals, and their politics was strongly informed by the conviction that Asians should enjoy the rights that were embedded in those values just like the British themselves. Their ‘home’ was not Singapore – even if they were born or lived on the island – but British Malaya (which included Singapore), which is why they called themselves ‘Malayans’. Singapore was a natural centre of gravity for such people because under British colonial rule, the island had been the major centre of administration, education and commerce, but this meant only that Singapore was the de facto capital city, not the focus of their emotional attachment.6 After the post-war British administration established Singapore as a separate colony, it was not even the de facto capital and so Malayans resident in Singapore were stranded – relegated unexpectedly and reluctantly to being mere Singaporeans.7 In Malaya as a whole, Malayans included Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and Malays, as well as Europeans and British immigrants, but in Singapore they were mostly English-speaking Chinese. To be even more precise, most Malayans in Singapore were English-and

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the creation and entrenchment of a national elite

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Malay-speaking Peranakan (or Baba) Chinese like Lee Kuan Yew, whose ancestors had been living in Malaya for a century or more and had become thoroughly acculturated into the local social milieu.8 In the 1950s, Malayans in Singapore were far from being united politically,9 and in any case they were thought to be unlikely to inherit the future because they were a small minority, disconnected from the Chinese-speaking, Chinese-educated majority who would become the dominant constituency once universal franchise was granted.10 As it turned out, however, one group of Malayans prepared for this event with acuity. They formed a strategic alliance with the dynamic and radical world of the Left – particularly the Chinese Left, most of whose members were loosely in the orbit of the illegal Malayan Communist Party – and then, after a few years they turned on their erstwhile allies and drove them to political extinction.11 This particular group of Malayans consisted of a small cluster of graduates from English universities who had returned to their homeland armed with high ideals and radical politics. The most dynamic, restless, articulate, ambitious and politically astute of this group was a young lawyer called Harry Lee Kuan Yew who started his political career by building a network of around 50 trade unions, hawker associations and radical student groups to whom he gave discounted, and often free, legal advice.12 The group started meeting in the basement of Lee’s bungalow in Oxley Road in 1954, a year before Singapore’s first General Elections. In his memoirs, Lee referred to this group simply as ‘the Oxley Road circle’,13 and that just about sums up the extent of their structure: a group of youngish professional men who knew each other from their time studying in England, augmented by people Lee had met in the course of his work as a trade union advocate, and who met fairly regularly to talk politics over a few beers in Lee’s basement.14 Some of them were very serious about politics – notably Lee himself, Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, S. Rajaratnam, Kenneth Byrne and Samad Ismail – but it seems that many of them were more interested in talking politics than in doing anything about it. The catalyst for transforming their group into a political party was Toh Chin Chye’s concern that their informality made them vulnerable to detention as suspected communists – and indeed by this stage there was at least one communist in their group, and they were proactively courting others.15 Thus was born in late 1954 the People’s Action Party (PAP), which rules Singapore today. The centrality of Lee Kuan Yew’s personal-cum-professional connections to this group is significant to our study because the pattern of recruitment he

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the ruling elite of singapore

was setting in place as a matter of expediency became established as the template for networking into the long term and, with significant modifications, is still in operation today. In the early years, personal, school and family friendships were grounds for recruiting someone into the Cabinet and simply being an acquaintance of someone near the top of the PAP was a sufficient basis on which to be invited into politics.16 Eddie Barker (an early Minister for Law) was an old school friend of Lee’s.17 Lim Kim San (an early Minister for Finance) was a school friend of Goh Keng Swee’s.18 Maurice Baker (an old friend of Lee’s) declined an appeal to join politics and the Cabinet, but ended up taking lesser roles.19 J.Y. Pillay was Goh Keng Swee’s friend from their days in London when he was brought into the civil service, whereupon he became an integral member of the administrative elite until well into the 1990s.20 When the PAP needed a candidate to run in a by-election in 1981 – more than a quarter of a century after the formation of the PAP – they chose a candidate who was unsuitable (and who was defeated), but who was Lim Kim San’s nephew.21 This personalised pattern of recruitment survives even today: in 2011, when the PAP wanted to appeal to young voters, it ran Tin Pei Ling, an embarrassing and disastrous candidate who was the wife of Prime Minister Lee’s Principal Private Secretary.22 A shadow version of this pattern of recruitment reached into the civil service as well, and many young men who were recruited into the junior rungs of the civil service team during this early period of old guard rule – people such as Hon Sui Sen, S. Dhanabalan, Goh Chok Tong, S.R. Nathan and Ngiam Tong Dow – were then invited into the inner circle of power after informal apprenticeships served in close physical and professional proximity to their patrons.23 Lest it be thought that this is ancient history, with no bearing on current practice, I point out that as this is being written (in mid-2012), S. Dhanabalan is the Chairman of Temasek Holdings and Ho Ching (the daughter-in-law of Lee Kuan Yew and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) is Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Temasek Holdings and until late 2011 S.R. Nathan was still President of Singapore.24 In the early years of party building and through the first decade in government at least, these networking patterns were not seen by the elite as matters of choice, but as necessity. Yet the exigencies driving this behaviour were created, at least in part, by the limitations that Lee imposed by his preference for working with people who were paler reflections of himself. Lee – who clearly provided much of the driving energy in the Oxley Road circle and later in government – was most comfortable socially and professionally in the company of English-educated middle-class men. He pushed all the

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Figure 3.1. Former President S.R. Nathan.

Figure 3.2. Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek Holdings, with her husband.

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the ruling elite of singapore

women, including his own highly talented wife, out of the Oxley Road circle even before the PAP was properly formed,25 and his own words tell us how he regarded Malays and Indians (particularly Malays). Apart from his 1967 parable of the three women admitted to hospital that placed Malays at the bottom of his hierarchy of ethnicities in Singapore and his many generic statements of Chinese superiority (see Chapter 2), Lee is on record as recently as the mid-1990s saying: Any doctor will tell you in our hospitals, that even if you just touch an Indian with an injection he is howling. The Chinaman isn’t. He has got a very high tolerance for pain. . . . When doing a project [the British] would put the Chinese in the middle and put the Indians at the side, and the Indians were expected to keep the pace of the Chinese. And there was a hell of a problem, because one Chinese would carry one pole with two wicker baskets of earth, whereas two Indians would carry one pole with one wicker basket between them. So it’s one quarter. Now that’s culture. Maybe it has to do with genetic characteristics, I’m not sure.26 Even in his 2011 book, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, he persists in his attitude towards Indians, on this occasion dressing it in the clothes of notions about gene pools, marriage patterns and the caste system.27 Lee also placed a premium on educational credentials as part of his elitist world view,28 in the 1970s taking it to the point where he thought that the key to good government was fi lling the ranks of the Cabinet with PhDs.29 Lee was also limited socially and politically by his own English-educated background: he could move into the politically crucial world of the Chineseeducated only through Chinese-educated allies. He did manage to extend his electoral reach into the Chinese-educated in this fashion, but he was always vulnerable to his allies walking away with ‘his’ constituency. This happened twice during the early 1960s, both times with spectacular and, for Lee, disastrous consequences.30 Facing an uncertain future after winning government in 1959, Lee’s group confronted two separate problems in terms of the recruitment of political and administrative leaders: firstly, finding bright, young, energetic graduates ready to wed their careers to the new national leadership; and secondly, fi nding mature adults capable of and willing to accept the burden of leadership immediately. In both cases, the restriction imposed by Lee’s

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preference for working with the English-educated was even more debilitating than it might appear at first glance because this pool was so small. The entire population of Singapore at this time was tiny – 1.26 million in 1955 and still only 2.01 million in 197031 – and the pool of the English-educated was much smaller. In the 1955 elections, only 300,000 adults were eligible to vote and of these only 160,000 were sufficiently motivated to actually cast a vote.32 This constituency comprised the whole of the English-educated section of the population, plus enough Chinese-educated to swamp the candidates preferred by the colonial authorities and deliver a plurality of seats to the two parties of the Left.33 Thus the pool from which Lee and his colleagues were looking to draw a handful of people who were both talented and willing to dedicate themselves to a fragile cause was exceptionally small. The immediacy of the problem facing them was exaggerated by their own actions: the incoming PAP government altered the working conditions of the existing corps of civil servants, most of whom were local Asians, fi rst by facilitating a drastic cut in their pay in the cause of balancing the budget and second by assigning them to unskilled manual work on weekends, supposedly in the cause of nation building.34 It is difficult to know the extent to which these initiatives were motivated by a desire to be seen to be radical and anti-colonialist, but in any case the effect was to decimate the ranks of the civil service by driving some 300 civil servants to seek employment in Malaysia.35 If we turn our attention to the younger generation, we find that the pool of graduate candidates for Lee’s nascent elite was being expanded year by year, but only by small numbers: there were only a handful of elite Englishmedium schools and only one English-medium university in Singapore. In the ten years from 1968 to 1977, only 11,904 students at the University of Singapore were awarded primary or honours degrees, beginning with 787 in 1968 and reaching 1,495 in 1977 (see Table 3.1). This was a small enough pool to begin with, but many of these graduates actually had very poor English, surviving because their study was primarily numeric rather than textually based. In any case, Lee quickly came to regard most of the English-educated students at the University of Singapore as frivolous dilettantes – of no use for his purposes.37 Once he was in power, therefore, he narrowed his focus to the tiny number of students who were able to win a Public Service Commission (PSC) scholarship to do their university studies overseas. He was particularly interested in the pinnacle of this group: winners of the most prestigious scholarship of all, the President’s Scholarship (called ‘Queen’s Scholarship’ during most of the late-colonial era). In about

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the ruling elite of singapore Table 3.1 University of Singapore graduates – primary and honours degrees by year, 1968–7736 Year

Graduate Numbers

1968 1969

787 961

1970

1190

1971

1152

1972

1060

1973

1179

1974

1215

1975

1417

1976

1448

1977

1495

Total

11,904

1967, he began studying the confidential reports (as he referred to them) on the progress of those PSC scholarship winners who had entered the civil service, assessing their competence and trying to identify their potential.38 This pool of talent became the focus of Lee’s recruitment efforts, but in the seven years from 1964 to 1970 there were only 45 President’s Scholarships (or the pre-independence equivalent) awarded. Four of these recipients were women and so were not considered as candidates for public life, leaving 41 men in the pool (see Table 3.2). A survey of Who’s Who in Singapore reveals that 11 of these 41 ended up in the national elite as either a Cabinet minister (three) or a senior member of the civil service (eight, including six Permanent Secretaries).40 Of these 11, six entered the very core of the national elite: a Prime Minister; a Minister for Finance; a Head and a Deputy Head of the Civil Service; another who became a Permanent Secretary (Finance); and another who became a Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs) (see Table 3.3). The problem for the newly installed government was that even if they had had the luxury of waiting for these crops of elites to complete their education and find their feet as working adults, this would not have provided enough of a flow of talent to meet their needs. Of course, they did not wait for these young men to finish their studies. Instead Lee and his close colleagues went fishing in the pool of younger civil

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Table 3.2 President’s Scholars by year and gender, 1964–7039 Year

Male

Female

1964 1965

4 5

0 1

1966

10

0

1967

7

0

1968

5

1

1969

4

0

1970

6

2

Total

41

4

servants that they inherited upon assuming government, and in the process found men who went on to become key personnel in the administrative elite – men such as Ngiam Tong Dow, Sim Kee Boon42 and S.R. Nathan. It is significant that every one of them went through a period of working in close physical proximity to one of the top members of the old guard leadership, but what is more significant is that there were not nearly enough of them. The problem of recruiting people who were trustworthy, supremely competent and fully fluent in English was exacerbated even further by the initial reluctance of the English-educated to trust Lee’s group. Civil servants and middle-class Malayans – two constituencies that belonged to the same social class and shared loosely the same outlook as Lee and his group – regarded the PAP as crypto-communists and thought Lee was giving cover to communists. Between this hostility, a natural reaction to the government’s attitude towards civil servants (as described above) and the lure of middle-class comforts, Lee’s group struggled to fill the ranks of the administrative and political elite, or even to find enough candidates to stand in elections.43 Only after the left-wing group split from the PAP in 1961 did the naturally conservative Malayan constituency begin lining up behind Lee and his government, a process that reached its full maturity after Singapore’s theatrical separation from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965.44 In the meantime, there was work to be done, and if the most reliable recruitment technique was to approach old friends and identify likely candidates among the younger graduates in the civil service – and test them out and socialise them into your mindset by bringing them into close proximity to yourself – then that was what you did. After the 1961 split with the Left, the civil service – and particularly the

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Table 3.3 Institutional destinations of 11 of the 1964–70 President’s Scholars41 Scholarship Year Name

Career History Includes . . .

1965

Lim Siong Guan

Group President and Director, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (current position); Head of the Civil Service; Permanent Secretary (Prime Minister’s Office); Permanent Secretary (Finance); Permanent Secretary (Defence); Permanent Secretary (Education); Deputy Chairman, Board of Commissioner of Currencies.

1966

Barry Desker

Dean, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (current position); diplomatic corps (various postings); CEO, Trade Development Board.

1966

Lee Yock Suan @ Le Yock Suan

Cabinet Minister (Information and the Arts); Cabinet Minister (Environment); Cabinet Minister (Finance); Cabinet Minister (National Development); Cabinet Minister (Labour); Cabinet Minister (Education); Cabinet Minister (Trade and Industry); Cabinet Minister (Prime Minister’s Office); Deputy Chairman, People’s Association; Chairman, Singapore Labour Foundation.

1967

Su Guaning

President, Nanyang Technological University (stepped down in 2010); Deputy Secretary, Defence; Director, Defence Science Organisation; Chief Executive, Defence Science and Technology Agency; Chairman, Research Institute Management Council, National Science and Technology Board.

1967

Mah Bow Tan

Cabinet Minister (National Development) (stepped down in 2011); Cabinet Minister (Environment); Cabinet Minister (Communications); Chairman, National Productivity Board; Chairman, NTUC Comfort (taxis); Chairman, Board of Governors, Singapore Institute of Labour Studies; General Manager, Singapore Bus Service; CEO, Singapore Monitor; Group General Manager, Singapore News and Publications; Group General Manager (Co-ordination), Singapore Press Holdings. Continued

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Table 3.3 Continued Scholarship Year Name

Career History Includes . . .

1967

Kishore Mahbubani

Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (current position); Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs); diplomatic corps (various postings).

1967

Chan Jer Hing Peter

Ambassador to Thailand (current position); Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs); Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs); diplomatic corps (various postings).

1967

Lam Chuan Leong

Ambassador-at-Large; Chairman, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore; Chairman, Competition Commission of Singapore (current positions); Permanent Secretary (National Development); Permanent Secretary (Finance); Permanent Secretary (Environment); Permanent Secretary (Trade and Industry); Permanent Secretary (Communications and Information); Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

1967

Eddie Teo

Chairman, Public Service Commission (current position); Deputy Head of the Civil Service. (A fuller account of Eddie Teo’s career is given in Chapter 7.)

1970

Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister; Chairman, Government of Singapore Investment Corporation; SecretaryGeneral, Central Executive Committee, People’s Action Party (current positions); Deputy Prime Minister; Cabinet Minister (Trade and Industry); Cabinet Minister (Finance); Chair, Monetary Authority of Singapore; Chief of Staff, Singapore Armed Forces.

1970

Lee Kim Poo Moses

Commissioner of Inland Revenue and Chief Executive Officer, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (current positions); Permanent Secretary (Community Development); Permanent Secretary (Labour); Permanent Secretary (Health); Chairman, Post Office Savings Bank; General Manager, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation; Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

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Administrative Service, which acts as the executive of the civil service – was brought into the elite’s fold and a national elite that transcended the politicaladministrative divide started to become a reality.45 In selected cases, members of the Administrative Service such as Pillay and Ngiam became full partners of the political elite. Yet the operational word here was ‘selected’, and the method of selection was, as has been indicated, highly personal. In most cases it was not Lee, but one of his colleagues (notably Goh Keng Swee and Hon Sui Sen) who acted as talent spotters, leading some commentators to credit these men, especially Goh, with the initial regeneration of both the political and the administrative elite that carried Singapore’s fortunes on its back till nearly the end of the century.46 Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, this pattern of recruitment to the networks of power was rationalised by the sense of urgency embedded in the struggle for survival that followed separation from Malaysia.47 This pattern was probably a necessity up to a point because of the ramshackle state of the civil service in those years,48 but practices that started as necessities resorted to in extremis have continued even after the civil service and the recruitment of political leaders were supposedly professionalised and modernised – a process that began in 1982 with an attempt to model the civil service’s professional development, review and promotion procedures on those of the Shell Oil company, and which took more than a decade to show substantial results.49 To this day, personal contact with a Lee or a member of the highest echelons of the elite remains a key element of recruitment into the inner circles of power. The details and evidence of this claim will be provided later in this book, but for the moment, it is important to note the pattern, which had its humble beginnings with ‘the Oxley Road circle’, and be aware of my claim about its underlying significance.

A single, national elite In 1961, after the Left split from the PAP to form the new opposition party, Barisan Sosialis [Socialist Front], the Lee group found itself as the only force in the PAP and the government. The 1963 General Elections confirmed the new, de-radicalised PAP as the ascendant force in politics, and then in 1968, when Barisan Sosialis took the extraordinary and foolish step of boycotting the General Elections, the Lee group became the only force in parliament, and the only effective and credible force in politics.50 The PAP’s monopolisation of state power rendered political contention and public disputation redundant and thereafter policies were crafted in closed-door discussions between the

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political and the administrative elites, who mostly saw eye-to-eye.51 This process became increasingly closed to outsiders – both people and institutions – leaving power to be exercised by the elite without many constraints. The judiciary and parliament were two institutions that were increasingly marginalised in decision-making, but this is perhaps not surprising in what was, in retrospect, an emerging authoritarian state. Of more interest, perhaps, is that even the ruling party, the PAP, was marginalised – with its branch structure reduced to being an electoral vehicle for the elite, a source of supportive volunteers and – oddly enough – a vehicle through which the elite could run a network of kindergartens. The only element of the party that retained any power after the PAP’s electoral supremacy was comfortably assured in 1963, was the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC), and particularly the position of Secretary-General (which was held continuously by Lee Kuan Yew from 1957 to 1992).52 The CEC’s power was exercised independently of the party membership because it was chosen by a selected core of several hundred ‘cadre’ members – a special class of party members who were nominated by the CEC and whose membership was notionally secret.53 The system was invented by Toh Chin Chye in 1957 after a brief takeover of the party by the Left, and it was modelled on the Leninist principles of democratic centralism followed by ruling communist parties: the central leadership appoints its own body of supporters who then appoint (or re-appoint) the central leadership. Details of the operation of this party-within-the party are sketchy, but there can be little doubt that in the 1950s and early 1960s, its operation was unsystematic. By the 1970s, however, the generation of the ‘cadre’ base had been systematised, and in 1972 membership was generally granted only after an interview with three senior members of the CEC, two of whom (Toh Chin Chye and S. Rajaratnam) were also members of the Cabinet.54 This system ensured a closed and tightly controlled circuit of accountability and regeneration within the party structure – one which rendered the party branches and ordinary members irrelevant. Even the selection of party candidates for parliament is in the hands of the inner circle, and the branches and ordinary members generally discover who they will be supporting when it is announced in the press.55 Today even loyal party grassroots leaders dismiss the party as irrelevant to decision-making, a point that was brought home to me in 2003 when a loyal and active grassroots leader and PAP member said to me in interview, ‘I sometimes wonder why we have a party. It counts for nothing.’56 Yet this is not quite correct. It is true that the role of the party as a source of power and influence has been effectively

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destroyed, but it remains a powerful conduit for the exercise of power by the elite. As one member of the old guard has observed, after the 1963 elections the PAP ceased to function as a party, but it continued as yet another arm of the government’s administration.57 The CEC, therefore, and particularly the position of Secretary-General, remain powerful conduits of elite power.58 The political developments of the early to mid-1960s were visibly creating a powerful political and administrative elite, and risked the creation of an authoritarian or quasi-authoritarian state, but it was not yet obvious that these developments would give rise to a hegemonic elite that was dominant throughout the whole of society. In the 1960s, and even throughout much of the 1970s, there were hosts of rival elites that were doggedly defensive of their autonomy and their place in society. Most of the rivals were at least notional friends of the Lee group, including the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and its associated unions,59 the conservative Chinese business community, including its associated private banks and traditional social networking associations, the Malay and Muslim communities60 and the various Indian associations. These bodies had immense capacity to wield both economic power and other forms of social power, most notably in the field of education. The Lee group set out to build a new generation of English-educated workers and elites (as outlined later in this chapter), but the ethnically based elites were invariably determined to preserve the place and standard of their mother tongues, not to mention many other aspects of their cultural heritage. In some cases, members of ethnicitybased language groups were even defending the language their mothers actually spoke against the encroachment of the government-designated ‘mother tongue’. This type of reaction was particularly significant among the ‘Chinese-educated’ sections of the population, whose fi rst language may have been either Mandarin or another Chinese language (most commonly Hokkien), and who did not identify very closely with the Englishspeaking national elite that Lee Kuan Yew gathered around himself. So, while some Chinese associations were defending standards in the teaching of Mandarin against the encroachment of teaching time by the Englishlanguage curriculum, others were defending the use of Hokkien against the imposition of Mandarin.61 In hindsight, it is not at all obvious that at this point the government needed to monopolise social and economic power as well as political power in order to ensure Singapore’s survival and prosperity, but this is now a moot point: it did so and – partly thanks to the smallness of the society – it was

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able to do so with extraordinary effectiveness. Each rival elite was either coopted directly into the emerging power network emanating from the centre, marginalised and supplanted by creatures of the government, or subjected to a more nuanced combination of both strategies. The treatment of the leftwing trade unions was completely free of ambiguity: they were supplanted by government-sponsored rivals, and those left-wing union leaders who continued to stand their ground were detained for a number of years.62 Friendly rivals were treated less harshly, though not necessarily much less effectively, as the following sample of some of the more significant alternative loci of power demonstrates. Chinese businesses and traditional associations (mostly clan and temple associations) found their organisational focus in the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SCCC). As the conservative Chinese alternative to the left-wing Chinese trade unions, the SCCC was of vital strategic importance to the Lee group in its efforts to win over the Chinese heartland, and it played a pivotal role in the PAP’s consolidation of power after the split with the Left in 1961.63 Yet despite this central role – or perhaps precisely because of this display of power – the SCCC was subjected to a mixture of incentives, cajoling and bullying to entice it into alignment with Lee’s economic and educational programmes. Under pressure from the government, the SCCC transformed itself into the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) and gradually ‘modernised’ both its structure and its leadership to bring it more closely in line with the expectations of the Leecentred elite.64 Sikko Visscher, in his comprehensive study of the Chamber’s history, captured the enigma of these dynamics at one point as ‘disciplining and courting the Chamber’. Yet these efforts at compliance did not save the Chamber from being weakened and marginalised. In 1968, when the government needed to raise capital to start the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) as a vehicle for fi nancing long-term development, the government provided only 48.6 per cent of the equity.65 Chinese banks were required to supply the rest. The reality of DBS as a ‘development bank’ has, however, turned out differently to that which was envisioned when the capital was conscripted. It is true that DBS did and does provide some capital for developmental projects and acts as a holding company for government assets, but it also acts as a direct competitor of the Chinese banks that supplied most of its capital – operating as a profit-oriented commercial bank.66 Furthermore, it does so with several institutionalised advantages that between them guarantee it a monopoly on fi nancing big government projects.67 DBS is

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now Singapore’s and Southeast Asia’s largest bank. Meanwhile the fates of the remaining Chinese banks – Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), Overseas Union Bank (OUB) and United Overseas Bank (UOB) – have become increasingly intertwined with the interests of the national elite. This is particularly true of OCBC and UOB, each of which maintains very close relations with the inner orbits of the networks of power through the interchange of key staff at the highest levels and through personal ties with individual members of the national elite, including the Lee family itself.68 More broadly speaking, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce was marginalised in the 1960s as the emerging national elite began using the state to set up state enterprises (now known as Government-Linked Companies [GLCs]) that were ostensibly intended to fi ll gaps in industry that could not be fi lled by Chinese and other local entrepreneurs. Parallel to these moves, multinational companies were given incentives to set up factories in Singapore to overcome the same shortcoming in local businesses.69 To the ongoing chagrin of the Chamber and its members, local businesses – most notably the Chinese businesses – were excluded from these opportunities and developments to the point where subsidised competitors were introduced or created to take over the markets of existing enterprises, thus giving the ‘Chinese-educated’ another source of grievance.70 In the 1960s the emerging national elite also used government resources to set up networks of patronage and problem-solving for working-class Chinese constituents. This network was intended to rival the networks of the traditional Chinese associations that were the service vehicle through which the leaders of the Chinese-educated section of the population maintained the loyalty of their constituency. These networks – called Citizens’ Consultative Committees – worked hand-in-hand with other arms of government and became ubiquitous throughout the new generation of government-owned housing estates.71 (Such networks now operate far beyond their initial Chinese base and are now known collectively as ‘grassroots organisations’ [GROs].) The end result is that the bodies that traditionally represented and protected the Chinese communities, and the Chinese-educated in particular, are now less relevant, and insofar as they are involved in public life, they are heavily dependent upon the national elite for their legitimacy and influence. To survive, they have had to become paler shadows of the national elite and co-operate actively in its various programmes. Yet – and this is an important qualification – the Chinese banks, the SCCCI and the traditional Chinese associations have been more successful

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Figures 3.3 and 3.4. Two views of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Building.

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Figure 3.5. United Overseas Bank Plaza.

Figure 3.6. Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation.

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at retaining some level of autonomy than most sections of society, to the point where they are the only viable alternative power base for any alternative elite. UOB’s CEO, Wee Cho Yaw (owner of 20 per cent of the bank and son of the bank’s founder, Wee Kheng Chiang),72 has deep roots in the SCCCI and the broader Chinese-educated communities, and has effectively set himself up as the alternative patron to these groups. He has particularly strong connections with the network of chairmen of the government’s Citizens’ Consultative Committees, the vast majority of whom are Chinese, and who are part of the SCCCI-centred network.73 In interview, former Nominated Member of Parliament Viswa Sadasivan identified him as ‘one of the most powerful men in Singapore’ and by far the most generous of the Chinese millionaires towards the Chinese community. He is ‘very much the power behind the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry’ and the government knows that it should not announce any major policy affecting the Chinese community without checking in advance with his circle of close advisers and confidantes. The SCCCI never fully lost its independence, and in a sense its power has increased as its rivals (notably the even more traditional Chinese associations) have withered. Wee, his bank and his networks are thoroughly integrated into the national elite, but he has retained more autonomy and power than anyone else because he has decided fi rmly that he will keep power within the family. This stands in contrast to the OCBC networks. They also operate with considerable freedom and power, but the bank itself has been professionalised and managerialised to the extent that there is no longer an easily identifiable locus of power, and it is a moot point to question whether the several OCBC people who have been in government (notably Tony Tan and Teo Chee Hean) are OCBC people in government, or PAP people in the OCBC. On the other hand, during 2010, Wee Cho Yaw and the SCCCI were able to reverse a major set of reforms in Chinese language teaching (which the government had apparently failed to run past Wee’s advisers), and force a rare public volte face by a senior government minister – Education Minister Ng Eng Hen – because, in the words of Viswa Sadasivan, ‘the government realised that it can’t take them on’.74 Thanks to the relative independence of these networks, the Chinese business sector is today able to exercise a considerable degree of autonomy, though for all the larger enterprises that have the greatest potential for independence – including the banks – it is a de facto condition of existence that they integrate themselves into the elite to some extent: on the one hand taking members of

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Figure 3.7. The Islamic Hub, housing MUIS.

Figure 3.8. Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim.

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the national elite onto their own boards,75 and on the other, putting family members onto the boards of GLCs, other state-linked bodies or even into parliament.76 Every now and then these Chinese networks show some signs of independent life – most commonly over language and educational issues – but basically they are now relegated to a mid-range to outer orbit in the networks of power and influence. The Malays were treated somewhat differently. Comprising 13–14 per cent of the population and with a strong communal identity, they also made a pivotal contribution to the consolidation of power by the Lee-centred elite after its split with the Left in 1961.77 Since they were all Muslims, it was a relatively simple matter, at least as a first step, to establish a government agency headed by a Secretary seconded from the civil service to manage the Muslim aspects of their lives.78 It was also relatively simple to co-opt a selection of Malay leaders to the government’s cause. A small number of them are now routinely placed on the PAP ‘ticket’ for parliamentary seats, and one of them is made Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs. These Malay MPs became the linchpins that guaranteed the PAP’s electoral supremacy in the Malay community79 (at least until the 2011 elections when the loss of Malay support was one of the factors that cost the PAP five MPs and two ministers),80 and they are given blanket protection from any hint of challenge from rivals. The most graphic example of the operation of this protection occurred in March 2001, when Lee Kuan Yew slapped down an attempt by a broad-based group of Malay leaders to form their own ‘collective leadership’ to represent Malays on Malay issues. Lee’s response was explicit: As for this collective leadership, do we want to belabour the point? You have a collective leadership which will then be in a moral position to tell our MPs, ‘you are not up to standard, you didn’t press the SAF issue. We did, you see. Now, you see the results’. Do you think the PAP or any party will sit back and watch this happen? They cannot do that. They are fighting for our votes, for the right to govern Singapore. We are not going to allow our Malay MPs to be undercut so that they can’t pull the Malay votes.81 This blunt exercise of power was sufficient to maintain the central elite’s political hegemony over the Malay community,82 but the 2011 General

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Election shows how fragile was the elite’s hold on the Malays’ hearts and minds. The trade unions present a particularly interesting case because their subjugation came in three phases. In the 1960s, the left-wing trade unions were supplanted by new unions loyal to the Lee group and the PAP – a process to which I have already alluded and which need not detain us further. In the 1970s, these PAP union leaders proved to be remarkably independent minded and their unions were too large and strong to be easily subjugated, so they in turn needed to be replaced. The unions were broken up into smaller, more vulnerable structures, and a new generation of handpicked leaders were inserted into the peak leadership positions. When the most public face of this new generation of loyal ‘union leaders’, Lim Chee Onn, was seen to be ineffective he was replaced with the then Deputy Prime Minister, Ong Teng Cheong.83 He acted as a stopgap until the government’s broader hold over the union movement could be properly and fully established by the almost complete replacement of the old generation of union leaders with the new, a process that reached fulfi lment in the mid- to late 1980s.84 Today the union movement has only a handful of pockets that are holding out against a full government takeover, and these are dealt with ruthlessly whenever they even look like they might upset the ethic of compliance.85 The government’s programme of appropriating all forms of power in Singapore was for the most part complete by the end of the 1970s: a transformation as swift as it was profound. By the beginning of the 1980s, most Singaporeans were ‘digits’ (to use one of Lee Kuan Yew’s favourite terms from the 1960s and 1970s) in the elite’s system of control and management, with government control extending right down to matters of daily life and business. Not only was the economy increasingly dominated by GLCs, but by 1975 51 per cent of Singaporeans lived in a government flat, and 79 per cent of the employed workforce and their employers were co-contributing the equivalent of 30 per cent of their income into the government’s retirement savings scheme (Central Provident Fund [CPF]).86 By 1985, 81 per cent of the population was living in government flats and the full co-contribution rate to the CPF had risen to 50 per cent.87 The depth of the social control that these statistics represent is demonstrated in a number of seemingly isolated incidents over the decades, when the government used its near-monopoly on housing to exercise considerable control over the lives of Singaporeans on matters of marriage patterns (encouraging single people to get married), family structure (encouraging extended families) and the ethnic demographics of neighbourhoods.88

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Throughout the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, it became routine for senior government ministers to point out to constituencies that voted against the PAP, their housing would suffer as a result.89 The government’s control of the CPF enabled it to monitor and try to influence the frequency with which they changed jobs (to overcome the supposedly anti-social behaviour of ‘job-hopping’), and to impose a state-sponsored ethic of ‘fi lial piety’ by encouraging, and even imposing fi nancial transfers between working Singaporeans and their aged parents to cover living and medical expenses.90 At this point we return momentarily to the point with which we opened this chapter: the significance of Singapore’s small size, and the degree of control that this feature facilitates. Perhaps nothing demonstrates this capacity better than two occasions on which Lee has boasted of the level of control that he and his party exercise. The first boast was about the government’s response to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis of 2003 when Lee Kuan Yew told the press of how the government was using the full reach of the grassroots organisations to fi nd and monitor suspected SARS carriers91 – a task that was made possible by the fact that by this stage almost all Singaporeans lived in systematically ordered and logically numbered high-rise government housing estates, rather than the untidy and largely unfathomable labyrinths of shop houses, kampongs and attap (thatched roof) villages that were pulled down during the 1960s and 1970s.92 More recently, Lee proudly recounted how he once told a delegation from China about the extent of his reach. Seah Chiang Nee of the Malaysian Star reported: In his outspoken way, Lee admitted that all grassroots organisations (with nearly 300,000 community workers) which interact and organise activities in the estates were actually part of his party. It is used by the PAP to foster bonds with Singaporeans. . . . ‘. . . Everywhere . . . [Singaporeans] go, they see the PAP – in the RCs (residents’ committees), CCCs (citizens’ consultative committees), and the CCs (community clubs),’ Lee beamed. Seah added an editorial note saying that ‘since they are publicly-funded and overseen by the People’s Association a government statutory board under the Ministry of Community Development, the community workers are supposed to be non-partisans’.93

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Elite selection, formation and character The exercise of control using the coercive powers of the state enabled the emerging elite to place itself at the centre of a very broad constellation of power networks in a most basic sense: all the other networks of influence depended upon the tolerance, if not the sponsorship, of the centre for legitimacy and functionality. Yet this picture depicts power relationships at only the crudest of levels. In a capitalist society that does not rely solely upon brute force for the supremacy of its ruling elite – which is clearly the case with Singapore – one would expect to find a parallel set of developments that provides a more sophisticated understanding of the networks of power and influence. And so it is in this case. The key to this deeper understanding is the nature of the new elite and its subsidiaries, and the means and rationale by which the elite assumed the leadership of virtually every element of society throughout the latter part of the 1970s and the early part of the 1980s. This understanding in turn provides one of the critical elements needed to understand the operation of Singapore’s networks of power and influence as we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century. In the 1970s, the new elite was being carefully and systematically crafted in a project that involved the active participation of much of the core membership of the old guard – most notably Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, Lim Kim San, Hon Sui Sen and S. Rajaratnam. Despite some differences in the nuances of their approaches, including some serious disagreements that were exposed to the public gaze only after Toh and Rajaratnam stepped away from the front line, these Cabinet Ministers were the core group in elite formation and building a new culture. There were other members of the old guard that are not included in this list – notably C.V. Devan Nair and Ong Pang Boon – but I have excluded them because despite their closeness to power, they were inhibited from being committed to the full gamut of Lee Kuan Yew’s programme of elite formation, though for different reasons. Devan Nair never committed himself fully to the notion of seeing high levels of education as the key to identifying talent, and Ong sympathised too much with Chinese causes – particularly on educational matters – for the comfort of Lee and his core group of confidantes.94 These men did recruit on behalf of the elite, but each of them was very effectively restricted to recruiting into the more peripheral layers of the networks of power: Nair recruited new leaders into the unions and Ong worked in the Chinese-educated communities.

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Between them, the exclusion and relative marginalisation of Devan Nair and Ong Pang Boon point us to two of the three central characteristics of the new elite as it was emerging in the 1970s: being English-educated and being well-educated. The third necessary element was a personal connection with a member of the inner circle, but for the moment I will concentrate on just the first two elements. The government decided immediately after its separation from Malaysia in 1965 that English was to become the unofficial national language of Singapore, despite its technical status as merely one of four ‘official’ languages (alongside Malay, Tamil and Mandarin). English language education was promoted at every turn, and key subjects needed for the government’s programme of industrialisation and modernisation – Maths and Science – were to be taught in English, even if the child’s command of English was non-existent. Almost the entire Chinese-medium school system – which had been both extensive in its reach and fiercely independent of the government – was systematically absorbed into the government school system, thus giving the government both control and compliance at the same time.95 At the upper end of the education system, every effort was made to increase the size of the cohorts entering the English-language University of Singapore. Meanwhile, Nanyang University, the Chinese university that had been producing cohorts of Chinese-educated graduates since 1958, was closed down in 1980.96 The promotion of English-medium education was designed in part to increase the pool from which the elite could reproduce itself, but the gaze of Lee and his colleagues was always at the higher end of this process.97 Hence the government began opening a new type of school to replace the rather ordinary classes that had marked the pre-university fi nal years of high school: the well-endowed junior college, beginning with National Junior College, which opened in 1970. It also expanded the existing scheme of Public Service Commission (PSC) Overseas Merit Scholarships (OMS), and in 1971 introduced a decisive innovation – a new elite scholarship just for men going into National Service: the Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS).98 The SAFOS scholarships were quickly recognised as the ultimate prize for male students and an unobtainable prize for females – at least until 2010, when a woman was awarded a SAFOS scholarship for the fi rst time. The President’s Scholarship remained as the academic pinnacle for both sexes, but the status of SAFOS was obvious from the start and is now confi rmed, if a little boastfully, on the Ministry of Defence website, which routinely describes the SAFOS as

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‘the most prestigious scholarship after the President’s Scholarship’ with more stringent standards than the other Overseas Merit Scholarships.99 Apart from the fact that the SAFOS scholarship scheme was introduced with much fanfare, it was clear that this was something special from the fact that Lee Kuan Yew’s eldest son returned to do his matriculation in 1970 to be eligible to be in the fi rst cohort of SAFOS scholars in 1971, despite having already matriculated in 1969 and won both a President’s Scholarship and an ordinary OMS scholarship in the 1970 round.100 And even this indication of specialness leaves aside the fact that SAFOS scholars do their studies on an Army Lieutenant’s salary rather than a student stipend. In retrospect, we also know that the creation of this scholarship was Lee Kuan Yew’s direct, personal initiative101 so it should not be surprising that since its inception, winners have come to dominate the SAF hierarchy completely. It is more surprising that they have also come to make up about 10 per cent of the civilian Administrative Service, thanks to the practices of routinely seconding serving SAF officers into the Administrative Service.102 The SAFOS project, along with the President’s Scholarships and OMS scholarships, became the centrepiece of the elite’s self-renewal programme, and yet it is remarkable how little had changed since Lee Kuan Yew made his 1966 speech at the opening of this book, in which he lamented the thinness of the crust of leadership on which Singapore depended. At this point I must ask the reader to bear with me while I produce some figures to demonstrate this point. Between 1971 and 2010, 283 SAFOS scholarships have been awarded (see Table 3.4).103 I do not have output figures of the broader range of PSC scholarships over that full period, but it was certainly several times greater than the figure for the SAFOS scholarships. The only years in which I am able to make a comprehensive comparison based on full figures for all types of PSC scholarships (including Local and Local-Overseas scholarships) are 2002–2010 and in those years we find there was a total of 51 SAFOS scholarships and 318 other PSC overseas scholarships awarded (see Table 3.5).104 These figures suggest that the total output of scholars sent overseas since 1971 was more than six times that of the output of SAFOS scholars. If this is correct, then a pool of up to 2,000 or so overseas scholars has been created in the 40 years from 1971 to 2010. It is from this pool that the new elite has been drawn and is being drawn – though with most attention being paid to the pool of 283 SAFOS scholars (from 1971 to 2010) and 243 President’s Scholars (from 1966 to 2010). (Note that the President’s Scholarship is not a stand-alone scholarship. It

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7

9

5

7

7

6

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

?

?

?

?

At least 4

4

At least 4

9

15

5

Not offered

Not offered

Not offered

Not offered Not offered

SAFOS Scholars

1995

1994

1993

1992

1991

1990

1989

1988

1987

1986

1985

1984

1983

1981 1982

Year

3

4

3

4

4

5

6

5

6

8

5

4

4

9 6

President’s Scholars

At least 4

5

6

At least 4

6

4

4

At least 3

?

?

At least 3

At least 4

At least 5

4 At least 6

SAFOS Scholars

4 243

2010

6

5

4

4

3

2

5

4

3

3

1

2

3 3

President’s Scholars

Total

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

1998

1996 1997

Year

283*

5

6

4

6

5

7

7

5

6

8

12

9

10

7 6

SAFOS Scholars

* Note that the total number of SAFOS scholars is on the public record and easily accessible. The numbers of SAFOS scholars per year is publicly available and easily accessible for all years since 2002, but for all years before 2002 I have had to piece together the numbers using any useful sources I could find. There are 81 SAFOS scholars that I have not been able to identify.112

8

1975

9

1971

1974

8

1970

11

4

1969

11

6

1968

1973

10 7

1966 1967

1972

President’s Scholars

Year

Table 3.4 Numbers of President’s Scholars and SAFOS scholars, 1966–20101

46

the ruling elite of singapore

Table 3.5 Numbers of President’s Scholars and SAFOS, overseas and non-overseas PSC Scholars, 2002–10 Year

President’s SAFOS Non-SAFOS All Overseas Scholars Scholars Overseas PSC Scholars PSC Scholars (Columns 2 + 3)

Local and LocalOverseas PSC Scholars

All PSC Scholars (Columns 4 + 5)

2002

4

6

49

55

13

68

2003

5

5

43

48

1

49

2004

2

7

26

33

2

35

2005

3

7

38

45

4

49

2006

4

5

28

33

5

38

2007

4

6

25

31

26

57

2008

5

4

33

37

35

72

2009

6

6

44

50

35

85

2010

4

5

32

37

32

69

Total

37

51

318

369

153

522

offers the winners little more than kudos and is always paired with another scholarship that pays a living allowance or a wage, such as the SAFOS scholarship. This means that there is an overlap between the President’s Scholars and other scholars.) Although other overseas scholars and even occasionally a ‘local’ scholar have been invited into the elite, the focus of elite attention has been squarely on these two groups of young scholarship winners. This was, by any measure, a tiny pool of candidates on which to rely for governance, administration, leadership and renewal. Yet in reality, it is even smaller than it appears here, because 78 of these President’s Scholars are women, and with some notable exceptions, women have not been invited into the elite.105 Furthermore, at least one, and usually several male President’s Scholars in each cohort since 1971 have also been awarded SAFOS scholarships. By the time we take these various factors into account we have probably reduced the core pool of candidates from 1966 to 2010 down to around 500. This figure is probably overstating the smallness of the pool because it excludes too many of the OMS scholars, but it provides a lower-end estimate. Lee Kuan Yew’s public statement on the matter suggests that this pool of talent is somewhere below 800. In Hard Truths he estimated that today’s

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total catchment of ‘people of quality’ per yearly cohort is ‘about a hundred’, of whom the government ends up with 20 to 30 in some capacity or other, and it is this group of 20-plus young people that the elite scours for future leaders.106 If we take his statement at face value and if we make the assumption that the output in the 1970s was the same as today, then these figures suggest that between 1966 and 2010, the total pool of candidates for the leadership was between 900 and 1,400. In fact, we can be confident that the pool in 1966 and the 1970s was much less than half today’s, reducing the total since 1966 to well below the lower end of this estimate, but probably still higher than my estimate of 500. Using these two calculations to set the parameters of our estimates, we can be confident that between 500 and about 800 serious candidates for the elite have been produced since independence. Yet if we consider only those who are old enough to have been through university and had sufficient work experience to be candidates for high level, relatively independent leadership in the early 2010s (i.e. those who matriculated before, say 1995),107 then the pool is much smaller – almost certainly not more than 500 and possibly as low as 300. This is not the absolute limit of the pool from which the elite can comfortably draw, since it has always been able to fi nd a few candidates among the other scholars and even non-scholars,108 but it is a good estimate of the limits of its pool of prime candidates. Considering that this is an estimate of the size of the pool of serious candidates for the elite, and that only a proportion of these will actually be brought into the elite, and a much smaller proportion again will be offered and accept senior leadership positions, it is remarkable how modest the progress in elite production has been since Lee’s speech of 29 August 1966 when he complained that the elite consisted of ‘a thin crust’ of only 150 people.109 This figure must surely have at least doubled in those four decades, but I doubt that it has done much more than that. No wonder they keep people in multiple positions, and recycle trusted hands from the old days whenever there is a crisis!110 The small size of this pool of candidates is, of course, self-imposed. There is no need for the elite to have followed this narrow path of selection, but in fact it did, and the consequence is that all the factors that result from the small size of Singapore generally (to which I have already referred) are magnified at the elite level. It has also laid the groundwork for the creation of a particularly cohesive elite, with similar educational and life experiences and expectations. This is typical of elites all over the world, but it is nonetheless notable and significant in this instance. The supremacy of English-language

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the ruling elite of singapore

education, along with high levels of education per se, are two of several central features that characterise the new elite-in-the-making. The special significance of English-educated ‘scholars’ in the new Singapore began to become clear in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Lee started embedding them into civil society, and even in working class housing estates,113 with the specific and stated intention of providing leadership to those with less education.114 One of the first and most significant targets of these placements was the trade union movement, which found an increasing number of such ‘professionals’ – sometimes economists trained at Harvard or the London School of Economics115 – parachuted into leadership positions from 1977 onwards.116 In the 1970s, however, the prospect of putting the products of this education and language revolution into the elite itself was still a tentative hope. They were certainly brought into the upper levels of the civil service to be tested, trialled and monitored personally by Lee and his closest confidantes (notably Goh Keng Swee and Hon Sui Sen),117 but this was a far cry from bringing them properly into the elite. In any case, the most talented of these candidates were usually the fi rst to leave for more lucrative careers in the private sector.118 At the beginning of the 1970s, fi nding talent, commitment and loyalty in the same person was so rare that the inner corps of the administrative elite was about the same size as the political elite and can be listed here without much risk of contradiction: George Bogaars, Sim Kee Boon, Ong Kah Kok, Ngiam Tong Dow, J.Y. Pillay and Pang Tee Pow.119 In the absence of systemic recruitment producing new cadres for the elite, it was natural that private connections would remain important, but the development of a process of more systemic recruitment into the elite did not remain in stasis. Indeed the pathway into the elite became well-defined and even well-worn. A young man needed to win a top scholarship that bonded him to the civil service. He then needed to perform at a high level of competence and demonstrate that he was highly attuned to the needs of not only his administrative masters, but also his political masters. There was normally a period – usually years – when he found himself working in close physical and professional proximity to a very senior member of the elite, with the optimal pathway for someone without a blood or marriage relationship being a close professional association with Lee Kuan Yew or, later, Lee Hsien Loong. From there one could be expected to rise through one or more of the crucial ministries around which power pivoted: the Prime Minister’s Office, and the ministries of Defence, Education, Finance, Trade

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and Industry and Home Affairs. If Lee and his inner circle judged that the youngish mandarin had the potential to go into politics, he was invited to join the PAP, run for parliament and if he made the cut, be appointed to the Cabinet in short order.120 This was not a mandatory pattern of recruitment into the centre of power, but it was the main one. Hence during the entire period from 1980 to 1994, there were only two Cabinet Ministers who did not come from the public sector (excluding Lee Kuan Yew who was sui generis).121 Note that even when the pattern of elite recruitment had reached a substantial degree of sophistication and had apparently begun moving away from the highly personal recruitment patterns of the 1950s–1970s, personal connections and a period of physical proximity with Lee or one of his inner circle remained a vital link in the selection and formation process. This brings us to the point where we are ready to consider the drastic evolutionary changes that completed the transformation of the nascent elite in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Chapter 4

Lee Kuan Yew Supreme

The early 1980s proved to be a turning point for Singapore. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the networks of power and influence that ran the country were already dominated by Lee, but until the late 1970s he was still operating as the first among equals; the leader of a formidable group of ‘old guard’ leaders who between them comprised a consolidated, but relatively heterogeneous ruling elite. In the early 1980s, the Singapore system could have been understood to have been undergoing a process of professionalisation and modernisation: developing systemic processes of elite formation and elite selection based on principles and abilities rather than old-fashioned impulses like favouritism and family connections. As we shall see shortly, in the 1980s there was ample evidence to suggest that a form of maturity was indeed settling onto the Singapore system whereby it was becoming more modern and less personal. It also seemed to many observers, including many Singaporeans, to be becoming more ‘normal’ (in the narrow sense of becoming more like a Western, capitalist democracy). That this path was diverted into a system of personal power centred on the person and family of Lee Kuan Yew, and a system of elitism that privileged particular socio-economic classes and ethnic groups, was neither necessary nor accidental, but it nevertheless became the reality. The evidence that Singapore was maturing benignly was, as I say, legion. If we restrict our attention to the narrow sphere of the civil service, we can see that a programme of professionalisation was launched with some public fanfare in 1982 when the government started introducing patterns of organisational behaviour and professional review modelled on those used

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by multinational companies, particularly Shell Oil. These were the first steps towards transforming both the ordinary civil service and the elite Administrative Service into reliable, competent organisations capable of delivering outcomes to a standard expected by demanding task masters like Goh Keng Swee and Lee Kuan Yew.1 This process continued for many years, and began to bear fruit that satisfied the government in the early 1990s.2 At a broader, more public level, even more significant changes seemed to be taking place. 1981 saw the election of the first opposition Member of Parliament since the opposition boycotted the elections of 1968. This was shortly followed by the election of a second opposition MP in 1984 and four opposition candidates in 1991.3 To outsiders and many Singaporeans, this pattern of events looked like a series of hopeful signs, especially since they were accompanied by a generational shift in the national elite itself. In 1980, talk of a handover to a ‘second generation of leaders’ was emerging as commonplace in the mainstream media, having been first mooted publicly by Lee Kuan Yew in 1975.4 The pool from which the ‘second generation of leaders’ would be drawn was by this stage identifiable, and the candidates were cut from a different cloth compared to the old guard: technocrats and scholarship winners like the affable Goh Chok Tong, the visionary Tony Tan, the man-of-the-people Ong Teng Cheong and the brilliant S. Dhanabalan. On 1 January 1985, they took the helm led by Goh as First Deputy Prime Minister, but with Lee Kuan Yew remaining as Prime Minister to oversee their operations. Goh described his relationship with Lee in football terms, with himself as the striker and Lee Kuan Yew as the goal keeper.5 The second generation leaders were characterised as smart, educated, professional and above all, ‘nice’. They set about dismantling or watering down some of the more objectionable and idiosyncratic initiatives that were clearly identified with Lee Kuan Yew, most notably the programmes that encouraged procreation among middle-class, tertiary educated (mostly Chinese) women, and sterilisation among low-income, poorly educated (mostly Malay) women.6 Less spectacularly, unpopular measures in areas such as health and bilingualism were also softened in response to public opinion, and the younger leaders took a series of initiatives designed to create new spaces and opportunities for public discourse on politics.7 Such was the new sense of freedom that after the 1984 elections, a group of young activists wrote a book called A Shift in the Wind that was intended to provide a critical analysis of the growing strength of democracy in the new environment,8 and in 1994 the ultra-cautious Straits Times newspaper was comfortable publishing a short series of articles by political commentator Catherine Lim that were

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the ruling elite of singapore

highly critical of the government.9 Activists began forming themselves into interest groups and engaging in various forms and degrees of contention with the government.10 The positive straws in the wind were, however, misleading. Opposition MPs did become a minor part of the landscape from 1981 onwards, but opposition parties were given no more freedom to operate than before, and candidates such as J.B. Jeyaretnam, Tang Liang Hong and more recently, Chee Soon Juan, who threatened to become serious challengers of the status quo, found themselves jailed, bankrupted or driven into de facto exile.11 Civil society was given a little more freedom, but it operated within boundaries that were both strictly enforced and vaguely demarcated, leading to a form of self-monitoring of dissent that proved to be very effective and very efficient from the government’s point of view.12 Garry Rodan has characterised these developments as a ‘structural and ideological refinement of authoritarian rule’: profiting the regime by opening it up to a wider range of expertise and feedback and ‘giving people a sense of involvement in the political process’, but all the time ensuring that ‘political participation and consultation . . . were an alternative to political competition, not a supplement or adjunct to it’.13 The most decisive, but hardly the only retreat from a serious pretence of political liberalisation came with the detention of 22 activists – mostly but not exclusively associated with the Catholic Church – who were detained by the Internal Security Department (ISD) in May and June 1987 after being accused of being part of a Marxist and communist conspiracy to overthrow the state.14 Catherine Lim’s 1994 contribution to public debate (mentioned above) was rewarded by a very public scolding and humiliation inflicted by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.15 The former of these episodes – the detentions of 1987 – turned out to be a decisive turning point in the story I am telling here because it consolidated and demonstrated the pivotal role of Lee Kuan Yew during this period of seemingly dramatic change. The principal significance of this episode from the narrow perspective of studying Singapore’s networks of power and influence is that Lee Kuan Yew used the occasion to secure his place at the centre of the new generation of networks – networks that were taking shape in a freshly modern organisational culture that one might have otherwise expected to challenge his personal hegemony. Our interest in the detentions for the purposes of this study is not primarily with the activists who were arrested, but with the interactions at the elite level. By this stage, Goh Chok Tong was well-established as First Deputy Prime Minister and Lee Hsien Loong was in his first term in parliament and already in the Cabinet. Lee Hsien Loong was also fresh out of the blocks

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Figure 4.1. The late J.B. Jeyaretnam.

Figure 4.2. Chee Soon Juan.

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the ruling elite of singapore

from his first greatly heralded achievement: his blueprint for bringing the Singapore economy out of the recession of the mid-1980s.16 The detentions and the political campaign that accompanied them were directed and micromanaged by Lee Kuan Yew17 and it is significant that for the first two months the new generation of leaders had nothing to say publicly about the matter except for an almost apologetic response by Minister for Foreign Affairs S. Dhanabalan to a journalist’s question.18 The reason for this silence became apparent when Goh Chok Tong made his first public statement on the matter and he made plain just how lukewarm and even sceptical he and all his ‘younger’ ministerial colleagues had been about ISD’s claims that this group of English-educated professionals and Catholics were involved in a communist plot to overthrow the state. The Business Times profiled the story thus: His [Goh’s] initial reactions were: ‘Was the ISD not making a mistake? Were they not over-reacting?’ He said he was even more surprised when he read the ISD papers on Vincent Cheng, regarded as a key player in the conspiracy, and the other 15 who were detained along with him [in the first swoop]. They were mainly English-educated, had good degrees or diplomas, held good jobs and were involved in church or social work, or both. ‘I was concerned that ISD should not confuse young idealists for sinister communists out to wreck Singapore,’ said Mr Goh . . . . And when the ISD recommended the detention of Vincent Cheng and the others, Mr Goh said he and the other leaders did not just take their word for it.19 Despite their extensive misgivings – which his account suggests were never fully allayed20 – the entire ‘younger leadership’ swung behind the detentions. The Business Times reported: This was the first time, he [Goh] said, that the younger ministers had to make such a difficult decision and it was the first time that they had to use the ISD to deal with the security threat. . . . All the members of the younger leadership were involved and each gave his view on what should be done with the 16 people [in the first round of detentions, in May]. ‘All of us were satisfied that the 16 were indeed involved in some nefarious activity as reported by the ISD.’21

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Goh’s account depicts the Cabinet being dragged inch by inch towards becoming complicit in taking the decision to act, but never coming up with a better reason than a conviction that the accused were engaged in ‘some nefarious activity’.22 Despite the vagueness of this charge and their obvious reluctance to pursue the matter, Goh and his colleagues publicly identified themselves with the arrests, and in the months leading up to his assumption of the premiership at the end of 1990, Goh found himself as one of the public faces of the detentions and indeed took personal responsibility for ordering the re-arrest of some of the detainees in 1988.23 As for Lee Hsien Loong, he gradually emerged as the second-tier public face of the detentions (behind his father and Minister for Law S. Jayakumar). He addressed parliament and public meetings, hosted a local television forum and even appeared on BBC Radio on behalf of the government.24 It is obvious how much of a wrench it took for Goh to bring himself into line with Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes on the detentions, but we cannot know for certain how much Lee Hsien Loong had to deviate from his natural inclinations. We do know that he was, by this time, practised in being the public face of decisions with which he had strongly disagreed in private (as has since been revealed by Ngiam Tong Dow),25 so there is no particular reason to doubt that he was at one with his Cabinet colleagues in their reticence on this issue. This identification of the new guard with Lee Kuan Yew’s activities was a tremendously important step in the consolidation of Lee Kuan Yew’s hegemony over the next generation of leaders. This was especially so because the political story that attempted to justify these detentions was unconvincing26 and even at the time Lee Kuan Yew was ready to privately dismiss the supposed ‘Marxist conspirators’ contemptuously as ‘do-gooders’.27 Lee himself explained the significance of these developments to a forum organised by the National University of Singapore Political Association on 23 July 1990: I was encouraged to see how calmly Goh Chok Tong and his team . . . took the flack over the 1987 arrest of the Marxist Conspirators and the 1988 re-arrest of several of them. You remember the foreign press and human rights groups were baying for blood. Had they softened under pressure, Singapore would have been a different place. Of course at the time many thought that I was the man behind it. They were wrong. Goh Chok Tong and his team had decided on these detentions. . . . The team has shown guts in tackling tough, sensitive and potentially vote

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the ruling elite of singapore losing issues. They tackled them because the problems were critical for our survival.28

This was not the end of Lee Kuan Yew’s process of corralling his successors into his paddock, but it was the main turning point in the process and as much as he needed to do until after Goh had settled into the premiership. By the time he assumed that position, Lee’s template had already been firmly set. If we take the public accounts at face value, Goh invited Lee to remain in the Cabinet as Senior Minister so that he could benefit from his experience, and even invited him to retain his old office space while Goh found a smaller office on another floor of the Istana.29

1987 and future generations of elites The impact of the events of 1987 on Lee Kuan Yew’s consolidation of power was not, however, restricted to his contemporary Cabinet colleagues. He also reached into the bowels of future generations of elites and gave them a squeeze. To understand this process, we turn our attention briefly to the detentions themselves – or more precisely, to one of the detainees and two of his friends who do not seem to fit the usual picture of radical activists, even by the new standards set in the 1987 detentions. These three men – Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Chew Kheng Chuan and Yeoh Lam Keong – studied together in London and had been part of the circle of radical Singaporean students who associated with the Maoist exile, Tan Wah Piow. Tan was alleged by the government to have been the mastermind of the supposed ‘Marxist conspiracy’ of 1987. When they returned to Singapore in the early 1980s, Yeoh joined the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), while Chew went into private enterprise. Tharman – the most interesting case of all – joined the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and later entered politics and became Minister for Education and then Minister for Finance before being appointed Minister for Manpower and Deputy Prime Minister in 2011. Needless to say, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Manpower, the MAS and the GIC are not the sort of places one would normally expect to find ‘Marxist conspirators’. It is also significant to note that when Tharman joined MAS, he came under the patronage of a young Lee Hsien Loong and was clearly regarded as a candidate for high office.30 It should be obvious from this overview of their future careers that despite their fl irtations with Tan Wah Piow in London, these men were no radicals,

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Figure 4.3. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

but they did have strongly independent outlooks and opinions. After the 1984 elections, two of them – Chew and Tharman – informally joined a project to write the book, A Shift in the Wind, which was referred to earlier as one of the signs of hope. The book itself was a collective effort of up to 20 people, with some, such as Chew, heavily involved and others, such as Tharman, attending only one or two meetings and acting more as a ‘consultant’. In the end, three brave souls – Chew Kheng Chuan, Teo Soh Lung and Kenneth Tsang, all of whom were arrested in the detentions of 1987 – put their names on a late draft of the group’s work as the nominal authors. The book itself was in part a hopeful exploration of the likely future of ‘open and accountable government’ and ‘democracy’ in Singapore and in part a celebration of the PAP government’s discomfort over unprecedented electoral setbacks infl icted by the electorate in 1981 and 1984.31 The material was innocuous in itself, but clearly it was sufficient to scare the government into action. Chew was arrested in the second round of detentions in 1987, but the treatment of Tharman and Yeoh is more interesting for our story: they had not put their names to the book and Tharman’s involvement in the book was peripheral at most, yet both were harassed for a week. They were both required to appear at the ISD for questioning every day, and during that week they and their wives took to sleeping in a different hotel every night so

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the ruling elite of singapore

they could be reasonably sure of being able to talk without their conversations being monitored.32 It does not take very much imagination to understand why Chew was arrested and the others were not. Apart from the basic fact that Chew was the only one of the three to put his name to the book, any formal accusation against the other two would have involved a claim that the GIC and the MAS – nerve centres of Singaporean state capitalism – were seedbeds of a Marxist conspiracy to overthrow the state. Such a claim would have undermined the government’s credibility, regardless of whether or not it was believed. Of greater interest is the question of why Tharman and Yeoh were harassed at all. To the best of my knowledge, no one ever explained the reasons for their questioning to them, but if we consider the arrest of Chew and the harassment of Tharman and Yeoh as one collective action, the effects were immediate and impressive: a potential member of the inner core of the elite (Tharman Shanmugaratnam) was given an object lesson in power and where it lay. Even the protection offered by being Lee Hsien Loong’s protégé was of limited value if the older Lee was taking an interest. The lesson was taken to heart very quickly: this episode marked an abrupt end to Tharman’s fl irtation with dissident politics, and the beginning of his rise in the administrative and political elites. It is also remarkable that there has never been another renegade candidate for the elite like the young Tharman Shanmugaratnam. 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. Lee Kuan Yew’s machinations had a cumulative effect on the elite. With his old guard colleagues out of the way by the middle of the 1980s, and the lessons of 1987 well and truly learnt, there was no one left in the elite who would contend a contrary opinion to Lee. His younger Cabinet colleagues now regarded him with awe, and even if they disagreed with him they knew that they were in no position to challenge anything about which he held a strong opinion.33 The practical impact of this power was magnified many-fold because of two crucial factors outlined in the previous chapter: the smallness of the island and the society, and the ubiquitous presence of the state sector in the economy. The significance of the small size of the polity and the island should not need reinforcement at this stage, but I have not properly conveyed the import of the GLCs. 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

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vehicle of elite patronage and power. During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, small- and medium-sized private enterprises (SMEs) were squeezed between GLCs and multinational corporations. Left with no air to breathe, the sector withered and nearly died. This left the government – taken broadly to include government-linked enterprises and statutory boards – as the main employer for educated Singaporeans, and especially for the elite. Only during the 1990s was there any government recognition that SMEs were worthy of encouragement,34 but by then the strength of the government sector in the employment market and on the imagination was overwhelming. Even now, the government finds the dominance of the public sector on elite employment so inescapable and the attractions of its security and financial rewards so strong that it needs to encourage or force new generations of tertiary-educated Singaporeans into private sector careers.35 As the next section makes clear, the ubiquitous presence of the public sector throughout the national economy and its importance as an employer and as a financial, commercial and industrial power was such that control of this sector was both a prize to be grasped and a tool of political control. Lee Kuan Yew had control of these tools when he was premier, and it should not be too surprising that the final, albeit unsuccessful challenge to his power should have been waged with and over these instruments.

The failed challenge from Goh Chok Tong Until Lee Hsien Loong’s successful putsch in 2011, the only significant challenge to Lee Kuan Yew’s hegemony had come from Goh Chok Tong, who tried to use his occupancy of the premiership during the 1990s to build a power base to rival that of Lee. Ross Worthington tried to document this attempted quasi-coup, but despite his access to many of the players, he was able to follow only the outward manifestations of the subterranean battle that was being fought during these years.36 We will return to other aspects of the developments of the 1980s in the next chapter, but for the moment let us conclude this study of the establishment of Lee’s hegemony by considering briefly the challenge from his successor. Upon assuming the premiership in late 1990, Goh set out to reduce the influence of the Lees in the Cabinet and the state. Lee Kuan Yew was virtually untouchable, but Hsien Loong was more vulnerable. His first move was to shift Lee Hsien Loong out of the Ministry of Defence, where he had held a portfolio (though never as full minister) since 1984. This was particularly important to Goh because he regarded Defence as being the core of

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Figure 4.4. Former Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.

his own institutional power base.37 Goh’s plans were given an unexpected boost by Lee Hsien Loong’s random misfortune in being diagnosed with cancer in November 1992, which meant he could not credibly be considered for the premiership for several years. Lee Hsien Loong’s illness also meant that regardless of any power plays in the Cabinet, Goh had little choice but to remove him from his power base in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, where he had been the full Minister since 1987, and had held a portfolio since 1984.38 Lee Hsien Loong was left in the unusual position of being a Deputy Prime Minister with no substantive ministry, but this did not mean that he had been emasculated. It is significant that even though he had no substantive ministry, he had special ‘responsibility for economic and civil service matters’.39 Thus he was able to continue to stay close to the levers of power, even though his capacity to exercise it was severely limited. Goh used the years of Lee Hsien Loong’s misfortune to build his own networks of patronage and reciprocity in the civil service and the GLCs, at the same time capitalising on his personal popularity with the general public. The key to his institutional campaign was his capacity as Prime Minister to make senior appointments in the civil service, the statutory boards and the GLCs. This is the story that Worthington told in Governance in Singapore. Unfortunately

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Figure 4.5. Government-linked corporations like SingTel are more than just businesses.

neither of us has very much inside information as to how these machinations were working, but despite these limitations, there have been some public developments that enable us to form an admittedly incomplete picture of the power struggle between Goh and the Lees. At the heart of the story is the highly secretive Directorship and Consultancy Appointments Council (DCAC), the existence of which was kept secret until 1985.40 Even today its membership is not known to the public and its existence is not acknowledged in the Singapore Government Directory. Yet until the mid-1990s, it had been in charge of making almost every appointment at board and executive levels across almost every GLC.41 Hence Mauzy and Milne wrote in 2002 that . . . [the DCAC] should be included in any exhaustive list of the components of the state, at the same time remembering that nearly everyone on it already qualifies for inclusion through membership of some other eminent body.42 It is still responsible for the appointment of both the Temasek Holdings Board of Directors and GIC Board, as well as for the key executive positions

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in most GLCs. In the second half of the 1990s, Worthington made an estimate of the DCAC’s membership based on off-the-record interviews with members of the elite. He concluded that at that time it consisted of at least 16 members, including senior office holders in Temasek Holdings, the GIC, the Public Service Commission, the Ministry of Finance, some important GLCs as well as a couple of bankers.43 Yet regardless of who was running the Council on a day-to-day basis, we can be certain that the ultimate say always rested with the prime minister in Lee Kuan Yew’s day through his chairmanship of the Coordinating Board, which had oversight of the operations of the DCAC.44 Goh Chok Tong tried to continue this arrangement when he became prime minister, and judging from Worthington’s book-length account of Goh’s attempted putsch, it is clear that he was able to make effective use of it in at least the early years of his premiership.45 The DCAC was crucial to Goh’s plans because when he inherited it from Lee Kuan Yew, it was charged with making almost every board and executive appointment across the GLC sector.46 It was housed in the Ministry of Finance47 and it seems to have always been chaired up to this time by the Minister for Finance – which in the 1990s meant it was chaired by Finance Minister Richard Hu, a Goh loyalist48 – and in the first half decade of his premiership, Goh was able to use the DCAC to make strategic appointments across GLCs to consolidate his power base. Yet Goh’s campaign was always going to be a struggle because he had no family in politics and no truly independent base of support, and therefore no solid foundation on which to build fresh networks that were wholly, or even substantially, independent of the Lees. The fi rst half of the 1990s should have been his new dawn, but by 1997 he had already lost the battle, and had capitulated to the combined might, energy and wiliness of the two Lees49 – Senior Minister Lee and the newly invigorated Deputy Prime Minister Lee who already had broad ‘responsibilities’ for economic and civil service matters.50 The decisive catalyst for this fi nal shift in the power relationship between the three men51 was an episode in which a publicly-listed company, Hotel Properties Limited (HPL), reportedly offered discounts to Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong and their wives as part of the launch of a condominium development.52 This episode became a public talking point in 1996. The case was not submitted to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau but was personally investigated by Prime Minister Goh and Finance Minister Hu. They then took the matter to Cabinet,53 which found no wrongdoing.54 Obviously there was much happening behind the scenes in the lead-up to these events and during the episode itself, but the political

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fallout was plain to see. On the one hand, Lee Kuan Yew gave up paying even lip service to the notion that Goh had power, and took to referring to him publicly and frequently as ‘my prime minister’.55 On the other hand, Goh took to describing Senior Minister Lee as a ‘stern father’ who sets the house rules for the ‘family’.56 It was in the immediate wake of the HPL affair of 1996 that Lee Kuan Yew 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 1999.57 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.58 This is significant because it occurred at around the same time (1996) that Lee Kuan Yew loyalist S. Dhanabalan was appointed Chairman of Temasek Holdings and Lee Kuan Yew’s wife’s nephew, Kwa Chong Seng, was appointed Deputy Chairman of Temasek Holdings (1997).59 It is not clear whether the power to make GLC appointments was transferred to any institution other than Temasek Holdings, but 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. These changes at the level of the holding companies were followed very soon by sweeping changes to the leadership of the GLCs themselves in late 1997 and 1998.60 Alongside the sweeping changes to the GLCs Lee Hsien Loong was appointed Chairman of MAS in 1998, and just before he arrived, the incumbent Deputy Managing Director, Koh Beng Seng, stepped down.61 After a 24-year career in MAS, Koh left for the private sector at the end of 1997 without ever becoming Managing Director.62 We can only guess at why he might have left, but it is perhaps significant that his most notable intervention in public life had been early in 1996, when he forwarded to Finance Minister Richard Hu the critical report on HPL that led to the HPL affair becoming public.63 In the ensuing parliamentary debate, Lee Kuan Yew had singled out Koh and praised him for having the courage to lodge this report, and for not ‘return[ing] the favours’ that Lee had done for him.64 S. Dhanabalan came to occupy an exceptionally important role in the new labyrinth of power relationships, occupying the chairmanship of both

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Temasek Holdings (from 1996) and the DCAC (by 1998).65 A few years later, in 2001, Lee Hsien Loong became Minister for Finance while Goh was still Prime Minister, and used the combined authority of his positions – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance – to assume direct control of the DCAC66 and complete his power base. A few years later (2003), a semi-retired member of the elite told me in interview that Lee Hsien Loong had successfully used the GLCs to build his power base at the expense of Goh Chok Tong, and that Goh had consequently been marginalised in the exercise of domestic power.67 Confirmation of the full significance of Lee’s move into Finance and the ongoing central role of the DCAC became apparent when Lee ceased being Minister for Finance in 2007 (by which time he had also been Prime Minister for three years) and the entire DCAC followed him into the Prime Minister’s Office.68 The networks of power were, by this stage, underpinned by a statesponsored institutional base that extended beyond those recognised in any formal maps of governance and which reached into the bowels of Singapore’s economy. This conclusion leaves us with a question: what happened to the professionalisation processes that were being introduced into the public sector in the 1980s and 1990s? Were they abandoned? The answer is an emphatic ‘no’: the modernisation of the public sector was thorough and extensive and followed many best practices, including in matters of staff selection, assessment, peer reviews, 360 degree reviews, internal (but not public) reporting and professional training. These achievements are not in dispute. Yet the institutionalisation of the processes of governance was not a process of professionalisation or modernisation in the full, ordinary sense of the words. The newly modernised institutions and modern methods of professional management were not replacing traditional lines of patronage, privilege and consanguinity, but were being placed in their service. The public sector had been transformed into a new, modern-looking vehicle for the exercise of personal power emanating from the person and family of Lee Kuan Yew. By the end of the 1990s, having fought off a gentle challenge from Goh Chok Tong, the institutions were being used to facilitate both the succession and also the creation of a new generation of elites. This chapter has considered the first part of this process. The next chapter is devoted to interrogating the second.

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Chapter 5

Making a New Elite

The concentration of power that settled on Lee personally at the end of the 1970s was without precedent in Singapore’s history. Even the colonial governors of old did not enjoy the range of his power or the freedom with which he exercised it. They lacked his reach into society, which was afforded by his unfettered control of the modern bureaucratic state – and in any case, colonial governors had to answer to a higher authority resident in India or the UK, whereas by the early 1980s, Lee answered to no one. So what did he do with this newly acquired power? Obviously he did many more things than we can or need to discuss in this book, but if we restrict our consideration to matters that impinge directly on our study of the networks of power and influence, we need to focus on only five developments that are intertwined to the point of being almost inseparable: his elevation of Chineseness to a central role of Singaporean identity; the intensification of the elitist education system as a factory for elite production; the elevation of the military to the new ‘gold standard’ of elites, which coincided with the professionalisation of the civil service; the new level of sophistication in elite selection at the peak political levels; and the elevation of his family to its undisputed status as Singapore’s ‘first family’.1 So closely related were these developments that they can be considered to some extent to be functions of each other, and indeed with the benefit of hindsight and access to newly uncovered evidence, it has become apparent in the last decade or so that these ideas had been growing organically and in tandem in Lee’s mind since the 1950s.2

Chineseness Beginning in 1978, Lee Kuan Yew began a very public process of transforming Singapore’s distinctive form of national identity into one based firmly on

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his own version of Chineseness. Before this time, national identity had been based on a form of ‘multiracialism’ that took a very restrictive approach to all expressions of ethnic identity, let alone ethnic pride. Studying one’s stateascribed ‘mother tongue’ (Mandarin for Chinese; Malay for Malays; Tamil for Indians) had been encouraged, and indeed was technically mandatory at school, but it was not taken very seriously by the education authorities, and over-enthusiastic expressions of ethnic identity were summarily crushed. Far from being given special privileges for the public celebration of their ethnic markers, the Chinese were in fact primary targets of systemic cultural suppression precisely because they were such a powerful demographic force and as such had the potential to present a strong political challenge to the regime. Then in 1978 Lee suddenly and without warning began promoting all things Chinese, with no apparent respect for the old style of multiracialism, let alone for the sensitivities of the one-quarter of the population who were not Chinese. Speaking Mandarin, learning Confucianism and attending all-Chinese Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools were elevated to virtues in the space of a few years, and systemic and expensive state-sponsored aids provided unfair advantages to Chinese Singaporeans as they competed for grades, scholarships and jobs. Special kindergartens, special schools, better trained teachers, easier entry requirements to university – whatever was required to ensure the primacy of Chinese in Singapore was provided.3 In 1985 the Ministry of Education revealed that at secondary school level, the Chinese SAP schools had a 22.8 per cent advantage over ordinary schools in their student-teacher ratio and that per capita government funding of SAP secondary students was 56.45 per cent higher than that of other secondary school students. By contrast, neither Indians nor Malays received any special help or any schools of their own to address their special needs. They were not only left to fend for themselves, but were sometimes subjected to wanton neglect. For instance, on 18 March 1982, The Straits Times carried a report of a debate in parliament the previous day when a People’s Action Party (PAP) backbencher had alluded to the fact that some Indian students had not even been allocated a classroom, desks or chairs for their Tamil lessons. Tellingly, the response of Minister of State (Education) Dr Tay Eng Soon did not include an acknowledgement that this was a problem; neither was there a commitment to fix it. Yet in the same parliamentary debate, and reported on the same page of The Straits Times, Parliamentary Secretary for Education Ho Kah Leong congratulated the SAP schools on their outstanding O-level results, mentioning incidentally that they were not only given the

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‘best teachers’ but also ‘annual grants and interest-free loans’ to enable them to upgrade their facilities, which, it later emerged, took the form of ‘good libraries, modern language labs and more experienced graduate teachers’. It is a powerful indicator of the hegemony of ‘Chineseness’ in Singapore by this stage that no one – either in parliament or in the media – drew attention to the juxtaposition of the treatment of the two communities.4 The effect of these moves was to shift Singaporean society from being one that provided a reasonably equitable balance between the various ethnic and religious communities,5 to one in which being Chinese and speaking Mandarin (as well as English) provided the keys to worldly success. Nowhere was this more visible than in the critical Public Service Commission Scholarships, which were and are the key to entering the elite. Despite the non-Chinese making up around 23 per cent of the population at all relevant times, we find that • ethnic Chinese make up 92.4 per cent of local university students and 84.0 per cent of polytechnic students;6 • after 1980, the proportion of non-Chinese among the President’s Scholars (the high-water mark of elite production) more than halved from an already-low figure of 8.8 per cent (1966–1980) to 3.8 per cent (1981–2010);7 • for the 21 years from 1990 to 2010, there have been only two nonChinese President’s Scholars out of 76 (2.6 per cent) – and even one of those non-Chinese studied Higher Mandarin at Chinese schools;8 • for the prestigious Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS) scholarship, which began operation in 1971, only 5 (2.6 per cent) out of the 196 that I have been able to identify by ethnicity are non-Chinese.9 From 1990 to 2010 I can positively identify only 4 (3.0 per cent) of 131 SAFOS winners as non-Chinese. If we focus on all types of PSC overseas scholarships from 2002 to 2010 (the only period for which I have full information), we find that 13 (3.5 per cent) out of 367 were non-Chinese.10 These skewed outcomes are not accidental. They reflect discrimination in favour of Chinese throughout the education system from kindergarten onwards, which culminates in an opaque selection process at PSC scholarship level that draws on a wide variety of non-academic criteria, including teachers’ assessments, co-curricular activities, an interview – and for male

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candidates – a report on their national service.11 The mystery here is not that such processes produce socially constructed outcomes that systemically favour the dominant group – since this should be painfully obvious without the need for further elaboration. No, the mystery is that anyone can think it reasonable to regard this as a meritocratic system that produces a level playing field. The Singapore scholarship system reminds me of my readings about the British Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, when men had to ‘pass for a gentleman’ before they could be promoted to lieutenant, no matter how brilliant or competent they were. In modern Singapore, discriminatory assumptions about ethnicity and what constitutes a ‘good’ candidate are so strongly embedded in the social fabric that the PSC is not remotely equipped – nor is it given any incentive – to counter the advantages enjoyed by Chinese candidates who have been beneficiaries of educational and social favouritism throughout their whole lives.12 Regardless of the reason, the outcome is so strongly biased that for over two decades, non-Chinese students have been winning the President’s Scholarship at a rate of about 10 per cent of that suggested by their proportion of the population and in the five years to 2010 there was only one non-Chinese; and SAFOS scholarships at a rate of about 12–25 per cent of that suggested by their proportion of the national population. Over the five years to 2010 there were no non-Chinese winners at all. Over the nine years to 2010, non-Chinese were winning overseas PSC scholarships of all types at a rate of 13 per cent of that suggested by their proportion of the population, though in this case it has recently moved upwards to around 20 per cent. Granted that the Chinese have comprised 74–77 per cent of the population for the relevant periods, and that these scholarships are the usual point of entrée into the pool of candidates from which the elite reproduces itself, this ensures that the core of the networks of power in Singapore is almost wholly Chinese.13 (See Table 5.1 for details of scholarship results by ethnicity.) The centrality of Chineseness to the networks of power goes beyond merely embedding Chinese Singaporeans into the central orbits of Singapore’s power networks.15 Systematic efforts were and are made to use immigration and other policies to maintain Chinese demographic and social dominance of the population. This practice was most famously publicised in the government’s efforts in 1989 to boost Chinese immigration from Hong Kong in the lead up to Britain’s handover to China – specifically on the grounds of the supposed need to maintain the Chinese proportion of the population so that

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Table 5.1 Winners of elite PSC scholarships by ethnicity (where known), 1990–201014 Year

President’s President’s SAFOS Scholars Scholars Scholars (Chinese) (Non(Chinese) Chinese)

SAFOS Scholars (NonChinese)

1990

5

0

4

0

1991

4

0

6

0

1992

4

0

At least 4

Unknown

1993

3

0

6

0

1994

4

0

5

0

1995

3

0

At least 4

Unknown

1996

3

0

6 or 7

1 or 0

All

1997

4

0

6

0

Overseas Overseas

1998

2

0

8 or 9

2 or 1

Scholars

1999

1

0

9

0

(Chinese) (Non-Chinese)

2000

3

0

12

0

2001

3

0

7

1

All Scholars

2002–2010

2002

4

0

6

0

52

1

2003

5

0

5

0

48

0

2004

2

0

7

0

33

0

2005

2

1

5

2

43

2

2006

4

0

5

0

31

2

2007

4

0

6

0

30

1

2008

5

0

4

0

34

3

2009

6

0

6

0

48

2

2010

3

1

5

0

35

2

Total

74

2

At least 127 4 known

354

13

97.4%

2.6%

95–97%

96.5%

3.5%

3–5%

Singapore would maintain its competitive edge.16 The 2010 Census provides evidence of the effectiveness – but also the limitations – of this and subsequent ethnically based immigration programmes. Table 5.2 is taken directly from the 2010 Census of Population. The most interesting figures in this table are those for Malaysia, Indonesia and the sub-continent. On the one hand, the overwhelming dominance of

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Table 5.2 Total immigrant resident population of Singapore by place of birth and ethnic group17 Place of Birth

Chinese

Others

Malaysia

338,501

47,478

China, Hong Kong and Macau

174,355

800

India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka

140

123,338 (122,703 Indians)

Indonesia

42,571

11,833

Other Asian countries

20,764

69,379

European countries

2,278

11,073

USA and Canada

3605

3,607

Australia and New Zealand

2,017

2,786

Others

3,054

2,208

ethnic Chinese from Malaysia and Indonesia, where Chinese are a minority of the population (especially Indonesia where they are a tiny minority), reveals the effectiveness and systematic nature of Singapore’s appeal to the ethnic Chinese of the region. On the other hand, the softness of the immigration levels from China itself and the injection of a large number of Indians from the sub-continent illustrate the weakness of the programme, and accounts for why, contrary to every government effort, commitment and public statement, the communal proportions of the resident population are shifting against the ethnic Chinese (and, incidentally, also against the Malays, despite resident Malays having a higher fertility rate than the other communities). Table 5.3 demonstrates the demographic shift from one census year to the next, putting it in a longer-term context. If we were to ignore other evidence, we could argue that the Chinese bias of the immigration programme is an accidental or incidental outcome, and that the slippage of Chinese demographic dominance revealed in Table 5.3 is being accepted with equanimity. The broader evidence, however, makes such an argument untenable. Not only do we have a litany of statements from Lee Kuan Yew and other officials talking up the Chineseness of the population – including Lee’s lament in Hard Truths that ‘my worry is that the Chinese inflow may not keep up . . . .’19 – but in 2009 Lee Kuan Yew argued that Singapore needed a Chinese bias in its immigration intake to avoid the Chinese losing their numerical dominance in the military. He put his argument in these terms:

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Table 5.3 Resident population by ethnic composition, 1970–201018 Ethnic Composition (%)

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

Chinese

77.0

78.3

77.8

76.8

74.1

Malays

14.8

14.4

14.0

13.9

13.4

Indians

7.0

6.3

7.1

7.9

9.2

Others

1.2

1.0

1.1

1.4

3.3

Between the age of 25 to 40 more than 30 per cent are unmarried, remaining single and childless. Those who marry have an average of 1.8 children. Replacement is 2.1. But more troublesome is the number of children from each group. Malays 1.91. Indians 1.19. And Chinese, the lowest, 1.14. If we continue in this way without the new immigrants and the PRs [Permanent Residents], and their children doing National Service, the composition of our SAF will change. So please remember that. . . . 20 It seems that not only are government leaders presenting ‘Chinese values’ as the core set of values to which all Singaporeans should aspire, but they are also clear that they prefer ethnic Chinese as the face of their national identity. With this in mind, it should not come as much of a surprise that Mandarin has become Singapore’s de facto second language – but one that most nonChinese never have the chance to learn in school.21 The process of Sinicisation has now been in place for more than three decades and it has taken its toll on Singapore’s multicultural ideal. Today the ideal Singaporean is no longer an English-educated Singaporean, but an English- and Mandarin-speaking Chinese. These measures have left aspiring and current members of the elite who are not Chinese scrambling to learn how to speak and/or write and/or sing in Mandarin, and to have their children taught Mandarin: all in an effort to copy the Chinese and become more acceptable to them.22 I do not write these words flippantly. Consider the following facts: • Former President S.R. Nathan, a septuagenarian and a Tamil-speaking Indian, had been learning Mandarin while in office and chose to have his memoirs about his early years as a seaman’s welfare officer published first in Chinese, by a Chinese-language press.23

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the ruling elite of singapore • Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, an Indian, has been learning Chinese calligraphy and has learnt to give karaoke performances in Mandarin.24 • Tharman Shanmugaratnam has also sent his children to Chinese SAP schools where they study Mandarin as their ‘mother tongue’.25

These straws in the wind are prominent, documented examples of trends that are apparent and widespread throughout the small nonChinese section of the elite and among those who aspire to joining the elite, but which are more difficult to document. It is not central to this study, but it is of some significance that a parallel escalation of demand for Chinese speakers and for Chinese workers and of active discrimination against non-Chinese job seekers has also affected the non-elite job market since the beginning of the 1980s. This has been documented and is acknowledged by the government, sometimes as a problem and at other times as a fact of life to be accepted. 26 The significance for this study is that it underlines the pervasiveness of the Sinicisation programme throughout virtually all levels of society, and places the Sinicisation of the elite in a helpful context.

Elite education As well as marking the beginning of Singapore’s Sinicisation programme, 1978 also saw the start of another process that is central to the formation of new generations of elites: the building of an intensely elitist education system. This coincidence was not accidental, since they both emerged from the same set of educational reforms (The Goh Keng Swee Report on the Ministry of Education 1978 – usually referred to as ‘the Goh Keng Swee report’)27 and ultimately from the same mind (that of Lee Kuan Yew). 28 It was not an accident that the elitist educational reforms discriminated in favour of the Chinese from the very start, initially at the level of preprimary education, and later at primary, secondary, pre-university and university levels. 29 Having already considered the connection between these two programmes in Lee’s mind, let us now turn to a brief description of the phenomenon itself. The building of an elitist education system was achieved in five steps, three of which were associated with a particular review and consequent report:

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• the 1970 opening of National Junior College, which marked the beginning of a system of junior colleges to replace the pre-university years of school; • the 1978 Goh Keng Swee report, which introduced strict examinationbased streaming of students from Primary 3 onwards;30 • the 1984 introduction of an expensive and intensive Gifted Education Programme (GEP) within the top educational stream; • the 1987 Excellence in Schools report, which led to the stratification of secondary schools and the creation of a new generation of elitist schools; • the 2002 Report of the Junior College/Upper Secondary Review Committee, which intensified the stratification of schools and junior colleges.31 The result of this series of reports has been the construction of a stratified education system, with special schools, special classes, special programmes, special teachers and extra funding for the ‘best and the brightest’. These programmes led to situations where such students often did not need to associate with the rest of the student population – who were routinely designated as ‘mainstreamers’. Despite the development of scholarships, bursaries and other aids to help gifted students from low-income socio-economic backgrounds, these elite schools and the elite streams within ordinary schools drew their pupils overwhelmingly from the predominantly Chinese upper-middle-class socio-economic group.32 There were many decades before the 1980s when the Singapore education system was a major engine of social mobility, taking the sons and even many daughters of poor working-class Singaporeans and setting them on paths to material success. Many of the ‘second generation’ of Singapore’s leaders emerged from this background, the most prominent of whom was Goh Chok Tong. Since the development of elite schools in the 1980s, however, and the full flourishing of private and expensive tuition that occurred over the same period, it has been almost a prerequisite of success that a child must be born to middle-class, if not upper middle-class parents. It is an article of faith in the Singapore meritocracy that children are selected for these elite schools on strictly meritocratic grounds, but the operation of class and privilege was clearly identified by Jason Tan as long ago as 1993. His research on three new elite independent schools revealed that from 66 to 69 per cent of the fathers of children in these independent schools worked in professional/technical or administrative/managerial occupations (as opposed to the national average of 26.2 per cent). Of the adult male

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population, 40.4 per cent were production workers at that time, but their children occupied 4.9–11.1 per cent of places in those schools. Further, 64.1 per cent of the adult male population at that time did not have a secondary school education, but their children occupied only 2.7–9.0 per cent of the places in the three schools surveyed. Unsurprisingly, fathers with university degrees were over-represented (against the national average) by 335–633 per cent. Furthermore, 25.5–59.4 per cent of the children in these schools lived in a condominium, a private flat or in landed property, as opposed to 10.6 per cent for the national average.33 On the home front, 40.4 per cent of Singaporeans lived in one-, two- or three-room Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats at that time, but they represented 6.0–26.4 per cent of children in those schools. More recently – in 2007 – a Ministry of Education survey found that the median household monthly income of students in elite schools was more than twice that of students in non-elite schools ($7,501 as opposed to $3,560) and 62 per cent of them belonged to the 17.6 per cent of Singaporeans who live in private housing.34 The government also provides accidental confi rmation of the continuing role of economic privilege in the meritocracy by its self-serving celebration of any child from a poor background who wins a place in an elite school. A case in point is that of a Malay student from a poor background and a neighbourhood school who did so well in her 2005 Primary School Leaving Examination that she won a scholarship to study at Raffles Girls’ School.35 According to the testimony of former students of the elite schools themselves, such students are extremely rare,36 probably because they need to succeed without the luxury of paying thousands of dollars on tuition, private assessment books and co-curricular activities (CCAs) in primary school, and then be willing to continually beg for help to meet the even higher costs of studying in an upper middle-class environment in secondary school and junior college.37 A 2002 survey revealed that the typical annual cost of educational extras in Singapore ranged from around $1,500 for a pre-primary pupil to around $12,000 for a university student.38 In the case of the celebrated Malay student mentioned above, Malay organisations promised to help her meet these costs.39 The irony is that the Malay community is the poorest community in Singapore, so we witness a twisting of the Western welfare state: redistribution of resources amongst the poor, rather than the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. If anything, the operation of economic and social privilege is even stronger and better documented in the GEP. Both official and unofficial sources confirm that most GEP students begin with the advantage of having middleclass parents with professional occupations.40 Furthermore, the programme

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is designed with the assumption that parents are able to ferry their child(ren) about by car41– a possession that in Singapore is the preserve of the upper middle class – and provides for a high level of co-curricular activities, many of which are expensive. Turning the coin over, we find that the Ministry of Education’s own research shows that most children identified in Primary 1 as being ‘weak’ in English and/or Maths and who are regarded as having started school despite being ‘not ready’ are from low-income families.42 This is presumably because they missed the two years of kindergarten, which are neither compulsory nor free, but are the effective start of school. It appears that this class factor explains the prevalence of ‘giftedness’ running in families much better than any explanation based on genes. As a result of these developments, ‘elite schools’ in Singapore are not just ‘elite’ in terms of academic output but also in terms of the socio-economic background of their inputs. Hence it should be no surprise to learn of the PSC’s admission in 2006 that one-third of scholarship winners over the previous five years came from families on household incomes of more than $10,000 per month (which at the time comprised just 13 per cent of all households on a national basis).43 The effect of the educational reforms of the 1980s and 1990s on elite selection and elite formation was even more dramatic than is suggested above, since the crème de la crème of the candidates for the elite were drawn increasingly from a narrower and narrower selection of schools. During the 1970s there was an effort to build up National Junior College, Lee Hsien Loong’s alma mater, as the premier pathway into university. This did not last far into the 1980s, however, at which point drastic and successful efforts were made to restore Raffles Institution, Lee Kuan Yew’s alma mater, to its traditional position as the main supplier of candidates for the civil service and the elite.44 During the 1990s, elite schools were grouped into ‘families’ of schools, with the most prominent ‘families’ being the Raffles family (Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls’ School and Raffles Junior College) and the Hwa Chong family (The Chinese High School, Hwa Chong Junior College and Singapore Chinese Girls’ School).45 There are also a few other prominent schools: most notably a few Chinese schools that tend to feed unofficially into Hwa Chong; and the Anglo-Chinese family of schools, which caters for the sons of very wealthy parents. The two main families of schools, however, consistently provided 70–80 per cent of the top scholarship winners and candidates for the elite, despite the fact that there have been more than 20 pre-university centres operating at any one time throughout the 1980s and 1990s.46 The more recent situation is fundamentally unchanged, although it is a little more fluid and complex than it used to be, as can be seen from Table 5.4.

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Table 5.4 Scholarship winners by school of matriculation, 2002–1047 Year

President’s Scholars

SAFOS Scholars

All Overseas Scholars

2002

3 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong JC

5 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong JC

2003

3 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong JC 1 × Anglo-Chinese JC

4 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong JC

2004

1 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong JC

3 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong JC 3 × National JC

2005

2 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong JC

4 × Raffles JC 3 × Hwa Chong JC

2006

2 × Raffles JC 2 × Anglo-Chinese JC

3 × Raffles JC 2 × Hwa Chong Inst’n

2007

3 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong Inst’n

4 × Raffles JC 2 × Hwa Chong Inst’n

2008

3 × Raffles JC 2 × Hwa Chong Inst’n

2 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 1 × Victoria JC

2009

2 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 1 × National JC 1 × Dunman HS 1 × Victoria JC 1 × Raffles Inst’n 1 × Victoria JC 1 × Catholic JC 1 × Anglo-Chinese (Ind’t)

3 × Raffles JC 1 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 1 × Anglo-Chinese 1 × Victoria JC

Proportions Raffles family 54.1% 2002–2010 Hwa Chong family 29.7% Others 16.2%

Raffles family 66.7% Hwa Chong family 27.5% Others 5.7%

23 × Raffles JC 16 × Hwa Chong JC 5 × Anglo-Chinese JC 5 × Victoria JC 3 × Temasek JC 3 others 26 × Raffles JC 8 × Hwa Chong JC 6 × Victoria JC 4 × National JC 4 × Anglo-Chinese JC 16 × Raffles JC 9 × Hwa Chong JC 3 × Anglo-Chinese JC 3 × National JC 2 others 20 × Raffles JC 17 × Hwa Chong Inst’n/JC 4 × Anglo-Chinese JC 4 others 14 × Raffles JC 11 × Hwa Chong JC 4 × Victoria JC 4 others 16 × Raffles JC 11 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 4 others 16 × Raffles JC 14 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 3 × Anglo-Chinese (Ind’t) 4 others 26 × Raffles JC 8 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 5 × Anglo-Chinese 4 × Dunman HS 7 others 10 × Raffles Inst’n 12 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 3 × Victoria JC 3 × National JC 2 × NUS High School of Maths & Science 7 others Raffles family 45.2% Hwa Chong family 28.7% Others 26.1%

2010

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2 × Raffles Inst’n 2 × Hwa Chong Inst’n 1 × Catholic JC

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If we focus on the pre-2009 figures, which are summarised in Table 5.5, we find that the concentration on the Raffles and Hwa Chong families of schools stood at 85–90 per cent for the two most elite scholarships (President’s Scholars and SAFOS scholars) over these seven years, with Raffles JC being the main winner. The problem of this narrow base of recruitment was first publicly articulated by a member of the establishment when retired Permanent Secretary, Ngiam Tong Dow, gave an interview to The Straits Times in 2003: Each year, the PLSE [Primary School Leaving Examination] creams off the top boys and girls and dispatches them to only two schools, Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls’ School. However good these schools are and however brilliant their teachers are, the problem is that you are educating your elite in only two institutions, with only two sets of mentors.48 Ngiam’s interpretation differs from mine in that he was characterising the catchment as being entirely Rafflesian, whereas I argue that by 2003 it had already been diversified to the extent that the Hwa Chong family of schools was becoming a major player. Regardless of this small difference, which may be only a matter of differing timeframes, there is little room to doubt the reality of the historical hegemony of a small group of schools, which had been cemented into place near the centre of powerful and privileged adult networks that engendered supreme confidence in the young candidates. These crucibles of elite formation have been making a serious contribution towards socialising bright young (mainly Chinese) men and women into the elite – which is another way of saying that they are socialised so that they are well placed to do well when they are being assessed and interviewed by the PSC for a scholarship. Table 5.5 Proportions of scholarship winners by school of matriculation, 2002–08

Year Proportions 2002–2008

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President’s Scholars

SAFOS Scholars

All Overseas Scholars

Raffles family 62.9% Hwa Chong family 22.0%

Raffles family 62.5% Hwa Chong family 26.8%

Raffles family 46.4% Hwa Chong family 30.5%

Others 15.1%

Others 10.7%

Others 23.1%

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Figure 5.1. Raffles Institution.

The situation as it existed in the 1990s and the first half of the 2000s was described to me in a research interview by a serving Army officer in 2003. This officer was a product of a Chinese SAP school and was an SAF scholar who had studied overseas. He described himself as being ‘close to the first tier of the scholars’ in the SAF and his career at the time of the interview was proceeding as he hoped, so he had no cause for complaint at a personal level. Yet he expressed his amazement when it dawned on him in his early thirties just how much of an advantage was enjoyed by the students from the really top schools and junior colleges. He spoke of top students from these schools being pre-identified [before starting National Service] and then they are selected into the ‘Delta Company’ [in the Army] and during their stay in the Army, they have a lot of opportunities to meet the top ranks in the Army or in the MINDEF as a whole. They are selected based on their results, their A-level results . . . [and] are the ones targeted for overseas scholarships and typically they go to UK or US. I first came in touch with the Delta Company . . . when I was tasked to organise an event for them. . . . I was one of the organising officers. So

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Table 5.6 Proportions of scholarship winners by school of matriculation, 2007–08 and 2009–10

Years

President’s Scholars

SAFOS Scholars

All Overseas Scholars

2007–2008 2009–2010

Raffles family 66.7% Raffles family 30%

Raffles family 60% Raffles family 45.5%

Raffles family 47.0% Raffles family 41.4%

2007–2008

Hwa Chong family 33.3% Hwa Chong family 10%

Hwa Chong family 30% Hwa Chong family 27.3%

Hwa Chong family 36.8% Hwa Chong family 23.0%

Others NIL Others 60%

Others 10% Others 27.3%

Others 16.2% Others 35.6%

2009–2010 2007–2008 2009–2010

I mingled with them and realised that even though they are only 17, 18 years old they really talk like young adults who are quite well aware of what’s going on around them in the whole world, not only in Singapore. And they are quite well aware of what’s expected of them and what are the opportunities that they have within the SAF and within the country as a whole. Once in National Service, the SAF gives them opportunities to meet the top ranks. The generals come down and speak to them over a barbecue. Ministers too . . . . The first tier of the scholars are drawn from this group, from Raffles JC, Hwa Chong JC . . . .49 This situation was drastically different in his school, despite it being a good SAP school: There wasn’t much information on scholarships. Even up to the day I signed up with the Army there wasn’t much information on scholarships. Looking back I realised that some of my friends that had come from some other schools, they knew that there were scholarships around that you can choose from and so on and so forth. This interviewee was not describing anything underhanded or corrupt, but he showed clearly the stakes that are involved in getting into the ‘right’ school. Winners are ushered into a world where not only minds are trained and opened, but institutional doors and pathways are opened and futures mapped out. These young men and women – particularly the young

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Figure 5.2. Hwa Chong Institution.

men – form the core of future generations of Singapore’s networks of power and influence. Yet this is not a simple or unchanging story. Table 5.6 reveals a swing away from Raffles and HCI across all scholarships, and especially across the top scholarships, from 2008 to 2009 – to the extent that it could have marked the beginning of a new diversification of the talent base. The pattern for 2011, however, returned to the staus quo ante, with Raffles and HCI taking all Presidents’ Scholarships (three for RI and one for HCI) and all SAFOS scholarships (three for RI and two for HCI). Some diversity was retained for the overseas scholarships overall, but at a significantly lower level than for 2009–2010, with only 22 per cent going to schools other than RI and HCI.50 It is clear that we are not seeing any basic change in policy direction in these figures, at least in the short-to-medium term, and that the problems to which Ngiam was referring, above, will not be going away any time soon.51

Military The third element of Lee Kuan Yew’s social order was the central role of the military, and particularly the transformation of the military into a

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Chinese- and scholar-dominated organisation. In fact, so strong has the Chinese scholar class, described above, become in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) that it might be more accurate to think of the officer corps as armed bureaucrats, rather than as soldiers. Beginning in 1971 with the fi rst intake of SAFOS scholars, the publicly acknowledged foundations of promotion through the SAF Officer Corps began to shift from operational experience to success in examinations, paper qualifications and a high level of bureaucratic competence.52 (Less officially acknowledged has been the bias towards being Chinese, though the pattern of scholarships described earlier in this chapter would make any other outcome unlikely in the extreme.)53 This tendency became institutionalised in 1974 with the introduction of Project Wrangler, an advanced scholarship programme for serving SAF officers and particularly for returning SAFOS scholars.54 From this time onwards, the SAF Officer Corps spent a diminishing amount of time in operational service and an increasing number of years studying abroad.55 The particular significance of these developments for our study of the networks of influence and power is that during the 1980s this Chinese

Figure 5.3. National Day Parade rehearsal, 2005. The rising importance of the military is one of the most dramatic changes in the character of the national elite.

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scholar-officer corps became the ‘gold standard’ of the new elite. They were the trouble shooters routinely drawn into the civilian elite through a ‘dual career’ programme, and became a new, favoured source of high-flying recruits for the political elite.56 By 1993, serving SAF officers alone made up around 10 per cent of the civil service’s elite Administrative Service without even considering retired SAF officers.57 We have already seen at the end of Chapter 3 that by the end of the 1970s the normal recruitment path into the Cabinet (which included the innermost circle of the elite) was a career in the public sector. It was noted that between 1980 and 1994, every Cabinet Minister except two had a public sector background. Despite some voluble talk of diversification, nothing much has changed since then. After a much-publicised infusion of new blood in 1998, there were still only two Cabinet Ministers who were not from the public sector, a figure that has remained unchanged at the time of writing in 2012.58 Yet despite the absence of change in the public–private sector balance within the Cabinet, the 1980s and 1990s did see some drastic changes in the military–civilian balance. 1985 was the turning point, when Lee Hsien Loong was appointed to the Cabinet. He was the fi rst Cabinet Minister with a military background, and the fi rst who was a scholar–soldier, but he was certainly not the last. The private sector composition of the Cabinet seems to have settled down to two at any one time, but the military component settled at two to three times that rate: about 30–40 per cent of the Cabinet, with the actual numbers of military scholars in the Cabinet usually being five or six.59 In July 2012 the Cabinet consisted of 15 men: • Six (40 per cent of the total) are former military officers and SAFOS scholars: 60 • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong • Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean • Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang • Minister, Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say • Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Lui Tuck Yew • Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing

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• Six (40 per cent) are former members of the Administrative Service: • Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Minister for Manpower Tharman Shanmugaratnam • Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang • Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan • Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong • Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran • Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat • Three (20 per cent) did stints in the GLC sector on rotation from the military or the Administrative Service: • Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Lim Swee Say (a SAFOS scholar who worked in defence-related GLCs) • Minister for Manpower Gan Kim Yong (also a former Administrative Officer) • Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran (also a former Administrative Officer) • Two (13.3 per cent) are former academics from the National University of Singapore: • Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts and Ministerin-Charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim • Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (though academia was never his principle employment) • Four (26.6 per cent) are drawn from statutory boards: • Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance and Minister for Manpower Tharman Shanmugaratnam (who went from MAS to the Administrative Service) • Minister for Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (though he previously had substantial experience in the private sector as a medical doctor) • Lui Tuck Yew (also a former military officer and SAFOS scholar) • Heng Swee Keat (who moved seamlessly between statutory boards and the Administrative Service)

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the ruling elite of singapore • Two (13.3 per cent) are wholly from the private sector: • Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, a medical doctor • Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam, a solicitor who worked in private practice It is worth noting that the Cabinet also includes: • Two former Principal Private Secretaries to a former or serving Prime Minister: • Khaw Boon Wan (to Goh Chok Tong) • Heng Swee Keat (to Lee Kuan Yew) • Five former President’s Scholars: • Lee Hsien Loong (1970) • Teo Chee Hean (1973) • Lim Hng Kiang (1973) • Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (1980) • Chan Chun Sing (1988) • Three old boys of Raffles Institution/Junior College: • Lim Hng Kiang (1973) • K. Shanmugam (1977) • Chan Chun Sing (1987) • Five old boys of National Junior College (from the decade or so during which it was being promoted as a favoured pathway into the elite): • Lee Hsien Loong (1970) • Lim Swee Say (1973) • Ng Eng Hen (1976) • Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (1979) • Gan Kim Yong (1981)

The Hwa Chong family is yet to make its mark at this level of the networks of power, but it is just a matter of time until their products from the 1990s and the 2000s reach these heights. According to Eddie Teo, the current Chairman of the Public Service Commission, a total of 13 of the 21 members of the Cabinet were scholars as of October 2010.61 By my count, 11 out of 15 members of the Cabinet are former scholars as of July 2012. Considering

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that scholars make up around 0.5 per cent of the adult citizen population, Jon Quah was clearly understating the case when he noted in his 2010 book that ‘scholar bureaucrats are among the major beneficiaries of PAP rule, as they are members of the power elite and are well-paid and rewarded with accelerated promotion’.62 The cosiness of this arrangement hardly needs elaboration, but let me return to the question of the leading presence of the military, which goes beyond mere numbers in the Cabinet, or even their numerical importance in the civil service and statutory boards. The military has, in a very real sense, provided a new cultural centre of gravity and a new standard for the elite. Military language – SOP (standard operating procedure), to take just one example – has entered common parlance in the bureaucracy, and soldiers have come to presume a central and leading role in the civil service and politics. Military officers are presumed to possess higher levels of organisational ability, self-discipline and leadership skills than others, and are routinely parachuted into critical leadership roles in both the administrative and political elite, both while on active duty and upon retirement.63 Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Kuan Yew’s son and Deputy Prime Minister throughout the 1990s was the most senior political soldier. And of course, virtually all of the scholar-soldiers were and are Chinese.64 As if the scholar-soldiers did not have enough social factors boosting their self-confidence, they were also self-consciously members of the most powerful ethnic group. As a consequence of this confluence of privilege and ego-stroking, they stride through the halls of the administrative and the political elite exuding chutzpah that few could match. Before concluding this assessment of the significance of scholar-soldiers, we need to note that in 2006 Lee Kuan Yew used a forum hosted by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy to bestow on the military the special status of keepers in extremis of Singapore’s well-being, indicating his expectation that a ‘failure’ of the political process would be tolerated by the military for only a limited time.65 It is important not to understate the significance of this declaration. Writing in 2000, Tim Huxley produced a convincing case that the SAF Officer Corps lacked the homogeneity needed to make the scenario of a military coup likely or even plausible.66 I think the case is less convincing since the elevation of a scholar-soldier from the Lee family to the premiership in 2004, but regardless of the accuracy of this assessment – which must remain a moot point until it is tested by the defeat of the PAP government at the polls – it remains a fact that the scholar-soldiers are now nested in

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the very centre of the networks of power and influence in Singapore, which marks possibly the most dramatic change in the character of the national elite since the 1950s.

Elite selection The fourth factor of significance that we need to consider in detail before leaving this study of elite recruitment is the growing sophistication of the mechanisms by which people are selected for the ultimate club open to nonmembers of Lee Kuan Yew’s family: Cabinet. We are fortunate that a process that for more than two decades avoided public scrutiny has recently been described by insiders in accounts published in a 2009 history of the PAP, called Men in White.67 As well as being a fascinating marriage of modern systemic and the old-world personal elements, the inside story also demonstrates the historical dominance of Lee Kuan Yew on the national elite he had built around himself, whereby any element of society, whether in public or private hands, seemed to be at his beck and call. The process of recruitment into the Cabinet is conducted in conjunction with the search for PAP candidates to stand for parliament. Being an MP is not very significant in itself, but in Singapore’s version of the Westminster system, it is a pre-condition for being a member of the Cabinet. Hence a significant proportion of potential MPs are chosen for the explicit purpose of short-term elevation into the Cabinet, while the rest are chosen for considerations such as their electoral appeal. Our focus is explicitly on the former group. The current system had its remote genesis in the 1970s, when Lee set out to improve the quality of the Cabinet by recruiting PhDs, only to be disappointed with the results.68 In the lead-up to the 1980 General Elections he took two decisive steps towards finding an alternative recruitment model. First he appointed a ‘task force’ of veteran MPs in January 1977 to monitor the progress of MPs that had ministerial potential.69 This task force was disbanded in 1981, having operated for only four years and was replaced by a pro-active, Cabinet-level selection committee, initially helmed and dominated by Lim Kim San,70 which has conducted a perpetual search for new candidates ever since. The dedicated selection committee’s search is conducted overwhelmingly in the public sector, including the military, and it unselfconsciously treats confidential performance reviews, supervisors’ reports, etc. in both the civilian sector (Administrative Service, statutory boards, GLCs) and the military sector (SAF Officer Corps) as legitimate tools at the disposal of the PAP. Beyond such impersonal reports, personal knowledge of candidates by

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senior members of the elite is important. After identification, the potential candidate is invited to either a single ‘tea party’ or a series of tea parties with members of the Cabinet. If and when it reaches the stage where all parties are willing to move the process further forward, the candidate is sent for a battery of psychological tests.71 Like the selection committee and the tea parties, the psychological tests also have their origin in the late 1970s.72 The main tests for PAP candidates have always been conducted at Woodbridge Hospital by two senior clinical psychologists (one of whom also conducted tests on the detainees of 1987 when they were being held by ISD)73 and were later supplemented by the use of psychological profi ling techniques developed by Shell Oil for the selection of their executives.74 Lee has described his realisation of the potential of psychological testing as his ‘Eureka moment’.75 Likely candidates are often placed in positions of personal proximity to members of the elite, and when it is deemed necessary, have the path to parliament smoothed for them. Take the example of Christopher de Souza, whose story is on the public record, though with significant gaps. While he was studying law without a government scholarship in London, Chief Justice Yong Pung How offered him a job as his law clerk. We are left to wonder how Yong came to be aware of de Souza in London, and whether the Chief Justice was head-hunting for the Legal Service or the PAP, but regardless of these imponderables de Souza took up the offer in 2002 and two years later became a deputy public prosecutor. The following year he was invited to the customary tea session, which was followed by an invitation from S. Jayakumar and Teo Chee Hean to consider entering politics. It took some more coaxing, including a meeting with Lee Hsien Loong, Goh Chok Tong and Lee Kuan Yew, to get him to agree, but once he did agree he was given a new job in the private sector so he would be eligible to stand for parliament – a job with Lee Kuan Yew’s family law firm, Lee and Lee. He faced the psychological tests at Woodridge Hospital that typically last about 8–10 hours over two afternoons.76 He was accepted as a PAP candidate in the 2006 elections and was elected to a five-member constituency on a ticket anchored by two ministers, Lim Swee Say and Vivian Balakrishnan.77

The ‘first family’ The systemic introduction of professional and scientific assessment and review techniques for both the administrative and the political elite conveys the strong suggestion that the entire process of elite selection was being professionalised and modernised – that is to say, being freed from personal

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interventions based on factors such as consanguinity or cultural biases. Even the insertion of the military into the heart of the elite, while abrupt and unexpected, does not confl ict with this suggestion, since it is a highly professional military service and officer corps. Yet the insertion of the Lee family into the innermost core of elite identity seems unusual in a modern sophisticated capitalist society. It has become so central to Singaporean society and so fully accepted that it has taken on the superficial appearance of being a natural progression, but it would be more accurate to describe it as a glacially slow coup, decades in the making, now in its maturity. The audacity of the coup is more than a little breathtaking: a silent, furtive coup played out in full view of the public. Writing in 2011, the shift in power to the Lee family has now reached the point where it has become impossible to write seriously about the networks of power and influence without taking family connections into account. Indeed, elite identity itself now emanates from members of the Lee family. The two central elements of the construction of the family’s hegemony are Lee Kuan Yew’s personal usurpation of Singaporean identity and the national history, and the succession of Lee Hsien Loong to the premiership and ultimately as the true holder of power.

The Lee family project78 The story of Lee Kuan Yew’s successful campaign to place himself at the centre of Singapore’s history and make himself the ideal Singaporean was a project of relatively recent vintage. Early efforts at biography, such as Alex Josey’s volumes on Lee from the 1960s and 1970s,79 can be seen in retrospect as early manifestations of this impulse, but they were not part of a concerted campaign. Indeed when pro-government authors writing as late as the 1980s were looking for a focus for their praise, Lee was a principal figure, but they generally wrote stories of collective achievement and heroism rather than of the rise of the super-man.80 Yet in the 1990s something changed, so that by the time Lam Peng Er and Kevin Y.L. Tan published their edited volume on ‘Lee’s Lieutenants’ in 1999, they did not fear contradiction when they wrote that . . . the market is saturated with books on Lee Kuan Yew. Books on Lee typically focus on him, while neglecting his relationship with his lieutenants and the indispensable roles played by them. Moreover a number of these books give the wrong impression that Lee built up Singapore almost single-handedly.81

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What had changed was the implementation of a systemic campaign by Lee, using levers of government such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Information and the Arts, to elevate his personal history to the status of national history. This process saw Lee engage in what is perhaps the ultimate self-indulgence of his career: he titled his memoirs ‘the Singapore story’, and thus purloined the title of a major government campaign that had hitherto referred to Singapore’s nation-building history, unsurprisingly, as ‘the Singapore story’.82 These developments have been characterised by one scholar as the construction of Lee as Singapore’s ‘National Father’.83 Lee’s ‘Singapore story’ was ubiquitous throughout Singapore in the late 1990s and early 2000s in several media formats,84 in official school and college curricula,85 and in the mainstream media – even on Discovery Channel.86 The campaign successfully elevated Lee Kuan Yew’s personal history into the national narrative, making him the fulcrum of the Singapore story.87 This conceit built upon Lee’s standing habit of publicly holding up members of his family – particularly but not exclusively his children – as a microcosm of the nation. This practice has followed a three-pronged approach: first, the relatively benign practice of using his family’s personal experiences as a basis for public policy formation; second, the more consequential practice of following national agendas that mould Singapore around his personal vision; third, the practice of moulding his children and grandchildren so that they become the model of the ‘new’ Singaporean. There are many examples that document these practices, but I will draw on just three to illustrate my point. The first example is drawn from Lee’s memoirs, where he revealed that in 1976 he took his twenty-something daughter, Wei Ling, to accompany him on his first visit to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). At the time, Singapore had in place a strict ban prohibiting Singaporeans under the age of 30 from visiting the PRC for any reason because the government was afraid that they would be seduced by Maoist ideology, but apparently this law did not apply to a Lee. Lee Wei Ling’s reactions during that trip convinced Lee that there was no such danger anymore. In fact he concluded that exposure to China would dissipate any romantic notions of the fatherland, so he ordered a review of that law and soon it was rescinded.88 The second instance is drawn from Singapore’s brush with the SARS epidemic. When SARS hit Asia in 2003, it is a matter of record, admitted by a later Head of the Civil Service, Peter Ho, that the Singapore government failed to recognise that it was faced with a serious epidemic. It was only in the fifth week of the crisis that it began to take decisive action. The catalyst for this action was a SARS

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Figure 5.4. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Figure 5.5. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

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scare in Lee Kuan Yew’s family, when his wife had to be rushed to hospital as a suspected SARS case.89 The third story is best told in Lee’s own words in his 2005 book, Keeping My Mandarin Alive.90 On page 98, he spoke to his interviewer in these terms: I asked my three children whether I had made a mistake sending them to Chinese schools. They said no emphatically. My sons’ children, that’s big trouble, because their language has changed. Yes, they go to Nanyang Xiao Xue but the students are now speaking to one another in English, and there are only one or two Chinese language lessons a day. So extra tuition is needed.91 The significance of this revelation is that for decades a good grade in the second language had been needed to matriculate into a local university and to win a prestigious government scholarship, and for decades the government had been resisting pressure from the ground to ease this burden. But the year before Lee’s interview was published, the government had suddenly and without any public discussion drastically eased the second language matriculation requirements.92 This move coincided with Lee’s own grandchildren’s approaching matriculation, and he tells us a year later that they were struggling with Mandarin.93 If Lee Kuan Yew is the National Father, and his family is the ‘first family’, Lee Hsien Loong is undoubtedly the über-Singaporean, encapsulating all of the virtues needed in the new idealisation of the elite. His story makes edifying reading. Lee Hsien Loong was born in 1952 as the eldest son of two Englishspeaking and brilliant Chinese solicitors, one of whom was to become prime minister. After independence in 1965, his father successfully set out to make English – his own family’s first language – the dominant language of the republic and the prime language of education. Lee, however, was not content with his children being just monolingual. Even at this early stage Lee Senior had developed a fixation with what he would later call the ‘cultural ballast’ provided by one’s ‘mother tongue’.94 In the mid-1950s, he began arranging private tuition in Mandarin for his children from the age of three and then he sent them to top Chinese-medium schools for their primary and secondary education.95 Lee Hsien Loong’s mastery of Mandarin was to stand him in good stead since, unbeknownst to anyone else, his father was later going to place bilingual Chinese (English and Mandarin-speaking) at the apex of the political and administrative elite.96

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Just as Lee Hsien Loong fi nished his senior years of school, the fi rst of the junior colleges ( JCs) opened to offer elite students a specialist study and tuition environment to prepare for university. Lee Hsien Loong was in the first intake of the first JC, National Junior College (NJC), where against all common practice he was allowed to sit for the Cambridge A-levels a second time. He had already matriculated in 1969,97 but then returned as a part-time student to sit for the full set of examinations as an NJC student. On the strength of his 1969 results alone he was one of eight winners of the President’s Scholarship in 1970, and had also won a Public Service Commission scholarship to Cambridge University to study mathematics, but at NJC he improved his results. After attending NJC, he also took the unusual step of voluntarily beginning his National Service while waiting to depart for Cambridge, even though, as a scholarship winner, he could have deferred – as did most boys who had been offered a scholarship. His father chose this year as the time to introduce the new Singapore Armed Forces Overseas Scholarship (SAFOS) for national servicemen. The SAFOS scheme was introduced as the new peak, elite scholarship for males, and Lee Hsien Loong was in the inaugural group of five men out of only 20 applicants to win one for his study in Cambridge.98 From 1971 to 1974, he studied at Cambridge as a SAFOS scholar where he graduated with double first class honours in mathematical statistics and mathematical economics and a distinction in a diploma in computer science. Upon his return to Singapore in 1974, the SAF initiated Project Wrangler, a scholarship and leadership programme for serving officers. Lee Hsien Loong was in the first intake.99 After a mere three years working as a regular officer in the SAF, he was posted to Fort Leavenworth, USA, where he studied at the US Army Command and General Staff College from 1978 to 1979. Upon completion of these studies, he stayed in the United States for another year as a Mason Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, graduating in 1980 with a masters in public administration. By this stage, he had risen to the rank of Major in the SAF, despite having only served for about three years on operational duty. Despite his inexperience he was made Director, Joint Operations Planning Directorate from 1981 to 1982, and then became Chief of Staff (General Staff ) from 1982 to 1984, by this time having risen to the rank of Brigadier-General.100 The SAF did not get very good value out of its investment, however, for he left the SAF to run for parliament in 1984. Many months before the announcement of his entry into politics, civil servants in the HDB were told that their job was to prepare the ground in Teck Ghee constituency for ‘an Army officer’ who

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was going to retire soon and enter politics at the upcoming election.101 In this case, the business of ‘preparing the ground’ involved ensuring that the creation of the first Town Council went smoothly. Zulkifl i Baharudin, an officer in the HDB, was put in charge, and apart from the administrative work of setting up a new municipal authority, he oversaw and engaged personally in door knocking, talking to hawkers and shop owners, making sure everyone was happy. Zulkifl i said in interview that even without knowing that it was Lee Hsien Loong who was being parachuted into the electorate, the work was given a high priority because the ruling PAP ‘was going to fight the election on the basis that it is best able to manage and lead a new municipal entity’.102 A few months before the election, he was told that the new Member of Parliament was ‘the son of Mr Lee’. After that, the work intensified, and he remembers it as the hardest working period of his life. The availability of civil service resources to the PAP is considered routine within the civil service, but the significant feature of Zulkifl i’s story is the special treatment accorded the son of Mr Lee, even by the standards of ordinary support for key PAP candidates. At that stage of his career, Lee Hsien Loong’s handling of his constituency was such that he would have been in trouble without this help. He tried to approach his early ‘walkabouts’ like a military inspection, allocating a set time to each floor in each block and expecting his constituents to fit in to his schedule.103 Not that you would have known that from reading the press at the time, which brimmed with adulatory reports about the PAP’s new candidate for Teck Ghee, beginning with reporting the occasional political speech that he was allowed to make while he was still a serving officer in the Army.104 He was elected, of course, and from there he was catapulted into test after test set by his father, all of which he ‘aced’, riding on his energy, intelligence and problem-solving ability. Or at least that is the public image. His fi rst great achievement was supposedly tackling the recession of the mid-1980s as the Chairman of the Economic Review Committee, in which he forced through the radical (at the time) proposal to cut the cost of labour by reducing the employer contribution rate to the Central Provident Fund (a quasi-superannuation fund) by 16 per cent. It has since emerged that he was a late convert to the need for a cut and basically had the decision imposed upon him.105 Yet this detail was not allowed to stand in the way of building the myth of Lee Hsien Loong as the brilliant and ruthless reformer from whom no sacred cow was safe.106 From there, he went from strength to strength. He became a deputy prime minister in 1990 and had a dream run through the sensitive and powerful Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Finance.

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His progression was interrupted only by a cancer scare that set back his succession to the premiership by several years. Without belittling the scale of his achievements, it is important to note that at all times he had an immense advantage over and above his innate talent in that he had much greater freedom to act than any other member of the Cabinet apart from his father. Whereas his more experienced and more senior Cabinet colleagues had to take tiny, incremental steps to unwind any of Lee Kuan Yew’s initiatives,107 from the start Lee Hsien Loong could act fearlessly. He was also protected from the consequences of any mistakes and inexperience, supported by his colleagues and the press, ushered from opportunity to opportunity.

Personal power This chapter has been a story of dynamic change, with the construction of new parameters for inclusion in the inner orbits of the networks of power and influence: notably the new hegemony of the first family, the increased importance of being Chinese, and the rise of the scholar-soldier. It would be inappropriate to conclude, however, without a brief account of one of the most important points of continuity with the past: the continued – and arguably the increased – importance of personal power, even amidst the shibboleth of impersonal bureaucratic modernity. In this we return to a theme that was opened, but not developed, at the end of Chapter 3. In short, patronage is a vitally important element in the rise of anyone in the Singapore political and administrative elite and the oil that lubricates the Singapore system is personal power. ‘Talent’ and paper qualifications are often sufficient in themselves to attract the notice of those with patronage to disburse, but at some point one needs to plug into a patronage network because the patron is always more important than the office he or she holds. The earlier in life one is able to do this, the better. Ideally such links would come through one’s family, but networks forged at school, or through corporate, civil or military service can prove nearly as advantageous: hence the contemporary significance of going to one of the Raffles or Hwa Chong schools. From such a starting point, a bright, fit young Chinese man is already in an advantageous position for networking: a likely candidate for entry into the exclusive ‘Delta Company’ for his National Service, where he will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with generals and senior ministers at social functions as they scour the field for the ‘right’ people for advancement.108

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The absence of ‘talent’ is generally sufficient to disqualify one from rising very high in the political and administrative hierarchy, no matter who your father is, but once a young man or woman has demonstrated ‘talent’ he, or occasionally she, needs to be socialised into the ‘elite’. In both the civil service and the military, this is achieved through training and ‘bonding’ sessions, extensive periods of international travel together, and inclusion in exclusive social-cum-professional clubs: the Alpha Society for the Administrative Officers in the civil service and the Temasek Society for senior military officers.109 The Lees are the ultimate patrons and the ultimate centre of gravity in this system, but even beyond them, the operation of personal power is pervasive and routine. According to one serving Permanent Secretary, there were, in 2003, a group of six Permanent Secretaries who were of the same cohort, and who knew and trusted each other well. With a luncheon discussion or a couple of phone calls between members of this group, problems can be fixed without further ado. He went as far as to say that without networks in government, ‘it would be difficult to get things done’.110 A former Permanent Secretary made a different point that also highlights the personal character of power in the Singapore system. He spoke of the importance of finding yourself as a senior civil servant under a minister with clout, capable of getting things done. If a minister is afraid of being ‘shot down’ at every step, then all the civil servants working under him will endure years of frustration.111 It has already been implied, but it is worth noting explicitly that a person of power may very easily exercise influence beyond the formal powers vested in his institutional position. It is thus not uncommon for senior civil servants to have more power to act than any of the more junior Cabinet ministers, or for relatively junior civil servants to operate secure in the knowledge that he or she is acting on behalf of a powerful person.112 This reality is well understood by the police, public prosecutors and the media to the point that the pattern of inconsistencies in the application of the law is so regular that it restores some predictability to the system. The ubiquitous role of personal power is the single most consistent feature of the networks of power and influence in Singapore. A feature that began as a short-term resort in the face of severe challenge has been retained as a preferred model. Yet this does not mean that it is a model in stasis. Patronage and personal power remain as vitally important as they were in the 1960s, but the character of both the dispensers and the recipients of patronage have been changing along the lines described in this chapter.

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Two closely related areas of constant and uncertain change are the content and shape of elite education, and particularly the role of the Chinese who have gone through one of the elite Chinese schools.113 There seems to be an expectation that the new generation of Chinese-educated scholars will be channelled into a new business-oriented niche within the elite that will be oriented towards doing business with China. It remains to be seen how significantly this affects their relative position in the orbits of power in the medium or long term. Yet regardless of adjustments at the edges, by 2010, the fundamentals were set in place – or so it seemed until the events of May 2011 threatened the established order.

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Chapter 6

A New Chapter: The Son Rises at Last

At this point, we turn our attention to the most dramatic development in elite politics since Lee Kuan Yew’s assumption of complete power in the early 1980s: his untimely and sudden political decline and the dramatic Cabinetlevel bloodbath that accompanied it. There is no mystery about what precipitated these developments – it was the General Elections held on 7 May 2011. It is surprising that Singaporean democracy had enough life to achieve such a dramatic outcome,1 and yet it undoubtedly gave Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong the moral authority he needed to fi nally step out of his father’s shadow and impose his authority on the Cabinet. The issues and personalities of the election campaign need not detain us in this part of the study beyond a consideration of the developments that impacted upon the elite.2 From this very limited perspective the essential facts were the following:3 • In the elections, the PAP received its lowest percentage of the national vote since 1963 (60.1 per cent; down from 66.6 per cent in 2006 and 75 per cent in 2001) – and this happened in an election where, for the first time in decades, almost all seats were contested and a record number of Singaporeans cast a vote. (The 2011 turnout was 49.7 per cent higher than the previous record, which was set in 1988.) • In the multi-member Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs), there was a savage swing against PAP teams led by particular ministers. Those ministers who performed especially poorly and were blamed in the popular mind for having pulled the vote down were Senior Minister

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• •



Goh Chok Tong (56.6 per cent of the vote); Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng (56.9 per cent); Minister for Transport Raymond Lim (54.8 per cent); Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan (57.2 per cent). In contrast, the PAP vote in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s constituency of Ang Mo Kio increased from 66.6 per cent in 2006 to 69.3 per cent , making him the best-performing Minister in the election. The opposition’s capture of seats went up to six, from two in 2006 and 2001, with the most critical element of this victory being the Workers’ Party’s capture of the five-member Aljunied GRC. There were also another two single-member constituencies that the opposition lost by less than 400 votes (Potong Pasir and Joo Chiat). Two Cabinet Ministers were defeated at the polls (Foreign Minister George Yeo and Second Minister for Finance and Transport Lim Hwee Hua), along with the government’s intended Speaker of Parliament (Zainul Abidin Rasheed) and a ‘new talent’ who was expected to be elevated to the Cabinet in due course (Ong Ye Kung). In the aftermath of the election, five ministers stepped down from the Cabinet: Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, Minister for Transport Raymond Lim and Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan.

We should also note that two important members of the Cabinet retired at the May 2011 General Elections as part of the normal turnover of ministers: Senior Minister S. Jayakumar and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Boon Heng. Intuitively one would have expected that such an election loss would damage the standing of the leader of the team, but thanks to the increase in Lee Hsien Loong’s personal vote in his own constituency, his success in shifting most of the blame onto others (including his father)4 and the perception that he rescued the government from a worse outcome in the last days of campaigning with a dramatic apology for the government’s failings,5 he has been able to use this result to enhance his authority. The most significant outcome is that Lee Hsien Loong, not Lee Kuan Yew, is now indisputably in charge of the national elite for the first time. The other, only slightly less dramatic outcome was the removal of one-third of the Cabinet (seven out of 21) in one go. This is the biggest and most sudden turnover in the Cabinet since independence. Furthermore, all of these removals except

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Figure 6.1. Lee Hsien Loong addresses a PAP rally during the 2011 General Elections. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is seated immediately behind him.

the two planned retirements came about because of a grassroots electoral backlash – something that has not been a significant factor in Singapore politics for decades and which injects a new variable into the process of elite selection, recruitment and accountability.6 The removal of Wong Kan Seng is particularly remarkable in this context. He had already survived for quite a while despite being the Minister for Home Affairs on whose watch Mas Selamat (a Jemaah Islamiyah terrorist) escaped police custody.7 Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong famously exonerated Wong for having made an ‘honest mistake’.8 Clearly Wong held some magic wand, but whatever magic he was using did him no good after May 2011.

The prequel to Lee Kuan Yew’s fall The events of May 2011 marked a sudden and decisive end to Lee Kuan Yew’s authority, but it had been clear for some years that his grip on authority was already in decline. As recently as 2004, when Lee Hsien Loong took over the premiership, Lee Kuan Yew was able to insist on his way when he was determined to act decisively. Indeed Lee Kuan Yew stole from Lee Hsien Loong what by right should have been his very first act as the new Prime Minister in

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2004: Lee Kuan Yew announced his own appointment as Minister Mentor.9 It took another six days for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to confirm his father’s pre-emptive announcement, and even then this was done with a modicum of peevishness through an unnamed ‘government official’.10 Since then Lee Senior has made a series of decisive interventions regarding relations with Malaysia,11 bilingual education,12 the future of Changi Airport13 and the management of ethnicity.14 The content and effectiveness of most of these interventions seem to have been welcomed by Lee Hsien Loong, even if we might wonder whether he may have preferred the chance to make his own mark more decisively. There was, however, one exception to this generalisation, and this was on the matter of the management of ethnicity. The difference here was sufficiently stark and public to warrant extra attention for the light it shed on the evolving power relations between the two men. The point of difference that was visible to outside observers was in strategies for managing the Malaycum-Muslim community, which became evident on several occasions. The most public of the outbursts of discord came in the wake of the launch of Lee Kuan Yew’s 2011 book, Hard Truths, in which he painted his ideal Muslim as a man with whom he could share a beer and a non-halal meal, whose wife and daughters did not wear the tudung, and who was generally ‘less strict on Islamic observances’.15 He used the same occasion to suggest that the rise of religiosity among Muslims was a threat to multiracialism and social harmony in Singapore: I think we were progressing very nicely until the surge of Islam came and if you asked me for my observations, the other communities have easier integration – friends, intermarriages and so on, Indians with Chinese, Chinese with Indians – than Muslims.16 Leaving aside the inconvenient fact that the government’s own research has suggested that Muslims comprise one of the most outreaching ethnic communities and that Chinese are the most insular,17 the most significant aspect of the episode was the reaction it evoked from his son. It took just over a week after its release for the Muslim community to notice and react to the accusations and presumptions in Lee’s book, but when they started complaining, they were effectively supported by Lee Hsien Loong, who praised the Muslims for their efforts to integrate and said that his own perspective on the subject was ‘not quite the same’ as his father’s.18 Two days earlier, Yaacob Ibrahim had already gone significantly further, saying:

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I would be personally very worried if Singaporeans agree with the scenario that MM [Minister Mentor] has painted . . . . At the end of the day, he has a certain perspective. That perspective may not be accurate now, maybe 40 years ago. So that’s where I disagree with him . . . .19 The significance of this drift of solidarity in terms of the power relations between Lee Senior and these two men – and indeed between Lee Senior and the Cabinet as a whole – was underlined in an earlier episode that was less public, but more informative. The episode in question occurred in 2005, just a year into Lee Hsien Loong’s premiership, when Lee Kuan Yew publicly lambasted Singapore’s Malay community for shunning the governmentsupplied community centres and focusing too much on the mosque for their community life.20 The outburst was extraordinary for the simple reason that the leadership of the Malay-Muslim communities had, for several years, been engaged in a major government-endorsed project designed precisely to make the mosque the centre of the Malay-Muslim community’s social and communal life with the aim of using the mosque as a specialised vehicle for ‘modernising’ the community and delivering government leadership and services.21 As prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong was ultimately responsible for the programme of mosque-centred activity, though the initiative came from Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim. A few days after Lee’s provocative speech I happened to be conducting an interview with a pair of officials of Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS; Islamic Religious Council of Singapore), which was running the mosque promotion programme, and they gasped with exasperation when I mentioned Lee’s attack. ‘Here we are doing all this work to build up the mosques, and now this,’ said one, shaking his head.22 The significance of this incident was two-fold. Firstly, Lee Kuan Yew’s outburst stood uncorrected, despite the fact that it breached Cabinet solidarity and completely undermined a government programme. This demonstrated his inviolability. Secondly, Lee’s outburst was an isolated event with no follow-up, and it had no discernable effect on the government programme of mosque promotion. This demonstrated the limits of his power: there was now a distinction between Lee Senior making his displeasure known and him closing down a project or a discussion, whereas once they had been the same thing. It was apparent by this stage that there was a vague field of contestation between father and son, and even though Lee

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Senior was inviolable, Lee Junior and his team were able to pursue contrary agendas. A less decisive but even more public indication of the slight slippage of Lee Kuan Yew’s grip on power (though in this case it did not indicate a dissonance on policy) was seen in a small incident in April 2010. The episode began with Lee Kuan Yew defending Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan with unnecessarily provocative vigour and ended with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean choosing to defend Lee Kuan Yew in a very half-hearted way. Mah was already suffering politically over his rather inept defence of the high costs of HDB housing in which most Singaporeans live (which proved to be the issue that eventually cost him his position in the Cabinet after the 2011 elections). In January 2010, Lee stepped in to defend Mah and the government’s policies by trying to scare the electorate: he warned that if Mah lost his seat to the opposition in the next election, then Singaporeans’ flats would be worthless and they had better sell fast. 23 In April, Deputy Prime Minister Teo was asked about the incident in a forum for university students and in response he basically dismissed Lee’s contribution as an eccentricity. He began by emphasising that he was aware that the government had to ‘engage the people with sensitivity and avoid preaching’, and conceded that he, too, does not ‘like being told what to do. I prefer to make up my own mind and, I think, so do most Singaporeans’. This was a clear, if gentle criticism of Lee, but as if that was not enough, he then continued: You know MM [Minister Mentor]. He’s got a great wealth of experience. He’s probably heard this question multiple times and he is famous for telling it like it is. So, you know, we accept what he says at face value. I mean, he’s like that.24 According to Rachel Lin’s report in The Straits Times, this last statement was greeted by ‘much laughter’ from the audience.25 There are two points to note from this incident. Ministers (or at least very senior ministers) were by this stage comfortable with distinguishing themselves from Lee Senior, and even holding him up for mild ridicule. This was an unprecedented development. Yet we also note that Lee himself suffered no redress over the incident. His was an extremely irresponsible outburst that had the potential to threaten HDB values across the country, and if any ordinary MP or junior minister had made a comparable threat to housing values it would have destroyed his or her career. This was never a possibility in this instance.

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If we consider these two incidents together, we can see clear daylight between the public policy positions being enunciated by Lee Kuan Yew and those of his successors. The public manifestations of this gap were so fleeting and narrow that it was not obvious to outsiders that it was going to have any great practical consequence, but even at the time it was clear that it left Lee Hsien Loong in a reasonably comfortable position: he was able to exercise relative but not absolute autonomy over a wide field of policy formation and implementation. As it turns out, Lee Senior was skating on much thinner ice than these public manifestations suggested, and all it took was a few more public embarrassments during a critical election campaign for Lee Hsien Loong to be able to act decisively. Let us not, however, get carried away with the possibility of Lee Hsien Loong using his new power to introduce revolutionary change. This handover is not so much a coup as an orderly succession from father to son, even if in the end it was forced by the son. It is a change of guard, not a regime change. Lee Hsien Loong is the product of the system his father created and he will set about tweaking the system with the explicit aim of preserving his power. Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy may not last forever, but Lee Hsien Loong is no Mikhail Gorbachev and I doubt very much whether he is going to be the one to dismantle it.

The bloodbath in the Cabinet Lee Kuan Yew’s departure was by far the most important single outcome of the 2011 elections, but it is also important to note how the rest of the shakeup has contributed to the changing shape of the inner circles of power. With a third of the Cabinet (seven people) leaving in the same month and their replacement by just three new faces, the implications for the elite go far beyond the superficial ‘generational change’ from old to young that was featured in the Singapore media – and indeed not all of those who stood down were so old. In Table 6.1 we revisit the statistics presented in Chapter 5 concerning the educational and professional composition of the Cabinet, and we find that 2011 marked a significant shift in the composition of the inner core of the elite that is very much in line with the shifting dynamics of elite composition as a whole. Some of these shifts may turn out to be short term and correct themselves once the Cabinet is returned to its full strength, which, without an entourage of former prime ministers and deputy prime ministers in the Prime Minister’s Office, should be 17 or 18. A closer look, however, reveals that some of the longer term trends are also distorted by short term aberrations.

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Table 6.1 Educational and professional composition of the Cabinet, pre- and post-May 2011 Background

Pre-May (Total of 21) Post-May (Total of 15)

Military scholars and officers

6

6

Administrative Officers

7

6

GLC sector

7

3

Academics

2

2

Statutory boards

2

4

Private sector

2

2

Principal Private Secretary in the PMO

1

2

President’s Scholars

6

5

Old Rafflesians

6

3

National Junior College old boys

5

5

For instance: • the mere maintenance of military men is understated because of the unintended absence of George Yeo, who was defeated at the polls, and the fact that there is another former military man, Tan Chuan-Jin, who entered parliament in 2011 and is obviously earmarked for a Cabinet post; • the drop in the importance of the GLC sector is understated because three of the four post-May GLC contingent should not be primarily identified with the GLC sector: two (Gan and Iswaran) are really Administrative Officers who were rotated through the GLC sector to broaden their experience, and a third (Lim Swee Say) is a military scholar and officer who did service in military-related GLCs; • the apparent rise in the importance of statutory board backgrounds is overstated because of the four men in this category, one (Tharman Shanmugaratnam) started in a statutory board (MAS) but made his career in the Administrative Service, another (Heng) spent his prepolitical career moving seamlessly between statutory boards and the Administrative Service, and a third (Liu) is a former military scholar and officer who was shifted into statutory boards; • one of the two ‘academics’ (Vivian Balakrishnan) never held a fulltime academic position or made a career of being an academic; • the shift from a Raffles to an NJC background reflects generational change combined with the shift in the government’s favoured pathways over the decades. This pattern will undoubtedly reverse itself as a new generation of Raffles-educated elites rise in their careers.

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With these qualifications in mind, we can discern a distinct shift towards reliance upon former scholar-soldiers, and men whose substantive careers were in the Administrative Service at the expense of people whose substantive careers were in statutory boards and GLCs. In the light of the analysis in this book, this should not come as a surprise. This survey ignores the administrative half of the inner core of the elite, but as the more public face of the elite, it is instructive to see what it tells us about the favoured pathways to power and influence. The following chapter interrogates these trends more closely – especially the changing relationship between elite formation and the GLCs – and the final chapter considers some of the longer-term and broader implications of the 2011 General Elections for democracy and the future of the elite.

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Chapter 7

Mapping the Networks of Power and Influence

At this point we return to the overview with which I opened Chapter 2. Indeed, Chapters 3 through 6 have been devoted substantially to explaining how we got to the situation described in the opening words of Chapter 2, to justify the claims made there and to give readers the chance to vicariously enmesh themselves in the social outlook and historical developments that are needed to make sense of the contemporary situation. The resultant picture looks something like this: Until recently Lee Kuan Yew sat at the centre of the networks of power and influence, but Lee Hsien Loong has now subsumed this role. Beyond Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong, there is a series of networks of power whose significance is determined in part by the degree of social proximity to the Lees. The most privileged and potentially the most powerful are members of the Lee family itself, though old family friends follow close behind. Behind the Lee family and their close friends is an elite network that is the product of the complex interaction of personal favouritism, academic meritocracy, and willingness and capacity to be socialised into the elite. Since the mid- to late 1970s the ideal candidates for this relatively inner circle of the networks of power and influence have been male Chinese scholar-soldiers who have passed through one of two families of elite schools. For a short time, the favoured schools were the Raffles schools and National Junior College, but during the 1980s National

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Junior College was eclipsed by a resurgent Raffles and a rising Hwa Chong family of schools. Beyond this pinnacle of the ideal elite were other top scholars who suffered only a slight disadvantage compared to those who had benefited from officer training: women, and those male President’s Scholars and Overseas Merit Scholars who did not take the military path for whatever reason.1 Beyond the inner circles, there lie mid-range networks of power and influence whose power is more heavily circumscribed, and the outer layer of networks where power is often restricted to particular fractions of society. Regardless of where one lies on the continuum of power – near the inner or outer levels – unless you are practically part of the family, you are in a position of dependency. Now that we are getting down to the details of the contemporary situation, we might also add that membership of the inner circles consists mainly of political and administrative leaders (Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, SAF officers, CEOs and Managing Directors, among others) in a selection of key ministries, a few key GLCs (e.g. Singapore Telecommunications, Singapore Airlines, Neptune Orient Lines), the military, and the country’s two sovereign wealth funds, these being Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC). Mid-range circles of power and influence straddle a wide range of government and government-linked institutions such as ministries, important statutory boards and most GLCs. The outer networks reside in institutions that are important politically, but not so central to the elite’s institutional power base, including the ethnic communities, trade unions, universities and businesses. It should also be stated explicitly – though it should already be apparent to the reader – that the Singapore elite is opaque to the point where it is difficult for any outsider, including myself, to know very much about the detailed workings. For an outsider, the task of piecing together the details of the networks of power – the relationships between particular people, the lines of patronage and the basis on which particular people were initiated into the elite – is usually a matter of stumbling across references in the public domain and then piecing the evidence into a narrative. The particular pattern of activity behind the opacity can be seen in individual stories, such as that told of Christopher de Souza and, more significantly, that of Lee Hsien Loong in Chapter 5, but most of the significant stories have not been so conveniently documented. This book, and this chapter in particular, endeavours to paint

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the networks of power and influence on a broad canvas while retaining sufficient detail to make it meaningful and falsifiable. Yet in truth, the operation of personal power and personal connections is so deeply embedded in the political process that every story is a study in unique historical contingency – and the details of that contingency are hidden from the view of outsiders. With this overview in place, we can now turn our attention to the details of the current situation insofar as we are able. In doing so, I have tried to find a happy medium between focusing on details that may be rendered outdated at any time, and ‘big picture’ generalisations so lacking in detail that they are uninformative. If I may be permitted one final observation before leaving this introductory section, let me return to a point that I made in Chapter 1: it makes it a lot easier to understand Singapore if you put aside notions of modernity and ordinary governance, let alone democracy, and 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.

The family Lee Hsien Loong is now firmly placed at the centre of the networks of power and influence, with members of his family having a special niche in the hierarchy. (This includes his father who is probably still capable of wielding considerable influence, even if his direct power has been curtailed.) Beyond Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong, there is another ring of family power. Until May 2011, there were two members of the Lee family in the Prime Minister’s Office (Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong) and for years both the country’s sovereign wealth funds have been helmed by members of the Lee family. The GIC was chaired by Lee Kuan Yew with Lee Hsien Loong as Deputy until mid-2011 and now Lee Hsien Loong is Chairman and Lee Kuan Yew is a ‘Senior Advisor’. Temasek Holdings’ Executive Director and CEO is Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Ho Ching, while Lee Hsien Loong’s cousin, Kwa Chong Seng, is a Deputy Chairman.2 Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) was run by Lee Kuan Yew’s second son, Lee Hsien Yang, for many years, but now he is earning a million-dollar salary as CEO, non-executive director and a consultant for another GLC, Fraser and Neave. This latter appointment came soon after Temasek bought a major stake in Fraser and Neave and became its second biggest shareholder.3 Lee Hsien Yang is also doubling as head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (appointed in 2009) as part of his father’s push to revamp the aviation sector.4 According to his father, Hsien

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Yang’s career in the GLC sector came at the expense of a career in the Army in which he was assured that he would have fi nished up as Chief of the Defence Force.5 Various uncles, nephews, cousins and in-laws have also held other significant positions in a clutch of GLCs and statutory boards.6 This is not a complete description of the family connections – my knowledge does not extend so far – but it is sufficient to confirm the significance of the first family and to alert the reader to keep an eye on the grandchildren, who have made their marks in the Army and at Oxford University.7 It should also be noted that the outcomes of this family business have not always been exemplary. Ho Ching and Lee Hsien Yang have between them presided over the substantial erosion of the asset value of Singaporeans in their handling of Temasek Holdings and other individual GLCs.8

Beyond the family: the long march through the institutions Beyond the fi rst family there lies an inner circle of power that, while still retaining its personal character, is much more complex. Networks and connections, preferably with the fi rst family itself, are still vitally important but for these people, it is not simply a matter of connections and influence. This batch of candidates must have a set of skills and talents that can be demonstrated professionally. Patronage is as important as ever, but the element that has changed since the 1970s is the pathways that lead to one being noticed by potential patrons. Without connections, the standard pathway is now clearly through elite schools, PSC scholarships (preferably military scholarships) and through outstanding performance in the elite of the civil service (Administrative Service) or the SAF Officer Corps. From there one might be brought into one of the key ministries, or be shepherded into the professional proximity of a potential patron. In almost every case, such people are of a type: predominately bright, ambitious Chinese who have been socialised into the mindset and the personal networks of the elite. There are always a few candidates who are not Chinese, but they have invariably acculturated themselves to the point where they are accepted into the networks of power and influence – at least up to a point. This standard pathway through school, scholarship and civil-cum-military service is becoming increasingly important, but also increasingly problematic. The problems were highlighted during a research interview with a very senior civil servant in Singapore in 2003. This Permanent Secretary asserted that the major challenge facing the civil service was overcoming the

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‘problem’ of conformity, lack of imagination and ‘group think’ among the younger Administrative Officers – that is, among the corps of elite civil servants who are expected to exercise leadership and initiative in governance. It is apparent that straightforward technocratic and professional skills abound in the Administrative Service, and indeed they are strong throughout the civil service as a whole, but my interviewee asserted that among the newer Administrative Officers (AOs) the capacity to transform academic and technocratic brilliance into original, independent thought is restricted to less than 1 in 20. More than 80 per cent of AOs in a particular sample with whom he had been in professional contact, displayed, in his firm view, no capacity for independent thought at all. I am not at liberty to divulge who my interviewee was, but he was certainly in a position to know about these things, and the anecdote by which he justified his assertion left me in no doubt that his claims had substance.9 Afterwards, a perusal of contributions to Ethos, the journal of the Civil Service College,10 revealed that overcoming this culture of conformity was a focus of attention of those at the very top of the civil service. In those pages, I found several articles by senior civil servants that addressed this problem either directly or indirectly. These included contributions by then Civil Service Head Lim Siong Guan, his successor, Peter Ho, and Yong Ying-I.11 This brings us to the significance of ‘outsiders’ in the administrative and political elite. Here I am using the term ‘outsiders’ in the very limited sense of what I am calling ‘lane changers’ and ‘boundary jumpers’ (drawing upon the imagery of a foot race or a horse race). These two mechanisms are designed explicitly to overcome the limitations imposed by the government’s success – perhaps we could even say over-achievement – in building an otherwise seamless mechanism of elite selection and elite formation whose great strength is its competence and homogeneity, but which is struggling to break out of ‘group think’ and to find the vitality to exercise true leadership and imagination. By a ‘lane changer’, I mean someone who has followed the standard school-scholarship-civil/military service track and then done a significant stint of service in the GLC sector, very occasionally supplementing this with some private sector experience. The recruitment of lane changers has become unremarkable since the 1990s and is a modest and very cautious attempt to diversify the experience and outlook of the candidates of the elite – but without looking beyond the usual catchment pool, and without disrupting the process of early socialisation of candidates

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into the culture of the national elite. Lane changers started appearing in the Cabinet in 2008 with the appointment of Gan Kim Yong as Minister for Manpower, and their presence started to look like a trend in 2009 with the arrival of would-be rising star Lim Hwee Hua. Lim lost her seat in parliament in 2011, but a new lane changer, S. Iswaran, has taken her place. Intriguingly, the official bio data for all three lane changers describes them as having joined ‘the private sector’ without mentioning GLCs.12 By ‘boundary jumper’, I refer to someone who is potentially much more radical than a lane changer. The term refers to people who have not come fully from within the standard pathway but have jumped a boundary to join the path to power part way along. The engagement of boundary jumpers is a more serious and potentially more risky attempt to overcome the problem of ‘group think’ by introducing real outsiders.13 The most celebrated boundary jumper is Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. He has the usual collection of international degrees, but he was not an exceptional student at school and never had any chance of winning a PSC scholarship. His international education was made possible by family wealth. He is also, obviously, not Chinese. His outlook was so different to that of the elite that upon his return from his studies in England, he was treated with suspicion because of his political associations in England and was questioned by the ISD for a week in 1987. Yet he jumped the boundary onto the main track after his university studies: he joined the MAS and then the Ministry of Finance as an Administrative Officer before being recruited into politics. The example of Tharman shows the capacity of the elite to refresh itself with boundary jumpers, but it also shows the limitations of this formula for regeneration. After university he still entered the senior civil service pathway and he still needed a patron – in his case, Lee Hsien Loong. Furthermore, it was only after he had socialised himself properly into the mould of an elite that he was able to flourish. These days he can give karaoke performances in Mandarin, he is learning Chinese calligraphy and he sends his children to elite Chinese schools (as mentioned in Chapter 5).14 This process of late socialisation reduces drastically the risk of bringing in boundary jumpers, but it also dilutes the advantages to the point where one might ask whether it is worth the effort. Not surprisingly, other members of the Cabinet who might be regarded as boundary jumpers, notably former self-professed radicals and critics of the government Vivian Balakrishnan and Raymond Lim, were similarly required

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to socialise themselves to the point where Lee Kuan Yew once singled them out as people who did not come through the usual pathways but who came to ‘understand the circumstances that conscribe us [Singapore]’.15 ‘Raymond Lim’, he said, was under no constraint. You can speak to him now whether he has changed his views because we forced him to. Or Vivian Balakrishnan. Or whether when the facts were presented to him and he was given a task to do, he adjusted his thinking to meet that problem.16 (It is worth noting that since Lee’s words of praise were published, Raymond Lim has been pushed out of the Cabinet in the bloodbath of 2011, and Vivian Balakrishnan has been demoted, surviving only because his vote held up despite him being one of the PAP’s weak links in the election.17 ) Beyond these perspectives, there is yet another dimension that needs to be mentioned – an aspect that brings us right back to the centre of the networks of power. If the system is reliant upon the exceptions to the rule – on boundary jumpers – it perpetuates and exaggerates the importance of membership of and personal connections with the family and the inner circle of power. Boundary jumpers can only be identified and recruited by unorthodox, nonsystemic means – by personal identification undertaken at the highest level. Think of Christopher de Souza, whose story was outlined in Chapter 5. How did he come to be invited into the corridors of power? We might also ask, ‘Who has more capacity than anyone else to exercise the freedom to be a boundary jumper?’ The answer: members of the first family, and people with close personal connections with people in the inner circle. They are the ones who already have social connections to persons of power and have a greater freedom to act independently without fear of repercussions. If this logic is reasonable, then it is not a coincidence that the most promising young candidates on the horizon to be boundary jumpers of the future are two of Lee Kuan Yew’s grandchildren: one topped his year in Oxford but was not on a PSC scholarship, and the other has been throwing his weight around in the Army in a way that only a member of the Lee family could possibly get away with.18 (See Text Box 7.1 for part of a Malaysian press report of the incident.) Thus we find that a practice that promised to reinvigorate the regenerative processes of the national elite seems set to perpetuate the very genes of the old elite.

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Box 7.1 The following excerpt is the beginning of a report that appeared in The Star (Malaysia), 21 July 2007.

‘Reprimanded . . . but admired: Prime minister’s son gains accolades from a generally anti-government Internet.’ By Seah Chiang Nee THE 20-year-old grandson of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has shaken up Singapore’s well-run military command, which is, however, not always free of elitist tendencies. The suspicion resurfaced when Li Hongyi, a 2nd Lieutenant, complained to the Defence Minister and hundreds of military personnel that a colleague had gone absent without leave on two occasions. The son of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also said that supervisors had failed to act against the un-named errant officer even after he had raised the matter, raising speculation that he could be someone highly connected. ‘The battalion HQ has effectively given no punishment, and has not even made these infractions known to the rest of the battalion,’ said Hongyi. His e-mail complaint, made on a military website but reproduced elsewhere, earned him a reprimand earlier this month after a summary trial. The officers concerned were disciplined. The defence ministry said that Hongyi had breached General Orders and acted outside the chain of command ‘by broadcasting his letter of complaint to many other servicemen’. ‘There are proper channels within the Armed Forces to address servicemen’s grievances or concerns,’ it added. The episode lent weight to a belief that he was fast-tracked – like his father – for a leadership role through the armed forces. He leaves soon on a government scholarship to study economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It also spotlights two other issues: firstly, the power of the Lee family and secondly, public suspicion (strongly denied) that scholars or children of elites receive special treatment during national service. Four years ago, a furore erupted when the government admitted that – until 2000 – the army had been tagging the sons of influential Singaporeans serving national service as “white horses”. Critics charged it was to enable a smoother and faster track for these elites to rise through the ranks. The government insisted that branding was actually for the opposite: To ensure they get no special privileges. (The Singapore military has served as a training ground for political leaders and executives in state companies. Hongyi’s father, Hsien Loong, was a brigadier-general before entering politics.) Being a member of the First Family, of course, carries some clout. “No ordinary OCT (officer cadet trainee) would dare to write such a letter addressed to all the big guns in the (defence) ministry,” one chat-room message reads. The story immediately raised an immediate angry outcry against the “arrogance” and political power of the Lee offspring. But as the details sank in, this was replaced by admiration for his “courage” and “potential leadership” for speaking out against military “injustices” despite the consequences. Some even see it, rather exaggeratedly, as an act of rebellion by a young man against the establishment. What strengthened his case are a few bad apples among elite trainee officers who are known to ride roughshod over lesser mortals. In the army, few dare to complain; most people either suffer or watch in silence.

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Identifying persons of power in the elite The tension between systemic recruitment and socialisation processes on the one hand and personal and consanguineous linkages on the other leaves the inner circles of the networks of power and influence in a state of perpetual ambivalence. More than fifty years after Lee Kuan Yew took power in the self-governing colony of Singapore, and nearly fifty years after independence, the networks of power and influence are still dominated by personal networks just like those that were accepted in the 1960s as a short-term response to the challenge of survival. The system is dressed up differently, and it is much more Chinese and military and scholarly than it used to be, but essentially, very little has changed – even some of the first generation personnel have survived the decades. With the personal being so important, the task of identifying the actual people in the networks of power and influence becomes a bit problematic for an outsider – and no insider is likely to supply much useful information. An obvious first step, of course, is to identify members and close friends of the Lee family, taken broadly to include those who are married into the family or have a sibling who has married into the family, but even this information is kept out of the public domain as much as possible.

Figure 7.1. Istana, Presidential Palace and home of the Prime Minister’s Office.

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Fortunately, there are more systematic, though necessarily imperfect and incomplete, ways of identifying the key people. They revolve around the fact that even though the system is based on personal power, it has been given a modern gloss that ensures that persons of power need to occupy an institutional niche in order to exercise it. Even Lee Kuan Yew needed to stay in the Cabinet to retain his access to Cabinet papers and security briefings. To reiterate a point that I made near the end of Chapter 4, modern institutions have not replaced traditional lines of patronage, privilege and consanguinity, but they have been placed in their service. Once the role of institutions is recognised, it enables us to identify key people by tracking them through the positions they hold and have held. Further, there are only a limited number of key institutions of power in Singapore, and there are a limited number of critical roles within these institutions. The following is a thumbnail sketch of the situation as of mid-2012: 1. Every member of the Cabinet has power of some sort, but the nature and strength of the power varies considerably. • In the Prime Minister’s Office, Lee Hsien Loong has enormous power now that his father is gone – though he probably still does not have nearly as much as Lee Kuan Yew held at his peak. The two Deputy Prime Ministers, Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, are not far behind, though they are substantially creations of Lee Hsien Loong. A key indicator of power is responsibility for oversight of other ministries or the civil service, and this role typically falls to people in the Prime Minister’s Office – to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Ministers and, until the positions were brushed aside in May 2011, to Senior Ministers. This system faithfully perpetuates Lee Kuan Yew’s strong propensity to rely upon pyramidal, cascading line management, with power flowing from the apex of the pyramid downwards and outwards towards the broad base.19 Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is not only Co-ordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, but also Minister-incharge of the Civil Service and the designated Acting Prime Minister during Lee Hsien Loong’s absences. He also oversees the politically sensitive National Population and Talent Division in the PMO.20 Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is also Minister for Finance, Minister for Manpower and Chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

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the ruling elite of singapore • The full ministers of the five other vital ministries are also central to power. These are Defence (currently Ng Eng Hen), Home Affairs (Deputy Prime Minister [DPM] Teo Chee Hean),21 Education (Heng Swee Keat), Finance (DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam) and Trade and Industry (Lim Hng Kiang). • There is also a clutch of ministerial positions that are important and powerful (and at times might be of particular political sensitivity) without being quite as central as those listed above, notably Health (currently Gan Kim Yong), National Development (Khaw Boon Wan), Law (K. Shanmugam), Foreign Affairs (also K. Shanmugam), Manpower (Tharman Shanmugaratnam) and Transport (Lui Tuck Yew, who is also Second Minister for Foreign Affairs).22 • Any member of the Cabinet who is also a member of the PAP Central Executive Committee (CEC) should be regarded as being powerful, though the position held in each institution is a more precise indicator of power.23 Those with the most power are those who hold a central position in the Cabinet as well as an office-bearing position on the CEC (as opposed to being an ordinary member of the CEC or mere member of the ‘HQ Executive Committee’).24 Those who fit this category at the time of writing are Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. Some people who do not hold centrally important portfolios in the Cabinet are also office bearers on the CEC for a variety of reasons. Khaw Boon Wan is Chairman, reflecting his record of holding down politically sensitive portfolios (previously Health and currently National Development), as is the current Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs and Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim is Vice-Chairman of the CEC, which is recognition of the importance of his role in managing the Malay and Muslim communities. Foreign Minister K. Shamugam is also an office bearer on the CEC as is Minister in the PMO, Deputy Chairman of the People’s Association and Secretary-General of the NTUC, Lim Swee Say. The presence of people on the CEC who are not members of the Cabinet suggests that they are either rising stars, or are regarded as being particularly trustworthy. Two people who currently fit into this category are MPs Indranee Rajah and Teo Ser Luck. The full list of members of the PAP CEC can be found at the PAP website at http://www.pap.org.sg/leadership.php/.

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• Finally there is a group of Cabinet Ministers whose power is marginal, either in the sense that the ministry is not powerful, or because their prime responsibility is merely political: to manage a marginal constituency such as the trade unions (usually managed by a Minister without portfolio in the Prime Minister’s Office) or the Malay-Muslim community (always managed by a Malay through the secondary portfolio of Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs). Even though their power is exercised at the margins of the elite, their political importance to the centre may be recognised by their routine inclusion on the PAP CEC and sometimes as Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Office. The full and current list of members of the Cabinet can be found at http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/content/cabinet/appointments.html. (As an aside, special mention needs to be made at this point of the position of President, which does not really fit into the neat schema I am describing. It is a position of great trust, but is mostly a ceremonial role with very little real power except in extraordinary circumstances. As I write, Tony Tan has stepped up to take on this role in his twilight years, having served as one of the most powerful men in the country for several decades.) 2. Beyond the political leadership, there is a layer of senior civil servants and military officers whose power is commensurate with the centrality of the institutions they serve. Those in the vital institutions are more powerful than many of the more peripheral members of the Cabinet. The key civil servants include all Permanent Secretaries (including Second Permanent Secretaries) but may extend further down the line in particular cases. The most significant among these are found in Table 7.1. The details of Permanent Secretaries and the full list of senior officials in the civil service can be found at http://app.sgdi.gov.sg/index.asp. 3. There are also eight Organs of State, most of which have not yet been mentioned by name in this book. The vital ones are: • Public Service Commission: Chairman, Eddie Teo. Formerly Director (Security and Intelligence Division, Ministry of Defence), Director (Internal Security Department), Permanent Secretary (Defence), Permanent Secretary (Prime Minister’s Office – Public Service Division) and Deputy Head, Civil Service. Other Commission members include Kwa Chong Seng, first cousin to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Deputy Chairman of Temasek Holdings.

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Table 7.1 Key members of the civil service and the military, 2012 Peter Ong Boon Kwee

Head of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary (Special Duties, Prime Minister’s Office); Permanent Secretary (Finance); Board Member, Monetary Authority of Singapore. Formerly Permanent Secretary (National Security and Intelligence Coordination); Permanent Secretary (Trade and Industry), Permanent Secretary (Transport); Permanent Secretary (Defence); Director, Singapore Technologies Engineering and DBS Bank; Chairman, Inland Revenue Service

Benny Lim

Permanent Secretary (Prime Minister’s Office); Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs); Permanent Secretary (National Development); Permanent Secretary (National Security and Intelligence Coordination); Director, Civil Service College. Formerly Deputy Commissioner of Police and Director, Internal Security Department

Lim Soo Hoon

Permanent Secretary (Performance – Finance); Chairman, Civil Service College; Formerly Permanent Secretary (Prime Minister’s Office – Public Service Division); Permanent Secretary (Community Development and Sports); Chairman, National Library Board

Yong Ying-I

Permanent Secretary (Public Service Division – Prime Minister’s Office); Permanent Secretary (National Research and Development); Director, Sembcorp; Chairman of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency; Chairman of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore; Director, Civil Service College. Formerly Principle Private Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; Permanent Secretary (Health) and Permanent Secretary (Manpower)

Chiang Chie Foo

Permanent Secretary (Defence). Formerly Permanent Secretary (Prime Minister’s Office); Permanent Secretary (Education) and Principal Private Secretary to Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Tan Kim Siew

Permanent Secretary (Defence Development); Chairman, Defence Science and Technology Agency and Defence Science Organisation National Laboratories; Director, Singapore Technologies Holdings; Non-Executive Director of Singapore Technologies Engineering. Formerly a Deputy Secretary (Finance); and CEO, Urban Redevelopment Authority

Neo Kian Hong

Chief of Defence Force. Formerly Chief of Army

Ravinder Singh s/o Harchand Singh

Chief of Army. Formerly a Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Continued

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Table 7.1 Continued Chew Men Leong

Chief of Navy

Ng Chee Meng

Chief of Air Force

Tan Ching Yee

Permanent Secretary (Health). Formerly Permanent Secretary (Education)

Yeoh Chee Yan

Permanent Secretary (Education Development); Chairman, National Library Board. Formerly Second Permanent Secretary (Education); Deputy Secretary (Development), Public Service Division, PMO; CEO/Dean of the Civil Service College; Deputy Head, Security and Intelligence Division, Ministry of Defence and Deputy Secretary (Community Development)

Chan Lai Fung

Permanent Secretary (Education Policy); Director, Civil Service College. Formerly Permanent Secretary (Performance – Finance); Permanent Secretary (Law); Head of the Scenario Planning Office in the Public Service Division; a Deputy Secretary in Trade and Industry and in Environment

Ravi Menon

Permanent Secretary (Trade and Industry). Formerly a Deputy Secretary (Finance) and Deputy Chairman on the Board of the Central Provident Fund

Ow Foong Pheng

Permanent Secretary (Trade and Industry). Formerly Second Permanent Secretary (Trade and Industry); Director, JTC Corporation and a Deputy Secretary in Manpower and in Home Affairs

Tan Tee How

Permanent Secretary (Home Affairs). Formerly Permanent Secretary (National Development)and Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

Ng How Yue

Second Permanent Secretary (Trade and Industry). Formerly Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; Deputy Secretary (Trade and Industry); Director (National Youth Council), People’s Association

Pang Kin Keong

Permanent Secretary (Law); Director of the Internal Security Department 25

Bilahari Kausikan

Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs); Director, Civil Service College. Formerly Second Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs)

Chee Wee Kiong

Second Permanent Secretary (Foreign Affairs); Director, Security and Intelligence Division, Ministry of Defence26

Loh Khum Yean

Permanent Secretary (Manpower); Chief Executive, SPRING Singapore. Formerly a Deputy Secretary (Trade and Industry)

Choi Shing Kwok

Permanent Secretary (Transport); Non-Executive Director, Singapore Power Continued

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Table 7.1 Continued Niam Chiang Meng

Permanent Secretary (Community Development); Director, Keppel Land Ltd. Formerly CEO, Housing and Development Board; Chairman, Singapore Broadcasting Authority; Permanent Secretary (Information, Communications and the Arts), Permanent Secretary (Law), Deputy Secretary (Health), and Vice President, Television Corporation of Singapore

Chan Yeng Kit

Permanent Secretary (Information, Communications and the Arts). Formerly CEO, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore; a Deputy Secretary (Education)

Tan Yong Soon

Permanent Secretary (Environment and Water Resources). Formerly CEO, Urban Redevelopment Authority

• Attorney-General’s Chambers led by Attorney-General Sundaresh Menon, a former Judicial Commissioner of the Supreme Court. • those concerned with the judiciary. The heads of these boards are in positions of great trust – with the head of the Public Service Commission being a critical factor in the operation of the civil service. The details of these Organs of State can be found at http://app.sgdi.gov.sg/index.asp?cat= 4. There are also dozens of statutory boards that exercise significant power. At the time of writing there are 63, and the importance of any one varies with the political and economic priorities of the government, though the perennially important statutory boards include the following: • Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) Chairman: Lim Chuan Poh, a former SAFOS scholar, a former Chief of the Army, and a former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education. • Central Provident Fund Board Chairman: Koh Yong Guan, former Managing Director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and a former Permanent Secretary in the ministries of National Development, Health and Finance. • Defence Science and Technology Agency Chairman: Tan Kim Siew, concurrently Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence and a former Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority and a Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Finance. • Economic Development Board Chairman: Leo Yip, a Singapore Police Force Overseas Scholar, a former Principal Private Secretary

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to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Manpower. Housing and Development Board Chairman: Koh Cher Siang James, concurrently Chairman of Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Governing Board for the Mechanobiology Research Centre of Excellence and a board member of Singapore Airlines Limited, UOL Group Limited, Pan Pacific Hotels Group Limited, CapitaLand Limited and CapitaMall Trust Management Limited. He is also a former Permanent Secretary in the ministries of National Development, Community Development and Education, and a former Administrative Officer in the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Office. JTC Corporation Chairman: Cedric Foo, concurrently a PAP MP, Chairman of SPRING Singapore and a Deputy President of Neptune Orient Lines and a former Senior Vice President of Singapore Airlines and a junior minister for Trade and Industry, Defence, and National Development. Land Transport Authority Chairman: Michael Lim, concurrently a member of the Public Service Commission and Legal Service Commission, Chairman of National Healthcare Group, and the holder of other health-related positions. Monetary Authority of Singapore Chairman: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Minister for Manpower Tharman Shanmugaratnam. Deputy Chairman: Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang. Other board members include Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat, Permanent Secretary (Finance and PMO) Peter Ong Boon Kwee, and Minister of State for Education and Defence, Lawrence Wong Shyun Tsai. People’s Association Chairman: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Deputy Chairman: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Lim Swee Say. Other members include Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, and Senior Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu (whose father, James Fu, was Press Secretary to Lee Kuan Yew in the 1980s).27 Singapore Land Authority Chairman: Greg Seow, formerly an Executive Chairman at DBS Asset Management and an executive in the GIC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Other board members include Yap Kim Wah, Senior Vice President Singapore

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Airlines and Ms Koh Lin-Net, a Deputy Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry. • Urban Redevelopment Authority Chairman: Alan Chan, concurrently Chief Executive of Singapore Press Holdings and Chairman of SP PowerAssets and PowerGas and a former Permanent Secretary (Transport), senior officer in the Ministries of Home Affairs, Defence, Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office and a former director of MediaCorp Press and MediaCorp TV. Other board members include Liang Eng Hwa, DBS Bank managing director and PAP MP and Lionel Yeo, Dean and CEO of the Civil Service College, and Deputy Secretary (Development) in the Public Service Division. The officers and members of these boards are persons of power and their details can be found at http://app.sgdi.gov.sg/index.asp?cat=2. 5. Beyond the statutory boards, there are hundreds of GLCs, 28 and some of these are critically important. Most of them are owned or part-owned by the government through its main holding company, Temasek Holdings. The relative importance of individual GLCs varies from time to time, but Stephen Choo’s 2005 description and listing of the most significant of them remains valid in 2012: Their reach is so broad that they include several of the largest public-listed companies in Southeast Asia – Singapore’s national airline (Singapore Airlines); two leading telecommunications operators (SingTel and ST Telemedia); Southeast Asia’s biggest banking group (DBS); a semiconductor producer (Chartered Semiconductor); the main shipyards (Keppel and Sembcorp); the port operator (PSA); a shipping company (Neptune Orient Lines); the subway operator (SMRT); property developers (Keppel Land and CapitaLand) along with a number of non-listed businesses. GLCs account for nearly half of the 20 largest listed companies and 41 per cent of the local Straits Times index, although some big state companies remain unlisted.29

The Chairs and CEOs of these companies are vital elements in the networks of power and many people hold critical positions across several GLCs – for instance, Peter Seah Lim Huat is Chairman of DBS Group Holdings and DBS Bank, Chairman of Singapore Technologies Engineering, Deputy Chairman of CapitaLand, and a member of the Temasek Advisory Board and the Board of the GIC, as well as the board of several other GLCs.30

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Access to corporate details of the major GLCs, including all those listed by Choo, can be found on their own websites, all of which can be accessed either directly or via http://www.temasekholdings.com.sg/ our_portfolio_portfolio_highlights_major_investments.htm. The Board of Temasek Holdings – which is one of Singapore’s two sovereign wealth funds – is also of importance in its own right and its membership can be found at http://www.temasekholdings. com.sg/about_us_board_of_directors.htm. It is chaired by an aged S. Dhanabalan, and among its senior executives are Lee Hsien Loong’s wife, Executive Director and CEO Ho Ching, assisted by his fi rst cousin, Deputy Chairman Kwa Chong Seng. Both of these family members also hold between them executive positions in a suite of other GLCs associated with defence industries, banking (where Kwa is a Board Member of DBS and Chairman of DBS Hong Kong) and the media (where Kwa used to be Chairman of MediaCorp). The importance of other Directors can be judged by the positions they hold or have held in individual GLCs. Kua Hong Pak, for instance, has roles in Comfort DelGro (transport, taxis, buses, etc), SBS Transit (buses, trains), Port of Singapore Authority Corporation and CabCharge Australia. Koh Boon Hwee has a history in Singapore Airlines, SIA Engineering and SingTel. 6. The GIC is the government’s second sovereign wealth fund, and is responsible for the overseas investment of Singapore’s foreign reserves. Like the Temasek board, it is critically important in its own right and membership of its senior management team is both an indicator of the possession of power and a means of exercising it. Details of the GIC’s leadership can be found at http://www.gic.com.sg/aboutus_ mgtteam.htm and http://www.gic.com.sg/aboutus_mgtteam_senior. htm. Its Board of Directors is a veritable Who’s Who of Singapore, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as Chairman, Lee Kuan Yew as ‘Senior Advisor’, Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang, both Deputy Prime Ministers (Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean), former Minister for Finance Richard Hu and former Head of the Civil Service Lim Siong Guan. 7. The two media companies, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and MediaCorp. The latter is a GLC but the first is technically not, even though it has institutional ties to the government roughly comparable to those of a GLC. The Board of Directors of SPH was headed by Tony Tan until 1 July 2011, when he stood down so he could run

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for President of Singapore. At the time of writing the Board of SPH includes the following people. • Lee Boon Yang (Chairman – also Non-Executive Chairman, Keppel Corporation. Former Minister for Defence, Information, Communication and the Arts, and Minister in the PMO). • Cham Tao Soon (Deputy Chairman – also chairman of a GLC, a director of UOB and Chancellor of SIM University). • Alan Chan (see above under URA for details). • Ngiam Tong Dow (also a director of UOB and a former Permanent Secretary in the PMO, Finance, Trade and Industry, National Development and Communications and Chairman of DBS, HDB, CPF and the Economic Development Board). • Yeo Ning Hong (former Minister for Defence, National Development and Communications and Information and former Chairman of Port of Singapore Corporation and Singapore Technologies Group) and • Yong Pung How (former Chief Justice). The Chairman of the Board of MediaCorp is: • Teo Ming Kian also a Director of Temasek Holdings and formerly Permanent Secretary (PMO), Permanent Secretary (Finance) and Chairman of the Economic Development Board). The CEO and Board Director of SPH is: • Shaun Seow, a President’s Scholar and former Administrative Officer, Deputy Director of MediaCorp, and Money Editor of The Straits Times. Details of membership of these boards can be found at the company websites, http://sph.listedcompany.com/directors.html/, and http:// www.corporate.mediacorp.sg/BOC.htm/. 8. The three big Chinese banks, particularly OCBC and UOB, are significant power bases in their own right, despite being private entities – in fact they are the only truly private entities in this list. The boards of directors of OCBC and UOB contain the names of some people who have been important in GLCs and in government in the past, and no doubt also includes people who will be in the future. The names of some of these people have already been mentioned in this survey. The single most powerful person currently in the Chinese banking sector is clearly Wee Cho Yaw, CEO of UOB and the power behind the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (see Chapter 3). Details of the membership of the boards of directors of OCBC and UOB groups can found at their company websites at http://www.ocbc.com/global/aboutOCBC/

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Gco_Abt_Directors.shtm?bcid=M1_C2_S1, and http://www.uobgroup. com/about/management/management_committee.html. We can also be confident that somewhere in the above categories are the members of the DCAC, but without inside knowledge we cannot know who they are with any certainty. With the exception of several members of the Lee family (notably Lee Hsien Yang), and a few more SAF scholar-officers,31 the foregoing list of eight nodes of power accounts for virtually every person in the inner orbits of the networks of political power and influence and most in the outer orbits. As we look further down the hierarchies of these organisations, we find most of the future candidates for power who are currently being groomed, socialised and tested. We also find many people who have vital executive positions in their main institutions, but appear elsewhere playing a more passive role, often as a board member. In extreme cases, people appear in dozens of organisations.32 This is especially true of GLCs, whose boards have an extraordinarily large cross-over with each other, with the Temasek board and the GIC, and with the civil service. The cross-fertilisation is even more pronounced if one takes into account past associations.33 A comprehensive study of such crossovers and histories would be a mammoth task that would need to be continually updated. Worthington’s study was the result of years of probing and research, and his results were out-of-date even before they were published. On the other hand, it is remarkably easy to do spot checks to see the patterns of behaviour since many of these persons of influence are completely candid when providing details for corporate websites. Just to take one example, in 2010 the Sembcorp homepage gave ample evidence of cross-listing (including a few past associations) of the members of its Board of Directors. Restricting our survey to just four members of Sembcorp’s Board of Directors (Peter Seah Lim Huat, Goh Geok Ling, Yong Ying-I and Bobby Chin Yoke Choong), we fi nd that these cross-listings include ST Engineering, Alliance Bank of Malaysia, Bank of China, CapitaLand, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Global Crossing, Siam Commercial Bank, StarHub, STATS ChipPAC, Singapore Health Services, GIC, EDB Investments, PSA International, PT Bank Internasional Indonesia, The Kidney Foundation, PT Indosat, Singapore Computer Systems, Nanyang Technological University, DBS Bank, DBS Group Holdings, Wildlife Reserve Singapore, the Ministry of Health, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, IDA International, the Civil Service College, the National University Health System, Singapore Health Services, the

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Singapore Totalisator Board, the Competition Commission of Singapore, the Singapore Labour Foundation, Neptune Orient Lines, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Changi Airports International, Singapore Changi Airports Enterprise, Stamford Land Corporation and The Straits Trading Company. Such multiple listings are fi rm indications that a person is trusted by the ruling elite and suggest that a person’s power is more significant than any of his or her individual substantive positions suggest. Such people are often sent to act as the government’s eyes and voice on international GLCs (due to Temasek or GIC making off-shore purchases) or where the Singapore government is just one stakeholder among several (such as the Asian or Singapore subsidiary of a multinational company). The reason for this concentrated use of a restricted number of personnel is precisely because of the personal character of the system of elite regeneration: a very small number of candidates are produced each year from an already small population pool, and then new personnel are trusted only if a personal trust has been developed with a highly placed patron, which usually means someone close to, if not a member of, the Lee family. This makes elite regeneration a highly restrictive process more directed at excluding people than including them. Many of the people in the eight categories listed above also serve on the boards of MNCs that have facilities in Singapore. These exchanges of mutual favours are designed to ensure a smooth business environment for both the MNC sector and the national elite. MNC representatives thus have influence on decisions that affect their business decisions, but they ultimately remain outsiders. Their presence in Singapore is obviously a major factor in the economy but they do not impact seriously on the domestic political and social programmes of the national elite, and so have not been interrogated in this book. This feature does, however, highlight the reach of the Singapore elite and highlights the futility of trying to sharply delineate the border between the private and the government-linked sectors. One of the strengths of this system is that once you understand how it works, you can see that it has a high level of predictability. There is, however, one dramatic and hitherto unmentioned weakness: accountability is almost non-existent across senior levels of government. In fact, the higher one goes up the hierarchy of governance and the closer one gets to the Lee family, the less accountable he or she becomes. There have been no attempts to codify or monitor confl icts of interest, and the occasions on which anyone has

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excluded themselves from anything on the basis of a confl ict of interest can be counted on one hand.34 Even when confl icts of interest lead to activities that attract criminal investigations and charges against civil servants with private business interests, the underlying appropriateness of a civil servant engaging in business activities in areas in which he has regulatory or other civil service responsibilities is never questioned.35 The system operates on the underlying and basically unchallengeable assumption that there is no need for accountability in the system. Hamilton-Hart described the situation concisely: A refusal to admit the potential for abuse at the most senior levels means that an awful lot rests on an informal system of elite socialization that is not even publicly articulated. Nowhere is the lack of safeguards more evident than on matters concerning Lee Kuan Yew and his family, who are effectively off-limits as subjects of criticism.36 On basic matters of professional competence, accountability stops near the bottom of the administrative and political hierarchy. Neither Ho Ching nor Lee Hsien Yang has ever been brought to account for any part in running down the value of their respective GLCs. Indeed both have been praised and rewarded, despite their companies having engaged in high-risk ventures that have failed spectacularly. In a period of just a few months in the early stages of the global financial crisis of 2008–2009, Temasek lost about one-third of its asset base by its investments in failing American and European investment banking houses, this being just the most recent in a depressing litany of failed investments that included Thailand’s Shin Corp and Indonesia’s Telkomsel.37 Yet enquiries on matters such as these are generally ignored, not just when they come from the general public, but even when they are made as formal questions in parliament – on the basis that answering them might, in the words of Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, ‘politicise Temasek’s operations’.38 A more mundane scandal beset the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) in January 2005 in the simple and routine matter of reporting the May 2004 takings under the Goods and Services Tax (GST). This embarrassing episode raised doubts about the core business of Singapore. Having accidentally included the April 2004 GST takings in its tally of the May takings (an error of $208 million) the IRAS did not notice the mistake until April 2005. It then ‘corrected’ the error, not by publicly correcting the May

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2004 figure, but by adjusting the May 2005 figure and hoping no one would notice.39 The farcical story became public in December 2005, only when journalists from The Straits Times published analyses that took the official figures at face value and started drawing startling and disturbing conclusions about consumption trends.40 These random indicators demonstrate a significant discrepancy between the national elite’s extraordinary capacity for self-perpetuation and mutual defence, and its sometimes much less impressive level of competence. Whereas the system of elite regeneration (and its related mechanisms for protecting members of the elite from external scrutiny) might one day be nominated as one of the political wonders of the twentieth century, the history of the governance of Singapore is littered with misjudgements, honest mistakes and plainly foolish errors that remove much of the gloss from its considerable record of achievement. Leaving aside the very recent episodes listed above, some of the most spectacular mistakes were the decision to push CPF contributions to 50 per cent of income in the 1980s and at much the same time to unilaterally force up wages by 20 per cent (a move that between them made Singapore internationally uncompetitive and directly contributed to Singapore’s recession of the mid-1980s),41 the half-baked attempts to lure Hong Kong immigrants in the early 1990s42 and the efforts to encourage graduate women to marry and have children by creating a graduates’ match-making service and offering their resultant progeny privileged access to good schools. 43 Such trips and spills are not the focus of this study, but they are nevertheless an important part of the story.

Subordinate elites Beyond the inner levels of the orbits of power, there lie ever more marginal networks that operate under severe constraints from the centre, and whose job it is to implement the government’s programmes among the marginalised sections of the community: notably low-paid and insecure non-graduate employees, and the Malay and Indian communities. These tasks go to the trade unions, the ethnic community groups and the institutions of Islam (which service the whole of the Malay community and part of the Indian community). The main institutions in this pantheon are the following: • National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and its affiliated trades unions; • Yayasan MENDAKI (the official Malay-Muslim self-help group);

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• • • • •

Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP); Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA); Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC); Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI); MUIS (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) and the mosque boards and staff; • a myriad of community-specific religious, temple-based, language, education-focused and cultural organisations, all of which maintain at least a loose association with one or more of the ethnic organisations listed above. The more significant of these bodies have leaderships that enjoy close ties with people who are either in or not very far outside the inner orbits of power, and some of them are formally part of the government’s structure of community outreach. For instance: • MENDAKI and SINDA are officially part of the government’s community outreach programme; • MUIS is a statutory board and is responsible for running the mosques; and • since the late 1970s the Secretary-General of the NTUC has always been either a senior member of the Cabinet or a Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office.44 Even those bodies that have no official connection with the government routinely have leaders who are well-connected, and whose agenda is clearly in accord with the government.45 The only body with capacity for independent action is the SCCCI. It enjoys the patronage of Wee Cho Yaw of the UOB and it in turn dominates one of the most important of the elite’s grassroots organisations, the Citizens’ Consultative Committees.46 Control is exercised primarily through the Cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament who identify with the respective communities – ‘unionist’, Malay, Indian, or Chinese ministers and MPs as appropriate.47

Conclusion I have tried to provide an understanding of the dynamics of the networks of power and influence through a depiction of the history of its development.

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From a makeshift operation that relied upon networks of personal acquaintances to function, Lee Kuan Yew almost single-handedly turned the Singapore political system into his domain. He placed himself at the nexus of power, using the tools of the state to remove or co-opt opposition and potential opposition at every point. He did this so successfully that even as he has set up methods of elite regeneration that appear to be modern, meritocratic and impersonal, he has been able to assume the status of the National Father, and his eldest son has been treated as the über-Singaporean. In the process of achieving this result, Lee changed the image of the ideal elite, making it overtly Chinese, and elevated the scholar-soldier to a height of social veneration that could never have been conceived possible when he assumed office. In a larger polity, it is doubtful that such a degree of hegemony could have been achieved without more overt forms of repression, but thanks to the smallness of Singapore, Lee was able to rule almost by fiat without needing to routinely resort to such crude methods – occasional repression and the ongoing threat of the possibility of more has been sufficient ‘stick’ to balance the ‘carrot’ offered by co-option and prosperity. The system remains intensely personal, not just in the process of recruitment, but also in its routine operation. I have also provided the tools that enable anyone with sufficient time to build a make-shift list of the important people in the networks of power and influence, and some basis for making judgements about who might be the most important people in the network. Without labouring the point, membership or connections with the family are vital. An executive role in one or more of the key institutions of power is critical. Being Chinese and having passed through the military-scholar path also helps.

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Chapter 8

Singapore without Lee Kuan Yew

The big imponderable in my assessment has been how the inevitable departure of Lee Kuan Yew would impact the longevity of the system of elite governance and family rule that he created. In other words, would the system that I have spent seven chapters describing and analysing survive its founder? Would there be a split in the elite? Would the Lee family give way to a rival family? Or maybe authoritarianism might even give way to democratisation? How would Lee Hsien Loong manage as a politician without his father behind him? We still do not really know the answers to any of these questions, but thanks to the events of May 2011 we have a much better idea of the parameters within which these futures will be decided and we can make some cautious forecasts. Lee Kuan Yew is still living, but he has stepped down with his authority irrevocably wounded and weakened. Lee Hsien Loong has finally assumed the full mantle of leader on his own terms. The significance of being seen to choose the time of the departure of both his predecessors instead of waiting for the course of nature should not be underestimated. There was never much doubt about his technocratic skills, but in these weeks, Lee Hsien Loong proved himself to be a much more skilful politician than his record in office to that point had suggested, and he finally established his authority. He will no doubt still face criticisms (probably more than ever thanks to the invigoration of the parliamentary opposition), but he will be able to face them down on his own terms without the constant fear of his father stepping in and undermining his authority.1 This does not by any means guarantee the

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long-term, or even the medium-term future of the system or the Lee family’s supremacy, but it should enable him to face the future with a reasonable basis for confidence. It might even mute the discordant voices in the Cabinet and in the elite that had been becoming evident over recent years.2 Armed with new confidence, Lee Hsien Loong is striving to reclaim control of the political agenda from the opposition.3 He has rid himself of three underperforming ministers, and their portfolios are now in trusted hands: Home Affairs to DPM Teo Chee Hean, National Development to Khaw Boon Wan and Transport to Lui Tuck Yew. He was also able to demote Vivian Balakrishnan to Environment and Water Resources and distribute the portfolios so that gaps created by the reshuffle and the losses of Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) were (just) covered.4 He made a point of saying that he had ‘gone for a comprehensive reshuffle, not just incremental changes. So out of 14 ministries, 11 will have new ministers in charge and the ministers will have a free hand to rethink and reshape policies.’5 His objective will, naturally, be to deflate opposition and popular criticisms of his government’s record by improving its performance and making some concessions on policy, but without conceding power or control.6

Democratic moment? This book is not about democratic transformation, but at this point it is appropriate to consider its likely place in a future reconfiguration of the networks of power and influence – and it is one of life’s ironies that the same set of events that established the authority of Lee Hsien Loong has also given the country’s political opposition and the forces of democratisation a new lease of life. Four out of every 10 votes cast in the 2011 General Elections went to an opposition candidate – its best result since 1963. Despite the institutional advantages that guaranteed a PAP victory, the opposition’s capture of seats rose to six, up from two. For only the second time since 1963, a Cabinet Minister lost his seat. Furthermore, the opposition was able for the fi rst time to field candidates with elite credentials to rival those of the PAP: a former member of the Administrative Service (Hazel Poa of the National Solidarity Party), a former member of the Foreign Service (Gerald Giam of the Workers’ Party), a couple of former Army officers and government scholars (Tony Tan Lay Thiam of the National Solidarity Party and Ang Yong Guan of the Singapore Democratic Party) and even a former Principal Private Secretary to Goh

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Chok Tong (Tan Jee Say of the Singapore Democratic Party). Add to this a few PhDs ( James Gomez and Vincent Wijeysingha of the Singapore Democratic Party; and John Yam of the Workers’ Party), a high-flying corporate lawyer who turned out to be a star campaigner (Chen Show Mao of the Workers’ Party) and the opposition team starts to look very much like an elite line-up. And then let us not overlook Nicole Seah of the (b)

(a)

(d)

(c)

Figure 8.1. Opposition candidates, 2011. (a) Victorious Workers’ Party team leader in Aljunied GRC, Low Thia Khiang. (b) Unsuccessful presidential candidate, Tan Jee Say. (c) Member of the successful Workers’ Party team in Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim. (d) The successful Workers’ Party candidate for Hougang SMC, Yaw Shin Leong.

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National Solidarity Party, the young advertising executive who was not an ‘elite’ candidate, but who proved to be probably the most politically astute and effective campaigner of any party and who is now a national figure. In its most optimistic incarnation – which in the lead-up to the 2011 General Elections was almost an article of faith among opposition activists – a democratisation scenario is predicated on the opposition defeat of the PAP team in one or more multi-member group representation constituencies (GRC) and some single member constituencies (SMCs) to give the opposition a significant beachhead in parliament.7 This first step has been achieved, but in the most minimalist fashion: one GRC and one SMC fell to the opposition in 2011. This will undoubtedly lead to a much more serious and sustained interrogation of the government’s performance, but I regard the bottom-up development of serious parliamentary politics (as opposed to the wayang shadow theatre that has passed for parliamentary politics for the last few decades) as a most unlikely scenario simply because of the mechanisms by which the PAP protects its hold on GRCs and its near-monopoly of parliamentary seats. Apart from all the usual advantages that come with control of the media, access to the resources of the civil service and other arms of government, and the imposition of restrictions on opposition activities, there are a number of other dimensions that are peculiar to GRCs. These are multi-member constituencies that were first introduced in 1988 and where up to six candidates have to stand as a team in a winner-takesall election. Apart from relatively normal institutional barriers presented by the GRC electoral system, such as teams of candidates having to pay deposits of $64,000–$96,000 (as of 2011), GRCs are broken up and reshaped in the Prime Minister’s Office just before each election in ways that seemingly have no purpose other than to undermine any inroads that the opposition might have been making in an area. Kevin Tan goes as far as arguing that there are no institutional or legal barriers to stop the Prime Minister putting a map of Singapore on a dart board and throwing darts blindfolded to determine where the GRCs will be located.8 So strong is the assumption that these boundaries are set capriciously for the purposes of favouring the PAP that when the announcement of the 2011 boundaries included the surprise creation of a new SMC in Punggol East, the local PAP MP proudly announced that his ‘key grassroots leaders’ see it as ‘an affirmation and confirmation

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of the good work they are doing.’ 9 Perhaps even more significant is the fact that no journalist or opposition politician questioned the assumption that the new constituency was created as a function of partisan politics. The Workers’ Party (WP) has managed to win one GRC by engaging in a five-year grassroots campaign of attrition, capitalising on an unprecedented level of discontent against the government and then risking all its political assets in one constituency. To hold what it has is a realistic hope.10 To reproduce this victory in another one or two GRCs will be difficult, but is possible if the government fails completely to re-establish its credentials. To reproduce it across the island, however, presumes that Lee Hsien Loong and his team will sit on their hands, neither addressing grievances nor drawing upon the immense state and extra-state power at their disposal to shore up their position. Looking forward from mid-2012, this does not seem to be a reasonable expectation, but who can tell what the future will bring? A further dampener on unwarranted optimism should come from the realisation that the reason the main opposition party, the Workers’ Party, has been able to establish its beachhead in parliament is precisely because it is increasingly being seen as being very much like the PAP, only more democratic and more honest. Hence it is not uncommon to hear members of other parties and members of civil society groups criticise the Workers’ Party for its similarity to the PAP. In an interview, Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan criticised opposition MPs in the pre-2011 parliament (who at that stage came from both the Workers’ Party and Singapore People’s Party) very strongly in terms of their unwillingness to engage with serious critiques of the government or to support him when he was doing so.11 Jeisilan Sivalingam (at the time a member of the Reform Party but later a candidate for the National Solidarity Party) dismissed the Workers’ Party in interview as ‘a Chinese party’ just like the PAP.12 This syndrome of echoing the PAP is a natural response to the long-term hegemony of the ruling elite, and to be fair to the Workers’ Party, it affects all the major opposition parties. Criticism of this phenomenon seems to be expressed most strongly by civil society activists, who are, of course, free from constraints of trying to solicit votes and construct a comprehensive electoral platform. Remy Choo of The Online Citizen is highly critical of the National Solidarity Party’s Goh Meng Seng for his de facto support for ethnic quotas in housing estates.13 Khairulanwar, also of the The Online Citizen, criticised all the opposition parties for their de facto acceptance of the PAP’s

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Chinese-centric agenda.14 And of course rather than challenge the PAP’s elitism, almost all the opposition parties prefer to boast of their own candidates’ elitist credentials.15 I am not reporting these criticisms to judge any party, but simply to point out that even the scenario of an opposition victory would not necessarily challenge the system bequeathed by Lee Kuan Yew. But let us stay with this hypothesis a little longer. Even if the unthinkable happened and there was an opposition victory at the polls, the next and most institutionally significant problem for a new government would be that the real opposition would not be in parliament, but in the GLCs, courts, civil service, media, trade unions and statutory boards, not to mention in the security, intelligence and military forces. All of these institutions are led and staffed by people whose positions depend upon the established structures of power, so that even if an opposition were to win an election and form the government, it seems unlikely that it could get anything done. Not only does Singapore not have a tradition of a relatively apolitical civil service like the UK, but the recruitment and training and networks of patronage in the civil service are predicated on integration of the civil service with the national elite and the political party of the elite. Ministries routinely do covert political work for the PAP during and between elections without embarrassment,16 and the occasional awkward moment of conversation within the civil service is covered by the refrain that ‘we work for the government and the PAP is the government’.17 These problems would be a difficult challenge in themselves, but the peculiar role of the presidency would make them insurmountable. The elected presidency rightly emerged in Lee Kuan Yew’s 2011 book, Hard Truths, as the ultimate guarantor of elite power. Twice in this book Lee focussed on it as one half of ‘the double-key safeguard’ against an opposition victory (with the other key being the two-thirds majority in parliament that is needed to change the Constitution).18 The elected President’s half of the double-key is his power to veto any senior appointment, including that of Prime Minister.19 Since the presidency was turned into an elected office in 1993, there have been seven nominal elections, but usually the government candidate is elected unopposed because the eligibility requirements exclude anyone who has not been a senior member of the political establishment at some point in their careers. 20 In 2011, however, the ballot paper had four names (and photos too, since all candidates had the same surname), one of whom was from an opposition party. In the event, former Deputy Prime Minister

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Tony Tan was elected as Singapore’s seventh President, all but ensuring that the PAP has a clear unobstructed run throughout its current term of office and at least 18 months into the following parliament. Tony Tan secured only 35.19 per cent of the vote, but thanks to Singapore’s first-pastthe-post voting system, this was enough to win. His closest rival (former PAP MP Dr Tan Cheng Bock) was only 7,000 votes behind at 34.85 per cent. The other candidates (Tan Jee Say of the Singapore Democratic Party and an independent, Tan Kin Lian) secured 29.95 per cent between them. At one level, the precariousness of Tony Tan’s victory over Tan Cheng Bock casts doubt on the reliability of the presidency as a ‘second key’, but this analysis fails to take into account the fact that Tan Cheng Bock is so closely associated with the PAP that even though a loss to him would have been embarrassing, it would not have been a disaster for the government. If anything, the 2011 presidential election demonstrates the reliability of the double-key safeguard. Perhaps the more significant concern for the government arising from the 2011 presidential election should be that two-thirds of the voters turned against a candidate who was not just the de facto nominee of the government, but who was by far the most qualified in elitist, technocratic terms. This suggests that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s apology for government

Figure 8.2. President and former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan.

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failings during the campaign and the widespread resentment at the ineptitude of some ministers leading up to the May 2011 elections (see Chapter 6) may have damaged the ‘elite’ brand irrevocably. If the PAP can be challenged on the core basis of its legitimacy – its competence – then perhaps it has begun the slide into being perceived by its constituency as being just an ordinary political party rather than as the natural guardians of a national legacy and the nation’s future. Regardless of the seriousness of such medium- and long-term challenges for the government, it is still difficult to see how a wholly new government of outsiders can overcome the problem of the elected President any time soon. It is with this background in mind that even scholars such as Garry Rodan, whose antipathy for authoritarian rule and the Singapore regime in particular is transparent and open, writes of the Singapore regime as a source of ‘encouragement, if not inspiration’ for ‘other’ authoritarian regimes.21

A split in the elite? Despite the pessimism I appear to be exuding in the previous section, I would like to include a consideration of the possibility that the example of Taiwan gives grounds for cautious hope because it has successfully made this transition and overcome comparable obstacles to become a full-fledged democracy. The points of comparison between Singapore and Taiwan beg at least a passing analysis. Taiwan is a Chinese society that was ruled for decades by a single party, which was the vehicle for an elite that was just as dominant as Singapore’s, even if it was not quite as cohesive. The elite ruled through a party (the Guomindang, GMD) that had single-handedly built the institutions of political, industrial and commercial power and had entrenched itself throughout them. One could not move through the corridors of power or the huge and powerful government-linked and party-linked sectors without meeting the GMD. A democracy has nevertheless emerged in Taiwan, and its midwife was a serious fracturing of the ruling elite. Two splits actually. The incumbent President, Lee Teng-hui (of the GMD), effectively endorsed the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) opposition and then a GMD ‘loyalist’ who was unhappy with how the party was developing under Lee left the GMD to form his own party, thus splitting the GMD vote three ways in the subsequent elections. The DPP won those elections and was able to

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form a unity government with elements of the GMD joining his Cabinet (a deal brokered by Lee). The breakdown of this arrangement was followed by a substantial period of indifferently effective government (which is arguably the normal state of affairs for a democracy in any case) before the GMD returned to power democratically. 22 It would be courageous to be very definite in predicting any path of political development in Singapore, but the example of Taiwan suggests that if full democratisation is to have much chance of developing in Singapore, it is most likely to result from a series of incremental steps that begin with fractures in the elite itself and where in the early stages at least, electorates will have the opportunity to choose between two wings of the current elite, each of which would have a substantial degree of legitimacy in the existing corridors of power. This would probably be sufficient to overcome the problems of the elite being entrenched in the institutional corridors of power, and an opposition presence in parliament could turn out to be a critical factor in helping such a scenario along. Yet even this scenario seems to me to be too optimistic. Aside from the fact that the Taiwan experience pivoted on the deviation and machinations of a single member of the elite (President Lee Teng-hui) and a unique sequence of events that are not replicable, there are other critical differences in the two situations. First, Singapore is much smaller than Taiwan and therefore it is easier for the national elite to exercise control, including self-control. Second, the Singapore elite is more homogenous than Taiwan’s ever was. In the last decade or more before democratisation, the Taiwanese elite was riven with openly acknowledged factions, rival lines of patronage, and a major ethnic divide between Chinese Taiwanese and indigenous Taiwanese. It is conceivable that the Singapore elite could go the same way, but thanks to its small size, the development of a rival elite in Singapore is more problematic than it was in Taiwan. Third, Singapore’s economy is more fragile than Taiwan’s, with very much greater vulnerability to almost every breeze and bug in the global economy and global fi nancial system (and more literally in the water, air and sundry imported food stuffs). 23 In the global fi nancial crisis that started in 2007, Singapore was hit exceptionally hard, but recovered exceptionally quickly (including a remarkable 14.5 per cent surge in GDP in 2010). 24 The fragility of Singapore’s economy during this period is plain to see in the charts provided on the Ministry of Trade and Industry website.

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Chart 8.1. Real economic growth.

Chart 8.2. Trade performance in real terms.25

Yet the real fragility of the Singapore economy was perhaps highlighted most spectacularly in a New York Times article that was published in the depths of the global financial crisis.26 This vulnerability makes Singapore’s national elite more sensitive to the dangers of instability and indifferently competent government than was the national elite of Taiwan at the turn of the century. In political terms, this translates into extreme risk aversion that dampens the chance of an open

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Chart 8.3. Hitting bottom.27

split, whatever may happen behind closed doors. Indeed, when the Singapore elite did suffer a significant split within its ranks during the 1990s – the contest between Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong and Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, which was described in Chapter 4 – the intrigues only occasionally, if spectacularly, broke into the open, and no one who was not personally close to power had much inkling of what was taking place or what was at stake. In any case, even if Singapore emerges as a more electorally competitive polity, there is still no guarantee that it will proceed to become a democracy. Such a presumption suggests a faith in ‘progress’ that is founded more on hope than historical experience.

A coup from within? If, following the logic outlined above, we discount the likelihood of an immediate switch to open democracy, this still leaves the much more reasonable possibility of changes inside the elite that might amount to an acrimonious changing of the guard, if not a fully new regime or political system. A new

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power arrangement of some sort could occur that might involve a takeover by a new pretender to the throne from within the elite. Before the 2011 elections, I was toying seriously with such a scenario, but having trouble identifying a likely contender to challenge the Lee family. Now that Lee Hsien Loong has properly established his authority I regard such a possibility – always relatively remote – as being very unlikely in the extreme. Unless he fails in health or seriously missteps politically, Lee Hsien Loong is probably there to stay for as long as he wants, free of challenge from within the elite. He may never achieve the absolute hegemony that his father did at his peak (though it is always possible), but it is clear that his position is now secure – there is not likely to be anyone with the courage, the means and the motivation to challenge him.

Networks of power and influence: change or continuity? Regardless of who occupies the seat of power, it is clear that Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy will be easily recognisable in a post-Lee Kuan Yew Singapore. The personalities at the top will certainly continue to change and there will no doubt be more incremental changes to the social, educational and professional profi le of the elite, but there are no major forces in the country that even seek drastic change, let alone any that are likely to be in a position to implement it. Short of an external upheaval that acts as a complete game changer, my guess is that the essential outline of the networks of power and influence described in this book will be recognisable for a long time into the future: ethnically and culturally dominated by Chinese from similar educational and social backgrounds; eased by personal networking at all levels, particularly in matters of recruitment and regeneration; bureaucratic and professional; and dominated by (Chinese) scholar-soldiers. Furthermore, it will most likely continue to be centred on the Lee family. There will continue to be exceptions to these generalisations and yet I am confident that the exceptions do not invalidate the general rule. The two foundational mythologies of the regime – meritocracy and multiracialism – are seriously open to question, but are accepted by a sufficiently broad base of the population that the contradictions are unlikely to provoke any challenges that threaten the fundamentals of the system. A key element of the regime’s successful regeneration has been co-option of potentially dissident elements, particularly at the elite and near-elite level. This was the key to the treatment of Tharman Shanmugaratnam in 1987, is the key to its management of ethnic minorities and will no doubt continue to play a role in

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blunting the impact of the political challenges that will inevitably arise from the new-found strength and vigour of the opposition. In the new post-May 2011 world many things will change – more vigorous political debates, more scrutiny of government actions and policies and possibly a lightening of political repression – but this still leaves plenty of scope for the existing networks of power and influence to continue functioning much as they have to date, and to regenerate much as they have been doing. Longer-term questions such as the future of the Lee dynasty after Lee Hsien Loong must remain for another time – probably for another decade – but looking forward from 2012 it seems that Lee Kuan Yew’s creation is likely to endure for a while yet.

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Notes

Chapter 1 1. Lee Hsien Loong, ‘The Singapore Elite’, Speech by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at The NUS Society Lecture, 19 March 2005, NUS Cultural Centre, 8 pm, National Archives of Singapore, Speech-Text Archival and Retrieval System. Available at http://stars.nhb.gov.sg/stars/public/. Accessed 8 March 2010. 2. Lee Kuan Yew, New Bearings in Our Education System, Singapore: Ministry of Culture, [1966–67], pp. 10, 12, 13. 3. Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: Prentice Hall and Times Editions, 1998, p. 17; Michael D. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs Behind the Man, Second Edition, Kuala Lumpur: New Asian Library, 2009, p. 80. 4. For a viewing of the television broadcast, see Ministry of Information and the Arts, The Singapore Story: Overcoming the Odds. An Interactive Media, CD-ROM, a National Education Project by the Ministry of Information and the Arts, 1999. 5. See Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965–2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings and Times Media, 2000, p. 25; James Minchin, No Man Is an Island: A Portrait of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Updated Edition, North Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990, p. 156; Willard Hanna, Success and Sobriety, Part IV: The Privacy of the Prime Minister, New York: American Universities Field Staff Reports, 1968, p. 23. 6. Among the many foreign observers who doubted Singapore’s viability was John Howard, who was later to become Prime Minister of Australia. See The Straits Times, 16 April 1986. For Lee Kuan Yew’s account of his perception that Malaysia was waiting for Singapore to fail so that it would have to return on Malaysia’s terms, see Lee, The Singapore Story, p. 663. Also see Lee, From Third World to First, pp. 19, 20. 7. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, Chapter 4, pp. 97–136. 8. Also note that Toynbee was talking about civilisations, whereas Lee was drawing lessons on how to run a polity with a population of less than 2 million people.

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9. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, various sections from Chapter 3 onwards. 10. For an interesting if rather tangential discussion of the lack of synchronicity between Lee’s elitism and the classical twentieth-century theorists of elitism, see Riccardo Pelizzo, ‘Review of Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš’, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project and Michael D. Barr and Carl A. Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore’, in Australian Journal of International Affairs, 64(10), 2010, pp. 133–36. 11. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 68, 69. 12. Ibid., p. 99. The source for this information was one of Lee’s classmates. 13. Sonny Yap, Richard Lim and Leong Weng Kam, Men in White: The Untold Story of Singapore’s Ruling Political Party, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2009, p. 5. 14. Ibid., pp. 1–9. 15. Ibid., pp. 579, 580; and interview with E.W. (Eddie) Barker, 16 October 1996. 16. Lee Kuan Yew in Han Fook Kwang, Warren Fernandez and Sumiko Tan, Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas, Singapore: Times Editions and the Straits Times Press, 1988, p. 157. 17. Werner Vennewald, ‘Technocrats in the State Enterprise System of Singapore’, Working Paper, No. 32, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Perth, 1994. 18. It may have been adapted for subsequent publication in his native German. 19. Ross Worthington, Governance in Singapore, London and New York: RoutlegeCurzon, 2003, pp. 15–37. 20. Lee Hsien Loong, ‘The Singapore Elite’ (Lee Hsien Loong’s quote at the opening of this chapter). 21. For instance, a check of the public and newspaper record is enough to show that Worthington’s account of the events on pp. 155–59 regarding Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s supposed breach of the Official Secrets Act is erroneous. Kevin Y.L. Tan documents another instance in which Worthington gets the most basic information wrong in ‘Writing the Constitution: Forty Years of Singapore Constitutional Scholarship’ in Li-ann Thio and Kevin Y.L. Tan (eds), Evolution of a Revolution: Forty Years of the Singapore Constitution, London and New York: RoutledgeCavendish, 2009, p. 309, note 127. 22. Thomas J. Bellows, The People’s Action Party of Singapore: Emergence of a Dominant Party System, Monograph Series No. 14, New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 1970. 23. Chan Heng Chee, Politics in an Administrative State: Where Has the Politics Gone?, Singapore: Department of Political Science, 1975. Also reproduced in Ong Jin Hui, Tong Chee Kiong and Tan Ern Ser (eds), Understanding Singapore Society, Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1997, pp. 294–306. 24. See in particular the massive volume, Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley (eds), Management of Success: The Moulding of Modern Singapore, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1989. 25. Frederic C. Deyo, ‘The Emergence of Bureaucratic–Authoritarian Corporatism in Labour Relations’, and Frederic C. Deyo, ‘Creating Industrial Community: Towards

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26.

27.

28.

29. 30. 31.

32.

33.

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a Corporate Paternalist Society’, in Ong et al., Understanding Singapore Society, pp. 353–62 and 363–73 respectively. Both essays were originally published in 1981. Garry Rodan, The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization: National State and International Capital, Kuala Lumpur: Forum, 1989, see especially pp. 7–9, 84, 208, 209. See, for instance, Kevin Y.L. Tan and Lam Peng Er (eds), Managing Political Change in Singapore: The Elected Presidency, London and New York: Routledge, 1997; Raj Vasil, Governing Singapore: A History of National Development and Democracy, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2000, Chapter 3, ‘Managing National Development’, pp. 84–118; Carl A. Trocki, Singapore: Wealth, Power and the Culture of Control, London and New York: Routledge, 2006, Chapter 5, ‘The Managed Middle-class, Multiracial Society’, pp. 137–59; Terence Chong (ed.), Management of Success: Singapore Revisited, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2010. Garry Rodan, ‘Preserving the One-Party State in Contemporary Singapore’, in Kevin Hewison, Richard Robison and Garry Rodan (eds), Southeast Asia in the 1990s: Authoritarian Democracy and Capitalism, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1993, pp. 91–96; David Brown, ‘The Corporatist Management of Ethnicity in Contemporary Singapore’, in Garry Rodan (ed.), Singapore Changes Guard: Social, Political and Economic Directions in the 1990s, Melbourne: Longman Cheshire; New York: St Martin’s Press, 1993, pp. 16–33; David Brown, The State and Ethnic Politics in Southeast Asia, London and New York: Routledge, 1994, p. 89. Rodan, The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization, pp. 88–91. Ibid., p. 89. This summary involves some interpolation but I believe it is a reasonable extrapolation of the implications of Rodan’s analysis. Michael D. Barr, ‘Beyond Technocracy: The Culture of Elite Governance in Lee Hsien Loong’s Singapore’, Asian Studies Review, 30(1), 2006, pp. 1–17; Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the NationBuilding Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008; Chapter 4, ‘The Culture of Elite Governance’, pp. 57–86; Michael D. Barr, ‘Singapore: The Limits of Technocratic Approach to Health Care’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 3(3), 2008, pp. 395–416. The idea of viewing Singapore as a technocracy was not in itself new, but it had not been developed or interrogated very thoroughly. Thomas Bellows had mentioned this perspective in a 1985 article on the civil service. See Thomas J. Bellows, ‘Bureaucracy and Development in Singapore’, Asian Journal of Public Administration, 7(1), 1985, pp. 55–69. Barr, ‘Beyond Technocracy’, p. 2. My work on technocracy did not acknowledge Rodan because I had forgotten having read his work on ‘scientism’. Yet The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization was the first book I read when I began researching my PhD dissertation on Lee Kuan Yew in 1995, so it must have been at least a latent inspiration for my later insight, so I belatedly acknowledge my debt now. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, Chapters 4 and 5, ‘The Culture of Elite Governance’ and ‘Incomplete Assimilation: From Civic Nationalism to EthnoNationalism’, pp. 57–111.

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34. Michael D. Barr and Jevon Low, ‘Assimilation as Multiracialism: The Case of Singapore’s Malays’, Asian Ethnicity, 6(3), 2005, p. 167. 35. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 98.

Chapter 2 1. Diane K. Mauzy and R.S. Milne, Singapore Politics under the People’s Action Party, London and New York: Routledge, 2002, pp. 53–55. 2. Benedict Anderson used a comparable image to describe the Javanese concept of power: the cone of light cast down by a reflector lamp, its brilliance diminishing as distance from the centre increases. See Benedict Anderson, Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1990, p. 36. 3. Michael D. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs Behind the Man, Kuala Lumpur: New Asian Library, 2009, pp. 62–67. Also see Ross Worthington, Governance in Singapore, London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. 4. According to the 2010 census data, ethnic Chinese comprise 74.1 per cent of the population, with the rest being Malays (13.4 per cent), Indians (9.2 per cent), and ‘Other’ ethnicities (3.3 per cent). See Singapore Department of Statistics, Key Population Indicators. Available at http://www.singstat.gov.sg/pubn/popn/ c2010acr/key.pdf. Accessed 16 November 2010. 5. Interview with Bilahari Kausikan, then Second Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 15 April 2003. 6. Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: Prentice Hall, 1998, pp. 146–84. 7. Bilahari Kausikan confirmed that command of English is the most basic requirement for entry into even the lower echelons of the elite in interview in Singapore on 15 April 2003. Also see Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008, pp. 208–28. 8. James Minchin, No Man is an Island: A Portrait of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Updated Edition, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1990, pp. 51–57; Lam Peng Er and Kevin Y.L. Tan (eds), Lee’s Lieutenants: Singapore’s Old Guard, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1999. 9. Sonny Yap, Richard Lim and Leong Weng Kam, Men in White: The Untold Story of Singapore’s Ruling Political Party, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2009, pp. 360–62. 10. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 7–48. 11. Michael D. Barr, ‘Perpetual Revisionism in Singapore: The Limits of Change’, The Pacific Review, 16(1), 2003, pp. 77–97. 12. Michael D. Barr, ‘No Island is a Man: The Enigma of Lee Kuan Yew’s Legacy’, Harvard Asia Quarterly, 11(2–3), 2008, pp. 45–56; and Yap et al., Men in White, pp. 483, 484, 486.

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13. See various issues of The Straits Times, February and March, 2004. More details are found in Chapter 3, note 85. 14. ‘Speech by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Minister Mentor, at the launch of the new CAAS and the Changi Airport Group’, 1 July 2009, 4 pm at Changi Airport Terminal 3, Singapore Government Press Centre website. Available at http://www.news.gov. sg/public/sgpc/en/media_releases/agencies/mica/speech/S-20090701–1.html. Accessed 22 September 2009, and; ‘MM Lee: Let’s Prepare Changi to Stay Ahead’, The Straits Times, 2 July 2009. 15. See Michael D. Barr, ‘Singapore: The Limits of a Technocratic Approach to Health Care’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 38(3), 2008, pp. 408, 409. 16. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 185–90. 17. I have quoted Lee’s answer to this question in a number of other places. It was originally reported to me by Chandra Muzaffar in a letter dated 14 August 1996, and later confi rmed by another person who was present. Lee’s participation in this forum was never reported in the press. 18. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 87. 19. For accounts of the political significance of the idealisation of the junzi, see Chua Beng Huat, Communitarian Ideolog y and Democracy in Singapore, London and New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 193, 194; Michael D. Barr, ‘Harmony, Conformity or Timidity? Singapore’s Over-achievement in the Quest for Harmony’ in Julia Tao, Anthony Cheung, Li Chenyang and Martin Painter (eds), Governance for Harmony in Asia and Beyond, London and New York: Routledge, 2010, p. 77. 20. The interplay of classical conceptions of Confucian and Chinese culture, the local Singaporean/Malayan variant and the Singapore elite’s vision of the ideal Singaporean has been the subject of considerable academic comment, including by myself, but in my view it is still very much an open subject awaiting serious interrogation. For a sample of my writing on this topic, see Michael D. Barr, ‘Lee Kuan Yew and the “Asian Values” Debate’, Asian Studies Review, 24(3), 2000, pp. 309–34; Michael D. Barr, Cultural Politics and Asian Values: The Tepid War, London and New York: Routledge, 2002, various chapters; Barr, ‘Harmony, Conformity or Timidity?’; and Michael D. Barr, ‘No Island is a Man: The Enigma of Lee Kuan Yew’s Legacy’, Harvard Asia Quarterly, 11(2–3), 2008, pp. 45–56. Also see Hong Lysa and Huang Jianli, The Scripting of National History: Singapore and its Pasts, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008. 21. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 87–109. 22. Ibid.

Chapter 3 1. Kevin Y.L. Tan, ‘A Short Legal and Constitutional History of Singapore’, in Kevin Y.L. Tan (ed.), The Singapore Legal System, Second Edition, Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1998, p. 52. It should be noted that Singapore voluntarily submits itself to many aspects of international law on matters that affect sovereignty

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2.

3. 4.

5.

6.

7. 8. 9.

10. 11.

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the ruling elite of singapore disputes with its neighbours while remaining fiercely defensive about external interference in domestic matters – even on those occasions when it has signed a relevant international treaty or a convention. For a nuanced account of Singapore’s approach to international law, see Simon S.C. Tay, ‘The Singapore Legal System and International Law: Influence or Interference’, in Tan (ed.), The Singapore Legal System, pp. 467–506. Singapore Department of Statistics, Key Annual Indicators, 2010 Census of Population. Available at http://www.singstat.gov.sg/keyind.htm. Accessed 21 December 2010. Goh Keng Swee, The Practice of Economic Growth, Singapore: Federal Publications, 1977, 1995, p. 96. Interview with Bilahari Kausikan, then Second Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, 15 April 2003. (He is now the First Permanent Secretary.) The significance of Singapore’s small size to Lee Kuan Yew’s capacity to micromanage Singapore society was noted in Michael D. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs Behind the Man, Second Edition, Kuala Lumpur: New Asian Library, 2009, pp. 235– 37. If I remember correctly I owe this insight to my PhD supervisor, Prof. Martin Stuart-Fox, to whom I am most grateful on many counts. A brief account of the Malayan community can be found in Chua Ai Lin, ‘Imperial Subjects, Straits Citizens: Anglophone Asians and the Struggle for Political Rights in Inter-War Singapore’, in Michael D. Barr and Carl A. Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008, pp. 16–36. She has provided a much more detailed account in her Masters thesis: Chua Ai Lin, ‘Negotiating National Identity: The EnglishSpeaking Domiciled Communities in Singapore: 1930–1941’, Masters Thesis, Department of History, National University of Singapore, 2001. Also see E.K. Gillis, Singapore Civil Society and British Power, Singapore: Talisman, 2005 for a fuller account of the operation of civil society under British colonial rule. For accounts of this period, see C.M. Turnbull, A History of Singapore, 1819–1988, Second Edition, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 217–27. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 8, 9; Felix Chia, The Babas Revisited, Singapore: Heinemann Asia, 1994. By far the best account of ‘Malayan’ politics in Singapore up to the advent of limited self-government in 1955 is Yeo Kim Wah, Political Development in Singapore, 1945–1955, Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1973. Also see Sunil S. Amrith, ‘Internationalism and Political Pluralism in Singapore, 1950–1963’, in Barr and Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken, pp. 37–56. Carl A. Trocki, Singapore: Wealth, Power and the Culture of Control, London and New York: Routledge, 2006, pp. 107–24. See Lee Ting Hui, The Open United Front: The Communist Struggle in Singapore, Singapore: South Seas Society, 1996; and C.C. Chin, ‘The United Front Strategy of the Malayan Communist Party in Singapore, 1950s–1960s’, in Barr and Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken, pp. 58–77.

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12. The best account of Lee’s activities as legal adviser to trade unions is given in Yap et al., Men in White, pp. 27–42. 13. Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: Prentice Hall, 1998, p. 156. 14. Ibid., pp. 99–165. Also see the interview with Toh Chin Chye in Melanie Chew, Leaders of Singapore, Singapore: Resource Press, 1996, p. 86. 15. Toh Chin Chye in Chew, Leaders of Singapore, p. 86. Note that although it is probably correct to describe Toh as the catalyst, the idea of forming a political party at some stage was not novel. See Yap et al., Men in White, p. 28. 16. Yap et al., Men in White, pp. 577, 578. 17. Interview with E.W. (Eddie) Barker, 16 October 1996. 18. Lee, The Singapore Story, p. 343. 19. Interview with Maurice Baker, 25 October 1996. 20. Ngiam Tong Dow (ed. by Simon S.C. Tay), A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy: Refl ections by Ngiam Tong Dow, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2006, p. 33. See also J.Y. Pillay’s entry in Low Kar Tiang and Peter K.G. Dunlop (eds), Who’s Who in Singapore, Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000. 21. Yap et al., Men in White, p. 410. 22. Lam Peng Er, ‘The Voters Speak: Voices, Choices and Implications’, in Kevin Y.L. Tan and Terence Lee (eds), Voting in Change: Politics of Singapore’s 2011 General Election, Singapore: Ethos, 2011, p. 179. Also see ‘GE: Tin Pei Ling “a factor” for weak results, says SM Goh’, Channel NewsAsia, 8 May 2011, and ‘I don’t know what to say’, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_6x_5J78Rs. Accessed 6 July 2011. 23. Low and Dunlop (eds), Who’s Who in Singapore, pp. 5, 12, 33, 37, 42. 24. Ibid., entries for Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Hsien Loong, Ho Ching, Suppiah Dhanabalan; Temasek Holdings website. Available at www.temasekholdings.com.sg/about_us_ board_of_directors.htm. Accessed 27 July 2009. For information on S. R. Nathan, see Yap et al., Men in White, pp. 216, 217, 222–225. 25. Yap et al., Men in White, pp. 42–59. 26. Paul Sheehan, Among the Barbarians: The Dividing of Australia, Sydney: Random House Australia, 1998, p. 77. 27. See Han Fook Kwang, Zuraidah Ibrahim, Chua Mui Hoong, Lydia Lim, Ignatius Low, Rachel Lin and Robin Chan, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2011, pp. 188–92. 28. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 97–136. 29. Yap et al., Men in White, p. 392. Han et al., Hard Truths, pp. 128–31. 30. Lee Kuan Yew (ed. by Chua Chee Lay), Keeping My Mandarin Alive, Singapore: World Scientific, 2005, pp. 19, 20, 27–29; Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008, pp. 43, 44. 31. Ministry of Culture, Singapore 1969, Singapore: Ministry of Culture, 1970, Appendix XV; Tay Boon Nga, The Graying of Singapore, Singapore: Humanities Press, 2003, p. 4.

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32. Jackie Sam and Foo Chuen Yann (eds), Road to Nationhood: Singapore 1819–1980, Singapore: Archives and Oral History Department, News and Publications Limited, 1984, p. 76. 33. The Sunday Times (Singapore), 3 April 1955. 34. Yap et al., Men in White, pp. 172–74. 35. Ibid., p. 174. 36. University of Singapore, University of Singapore Convocation 1968, Singapore: University of Singapore, 1968, and each subsequent year to 1977. 37. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 143, 144. 38. Ibid., p. 122. 39. The names of the President’s Scholarship winners, with gender indicated, were supplied to me by the Public Service Division, Public Service Commission in 2005. 40. I am counting the staff of statutory boards as part of the civil service even though they have been technically separate for several decades. 41. Low and Dunlop (eds) Who’s Who in Singapore, entries for Barry Desker, Su Guaning, Lee Yock Suan, Mah Bow Tan, Lee Hsien Loong, Lim Siong Guan, Moses Lee, Kishore Mahbubani, Peter Chan, Lam Chuan Leong and Eddie Teo, supplemented by various official websites. 42. Ngiam, A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy, pp. 33, 36 (note 11). 43. See, for instance, Toh Chin Chye’s interview in Chew, Leaders of Singapore, p. 87; Lee, The Singapore Story, pp. 318–22. 44. The story of the 1961 split in the PAP and Singapore’s brief and traumatic merger with Malaysia are central to the political history of Singapore, but can remain in the background in this brief account of the creation of the national elite and its monopolisation of power in the wake of these events. More details can be found in many places, e.g. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew; John Drysdale, Singapore: Struggle for Success, Singapore; Kuala Lumpur: Times Books International, 1984; Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story; Turnbull, A History of Singapore; Albert Lau, A Moment of Anguish: Singapore in Malaysia and the Politics of Disengagement, Singapore: Times Academic Press, 1998; Patrick Keith, Ousted!, Singapore: Media Masters, 2005. 45. Thomas J. Bellows, The People’s Action Party of Singapore: Emergence of a Dominant Party System, Monograph Series No. 14, New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 1970. 46. For a particularly strong claim along these lines, see Janadas Devan, ‘Succeeding Charisma’, in Bridget Welsh, James U.H. Chin, Arun Mahizhnan and Tan Tarn How (eds), Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years in Singapore, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2009, p. 30. 47. This mentality has been characterised as an ideology of survival in Chan Heng Chee’s seminal contribution to Singapore studies, The Politics of Survival 1965–67, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1971. My interviews and conversations with many Singaporeans who were adults during the period have confi rmed that this siege mentality was strongly and widely accepted by the population throughout the 1970s.

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48. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 238–40. 49. Ibid., pp. 240, 241. 50. Bellows, The People’s Action Party of Singapore. Bellows was referring to legal parties, but even if we extend our gaze to illegal parties the situation is unchanged. The only illegal party that needs be considered is the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), and it was rendered completely ineffective early in the 1960s. For more on the decline of the MCP, see Chin, ‘The United Front Strategy’. 51. Chan Heng Chee, Politics in an Administrative State: Where Has the Politics Gone?, Singapore: Department of Political Science, University of Singapore, 1975. 52. The fact that Lee Kuan Yew remained as Secretary-General of the PAP for two years after he gave up the premiership was seen at the time as an indication of his continuing power and of the weakness of his successor as Prime Minister. See Bridget Welsh, James U.H. Chin, Arun Mahizhnan and Tan Tarn How, ‘Introduction: A Redefi ned Singapore’, in Welsh et al., Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years, pp. 4, 5. 53. I have interviewed a cadre PAP member who made no secret of his cadre status, suggesting that the commitment to secrecy (which is designed to deter cadre members from using their status to seek favours) is not absolute in practice. 54. Interview with a cadre member of the PAP, 19 March 2003. 55. The selection of parliamentary candidates is worthy of closer attention, which will be given in Chapter 5. 56. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 259. 57. S. Rajaratnam being quoted in Janadas Devan, ‘Succeeding Charisma’, pp. 29, 30. Also see Chan Heng Chee, The Dynamics of One Party Dominance: The PAP at the Grassroots, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1978, especially Chapter 2. 58. The power of the CEC and the ongoing potential of the party to be used as a conduit of power were demonstrated in the late 1980s when Tony Tan decided to use the PAP network of kindergartens as his preferred vehicle for introducing fundamental reforms to the education system. See Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 130–37. 59. The NTUC and its associated unions were created by the government as moderate alternatives to the left-wing unions affi liated with the Singapore Association of Trade Unions, but they were by no means tame pets of the government. Most of their leaders throughout the 1960s and 1970s had risen from the rank-and-fi le by their own efforts and owed relatively modest debts to Lee and the PAP machine. Leaders such as Phey Yew Kok accumulated sufficient power in the unions to be considered a serious challenge to government power. The independence and forceful advocacy of these leaders on behalf of their members resulted in a fresh and largely successful government campaign in the late 1970s and early 1980s to subordinate them more fully by breaking up strong unions and replacing them with weak ‘house’ unions, and more slowly replacing representative leaders with handpicked scholars and PAP MPs. Some of this story is told in Michael D. Barr, ‘Trade Unions in an Elitist Society: The Singapore Story’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 46(4), 2000, pp. 480–96.

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60. At all relevant times virtually all Malays have been Muslims and about 93 per cent of Singapore’s Muslims have been Malays. Thanks to these demographics, Malays and Muslims are routinely identified as ‘the Malay-Muslim community’. 61. For an account of the development of the government’s ethnic and language policies that resonates comfortably with the government’s perspective, see Raj Vasil, Asianising Singapore: The PAP’s Management of Ethnicity, Singapore: Heinemann Asia, 1995. See especially Vasil’s brief overview on pp. 130–32, where he contends that language policy was contentious in the 1960s primarily because it was an issue being exploited by the communists. For a critical account of the development of language policy in the contexts of education policy and ethnic policies, see Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, especially pp. 128–37, 153–62. 62. See Michael Fernandez and Loh Kah Seng, ‘The Left-Wing Trade Unions in Singapore, 1945–1970’, in Barr and Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken, pp. 206–26. One of the authors, Michael Fernandez, was himself a left-wing trade union leader who was detained for nine years in the 1960s and early 1970s. 63. See Sikko Visscher, ‘Chinese Merchants in Politics: The Democratic Party in the 1955 Legislative Assembly Elections’, in Barr and Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken, pp. 89–91. 64. See Sikko Visscher, The Business of Politics and Ethnicity: A History of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2007, Chapters 4–6. 65. Garry Rodan, The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization, Kuala Lumpur: Forum, 1989, p. 93. 66. Natasha Hamilton-Hart, Asian States, Asian Bankers: Central Banking in Southeast Asia, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2002, p. 91. 67. Rodan, The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization, pp. 109, 110; Ian Patrick Austin, Goh Keng Swee and Southeast Asian Governance, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish, 2004, p. 65, note 33. 68. Hamilton-Hart, Asian States, Asian Bankers, p. 91; Natasha Hamilton-Hart, ‘The Singapore State Revisited’, The Pacific Review, 13(2), 2000, pp. 200, 201. 69. Rodan, The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization, pp. 85–141. 70. Ibid., p. 109; Visscher, The Business of Politics and Ethnicity, pp. 212–18. 71. Visscher, The Business of Politics and Ethnicity, p. 183. 72. Joe Studwell, Asian Godfathers: Money and Power in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, New York: Grove Press, 2007, p. 273. 73. Interview with Viswa Sadasivan, then a Nominated Member of Parliament, 19 January 2011. 74. Ibid. 75. For instance, Lee Kuan Yew’s brother’s membership of the board of HPL Holdings. 76. For instance, former social activist Claire Chiang, who is a founder and Senior Vice President of Banyan Tree Holdings and was the first woman to serve on the Board of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, served as a Nominated MP from 1997 to 2001. When I interviewed her in 2003, she said

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77. 78. 79.

80.

81. 82. 83.

84. 85.

86.

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much about her keenness to make a contribution to her country and have a sense of ownership of it, but she also talked at some length about the Confucian virtue of li rang [礼让], or politely and selflessly giving way. She explained that if two cars are going to collide and one gives way, it is not giving in or giving up. She related this to a classical Confucian story about two brothers who both wanted the same piece of fruit and the younger earned his father’s praise by giving way to the older brother. Interview with Claire Chiang, former Nominated Member of Parliament, Singapore, 29 April 2003. Lily Zubaidah Rahim, ‘Winning and Losing Malay Support: PAP-Malay Community Relations, 1950s and 1960s’, in Barr and Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken, pp. 95–115. Interview with Syed Haroon Aljunied, Secretary of MUIS, 29 April 2003. Rahim, ‘Winning and Losing Malay Support’; Lily Zubaidah Rahim, The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, especially Chapters 5 and 6; Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 216–20, 262–65. The drop in Malay support for the PAP was publicly acknowledged by Zainul Abidin Rasheed after the 2011 elections. Zainul was the PAP’s Malay candidate in the Aljunied constituency, and would have been Speaker of Parliament if he and the PAP’s five-member team in Aljunied constituency had not been defeated. See ‘Zainul Abidin Rasheed says he will not accept post of Speaker of Parliament’, Channel NewsAsia, 12 May 2011. The Straits Times, 11 March 2001. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 262–65. It has also been suggested publicly that Lim Chee Onn may have been abandoned by the central leadership when he ran into obstacles in the unions in the early 1980s because ‘his supporters were pushing too hard for him to be prime minister’. See Yap et al., Men in White, p. 579. James Minchin went further, suggesting that Lim built his power base in the PAP too quickly, and that Lee pushed him into the leadership of the trade unions just so that he could fail. See James Minchin, No Man is an Island: A Portrait of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Updated Edition, North Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990, p. 206. The story is much more complex than is suggested here. For a slightly more nuanced understanding, see Barr, ‘Trade Unions in an Elitist Society’. For instance, the ascendancy of a new leadership in the Air Line Pilots Association of Singapore (Alpa-S) in 2003 promised a tougher round of negotiations with Singapore Airlines in 2004, but after direct and highly personal intervention by Lee Kuan Yew in early 2004, the new leadership stood aside. The government then revoked the permanent residency of the leading unionist, forcing him and his family to move out of Singapore. These actions returned the situation to the status quo ante. See various issues of The Straits Times, February and March 2004. Ministry of Culture, Singapore 1976, Singapore: Ministry of Culture, 1976, pp. 240, 241, 244; Lim Chong Yah et al., Report of the Central Provident Fund Study Group, Singapore: Department of Economics and Statistics, National University of Singapore, 1985, p. 9. Note that there were caps on CPF contributions for high income earners.

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87. Lim et al., Report of the Central Provident Fund Study Group, p. 9; Aline K. Wong and Stephen H.K. Yeh et al., Housing a Nation: 25 Years of Public Housing in Singapore, Singapore: Maruzen Asia for Housing and Development Board, 1985, before p. i. 88. See, for instance, The Straits Times, 21 December 1980, 7 January and 16 February 1981 and 8 February 1982; Chih Hoong Sin, ‘Segregation and Marginalisation within Public Housing: The Disadvantaged in Bedok New Town, Singapore’, Housing Studies, 17(2), 2002, pp. 267–88. 89. The Straits Times, 15 April 1985; The Economist, 13 May 2006; James U.H. Chin, ‘Electoral Battles and Innovations: Recovering Lost Ground’, in Welsh et al., Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years, p. 75. 90. See, for instance, The Straits Times, 7 January 1981. For a fuller account of the development and use of mechanisms of social control up to the end of the 1980s, see Christopher Tremewan, The Political Economy of Social Control in Singapore, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994. Also see Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 216, 217; Michael D. Barr, Cultural Politics and Asian Values: The Tepid War, London and New York: Routledge, 2002, p. 38; and Michael D. Barr, ‘Medical Savings Accounts in Singapore: A Critical Enquiry’, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 26(4), 2002, pp. 722, 723. 91. The Straits Times, 26 April 2003. 92. See Brenda S.A. Yeoh, Contesting Space in Colonial Singapore: Power Relations and the Urban Built Environment, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2003, especially pp. 93–152; and Rodolphe De Koninck, Julie Drolet and Marc Girard, Singapore: An Atlas of Perpetual Territorial Transformation, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008, especially pp. 28–33. 93. ‘Blurring state and party lines’, The Star, 20 February 2010, cited on Singapore Window. Available at http://www.singapore-window.org. Accessed 12 August 2010. 94. Biographical essays on most of these personalities can be found in various places. See especially the essays in Lam Peng Er and Kevin Y.L. Tan (eds), Lee’s Lieutenants: Singapore’s Old Guard, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1999; but also see several short biographical sketches in James Minchin, No Man Is an Island: A Portrait of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Updated Edition, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1990, pp. 51–57. The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies has published a series of monographs on major figures from Singapore’s history, and several of them are members of the old guard. 95. Michael Hill and Lian Kwen Fee, The Politics of Nation Building and Citizenship in Singapore, London and New York: Routledge, 1995, pp. 81–84; Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 118, 119. 96. The Straits Times, 5 April 1980. 97. Most of this paragraph is an extension of the analysis contained in Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, Chapter 10, entitled ‘Winners and Losers: Gender, Race, and Class in Elite Selection’. It contains some new, updated data and some fresh analysis of old data, but in essence, it is premised on the logic and analysis offered in the earlier work. 98. Michael D. Barr, ‘Beyond Technocracy: The Culture of Elite Governance in Lee Hsien Loong’s Singapore’, Asian Studies Review, 30(1), 2006, p. 12.

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99. See, for instance, the Ministry of Defence website. Available at http://www. mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2005/aug/13aug05_nr.html. Accessed 27 April 2010. 100. Barr, ‘Beyond Technocracy’, p. 12. 101. DPM Lee Hsien Loong’s speech at the SAF Overseas Scholarship 30th Anniversary Dinner, 15 April 2001. Available on the Ministry of Trade and Industry website, at http://www.mti.gov.sg. Accessed 27 September 2005. Lee Kuan Yew may have misremembered this sequence of events. In Hard Truths he praised Hsien Loong for deciding to join the SAF while he was at university, in the face of attractive offers to stay and work in Cambridge. In fact, he attended Cambridge University as a bonded SAFOS scholar and a commissioned Army officer, so unless he was considering becoming the first bond breaker and unless he enjoyed a privileged exit strategy from his commitments to the Army, he had little choice but to return and continue as an Army officer, at least for the next few years. See Han et al., Hard Truths, pp. 76, 77. 102. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 210, 236. 103. See Ministry of Defence website. Available at http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2008/aug/06aug08_nr/06aug08_fs.html. Accessed 7 August 2009, which is supplemented by details for 2009 contained in the Public Service Commission Scholarships website. Available at http://www.pscscholaships.gov.sg. Accessed 7 August 2009. 104. To this, we can add the various local and ‘local-overseas’ scholarships awarded by the PSC, which are important in their own right, but not as significant as overseas scholarships in the process of selecting candidates for the inner circles of the elite. See the Public Service Commission Scholarships website. These figures also do not count the myriad of scholarships awarded by GLCs, which have only reached significant proportions in the last decade or so. 105. Females are a rarity in the Cabinet and are uncommon in the ranks of Permanent Secretaries, though these days they are becoming more common in both groups. There have only been two female Cabinet Ministers, one of whom lasted only a few months and the other was defeated in the 2011 General Elections. In 2012 there were five female Permanent Secretaries holding six portfolios. (See Singapore Government Directory Online. Available at http://www.sgdi.gov.sg. Accessed 11 May 2012.) For an analysis of female participation rates in executive and board roles in GLCs and statutory boards in the 1990s, see Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 210–14. 106. Han et al., Hard Truths, p. 109. 107. Chan Chun Sing won the President’s Scholarship in 1988 and has just been fast tracked into the Cabinet in 2011. In the meantime, he has already been Chief of the Army. If we take his career trajectory as an optimal case of fast-tracking a high flyer, then I am erring on the side of generosity by considering cohorts as late as 1995 in my calculation of elite production. 108. In Hard Truths, Lee Kuan Yew made great play of the fact that three of the current crop of ministers at the time did not go through the scholarship system at all

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109. 110.

111.

112. 113. 114. 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120.

121.

the ruling elite of singapore (Wong Kan Seng, Tharman Shanmugaratnam and S. Jayakumar). See Han et al., Hard Truths, pp. 128, 129. Lee Kuan Yew, New Bearings in Our Education System, Singapore: Ministry of Culture, [1966–67], p. 12. For instance, when the SIA-owned Tiger Airways’ access to the Australian market was threatened in 2011, J.Y. Pillay was brought out of retirement yet again. See ‘Industry veteran J.Y. Pillay appointed non-exec chairman’, The Straits Times, 7 July 2011. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 215, 217, supplemented by the Public Service Commission Scholarships webpage. Available at http://www.pscscholarships.gov.sg/. Accessed 20 April and 10 November 2010. In earlier publications, I erroneously said there were six SAFOS scholarships in 2005. In fact there were seven. The Straits Times, 24 June 1985. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 48, 49. The Straits Times, 20 January 1981. Barr, ‘Trade Unions in an Elitist Society’, pp. 484–88. Ngiam, A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy, p. 62; Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 143, 144. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 238. Ibid., p. 239. A more detailed description of this process can be found in Sonny Yap, Richard Lim and Leong Weng Kam, Men in White: The Untold Story of Singapore’s Ruling Political Party, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2009, Chapter 34. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 66, 67, 240.

Chapter 4 1. The Shell system was soon treated as a prototype rather than a final solution, and has been adapted and adjusted to suit the changing demands of and on the civil service. The first identified shortcoming was that it impeded plans to fast-track the promotion of ‘high flyers’. See Jon S.T. Quah, Public Administration Singapore Style, Singapore: Talisman, 2010, pp. 92, 93. Bilahari Kausikan also spoke of constant adaptation of the original Shell model in his interview with the author on 15 April 2003. 2. Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the NationBuilding Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008, Chapter 11. 3. Raj Vasil, Governing Singapore: a History of National Development and Democracy, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2000, pp. 125, 181; Singapore Elections Department. Available at http://www.elections.gov.sg. Accessed 11 August 2009. 4. Lee’s fi rst public mention of the question of the ‘second generation of leaders’ was made in an interview with Prof. W.D. McIntyre, Fred Cockram and Lindsay Perigo on TV One in Christchurch, New Zealand on 15 April 1975. See Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister’s Speeches, Press Conferences, Interviews, Statements, etc., Singapore: Prime

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5. 6.

7. 8. 9. 10. 11.

12.

13.

14.

15. 16. 17.

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159

Minister’s Office, 1959–90. I cannot find a record of it being mentioned publicly again until January 1980, when it was given prominence at the 25th anniversary celebrations of the PAP. After this episode, the matter was raised at least another four times in the space of a month by some of the most senior figures in the PAP. See The Sunday Times, 6 January 1980, and The Straits Times, 7, 21, 22, 28 January 1980. The Straits Times, 1 January 1985. Michael D. Barr, ‘Perpetual Revisionism in Singapore: The Limits of Change’, The Pacific Review, 16(1), 2003, pp. 88, 89. Also see Geraldine Heng and Janadas Devan, ‘State Fatherhood: The Politics of Nationalism, Sexuality, and Race in Singapore’, in Andrew Parker et al. (eds), Nationalisms and Sexualities, London and New York: Routledge, 1992, pp. 343–64. Barr, ‘Perpetual Revisionism’, pp. 78–90. Various interviews and pieces of correspondence with contributors to A Shift in the Wind in 2003 and 2009. See an account of this episode in Kenneth Paul Tan, ‘Who’s Afraid of Catherine Lim? The State in Patriarchal Singapore’, Asian Studies Review, 33(1), 2009, pp. 43–62. Diane K. Mauzy and R.S. Milne, Singapore Politics Under the People’s Action Party, London and New York: Routledge, 2002, Chapter 12. For the story of J.B. Jeyaretnam, see Michael D. Barr, ‘J.B. Jeyaretnam: Three Decades as Lee Kuan Yew’s bête noir’, Journal of Contemporary Asia 33(3), 2003, pp. 299–317; Chris Lydgate, Lee’s Law: How Singapore Crushes Dissent, Carlton North: Scribe, 2003. For the story of Tang Liang Hong, see Francis T. Seow, Beyond Suspicion: The Singapore Judiciary, New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 2006. For a story of the implementation and operation of this self-monitoring, see Lenore Lyons, ‘Internalised Boundaries: AWARE’s Place in Singapore’s Emerging Civil Society’, in Michael D. Barr and Carl A. Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008, pp. 248–63. Garry Rodan, ‘Goh’s Consensus Politics of Authoritarian Rule’, in Bridget Welsh, James U.H. Chin, Arun Mahizhnan and Tan Tarn How (eds), Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years in Singapore, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2009, pp. 61, 63. Michael D. Barr, ‘Singapore’s Catholic Social Activists: Alleged Marxist Conspirators’, in Barr and Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken, pp. 228–47, and; Francis T. Seow, To Catch a Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew’s Prison, New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 1994. Tan, ‘Who’s Afraid of Catherine Lim?’. Garry Rodan, The Political Economy of Singapore’s Industrialization, Kuala Lumpur: Forum, 1989, pp. 190–96. The extent of Lee Kuan Yew’s intimate involvement with and leadership of the move against the activists cannot be overstated. Should a read of the newspapers from the period not convince, a perusal of the government’s and the ISD’s

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18.

19. 20.

21. 22.

23. 24. 25.

26.

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the ruling elite of singapore confidential minutes of various meetings concerning the detentions removes all doubt. For a published account of the events that draws on those confidential minutes, see Barr, ‘Singapore’s Catholic Social Activists’. For a more detailed and more forensic analysis of Lee’s involvement in these events, see Michael D. Barr, ‘Marxists in Singapore? Lee Kuan Yew’s Campaign against Catholic Social Justice Activists in the 1980s’, Critical Asian Studies, 42(3), 2010, pp. 335–62. S. Dhanabalan was a guest speaker at a Foreign Correspondents Association of South-East Asia lunch. The only specific reference he made to the detainees was to say that they were ‘not on the verge of overthrowing this government or starting a revolution.’ The Straits Times, 2 June 1987. The Business Times, 30 July 1987. Goh has since revealed that at least one member of the Cabinet, S. Dhanabalan, never fully reconciled himself to the detentions, despite giving his approval. See Goh’s account in Sonny Yap, Richard Lim and Leong Wong Kam, Men in White: The Untold Story of Singapore’s Ruling Political Party, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2009, p. 468. The Business Times, 30 July 1987. For a forensic analysis of Goh Chok Tong’s speech and involvement as well a detailed consideration of legal aspects of the arrests and the government’s consequent legislative initiatives, see Jothie Rajah, ‘Policing Religion: Discursive Excursions into Singapore’s Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act’, in Penelope (Pip) Nicholson and Sarah Biddulph (eds), Examining Practice, Interrogating Theory: Comparative Legal Studies in Asia, Leiden and Boston: Martinus Nijhoft PublishersBrill, 2008, pp. 267–305. The Business Times, 26 January 1989; The Straits Times, 22 June 1990, 19 November 1989. Yap et al., Men in White, p. 440. The Business Times, 20 July 1987; The Straits Times, 18 July 1987, 28 May 1988, 26 January and 1 May 1989. Ngiam tells us that in the recession of the 1980s Lee vehemently opposed reducing the employers’ contribution rate for the CPF and had to be pressured to adopt it. In the end, he announced it himself and took full credit for the idea, using it to build his reputation as a fearless policy formulator. Ngiam Tong Dow (ed. by Simon S.C. Tay), A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy: Refl ections by Ngiam Tong Dow, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2006, p. 147. This assessment is somewhat subjective, but it is based upon feedback from a wide range of Singaporeans. One person who had been working as a journalist at The Straits Times during these events assured me that he knew no one who believed the government’s accusations. Today the ISD is so embarrassed that it tries to avoid drawing attention to the detentions of 1987 in its promotional material and activities. See, for instance, Ministry of Home Affairs, Why the ISA?, Singapore: Ministry of Home Affairs, 2002. Even Lee Kuan Yew himself barely refers to these events in his memoirs, in which he merely mentions in passing the detention of ‘16 Marxist conspirators’ in the course of an account of a related libel action against the Far Eastern Economic Review. See Lee Kuan Yew, From First World to First: The Singapore

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27.

28.

29. 30. 31.

32.

33.

34.

35. 36.

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Story: 1965–2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings and Times Editions, 2000, p. 152. Report of Lee Kuan Yew’s words in Internal Security Department notes of a meeting between PM and Catholic Church leaders at 3 pm on 2 June 1987 at the Istana. This document is marked ‘SECRET’, but was released to the court during the government’s legal action against the Far Eastern Economic Review as exhibit 85(d). ‘Lee Kuan Yew: Goh Chok Tong was responsible for the arrest of the “Marxist Conspirators”’. Transcript of video from Lee Kuan Yew’s address to a NUS Political Association forum on 23 July 1990. Video available on The Online Citizen, 28 September 2011 at http://theonlinecitizen.com/2011/09/lee-kuan-yew-gohchok-tong-was-responsible-for-the-arrest-of-the-marxist-conspirators/. Accessed 30 September 2011. Yap et al., Men in White, pp. 483, 484, 486. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 69. Chew Kheng Chuan, Teo Soh Lung and Kenneth Tsang, A Shift in the Wind [Singapore: not published, 1986], before page 1, and Part 1 ‘The Present Political Atmosphere’, pp. 1–20. The book was never published or properly fi nished, but I have in my possession a spiral-bound copy of the most fi nal manuscript (with some additional anonymous commentary inserted some time after the detentions of 1987). In her autobiographical account of her detention, Teo Soh Lung referred to this manuscript by the title The Winds of Change. Apparently the working title changed while it was being compiled, and of course it was never finally settled because it was never published. See Teo Soh Lung, Beyond the Blue Gate: Recollections of a Political Prisoner, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, 2010, p. 58. The story of this episode has been pieced together from formal interviews and informal conversations with several of the people in question. It has been partially corroborated by an interview with Tharman Shanmugaratnam published in The Straits Times, 14 December 2001. The relationship between Lee and his Cabinet colleagues during this period was analysed in Barr, ‘Perpetual Revisionism’. For an analysis made soon after the events themselves, see James Minchin’s ‘Postscript: Five Years On’ in his No Man is an Island: A Portrait of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Updated Edition, North Sydney, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1990. This analysis is an extension of that provided in Chapter 2. For further reading, see Stephen Choo, ‘Developing an Entrepreneurial Culture in Singapore: Dream or Reality’, Asian Affairs, 36(3), 2005, pp. 361–73, and; Lily Zubaidah Rahim, ‘The Political Agenda Underpinning Economic Policy Formulation in Singapore’s Authoritarian Developmental State’, in Uwe Johannen and James Gomez (eds), Democratic Transitions in Asia, Singapore: Select Publishing in association with Friedrich Naumann Foundation, 2001, pp. 207–32. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 224, 225. Ross Worthington, Governance in Singapore, London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.

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37. Ibid., p. 151. 38. Lee Hsien Loong’s official biodata on the Cabinet website. Available at htt://www. cabinet.gov.sg/. Accessed 25 November 2010. 39. Lee Hsien Loong’s entry on the Cabinet website. Available at http://www.cabinet. gov.sg/. Accessed 25 November 2010. 40. Worthington, Governance in Singapore, pp. 166–69. 41. See ‘Remarks by S. Dhanabalan, Chairman of Temasek Holdings, at the media roundtable on the Temasek Charter’, 25 August 2009. Available at http://www. temasekholdings.com.sg/media_centre_news_releases_250809.htm. Accessed 13 June 2010. Also see Diane K. Mauzy and R.S. Milne, Singapore Politics under the People’s Action Party, London and New York: Routledge, 2002, p. 29. 42. Mauzy and Milne’s assessment was based initially on Werner Vennewald’s ‘Technocrats in the State Enterprise System of Singapore’, Working Paper, No. 32, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Perth, 1994, and validated by a July 2000 research interview with ‘an authoritative government source’. See p. 206, note 15. Vennewald wrote that the DCAC stands ‘at the top of the control pyramid of the state enterprise system’. See Vennewald, p. 35. 43. Worthington, Governance in Singapore, pp. 168, 169. 44. Vennewald, ‘Technocrats in the State-Enterprise System of Singapore’, p. 35. 45. The DCAC was mentioned as being ultimately responsible to the Prime Minister in Mauzy and Milne, Singapore Politics under the People’s Action Party, p. 29. 46. See ‘Remarks by S. Dhanabalan, Chairman of Temasek Holdings, at the media roundtable on the Temasek Charter’, 25 August 2009. Available at http://www. temasekholdings.com.sg/media_centre_news_releases_250809.htm. Accessed 13 June 2010. Also see Mauzy and Milne, Singapore Politics under the People’s Action Party, p. 29. 47. The DCAC was housed in the Ministry of Finance until about 2007. See Ministry of Finance, 2008 Budget Papers, ‘Head U Prime Minister’s Office’, p. 179. Available at http://www.mof.gov.sg/budget_2008/revenue_expenditure/attachment/PMO_ EE2008.pdf/. Accessed 13 June 2010. 48. Finance Minister Richard Hu was reported as being Chairman in 1991. The Economist Intelligence Unit reported in 2009 that the ‘Ministry of Finance’ chairs the DCAC. This seems unlikely to have been correct at the time, since by then we know independently (see note 47, immediately above) that the Council was housed in the Prime Minister’s Office by 2009, but it does reflect the assumption that had been operating since news of the DCAC began trickling into the public domain. See ‘The rigours and rewards of a job at the top’, The Straits Times, 13 July 1991; ‘The operating environment: State role in the economy’, Economist Intelligence Unit – Country Commerce, 24 June 2009. 49. In making this assessment I find myself in disagreement with Worthington, who argued that Goh had successfully diverted what he called the ‘Lee Family Project’ away from the quest for power, and into the next best thing, the quest for wealth. Worthington conducted his research for a PhD dissertation in the second half of

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50.

51. 52.

53.

54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

59.

60.

61. 62.

63. 64.

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the 1990s after which it was updated, but not substantially revised for publication. By the time it was published as a book in 2003, the power orientation of the Lee Family Project had been fully and visibly restored to the pursuit of power and was on the cusp of full-blown success with the accession of Lee Hsien Loong to the premiership a year later. In hindsight, Worthington’s final assessment was premature. See Worthington, Governance in Singapore, pp. 235, 236. Also see Ross Worthington, ‘An Asian Core Executive: Aspects of Contemporary Governance in Singapore’, unpublished PhD dissertation, Australian National University, 1999. Lee Hsien Loong’s official entry in Singapore Cabinet Appointments. Available at http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/content/cabinet/printerfriendly.html. Accessed 1 July 2011. I am sure there were many other factors of which I am not aware, but I am confident that these are the most critical determinants. ‘The sequence of events’, The Straits Times, 25 May 1996. Also see Francis T. Seow, Beyond Suspicion? The Singapore Judiciary, New Haven, CT: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 2006, pp. 13, 14. My assessment that the HPL affair was the critical turning point takes for granted the medical declaration in 1997 that Lee Hsien Loong was officially cancer free (five years after his chemotherapy was concluded). ‘PM Goh – I probed Lees’ condo purchases’, The Business Times, 22 May 1996. It is not clear whether or not the two Lees attended the Cabinet meeting that exonerated them. Ibid. Ho Khai Leong, Shared Responsibilities, Unshared Power: The Politics of Policy-Making in Singapore, Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003, pp. 121–25. Rahim, Singapore in the Malay World, p. 63. ‘Banking Shake-up plan out tomorrow’, The Straits Times, 16 May 1999. See ‘Remarks by S. Dhanabalan, Chairman of Temasek Holdings, at the media roundtable on the Temasek Charter’, 25 August 2009. Available at http://www. temasekholdings.com.sg/media_centre_news_speeches_250809.htm. Accessed 13 June 2010. See the biodata provided for members of the Temasek Holdings Board of Directors. Dhanabalan is no friend of Lee Hsien Loong’s, but he was and is loyal to Lee Kuan Yew, and he retains Lee Senior’s absolute trust to this day. Manu Bhaskaran, ‘Transforming the Engines of Growth’, in Bridget Welsh, James U.H. Chin, Arun Mahizhnan and Tan Tarn How, Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years, Singapore: National University Press, 2009, p. 208. Ibid. See Koh Beng Seng’s executive profi le in the Bloomberg Businessweek website. Available at http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/person. asp?personId=7785697&privcapId=875102&previousCapId=874420&previousTi tle=Overseas%20Union%20Securities%20Ltd. Accessed 25 November 2010. ‘PM – I don’t doubt integrity of SM, DPM Lee’, The Straits Times, 22 May 1996. ‘Praise for the two Beng Sengs’, The Business Times, 23 May 1996.

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65. Worthington, Governance in Singapore, p. 168. This information is based on Worthington’s off-the-record interviews with insiders. 66. It is not clear whether Lee Hsien Loong became Chairman of the DCAC himself, but as Minister for Finance he was, for the first time in charge of the ministry in which the DCAC was housed. 67. Interview with a former Permanent Secretary, 24 April 2003. 68. For confi rmation that the DCAC was shifted from the Ministry of Finance to the Prime Minister’s Office in 2007 see Ministry of Finance, 2008 Budget Papers, ‘Head U Prime Minister’s Office’, p. 179. Available at http://www.mof.gov.sg/ budget_2008/revenue_expenditure/attachment/PMO_EE2008.pdf. Accessed 13 June 2010.

Chapter 5 1. The conversational practice of referring to Lee’s family as the ‘fi rst family’ is ubiquitous in Singapore, though it is rarely used in public. 2. Lee’s 1967 parable about the Malay, the Indian and the Chinese women who were taken to Singapore General Hospital, as conveyed in Chapter 1, is one such, easily identifiable piece of evidence of the centrality of Chineseness in his thinking. It is not central to the theme of this book, but the pattern of his thinking more broadly – on elites, the role of the civil service, the centrality of his own family, the importance of modernisation – has been explored in several studies of Lee, most notably James Minchin’s psycho-historical study, No Man Is an Island: A Study of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Updated Edition, North Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990; Michael D. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew: The Beliefs Behind the Man, Second Edition, Kuala Lumpur: New Asian Library, 2009; Michael D. Barr, ‘Lee Kuan Yew and the ‘Asian Values’ Debate’, Asian Studies Review, 24(3), 2000, pp. 309–34; Michael D. Barr, ‘No Island is a Man: The Enigma of Lee Kuan Yew’s Legacy’, Harvard Asia Quarterly, 11(2/3), 2008, 45–56. 3. Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008, Chapters 5–9. 4. This section is drawn with minimal change from Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 92, 93. With the benefit of hindsight some scholars have argued that this Sinicisation campaign was fundamentally a response to the economic opportunities that came with the ‘opening up’ of China. This point was argued by Stein Tønnesson in his review of Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, and by one of the anonymous reviewers of this manuscript before publication. The anonymous reviewer went so far as to argue that the Sinicisation is a contingent and reversible development and is not a fundamental shift. It is indisputable that the Sinicisation took on a strong economic dimension after China started opening up, but it needs to be recognised that the developments in Singapore started more than half a decade before Deng Xiaoping’s reforms began kicking in. Lee himself identifies 1982 as the year that he became convinced that China was on the cusp of emerging as a major economic

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5.

6.

7.

8. 9.

10. 11.

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force (see Han Fook Kwang, Zuraidah Ibrahim, Chua Mui Hoong, Lydia Lim, Ignatius Low, Rachel Lin, Robin Chan, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2011, p. 76), but his visits to China began in the mid-1970s, and his fascination with what he thought of as ‘Chinese values’ and Chineseness had been growing since the 1950s and emerged as a direct force in his domestic politics by the late 1970s. On the one hand, it is unlikely in the extreme that Lee had the foresight to bet his country’s national identity on a development that was no more than a glimmer in Deng Xiaoping’s eye. On the other hand, it is very likely that Lee’s Chinese ‘turn’ was a logical extension of the attitudes that he expressed in his 1967 ‘parable’. Even during Singapore’s ‘golden age’ of communal tolerance – up to the end of the 1970s – Malays and to a lesser extent Indians suffered significant levels of discrimination. This, however, was not trumpeted publicly and was accepted by all parties with a significant level of equanimity based in part on the ‘cold comfort’ of knowing that most overt expressions of Chinese identity and culture were also being suppressed. Jason Tan, ‘Education in Singapore: Sorting them out?’, in Terence Chong (ed.), Management of Success: Singapore Revisited, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2010, p. 298. (These figures include overseas students so they are not quite as dramatic as they appear at fi rst glance.) Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 215, supplemented by new information found at the Public Service Commission Scholarships website. Available at http:// www.pscscholarships.gov.sg. Accessed 10 November 2010. Ethnic identification is made by using the name of the recipient as a guide. Chinese names are sufficiently distinctive to make this a very reliable means of distinguishing Chinese from nonChinese. Ibid. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 217, supplemented by new information found at the Public Service Commission Scholarships website. I do not have ethnic information on all SAFOS recipients. PSC Scholarships website. Eddie Teo, ‘An Open Letter from the Chairman’, at the PSC Scholarships website; and Han et al, Hard Truths, pp. 132, 133. Despite the avowed academic stringency in awarding SAFOS scholarships, the process of cultivating candidates has been opaque and personal. In the early 1990s, National Servicemen who were judged to be suitable for SAFOS scholarships were courted and cultivated by SAF officers. According to an account by a former officer who was the recipient of such a courtship in the early 1990s, suitable trainee officers who had just fi nished their A-levels and were starting their National Service were identified by ranking officers, invited to a series of social engagements, and then encouraged to apply for a scholarship. There is enough lead-time between completing A-levels and the announcement of the scholarship results for this to be completed without delaying the process. Unsurprisingly, the former officer who gave me his account is ethnically Chinese. (Interview with a former Army Officer, Singapore, 28 March 2003.) I have no

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12. 13.

14.

15.

16. 17.

18. 19. 20.

21.

22. 23.

Barr_Notes.indd 166

the ruling elite of singapore direct knowledge of current procedures, but it seems unlikely that the process has changed very much. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, Chapters 5–9. In his extensive and detailed study of Singapore’s networks of power as they stood in the 1990s, Ross Worthington has produced tables that provide information that confi rms the reality of Chinese dominance in the elite. See Ross Worthington, Governance in Singapore, London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Worthington was not making a point about the ethnic composition of the elite but in another place I have used his data to make the case that the Chinese dominance of the national elite is similarly disproportionate to the Chinese proportion of the population, as is Chinese dominance of scholarships. See Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 214–21. Taken from Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 215, 217 and supplemented and corrected according to the Public Service Commission website. In earlier publications I said there was one non-Chinese SAFOS winner in 2005. In fact there were two. Oddly enough, the one repository of elite power where non-Chinese have not been overwhelmed by Chinese, at least in raw numerical terms, is in the Cabinet. Even though Malays have been grossly underrepresented for decades, with just one Cabinet Minister at a time, Indians have consistently had 20–30 per cent of the Cabinet seats, even though they represent less than 10 per cent of the population. The treatment of the Malays is unsurprising, but I do not have an easy explanation for the seemingly favourable regard for Indians in this context. I mention it to acknowledge a loose end in my research, but I am confident that it does not undermine my argument overall. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, p. 160. Singapore Department of Statistics, Census of Population 2010, Table A6. Available at http://www.singstat.gov.sg/pubn/popn/c2010acr/tA6.pdf. Accessed 16 November 2010. Singapore Department of Statistics, Key Population Indicators. Available at http:// www.singstat.gov.sg/pubn/popn/c2010acr/key.pdf. Accessed 16 November 2010. Han et al., Hard Truths, pp. 232, 233. My transcription of the video recording of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s speech on 13 August 2009 to the 2009 Tanjong Pagar Constituency National Day Dinner. Originally available at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/video/index. php/. Accessed on 14 August 2009. Rahim reports that increasing numbers of non-Chinese parents are finding ways to enrol their children in Mandarin classes at school, but this option still remains closed to most non-Chinese. Rahim, Singapore in the Malay World, p. 39. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 97–108. Channel NewsAsia, 16 August 200; and S.R. Nathan, Why Am I Here?, Singapore: Lianhe Zaobao, 2010. Translation from National University of Singapore website. Available at http://newshub.nus.edu.sg/pressrel/100427.php. Accessed 8 February 2011.

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24. I have a video recorded from a television documentary, Up Close with Tharman Shanmugaratnam, broadcast on Channel NewsAsia, 14 April 2005. 25. Lianhe Wanbao, 8 June 2004, and ‘Try Discipline With Love – Acting Education Minister Tharman: My Kids, Their Mandarin and Their Future in China’, The New Paper, 9 June 2004. 26. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 103–108. 27. Goh Keng Swee and the Education Study Team, Report on the Ministry of Education 1978, Singapore: Singapore National Printers, 1979. 28. Lee Kuan Yew’s personal role in instigating the building of the elitist education system is revealed in Goh Keng Swee’s letter to Lee at the opening of his report of 1978. Lee’s personal role in the Sinicisation programme is revealed in his explicit claims regarding the main public initiatives at the centre of this campaign. See Rahim, Singapore in the Malay World, pp. 39–41. Both projects are logical outcomes of Lee’s deep-seated elitism and Chinese suprematism, as documented and argued in Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, Chapters 4–6. 29. For a brief overview of this process, see Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, Chapter 6. Also see pp. 129–33 for evidence of discrimination in favour of Chinese at pre-primary level from 1978 onwards. 30. In 2004, streaming was watered down for primary school, but it continues unchanged in its fundamentals in secondary and high school. See The Straits Times, 29 October 2004 and a 22 January 2007 Parliamentary Reply by the Ministry of Education. Available at http://www.moe.gov.sg/media/parliamentaryreplies/2007/pq20070122.htm. Accessed 28 September 2009. 31. See Chapter 3; Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 94, 121, 212. There have been more reports and reviews than these, and more since 2002, but in my view, these are the critical ones related to the specific matter of building an elitist education system. 32. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 192–94. Also see Rahim, Singapore in the Malay World, p. 61. 33. Jason Tan, ‘Independent Schools in Singapore: Implications for Social and Educational Inequalities’, International Journal of Educational Development, 13(3), 1993, pp. 245, 246. 34. ‘Students of top schools worry more about elitism’, The Straits Times, 18 May 2007; 2010 Census of Population, available at http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/themes/ people/household.html. Accessed 14 July 2011. 35. Channel NewsAsia, 12 December 2005; Today, 12 December 2005; CyBerita, 13 December 2005. 36. Straits Times Interactive, 14 December 2005. 37. Evidence verifying this reality is mainly apocryphal. For instance, a story titled ‘Why the elite envy?’, in The Straits Times, 9 December 2006 recounts the story of a taxi driver whose bright daughter gained entry to Raffles Girls School but he did not enrol her because he decided that he could never afford the add-on costs. 38. The Straits Times, 5 October 2002.

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168 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

44. 45. 46. 47.

48.

49.

50. 51.

Barr_Notes.indd 168

the ruling elite of singapore CyBerita, 13 December 2005. The Straits Times, 6 November 1994; Straits Times Interactive, 14 December 2005. Today, 21 November 2005. Channel NewsAsia, 15 January 2006. ‘Why the elite envy?’, The Straits Times, 9 December 2006. Most of the previous three paragraphs are derived directly from Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 192–94. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 190–92. In 2005, The Chinese High School and Hwa Chong Junior College merged into Hwa Chong Institution [HCI]. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 220–25. Ibid., pp. 221, 222, and supplemented by information taken from the PSC website. This table corrects an error that I had made in earlier publications, when I said there were three Raffles JC students in the 2005 cohort of SAFOS scholars. In fact, there were four. Ngiam Tong Dow (ed. by Simon S.C. Tay), A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy: Refl ections by Ngiam Tong Dow, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2006, p. 27. Interview with an Army officer, Singapore, 3 April 2003. This account is drawn directly from Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 196–98. This evidence is reinforced by the independent account given by a former Army officer who was actively courted to apply for a SAFOS scholarship during his National Service. (See note 11 in this chapter; interview with former Army officer, 28 March 2003.) PSC Scholarships website. Accessed 22 March 2012. In parenthesis I should note that this retention of the dominance of RI and HCI contains the implication that a new policy of encouraging diversity among schools and educational pathways, which was announced in 2004, has been a failure. I suggest, however, that the diversity being sought in those reforms was never intended to diversify the backgrounds of elite students beyond very narrow limits, and therefore has little impact on our considerations of elite formation and elite selection. On this matter, I fi nd myself in polite disputation with Karl Hack. In two separate places, he has criticised me for having seriously understated the significance of the educational changes of the late 1990s and 2004. See Karl Hack, ‘Review of Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 41(2), 2010, pp. 358–61; Karl Hack, ‘Remaking Singapore, 1990–2004: From Disciplinarian Development to Bureaucratic Proxy Democracy’, in Karl Hack and Jean-Louis Margolin with Karine Delaye (eds), Singapore from Temasek to the 21st Century: Reinventing the Global City, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2010, p. 380, note 26. Hack pointed to his ‘Remaking Singapore’ chapter for his account of how the diversification being introduced by these reforms has seriously begun breaking down the imposed pathways and elitism in the education system. He also pointed to some pedagogical reforms that should have moved the education system away from its reliance upon rote learning. Zlatko Skrbiš and I had already acknowledged and

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52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58.

59.

60.

61. 62.

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written about the diversification to which he was alluding, but argued that this was in fact a new mechanism for the imposition of pathways and elitism – since these pathways are determined early in school life and after that a gulf emerges between elite and non-elite schooling. We also argued that the changes of the late 1990s indicated an official acknowledgement of the problems that we were identifying in our book, but argued that the regime was willing only to fiddle at the edges for fear of losing both its existing competitive advantage in mathematics and science, and for fear of unleashing free and rebellious thoughts among the youth. Hence we had references to the repeated efforts, years apart, to tackle problems that had supposedly already been fi xed. This is not the place to explore these questions thoroughly, but now that I have watched the reforms of 2004 play themselves out, and interviewed a number of parents and education professionals in January 2010, I can say that I am not inclined to revise my initial scepticism about the reforms, both pre- and post-2004. Tim Huxley, Defending the Lion City: The Armed Forces of Singapore, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2000, pp. 109–113. In any case, the Chinese domination of the SAF Officer Corps is confi rmed by Huxley. See ibid., pp. 114, 115. Ibid., p. 110. Rahim, Singapore in the Malay World, p. 93. Huxley, Defending the Lion City, pp. 232–40; Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 233, 234. Huxley, Defending the Lion City, p. 232. Figures and analysis drawn from Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 66, 67, and 240, and supplemented by the Singapore Cabinet Appointments website, http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/content/cabinet/appointments.html. Accessed 1 July 2011. Using a much narrower definition of ‘bureaucrat politicians’ that only counts those who are drawn directly from the Administrative Service and the SAF, Jon Quah argues that between 1980 and 1994 the proportion of ‘Bureaucrat Politicians’ in the Cabinet ranged from 31 per cent to 50 per cent. Even these figures are very high, but I submit that the exclusion of the rest of the public sector (statutory boards, hospitals, universities, GLCs, etc.) is not reasonable in the Singapore context, since all arms of the state – even the universities – are more or less direct extensions of the government. Jon S.T. Quah, Public Administration Singapore Style, Singapore: Talisman, 2010, pp. 121, 122. Figures and analysis drawn from Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 66 and supplemented by the Singapore Cabinet Appointments website, http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/content/cabinet/appointments.html. Accessed 1 July 2011. Also note the entry into parliament in 2001 of retired general Tan Chuan-Jin, who was immediately appointed Minister of State for two ministries, and in the normal course of events will become a Cabinet minister in the near future. ‘Idealistic citizens help push bar for public servants’, The Straits Times, 24 October 2010. Quah, Public Administration Singapore Style, p. 93.

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63. Huxley, Defending the Lion City, pp. 232–47; Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 70, 71, 234. 64. Huxley, Defending the Lion City, p. 239; Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 214–21. 65. ‘Stir over “military stepping in” talk’, The Star, 24 September 2006; ‘Highlights from the 2006 Raffles Forum: Good Governance and the Wealth of Nations’, LKY SPPeak, Spring 2007, Volume 1. Available at http://www.lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/newsletter/2007/january/raffles.htm. Accessed 24 August 2009. 66. Huxley, Defending the Lion City, pp. 240–43. 67. Yap, Men in White. See the following series of notes for particular references. 68. Ibid., p. 293. 69. Ibid., pp. 393–95. 70. For fi rsthand accounts of the critical role played by Lim in the selection committee, see Asad-ul Iqbal Latif, Lim Kim San: A Builder of Singapore, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009, pp. 48, 50. 71. Yap, Men in White, p. 576. 72. Ibid., p. 579. 73. Ibid. and Teo Soh Lung, Beyond the Blue Gate: Recollections of a Political Prisoner, Petaling Yaya, Malaysia: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, 2010, p. 52. The psychiatrist in question is Fred Long. 74. Yap, Men in White, p. 579. 75. Ibid. 76. Ibid., pp. 574, 575. 77. A description of the selection process can also be found in Han et al. Hard Truths, pp. 100–7. 78. I am grateful to Ross Worthington for coining this term. See Worthington, Governance in Singapore, p. 235. 79. See, for example, Alex Josey, Lee Kuan Yew: The Crucial Years, Singapore: Times Books International, 1968. 80. See, for example, John Drysdale, Singapore: Struggle for Success, Singapore: Times Editions, 1984; Dennis Bloodworth, The Tiger and the Trojan Horse, Singapore: Times Editions, 1986. 81. Lam Peng Er and Kevin Y.L. Tan, ‘Introduction’, in Lam Peng Er and Kevin Y.L. Tan (eds), Lee’s Lieutenants: Singapore’s Old Guard, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 1999, pp. ix–xxi. 82. Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: Prentice Hall, 1998; Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965–2000: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings and Times Media, 2000. 83. Yao Souchou, Singapore: The State and the Culture of Excess, London & New York, Routledge, 2007, Chapters 1 and 8. 84. Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew (Abridged Edition), Singapore: Federal Publications, 2000.

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85. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, Chapter 2. 86. Rahim, Singapore in the Malay World, p. 24; and Discovery Channel, The History of Singapore: Lion City, Asian Tiger, Singapore: Wiley, 2010. A fuller account of the context and details of Lee’s purloining of ‘the Singapore story’ can be found in Michael D. Barr, ‘No Island is a Man: The Enigma of Lee Kuan Yew’s Legacy’, Harvard Asia Quarterly, 11(2–3), 2008, pp. 45–56. 87. Barr, ‘No Island is a Man’, and; Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, Chapter 2. 88. Lee, From Third World to First, pp. 655, 656. 89. Michael D. Barr, ‘Singapore: The Limits of a Technocratic Approach to Health Care’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 38(3) 2008, pp. 395–416. 90. Lee Kuan Yew (Chua Chee Lay, ed.), Keeping My Mandarin Alive: Lee Kuan Yew’s Language Learning Experience, Singapore: World Scientific and Global Publishing, 2005. 91. Ibid., p. 98. 92. In 2004, the Ministry of Education removed all but the most basic ‘Mother Tongue’ requirements for entrance to a local university. It removed the hitherto compulsory consideration of a student’s ‘Mother Tongue’ grades and instead accepted a bare pass in Chinese Language B or a D7 in Chinese Language for students studying Chinese. See The Sunday Times (Singapore), 29 February 2004. 93. Note that Lee’s children are wealthy so his grandchildren did not need scholarships to continue their study overseas (and one did not even apply for a scholarship). Yet if they had not even been eligible for entry into a local university, it would have excluded them for the elite and made it politically impossible for them to have high-flying military, administrative, GLC or political careers. 94. Barr, Lee Kuan Yew, pp. 150–57. 95. Lee, Keeping My Mandarin Alive, p. 47; Eastern Sun, 20 February, 1968. 96. As an aside, it is worth noting that Lee also made Hsien Loong learn Russian as a young boy – at a time when he judged that Russia might be an important player in Singapore’s future and this could be an asset for a leader. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 77. 97. ‘PSC chooses eight new President’s Scholars’, The Sunday Times, 31 May 1970; ‘President’s Scholar Lee to do national service stint first’, The Straits Times, 1 June 1970. 98. ‘SAF scholarships go to the top five national servicemen’, The Straits Times, 20 May 1971. Note that Lee Kuan Yew personally initiated the creation of the SAFOS scholarship. See Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, p. 78. 99. Worthington, Governance in Singapore, p. 260, note 136. 100. The chronology of Lee Hsien Loong’s military service is pieced together from his entry in Low Kar Tiang and Peter K.G. Dunlop (eds) Who’s Who in Singapore, Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000; Lee Hsien Loong’s curriculum vitae published on the Singapore Government website, http://www.cabinet.gov. sg/p_pmlee.htm. Accessed 21 March 2005; ‘The scholar and Hokkien ‘peng’,

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101.

102. 103. 104. 105.

106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113.

114.

the ruling elite of singapore The Straits Times Interactive, 12 August 2004; ‘The 3 pillars of a secure society – by Col Lee’, The Straits Times, 3 May 1984; ‘Lee Hsien Loong to leave the army’, The Straits Times, 1 September 1984. Lee’s promotion to Brigadier-General came sometime between 3 May and 1 September, just before his departure from the army. In earlier publications, I mistakenly referred to Lee contesting the Ang Mo Kio constituency in 1984, but Ang Mo Kio is in fact the Group Representation Constituency into which his constituency, Teck Ghee, was absorbed in 1991. Lee is currently the leader of the PAP team in the Ang Mo Kio GRC and still notionally represents Teck Ghee within the GRC structure. Interview with Zulkifl i Baharudin, Singapore, 26 March 2003. ‘Being Lee Hsien Loong’, The Straits Times Interactive, 12 August 2004. ‘The 3 pillars of a secure society – by Col Lee’, The Straits Times, 3 May 1984. Ngiam Tong Dow, A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy: Reflection by Ngiam Tong Dow, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2006, p. 147. ‘Reformer at Work’, The Straits Times Interactive, 12 August 2004. Michael D. Barr, ‘Perpetual Revisionism in Singapore: The Limits of Change’, The Pacific Review, 16(1), 2003, pp. 77–97. Interview with a military scholar, Singapore, 3 April 2003. Also see note 49 in this chapter. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 229, 234, 244. Interview with a Permanent Secretary, Singapore, 8 May 2003. Interview with a former Permanent Secretary, Singapore, 24 April 2003. Evidence and examples of this phenomenon can be found in Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 72–80. Trivina Kang, ‘Diversification of Singapore’s Upper Secondary Landscape: Introduction of Integrated Programmes, Specialised Independent Schools and Privately-Funded Schools’, in Jason Tan and Ng Pak Tee, Shaping Singapore’s Future: Thinking Schools, Learning Nation, Singapore: Pearson Education, 2005, pp. 53–67. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 223–25.

Chapter 6 1. For the record, this development surprised me. 2. Some broader questions will be considered in Chapter 8. 3. Most important details and much significant commentary on the 7 May General Elections can be found in Kevin Y.L. Tan and Terence Lee (eds), Voting in Change: Politics of Singapore’s 2011 General Election, Singapore: Ethos, 2011. The above summary has been drawn from this book, supplemented by news and official sources. 4. In truth, it did not require much effort on Lee Hsien Loong’s part to shift the blame to his father and the other ministers. Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong in

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5. 6.

7.

8. 9. 10. 11.

12. 13.

14.

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particular ran imperfect campaigns. Lee made himself an issue in his references to the Malay community, which was turned into a campaign issue by Nor Lella Mardila Mohamed of the National Solidarity Party, and by his overt threats to the voters of Aljunied GRC should they vote for the opposition. See, for instance, ‘MM’s comments on Malay integration will take time to heal: Yaacob’, Today, 5 May 2011, and ‘Aljunied is the only hot seat’, The Straits Times, 1 May 2011. Goh Chok Tong kept saying and tweeting messages that required either himself or his colleagues to use up precious air time explaining them or defending him or defending themselves against him. See, for instance, ‘SM Goh: Two legs are better than one’, Razor TV, 30 April 2011. Available at http://razor.tv/site/servlet/segment/ main/specials/General_Election/63362.html#/site/servlet/ajax/page;jsessionid =AF76F2CD5F10C1A15CC23D574C3083D0.01?channel=contentbean%3a5983 0&view=asLargeVideoListBoxPage&page=1&autoLoad=true&video=contentb ean%3a63362@59830_largeListPage@1304660979731. Accessed 6 May 2011. ‘GE: We’ve made mistakes, says PM Lee’, Channel NewsAsia, 4 May 2011. See, for instance, ‘GE results a factor to Mr Mah stepping down?’, Channel NewsAsia, 19 May 2011. Also see Kevin Tan’s commentary on the electoral role and significance of poorly performing ministers in this election in Kevin Y.L. Tan, ‘Legal and Constitutional Issues’, in Tan and Lee (eds), Voting in Change, p. 61. ‘Public shock and surprise after Mas Selamat escape revelation’, Channel NewsAsia, 23 November 2010. It turns out that the police did not keep the homes of Mas Selamat’s family under surveillance; ‘9 punished for Mas Selamat escape’, My Paper, 27 May 2008. ‘PM: Let’s keep things in perspective’ and ‘Deal with matter decisively but don’t overreact’, The Straits Times, 23 April 2008. ‘Lee Kuan Yew says to stay in Singapore cabinet’, Reuters News Service, 27 July 2004. ‘Goh to become No. 2 after stepping down as Singapore premier’, Asian Political News Service, 2 August 2004. See various issues of The Straits Times and The Star (Malaysia) from June 2009 for reports of Lee Kuan Yew’s high-profi le, week-long trip to Malaysia, which was designed to re-secure hitherto fraying relations with Malaysia’s new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Referred to in Chapter 5. ‘Speech by Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Minister Mentor, at launch of the new CAAS and the Changi Airport Group’, 1 July 2009, 4:00 pm at Changi Airport Terminal 3, Singapore Government Press Centre website. Available at http://www.news.gov. sg/public/sgpc/en/media_releases/agencies/mica/speech/S-20090701–1.html. Accessed 22 September 2009; ‘MM Lee: Let’s prepare Changi to stay ahead’, The Straits Times, 2 July 2009. See, for instance, Chapter 5, note 20, which refers to Lee Kuan Yew’s 2009 speech about maintaining levels of Chinese immigration. Also see reports of Lee’s intervention in a parliamentary debate on race relations in Channel NewsAsia, ‘Govt

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15.

16. 17.

18. 19.

20. 21.

22.

23. 24. 25.

the ruling elite of singapore accountable in actions, has worked towards non-discrimination’ and ‘Vigorous debate on nation-building tenets’, 19 August 2009. Han Fook Kwang, Zuraidah Ibrahim, Chua Mui Hoong, Lydia Lim, Ignatius Low, Rachel Lin and Robin Chan, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2011, pp. 228–31. The direct quote is taken from p. 229. Ibid., p. 228. Yolanda Chin and Norman Vasu, The Ties that Bind and Blind: A report on InterRacial and Inter-Religious Relations in Singapore, Singapore: Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, 2 November 2007. Available at the SRIS website, http://www.rsis.edu.sg/cens/publications/ reports/RSIS%20Social%20resilience%20report.pdf. Accessed 15 February 2011. The Straits Times, 31 January 2011. Ibid., 29 January 2011. More than a month later, Lee Senior was finally convinced to half-retract his attack on Malays, saying that the situation has changed since he made the comments in interview, perhaps 2–3 years earlier. ‘MM Lee says he stands corrected on comment about Muslims and integration’, Channel NewsAsia, 7 March 2011. Ibid., 2 July 2005. Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008, pp. 262–65. For details of another occasion on which the two Lees differed significantly in their approaches to the Malay community, see Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the Nation-Building Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008, pp. 103–106. On this occasion, Lee Hsien Loong took a much more sympathetic approach than his father to the plight of Malays being discriminated against in employment. I referred to this as ‘a small point of differentiation’ between the two Lees (p. 106) without fully appreciating the significance of the difference. The Straits Times, 28 January, 2010. Ibid., 6 April 2010. Ibid.

Chapter 7 1. Note that even in the Singapore system, top scholars are not recruited into the SAF Officer Corps if it is apparent that they are not cut out to be soldiers, whether because of character, health or fitness issues. 2. In 2009, there was an attempt to professionalise Temasek Holdings by replacing Ho Ching with the former CEO of BHP Billiton, Charles ‘Chip’ Goodyear, but after spending some months inside the organisation in preparation for taking over, Goodyear negotiated a private settlement that resulted in him withdrawing from the organisation. See ‘No deadline to fi nd Temasek CEO successor’, Channel NewsAsia, 18 August 2009.

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3. ‘Ins and Outs at F&N: A crusty conglomerate in Singapore could see its new boss take to drinks’, Money and Investing, 15 September 2008. 4. ‘A split for the better? Lee Hsien Yang to head new regulator, Liew Mun Leong to chair airport company’, Today, 8 October 2008. 5. Han Fook Kwang, Zuraidah Ibrahim, Chua Mui Hoong, Lydia Lim, Ignatius Low, Rachel Lin and Robin Chan, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2011, p. 126. 6. See an outline of Lee family placements as they stood in 2002 in Tan Boon Seng’s report, ‘Why it might be difficult for the government to withdraw from business’ which is available at http://www.singapore-window.org/sw02/020210 gl.htm. 7. ‘Reprimanded . . . but admired. Prime Minister’s son gains accolades from a generally anti-government internet’, The Star, 21 June 2007; ‘3 S’poreans top at Oxford’, The Sunday Times, 15 August 2009. 8. See Stephen Choo, ‘Developing an Entrepreneurial Culture in Singapore: Dream or Reality’, Asian Affairs, 36(3), 2005, pp. 361–73; Andrea Goldstein and Pavida Pananond, ‘Singapore Inc. Goes Shopping Abroad: Profits and Pitfalls’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 38(3), 2008, pp. 417–38; and a string of press reports that have been conveniently reproduced at Singapore Window, which is available at http:// www.singapore-window.org. 9. I am also not at liberty to discuss the anecdote as it would identify the interviewee. 10. Ethos is available on-line at http://www.cscollege.gov.sg/ 11. Lim Siong Guan, ‘Is There a New Role for Government?’, Ethos, January–March 2005, pp. 3–9; Peter Ho, ‘Preparing for the Future’, Ethos, July-September 2005, pp. 3–6; Yee Ping Yi, ‘The Philosophy and Strategic Directions for Human Resource Management in the Civil Service’, Ethos, August 2002, pp. 2–8; Yong Ying-I, ‘Singapore’s Leadership Challenges: Developing Talent for a New Era’, Ethos, April–June 2005, pp. 7–12. 12. Gan Kim Yong left the Administrative Service in 1989 to join a GLC, NatSteel. He was appointed to the Cabinet in 2008. Mrs Lim Hwee Hua left the Administrative Service the same year as Gan to work through the 1990s for the Swiss Banking Corporation and then Jardine Fleming before moving into the GLC sector, taking up a senior position in Temasek Holdings. She was appointed to the Cabinet in 2009. S. Iswaran left the Administrative Service in 1996 to join the GLC sector: Singapore Technologies and then Temasek Holdings. See ‘Two ministers sworn in at Istana ceremony’, The Straits Times, 2 April 2009 and the Singapore Cabinet webpage. Available at http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/. Accessed 18 May 2010 and 1 July 2011. Also see Lee Hsien Loong speaking of Gan and Lim as ‘private sector talent’ in ‘Challenge of attracting private-sector talent’, The Straits Times, 31 March 2009. 13. Barr and Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 241–47. 14. Ibid., p. 100. 15. Han et al., Hard Truths, p. 25. Vivian Balakrishnan was an outspoken President and then Chairman of the NUS Students’ Union and later became a familiar face on

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16. 17.

18. 19. 20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

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the ruling elite of singapore Singapore television as a presenter who routinely questioned and sometimes challenged aspects of government policy. Raymond Lim was a founder of a civil society discussion and study group called ‘The Round Table’. Ibid., p. 115. Vivian Balakrishnan’s gross overspend on the Youth Olympic Games made him an opposition target, but his GRC team survived with 60.1 per cent of the vote – exactly the national average for the PAP in the 2011 General Elections. See ‘Drama over video, YOG and economic policies’, The Straits Times, 7 May 2011. See note 7, this chapter. Lee Kuan Yew spelt out this expectation in his seminal 1966 speech to school principals quoted at the opening of Chapter 1. ‘PM Lee says Cabinet reshuffle another step in self-renewal process’, Channel NewsAsia, 30 March 2009; updated by reference to the Cabinet Appointments website, accessed 1 July 2011. The ministries of Home Affairs and Law have sometimes been held by the same person. Until May 2011, K. Shanmugam held both portfolios. They also had a common minister (S. Jayakumar) from 1988 till the end of 1993. The ready acceptance of this linkage between law and the internal security forces demonstrates clearly the government’s rather pragmatic approach to the law, whereby it is regarded primarily as an instrument of government power. The empathy between the ministries of law and the security forces is also indicated by the appointment in 2010 of the Director of the Internal Security Department, Pang Kin Keong, to the position of Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Law. See ‘Head of Civil Service Peter Ho, to be succeeded by Peter Ong’, Channel NewsAsia, 12 August 2010. In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 General Elections, Transport and National Development (i.e. housing) were very sensitive politically, so the appointment of Khaw and Liu to these portfolios takes on significance beyond the usual. Health is always politically sensitive, so Gan’s appointment to that portfolio in May 2011 was a solid expression of confidence in him. The importance of being an office bearer or a full member of the PAP CEC is indicated by the media and bloggers’ frenzy of speculation on the future of Mah Bow Tan after he was dropped from full membership of the CEC in November 2010. (The bloggers turned out to be right!) Elections for the PAP CEC are held every two years among several hundred secret ‘cadre members’ of the PAP. Cadre members were themselves appointed by the CEC. See Chapter 3 for more details on the development of the ‘cadre member’ system. ‘Head of Civil Service Peter Ho to retire, to be succeeded by Peter Ong’, Channel NewsAsia, 12 August 2010. The identities of the current heads of Internal Security Department (ISD) and Security and Intelligence Division (SID) are usually treated as state secrets until after they have moved to other positions, but for some reason (possibly an accident) this information was contained in a routine PMO press release in 2010. Ibid.

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27. ‘Remembering a kind Mrs Lee’, The Straits Times, 3 October 2010. 28. Ross Worthington counted 428 GLCs using data from 1991. See Ross Worthington, Governance in Singapore, London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003, p. 188. 29. Stephen Choo, ‘Developing an Entrepreneurial Culture in Singapore: Dream or Reality’, Asian Affairs, 36(3), 2005, p. 364. The complete and constantly changing account of Temasek’s holdings by industry sector can be found at http:// www.temasekholdings.com.sg/our_portfolio_portfolio_highlights_major_ investments.htm. Tan Boon Seng has compiled an unofficial directory listing the GLC executive roles and directorships held by government personnel (and members of the Lee family) as of 2002. It is called ‘Why the Government might find it difficult to withdraw from business’ and is available at http://www. singapore-window.org/sw02/020210gl.htm. For more scholarly analyses of the workings of the GLCs and their role in government and the economy, see Gavin Peebles and Peter Wilson, Economic Growth and Development in Singapore: Past and Future, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, MA: Edgar Elgar, 2002, pp. 44–49; Goldstein and Pananond, ‘Singapore Inc. Goes Shopping Abroad’, pp. 426–28. 30. See Peter Seah’s biodata on the DBS Board of Directors website, available at http:// www.dbs.com. Accessed 7 July 2011. 31. As of July 2011, there have been 283 SAF scholar-officers produced since 1971. I have not been able to fi nd any location for a list of serving SAF Officers but I am confident that there are only are few – perhaps as few as a dozen, though this is just a guess – who are politically significant but not already captured by the search method described above. I say this for two reasons. 1. The SAF scholar-soldier cohorts notoriously suffered from high attrition rates and, especially in earlier decades, members often dropped out of public life completely after an early retirement. 2. The dual-career programme and the practice of ‘retiring’ SAF scholarofficers into the Administrative Service in their forties and fifties means that most of the politically important SAF scholar-officers are already accounted for in the key institutions listed above. See Timothy Huxley, Defending the Lion City: the Armed Forces of Singapore, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2000, Chapter 10; Barr and Skrbiš, Contrasting Singapore, pp. 235–37. 32. Worthington, Governance in Singapore, pp. 179, 208, 209. 33. See http://www.sembcorp.com/sembcorp/about_bod.html. Accessed 16 September 2009. 34. One example that is notable for being the exception to the rule is that of Goh Keng Swee who in 1994 stepped down from the board of the GIC upon being made an adviser to the Hong Leong development group. Natasha Hamilton-Hart contrasts this episode with S. Dhanabalan’s decision to retain his GIC position despite facing a similar confl ict of interest. See Natasha Hamilton-Hart, ‘The Singapore State Revisited’, The Pacific Review, 13(2), 2000, p. 208. 35. Ibid. 36. Ibid., p. 209.

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37. See, for instance, ‘Singapore state fund counts Merrill losses’, Financial Times, 8 January 2009; ‘State fund announces 31 percent drop’, International Herald Tribune, 10 February 2009; ‘Nervous days for S’poreans as reserves plunge’, The Star, 14 February 2009; ‘Chartered Semi shares shed almost 40 pct’, Agence France Presse, 11 March 2009; Goldstein and Pananond, ‘Singapore Inc. Goes Shopping Abroad’, pp. 429–33. 38. ‘The “Chip” on S’pore’s shoulders’, The Straits Times, 5 September 2009. 39. Ibid., 3 and 4 January 2006. 40. Ibid., 27 December 2005. A different litany of relatively contemporary errors is documented in Barr and Skbiš, Constructing Singapore, pp. 254–56. These include the collapse of the Nicoll Highway in 2004 and the abuse of donations to the National Kidney Foundation in 2005. 41. Philippe Regnier, Singapore: City-State in South-East Asia, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1991, pp. 55–59. 42. Ngiam Tong Dow, A Mandarin and the Making of Public Policy: Refl ections by Ngiam Tong Dow, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2006, p. 143. 43. See Michael D. Barr, ‘Perpetual Revisionism in Singapore: The Limits of Change’, The Pacific Review, 16(1), 2003, pp. 87, 88. 44. Michael D. Barr, ‘Trade Unions in an Elitist Society: The Singapore Story’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 46(4), 2000, pp. 481–98. 45. In 2008 I attended a meeting of the Tamil Language and Cultural Society and conducted an open interview with those present. Without wishing to insinuate disrespect to those who welcomed me into their meeting, this session left me in no doubt about the close articulation between the society, the government’s agenda and senior members of the Cabinet. I cannot imagine that this situation is atypical. 46. Interview with Viswa Sadasivan, 19 January 2011. See Chapter 3 for more details. 47. Surprisingly little scholarly research has been done on the articulation between the ruling elite and this level of civil organisation. Little has been done to interrogate the intimate relationship between the trade unions and the government apart from a couple of early articles by Frederic Deyo and Barr’s, ‘Trade Unions in an Elitist Society’. The best work on the Chinese is by Sikko Visscher, The Business of Politics and Ethnicity: A History of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2007. Most of the work on the Malay-Muslim community has been done by Lily Rahim. See Lily Zubaidah Rahim, The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1998; Lily Zubaidah Rahim, Singapore in the Malay World: Building and Breaching Regional Bridges, London and New York: Routledge, 2009; Lily Zubaidah Rahim, ‘Winning and Losing Malay Support: PAP-Malay Community Relations, 1950s and 1960s’, in Michael D. Barr and Carl A. Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008, pp. 95–115; Lily Zubaidah Rahim, ‘Governing Islam and Regulating Muslims in Singapore’s Secular Authoritarian State’, Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Working Paper No. 156, July 2009.

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Chapter 8 1. For instance, in November 2006, Lee Kuan Yew asked Singaporeans to be patient with his son’s administration, warning that ‘you need two to three terms [i.e. up to 15 years] to really master the art of governance.’ (‘Stepping out of the shadow’, The Star, 12 November 2006.) Considering that some might think that Lee Hsien Loong had already had a sufficiently long apprenticeship (20 years as a Cabinet Minister, 14 years as Deputy Prime Minister and at that stage two years as Prime Minister), this intervention cannot have been welcome. 2. Nominated MP Viswa Sadasivan said before the elections that he would not go so far as to say that there was ‘a fracture’ in the Cabinet, but said that there were ‘dissenting voices’. Ministers have congratulated him for speaking out, even though they would not speak out themselves. Interview with Viswa Sadasivan, Singapore, 19 January 2011. Beyond dissenting voices in the Cabinet, there were also indications of discontent from the broader elite. For instance, in his latest book, Ngiam Tong Dow criticised Lee Hsien Loong (and Goh Chok Tong as well) for failing in his duty as Prime Minister and for collecting his annual bonuses without earning them. He wrote: Only now . . . in 2010 [has] the Singapore government come out front to lead the marathon race of raising total factor productivity (TFP). In my view, raising TFP is the core function of the CEO of a company. For the government, the prime minister is the CEO. The CEO has to own the process. He cannot simply delegate it to others. Performance bonuses have to be tied inextricably to TFP. See Ngiam Tong Dow (Zhang Zhibin, ed.), Dynamics of the Singapore Success Story: Insights by Ngiam Tong Dow, Singapore: Cengage Learning, 2011, p. 6. 3. ‘PM Lee announces sweeping changes to Cabinet’, Channel NewsAsia, 18 May 2011. 4. I say that Lee ‘just covered’ all the portfolios because the addition of Manpower to DPM Shanmugaratnam’s portfolio is obviously a temporary solution while waiting for new talent to be ready. The appointment of Heng Swee Keat and Chan Chun Sing to the Cabinet a mere two weeks after they were elected to parliament also suggests a scramble to recruit talent. 5. ‘PM’s new cabinet: radical reshuffle’, The Straits Times, 19 May 2011. 6. See, for instance, Khaw Boon Wan’s administrative and political onslaught on the acute housing shortage left by his predecessor, as reported in ‘Rental flats supply set to increase’, Channel NewsAsia, 29 May 2011. 7. In my round of interviews with members and leaders of opposition parties in January 2011, it was difficult to fi nd anyone who was not confident of the opposition taking two GRCs and a few single member constituencies. In some cases, this optimism extended to hopes of forcing the PAP into opposition or coalition by the early 2020s. In a few cases, these statements may have been bravado, but most of my interviewees seemed to be genuinely, perhaps wilfully, optimistic. Indeed, one

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party leader took serious offence when I expressed my doubts about the likelihood of his optimistic scenarios. 8. Kevin Y.L. Tan, ‘Legal and Constitutional Issues’, in Kevin Y.L. Tan and Terence Lee (eds), Voting in Change: Politics of Singapore’s 2011 General Election, Singapore: Ethos, 2011, p. 59. 9. ‘GE: MP Michael Palmer looking forward to Punggol East SMC contest’, Channel NewsAsia, 24 February 2011. 10. Kevin Tan and Terence Lee have given a marvellously perceptive account of the difficulties the PAP faces in winning back Aljunied GRC. I reproduce just the final paragraph: How will the PAP win back Aljunied GRC now that its three star candidates – George Yeo, Lim Hwee Hua and Zainul Abidin Rasheed – have retired from politics? Who will they send in to helm a team strong enough to displace the WP in the next election? Can the PAP afford to send in two more high-powered ministers from outside the ward to challenge Low and his team there? Sure, but what if they lose too? Can the PM afford to lose more generals? What about the boundaries of Aljunied? Will they be redrawn to neutralise the WP or to bring in pro-PAP precincts to bolster PAP support in the ward? Sure, but can the PAP bear the risk that parts to be carved out or added to the current constituency’s territories might just as well be ‘infected’ by the anti-PAP sentiments in Aljunied? Will Aljunied become a poisoned chalice for the PAP? Kevin Y.L. Tan and Terence Lee, ‘Political Shifts: Singapore’s 2011 General Election’, in Tan and Lee (eds), Voting in Change, p. 13. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

Interview with Viswa Sadasivan, 19 January 2011. Interview with Jeisilan Sivalingam, 13 January 2011. Interview with Remy Choo, 6 January 2011. Interview with Khairulanwar, 17 January 2011. See Tan and Lee, ‘Political Shifts’, p. 17; and Lam Peng Er, ‘The Voters Speak: Voices, Choices and Implications’, in Tan and Lee (eds), Voting in Change, pp. 179, 180. 16. For precise examples of the politicisation of the civil service and the structuring of the greater government-linked sector as a de facto arm of the PAP, see Michael D. Barr and Zlatko Skrbiš, Constructing Singapore: Elitism, Ethnicity and the NationBuilding Project, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, 2008, pp. 74–76, 79, 80. 17. I have heard accounts of this refrain from two former civil servants when questions of political partisanship have arisen in the civil service. In both the accounts I heard, senior officers were dismissing the concerns of more junior officers. 18. Han Fook Kwang, Zuraidah Ibrahim, Chua Mui Hoong, Lydia Lim, Ignatius Low, Rachel Lin and Robin Chan, Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going, Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings, 2011, p. 73.

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19. Ibid., pp. 55, 73. Also see Kevin Y.L. Tan, ‘The Presidency in Singapore: Constitutional Developments’, in Kevin Y.L. Tan and Lam Peng Er (eds), Managing Political Change in Singapore: The Elected Presidency, London and New York: Routledge, 1997, p. 64. 20. A candidate for President must be a former Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker, Auditor-General, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Permanent Secretary, Chairman or CEO of one of the key statutory boards or Chairman or CEO of a publicly listed company with a paid-up capital of at least $100 million or its equivalent in foreign currency. Tan, ‘The Presidency in Singapore’, p. 63. 21. Garry Rodan, ‘New Modes of Political Participation and Singapore’s Nominated Members of Parliament’, Government and Opposition, 44(4), 2009, p. 440. 22. For background reading on the political economy of Taiwan and the events that are being described here, see, for instance, L.H.M. Ling and Chih-yu Shih, ‘Confucianism with a Liberal Face: the Meaning of Democratic Politics in Postcolonial Taiwan’, Review of Politics, 60(1), 1998, pp. 52–82; and Karl J. Fields, ‘Liberalization, Democratization, and the Future of Politics in Business’, in Edmund Terence Gomez (ed.), Political Business in East Asia, London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2002, pp. 115–54. 23. The exception to this rule was the Asian fi nancial crisis of 1997–98 when Singapore proved itself to be remarkably and uncharacteristically resilient to the fi nancial storm, only to enter an unexpected recession in 2001. 24. Ministry of Trade and Industry website, at http://www.mti.gov.sg/. Accessed 17 March 2011. 25. Ministry of Trade and Industry website at http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/charts/ econ.html. Accessed 10 December 2010. 26. ‘Singapore Trims Its Economic Forecasts for 2009’, The New York Times, 14 April 2009. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/14/business/ global/14singapore.html?_r=1. Accessed 13 December 2010. 27. Ibid.

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Secondary and library sources Amrith, Sunil S., ‘Internationalism and Political Pluralism in Singapore, 1950–1963’, in Michael D. Barr and Carl A. Trocki (eds), Paths Not Taken: Political Pluralism in Post-War Singapore, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008, pp. 37–56. Anderson, Benedict, Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia, Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1990. Asad-ul Iqbal Latif, Lim Kim San: A Builder of Singapore, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009. Austin, Ian Patrick, Goh Keng Swee and Southeast Asian Governance, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Academic, 2004. Barr, Michael D., ‘Trade Unions in an Elitist Society: The Singapore Story’, Australian Journal of Politics and History, 46(4), 2000, pp. 480–96. ——, ‘Lee Kuan Yew and the “Asian Values” Debate’, Asian Studies Review, 24(3), 2000, pp. 309–34. ——, Cultural Politics and Asian Values: The Tepid War, London and New York: Routledge, 2002. ——, ‘Medical Savings Accounts in Singapore: A Critical Enquiry’, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, 26(4), 2002, pp. 707–24. ——, ‘J.B. Jeyaretnam: Three Decades as Lee Kuan Yew’s bête noir’, Journal of Contemporary Asia 33(3), 2003, pp. 299–317. ——, ‘Perpetual Revisionism in Singapore: The Limits of Change’, The Pacific Review, 16(1), 2003, pp. 77–97. ——, ‘Beyond Technocracy: The Culture of Elite Governance in Lee Hsien Loong’s Singapore’, Asian Studies Review, 30(1), 2006, pp. 1–17. ——, ‘Singapore: The Limits of a Technocratic Approach to Health Care’, Journal of Contemporary Asia, 38(3), 2008, pp. 395–416. ——, ‘No Island is a Man: The Enigma of Lee Kuan Yew’s Legacy’, Harvard Asia Quarterly, 11(2–3), 2008, pp. 45–56.

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Seow, Francis T., To Catch a Tartar: A Dissident in Lee Kuan Yew’s Prison, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 1994. ——, Beyond Suspicion: The Singapore Judiciary, New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Southeast Asian Studies, 2006. Sandhu, Kernial Singh and Paul Wheatley (eds), Management of Success: The Moulding of Modern Singapore, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1989. Schedler, Andreas, ‘The Logic of Electoral Authoritarianism’, in Andreas Schedler (ed.), Electoral Authoritarianism: The Dynamics of Unfree Competition, Boulder, Colorado and London: Lynne Rienner, 2006, pp. 1–26. Schedler, Andreas (ed.), Electoral Authoritarianism: The Dynamics of Unfree Competition, Boulder, Colorado and London: Lynne Rienner, 2006. Sheehan, Paul, Among the Barbarians: The Dividing of Australia, Sydney: Random House Australia, 1998. Tan, Jason, ‘Education in Singapore: Sorting Them Out?’, in Terence Chong (ed.), Management of Success: Singapore Revisited, Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2010, pp. 288–308. Tan, Kenneth Paul, ‘Who’s Afraid of Catherine Lim? The State in Patriarchal Singapore’, Asian Studies Review, 33(1), 2009, pp. 43–62. Tan, Kevin Y.L., ‘A Short Legal and Constitutional History of Singapore’, in Kevin Y.L. Tan (ed.), The Singapore Legal System, Second Edition, Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1998, pp. 26–66. —— (ed.), The Singapore Legal System, Second Edition, Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1998. ——, ‘Writing the Constitution: Forty Years of Singapore Constitutional Scholarship’in Li-ann Thio and Kevin Y.L. Tan (eds), Evolution of a Revolution: Forty Years of the Singapore Constitution, London and New York: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009, pp. 289–22. ——, ‘Legal and Constitutional Issues’, in Kevin Y.L. Tan and Terence Lee (eds), Voting in Change: Politics of Singapore’s 2011 General Election, Singapore: Ethos, 2011, pp. 50–65. ——, ‘The Presidency in Singapore: Constitutional Developments’, in Kevin Y.L. Tan and Lam Peng Er (eds), Managing Political Change in Singapore: The Elected Presidency, London and New York: Routledge, 1997, pp. 52–87. —— and Lam Peng Er (eds), Managing Political Change in Singapore: The Elected Presidency, London and New York: Routledge, 1997. —— and Terence Lee (eds), Voting in Change: Politics of Singapore’s 2011 General Election, Singapore: Ethos, 2011. Tay Boon Nga, The Graying of Singapore, Singapore: Humanities Press, 2003. Tay, Simon S.C., ‘The Singapore Legal System and International Law: Influence or interference’, in Tan (ed.), The Singapore Legal System, Second Edition, Singapore: Singapore University Press, 1998, pp. 467–506. Teo Soh Lung, Beyond the Blue Gate: Recollections of a Political Prisoner, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia: Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, 2010. Thio, Li-ann, ‘The Passage of a Generation: Revisiting the Report of the 1966 Constitutional Commission’, in Li-ann Thio and Kevin Y.L. Tan (eds), Evolution of a Revolution: Forty Years of the Singapore Constitution, London and New York: RoutledgeCavendish, 2009, pp. 7–49. Thio, Li-ann and Kevin Y.L. Tan (eds), Evolution of a Revolution: Forty Years of the Singapore Constitution, London and New York: Routledge-Cavendish, 2009.

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News services Agence France Presse, 2009 Asian Political News Service, 2004 AsiaOne, 2010

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The Business Times (Singapore), 1987–1989 Channel NewsAsia, 2009–2011 Eastern Sun, 1968 The Financial Times, 2009 International Herald Tribune, 2009 Lianhe Wanbao, 2004 Money and Investing, 2008 My Paper (Singapore), 2008 The New Paper, 2004. The New York Times, 2009 Reuters News Service, 2004 The Star (Malaysia), 2006, 2007, 2009 The Straits Times, 1955, 1970, and various years from 1980 to 2011 The Straits Times Interactive, 2004 The Sunday Times (Singapore), 1955, 1970, 2004, 2009 Today, 2008, 2010, 2011

Internet sources Bloomsberg Businessweek, http://www.businessweek.com Channel NewsAsia, http://www.channelnewsasia.com Civil Service College website, http://www.cscollege.gov.sg Ethos, http://www.cscollege.gov.sg/main.html Government of Singapore Investment Corporation, http://www.gic.com.sg/aboutus_ mgtteam.htm and http://www.gic.com.sg/aboutus_mgtteam_senior.htm Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy website, http://www.lkyspp.nus.edu.sg LKY SPPeak, Spring 2007, Volume 1, http://www.lkyspp.nus.edu.sg/newsletter/2007/ january/raffles.htm MediaCorp website, at http://www.corporate.mediacorp.sg/BOC.htm Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s speech on 13 August 2009 to the 2009 Tanjong Pagar Constituency National Day Dinner, at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/video/ index.php Ministry of Defence, http://www.mindef.gov.sg/imindef/news_and_events/nr/2008/ aug/06aug08_nr/06aug08_fs.html Ministry of Education, http://www.moe.gov.sg Ministry of Finance, 2008 Budget Papers, ‘Head U Prime Minister’s Office’, http://www. mof.gov.sg/budget_2008/revenue_expenditure/attachment/PMO_EE2008. pdf. Ministry of Health, http://www.moh.gov.sg Ministry of Manpower, http://www.mom.gov.sg/publish/momportal/en/press_room/ mom_speeches/2003/20030817-speechbypmgohchoktongatthenationaldayrally.html National Archives of Singapore, Speech-Text Archival and Retrieval System, at http:// starts.nhb.gov.sg/starts/public/ National University of Singapore website, at http://www.nus.edu.sg NUS History Society Facebook page, at http://www.facebook.com The Online Citizen, http://theonlinecitizen.com/2011/01/tocs-letters-to-the-pmo-andthe-mda

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Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation website, http://www.ocbc.com/global/aboutOCBC/Gco_Abt_Directors.shtm?bcid=M1_C2_S1 Public Service Commission Scholarships, http://www.pscscholaships.gov.sg People’s Action Party website, http://www.pap.org.sg/leadership.php Sembcorp, http://www.sembcorp.com/sembcorp/about_bod.html Singapore Cabinet Appointments website, http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/content/cabinet/ appointments.html, (During most of the research for this book the URL for the Cabinet appointments was http://www.cabinet.gov.sg/CabinetAppointments/ index.htm) Singapore Department of Statistics website, http://www.singstat.gov.sg Singapore Elections Department, http://www.elections.gov.sg Singapore Government Directory, at http://app.sgdi.gov.sg/index.asp Singapore Government Press Centre website, at http://www.news.gov.sg/public/sgpc/ en/media_releases/agencies/mica/speech/S-20090701–1.html Singapore Window, http://www.singapore-window.org Singapore Press Holdings website, http://sph.listedcompany.com/directors.html/ Tan Boon Seng, ‘Why it might be difficult for the government to withdraw from business’, at http://www.singapore-window.org/sw02/020210gl.htm. Temasek Holdings, http://www.temasekholdings.com.sg/our_portfolio_portfolio_ highlights_major_investments.htm and http://www.temasekholdings.com.sg/ about_us_board_of_directors.htm. United Overseas Bank website, http://www.uobgroup.com/about/management/management_committee.html Various government, GLC, Statutory Board, company, fi nancial and news websites that report biographical details of people listed in Chapters 3 and 7. www.sg – Your Official Source of Information on Singapore, http://www.sg. YouTube, http://www.youtube.com.

Archival sources not publicly available Chew Kheng Chuan, Teo Soh Lung and Kenneth Tsang, A Shift in the Wind [Singapore: not published, 1986]. List of President’s Scholars beginning 1964, supplied by Public Service Commission. Report of Lee Kuan Yew’s words in Internal Security Department notes of a meeting between PM and Catholic Church leaders at 3 pm on 2 June 1987 at Istana. This document is marked ‘SECRET’, but was released to the court during the government’s legal action against the Far Eastern Economic Review as exhibit 85(d). Up Close with Tharman Shanmugaratnam, (privately recorded video), broadcast on Channel NewsAsia, 14 April 2005.

Research interviews Bilahari Kausikan (then Second Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Singapore, 15 April 2003. Braema Mathiaparanam, Singapore, 19 January 2011.

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Maurice Baker, Singapore, 25 October 1996. E.W. (Eddie) Barker, Singapore, 16 October 1996. A cadre member of the People’s Action Party (de-identified), Singapore, 19 March 2003. Claire Chiang (former Nominated Member of Parliament), Singapore, 29 April 2003. Remy Choo, Singapore, 6 January 2011. A former Army Officer (de-identified), Singapore, 28 March 2003. A former Permanent Secretary (de-identified), Singapore, 24 April 2003. Goh Keng Swee, Singapore, 1 October 1996. Jeisilan Sivalingam, Singapore, 13 January 2011. Khairulanwar, Singapore, 17 January 2011. A military scholar (de-identified), Singapore, 3 April 2003. A Permanent Secretary (de-identified), Singapore, 8 May 2003. Seyd Haroon Aljunied then Secretary of MUIS, Singapore, 29 April 2003. Two officials of MUIS (de-identified), Singapore, June 2005. Various de-identified interviews with Singaporeans, conducted in Singapore between 2003 and 2011. Various interviews and pieces of correspondence with contributors to A Shift in the Wind in 2003 and 2009. Viswa Sadasivan (then a Nominated Member of Parliament), Singapore, 19 January 2011. Zulkifl i Baharudin (former Nominated Member of Parliament), Singapore, 26 March 2003.

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Index

A Administrative Service/Officers 29, 44, 82, 83, 86, 104, 107, 109–11, 117–21, 124, 132 current (2012) 107, 109–11, 117–21 early 29, 86 recent and contemporary 44, 82, 83, 86, 95, 104, 107, 109–11, 124, 132 See also civil service Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) 120 Air Force 119 See also Singapore Armed Forces Alliance Bank of Malaysia 125 Ang Yong Guan 132 Army 44, 78, 79, 93, 108, 112, 113, 118, 120 See also Singapore Armed Forces authoritarianism/democracy 10, 11, 32–34, 37–42, 52, 54, 55, 130–43 See also size of Singapore

B Baker, Maurice 22 Balakrishnan, Vivian 83, 84, 87, 104, 111, 112 Bank of China 125

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banks. See Alliance Bank of Malaysia, Bank of China, Development Bank of Singapore, Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation, Overseas Union Bank, PT Bank International Indonesia, Siam Commercial Bank and United Overseas Bank Barisan Sosialis 30 Barker, Eddie (E.W.) 22 Bellows, Thomas 6 Bilahari Kausikan 119 Bogaars, George 48 Brown, David 7 Byrne, Kenneth 21

C CabCharge Australia 123 Cabinet 4, 5, 12, 14, 22, 26, 28, 29, 31, 39, 42, 49, 54–56, 58–63, 82–85, 98–105, 107, 115–17, 132 current (2012) 115–17, 132 early (‘Old Guard’) 4, 5, 14, 22, 31, 42, 50 recent and contemporary (‘Third Generation’) 12, 14, 22, 26, 28, 29, 39, 49, 51, 56, 58–63, 82–85, 98, 99, 101–105, 107 ‘Second Generation’ 5, 14, 26, 28, 51, 54, 55, 58–63, 82

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See also detentions of 1987, General Elections of 2011, and listings for individual ministers CapitaLand 121, 122, 125 Cedric Foo 121 Central Provident Fund (CPF) 40, 94, 119, 120, 124, 128 Cham Tao Soon 124 Chan, Alan 122 Chan Chung Sing 82, 84, 121 Chan Heng Chee 7 Chan Jer Hing Peter 28 Chan Lai Fung 119 Chan Sun Wing 4, 5 Chan Yeng Kit 120 Changi Airport 15, 100, 126 Changi Airport Enterprise 126 Changi Airport International 126 Chartered Semiconductor 122, 125 Chee Soon Juan 52 Chee Wee Kiong 119 Chen Show Mao 133 Cheng, Vincent 54 Chew Kheng Chuan 56, 57 Chew Men Leong 119 Chiang Chie Foo 118 Chin Yoke Chong Bobby 125 Chinese businesses 13, 32–34, 37–39 See also Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation, Overseas Union Bank, Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce [and Industry], United Overseas Bank, Small and Mediumsized Enterprises and Wee Cho Yaw Chinese Development Assistance Council (CDAC) 129 Chinese-educated, Chinese ethnicity, ‘Chineseness’ 8, 9, 13, 15–18, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 32–34, 37–39, 41, 42, 51, 65, 72, 77, 81, 85, 91, 92, 96, 106, 109, 111, 130, 135, 136, 142 Choi Shing Kwok 119 Choo, Remy 135 Choo, Stephen 122, 123

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Citizens’ Consultative Committees (CCCs) 34, 37, 41, 129 Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore 108 civil service 6, 22, 25, 26, 28, 29, 31, 48, 60, 64, 65, 82–85, 95, 107, 109, 110, 118–20, 132, 136 See also Administrative Service Civil Service College 110, 118, 119, 122, 125 civil society 7, 48, 52, 135 See also opposition, and The Online Citizen Comfort DelGro 123 Communism/communists 5, 21 Community Centres (CCs) 41 Competition Commission of Singapore 126 Confucianism 17, 41, 66 Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) 62

D De Souza, Christopher 87, 107, 112 Defence Science and Technology Agency 28, 118, 120 Defence Science Organisation National Laboratories 118 democracy. See authoritarianism/ democracy Democratic People’s Party (DPP) 142 Deng Xiaoping 14 Desker, Barry 28 detentions of 1987 52, 54–58 Devan Nair, C.V. 42, 43 Development Bank of Singapore (DBS/DBS Bank) 33, 34, 122, 125–29 Deyo, Frederic 7 Dhanabalan, S. 22, 51, 54, 63, 127 Directorship and Consultancy Appointments Council (DCAC) 61–64, 129

E Economic Development Board (EDB) 124, 128, 129

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index education 4, 6, 8, 15, 43, 48, 65, 66, 72, 80, 91 See also gender, junior colleges, kindergartens, scholarships, schools, socio-economic background/class and universities elite/elitism 1–6, 8, 11–13, 24, 25, 31, 47, 48, 57, 65–96, 106–30, 132, 138–43 boundary jumpers 110–113 elite regeneration 3, 4, 6, 25–31, 42–50, 65–96, 103–107, 110–113, 128, 130, 131 incomplete assimilation 8, 9 lane changers 110, 111 See also Administrative Service, Cabinet, Chinese-educated, education, English-educated, ethnicity, gender, language, meritocracy, multiracialism, networks and patronage, scholarships, size of Singapore and socio-economic background/class English-educated and English speakers 14, 20, 24, 25, 32, 48, 91 ethnicity 7–9, 13, 24, 65, 72, 74, 77, 100, 106–107, 109, 111, 128–30, 135, 136, 139 ethnic organisations 6, 13, 32–34, 37–40, 74, 128, 129 See also elite, language, Chinese-educated, English-educated, Eurasians, Indians, Malays and Others Eurasians 20

F Fraser and Neave 108 Fu, Grace 121 Fu, James 121

G Gan Kim Yong 83, 84, 111, 116 gender 24, 27, 43, 48, 106, 107 General Elections of 1955 21, 25 1963 30, 32, 97, 132

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195

1968 31, 51 1980 86 1984 51, 57 2006 87, 97 2011 11, 12, 22, 39, 40, 97–99, 103–105, 112, 131–43 Giam, Gerald 132 Goh Chok Tong 6, 14, 22, 51, 52, 54–56, 59–64, 73, 84, 97, 98, 132, 133 Goh Giok Ling 125 Goh Keng Swee 4, 19, 21, 22, 30, 42, 48, 72, 73 Goh Meng Seng 135 Gomez, James 133 Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) 6, 13, 39, 40, 58–64, 86, 104, 107, 108, 110, 111, 121–27, 136 See also listings for individual companies Grassroots Organisations (GROs) 6, 34, 41, 129 See also Community Centres, Citizens’ Consultative Committees, ethnic organisations, trade unions, National Trades Union Congress, People’s Association, Residents’ Committees Guomingdang (GMD) 128, 129

H Hamilton-Hart, Natasha 127 Heng Swee Keat 83, 84, 104, 116, 121 Ho, Peter 91, 110 Ho Ching 22, 63, 108, 123, 127 Ho Kah Leong 66 Hon Sui Sen 22, 30, 42, 48 Hotel Properties Limited (HPL) 62, 63 Housing and Development Board (HDB) 34, 40, 41, 28, 74, 93, 102, 120, 121, 124 Hu, Richard 62, 63, 123 Huxley, Tim 85 Hwa Chong schools 75, 77, 79, 80, 94, 106

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I IDA International 125 immigration 68–70, 128 Indians 13, 15, 16, 20, 24, 27, 66, 71, 128, 129 Indranee Rajah 116 Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore 118, 120, 125 Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) 29, 118, 127, 128 Internal Security Department (ISD) 52, 54, 57, 87, 115, 121–23 Iswaran, S. 83, 104, 111

J Jayakumar, S. 55, 107 Jeisilan Sivalingam 135 Jemaah Islamiyah 99, 127 Jeyaretnam, Joshua Benjamin 52 Josey, Alex 88 JTC Corporation 121, 129 judiciary/judicial process 6, 19, 31, 120 junior colleges ( JCs) 43, 73, 75–77, 79, 80, 92, 94, 106 See also Hwa Chong schools, National Junior College and Raffles schools

K Keppel Corporation 120, 122 Khairulanwar 135 Khaw Boon Wan 83, 84, 116, 132 Kidney Foundation, The 125 kindergartens 31, 66, 67, 75 Koh Beng Seng 63 Koh Boon Hwee 123 Koh Lin-Net 122 Koh Ser Siang James 121 Koh Yong Guan 120 Kua Hong Pak 123 Kwa Chong Seng 63, 108, 117, 123

L Lam Chuan Leong 28 Lam Peng Er 88

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Land Transport Authority (LTA) 121 language 9, 15, 25, 32, 37, 39, 43, 48, 66, 67, 71, 91, 100, 111 Lee Boon Yang 124 Lee family 10, 17, 22, 48, 62–64, 86–95, 106–109, 112–14, 117, 123, 125–27, 130, 142 See Also Ho Ching, Kwa Chong Seng, Lee Hsien Loong, Lee Hsien Yang, Lee Wei Ling and Li Hongyi Lee Hsien Loong 1, 6, 11–14, 29, 44, 48, 52, 54–56, 58–64, 82, 84, 85, 91, 94, 97–103, 106, 109, 111, 113, 115, 117, 121, 123, 131, 132, 135–37, 141–43 background 91–94 relations with Goh Chok Tong 59–64 See also General Elections 2011, Hotel Properties Limited and networks and patronage Lee Hsien Yang 109, 125, 127 Lee Kim Poo Moses 28 Lee Kuan Yew 1–3, 11–18, 20–22, 24, 27, 29, 31, 39–42, 44, 46–48, 50, 52, 54–56, 58, 59, 62–66, 70, 72, 80, 85, 89, 91, 92, 94, 97–103, 106, 108, 109, 111–18, 121, 123, 127, 130, 136, 142 early background 3–5, 75, 109 1950s–70s 1–3, 14–16, 20–22, 27, 31, 40, 42, 44, 65, 66, 72, 86, 89, 92, 109 1980s–2000s 11–18, 22, 24, 40, 41, 50, 52, 54–56, 58, 59, 61–66, 80, 85, 89, 94, 97, 99, 100, 106, 109, 113, 121, 127, 130 2010s 11, 12, 24, 29, 39, 40, 47, 48, 70, 71, 88, 91, 97, 98, 101–103, 108, 109, 111, 112, 114, 123, 136, 143 See also Chinese educated, Englisheducated, elite, Hotel Properties Limited, Lee family and networks and patronage Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) 29, 85 Lee Teng-hui 138, 139 Lee Wei Ling 89

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index Lee Yock Suan @ Le Yock Suan 28 Li Hongyi 113 Liang Eng Hwa 122 Lim, Benny 118 Lim, Catherine 51, 52 Lim, Michael 121 Lim, Raymond 98, 111, 112 Lim Boon Heng 98 Lim Chee Onn 40 Lim Chuan Poh 120 Lim Hng Kiang 82–84, 116, 121, 123 Lim Hwee Hua 98, 111 Lim Kim Sam 22, 42, 86 Lim Siong Guan 28, 109, 123 Lim Soo Hoon 118 Lim Swee Say 82–84, 87, 104, 116, 121 Lin, Rachel 102 Loh Khum Yean 119 Low, Jevon 9 Lui Tuck Yew 82, 83, 104, 116, 132

M Mah Bow Tan 28, 98, 102, Mahbubani, Kishore 28 Malaya/Malaysia 2, 20, 25, 27, 30, 43, 70, 100 Malayan Communist Party (MCP) 5, 21 Malayans 14, 20, 21, 27 Malays 13, 15, 16, 20, 24, 32, 39, 51, 66, 70, 71, 74, 100, 101, 117, 128, 129 Manufacturing Global Crossing 125 Mas Selamat 99, 127 Mauzy, Diane K. and R.S. Milne 61 MediaCorp 122–24 Mendaki 128, 129 meritocracy 8, 142 military, the 16, 66, 76–86, 92, 94, 104, 106, 107, 109, 113, 117, 118, 120, 132, 136, 142 See also Singapore Armed Forces Ministry of Community Development (MCD) 41 Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) 28, 44, 49, 59, 112, 117, 120, 122

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See also Security and Intelligence Division Ministry of Education (MOE) 28, 49, 56, 66, 72, 74, 76, 89, 118–21 See also education Ministry of Finance (MOF) 26, 28, 29, 49, 56, 62, 93, 111, 118–21, 124 See also Directorship and Consultancy Appointments Council Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) 29, 119, 122 diplomatic corps 28, 29 Ministry of Health (MOH) 29, 118–120, 125 Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) 26, 29, 44, 49, 118, 119, 122 See also Internal Security Department Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) 28, 29, 89, 120 Ministry of Manpower (MOM) 56, 118–21 Ministry of National Development (MND) 28, 29, 118–21, 124 Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) 28, 29, 119, 120 Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) 28, 29, 49, 60, 93, 118, 119, 122, 124, 139, 140 Ministry of Transport (MOT) 118, 119, 122 Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) 29, 56, 58, 63, 104, 111, 115, 118, 120 Mosca, Gaetano 4 MUIS (Islamic Religious Council of Singapore) 101, 129 See also Muslims Multinational Corporations (MNCs) 59, 126 multiracialism 8, 66, 142 Muslims 29, 32, 100, 101, 117, 128

N Nanyang Technological University (NTU) 28, 125 Nanyang University (Nantah) 43 Nathan, S.R. 22, 27, 71

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National Junior College (NJC) 43, 73, 75, 76, 92, 104 National Library Board (NLB) 118 National Solidarity Party (NSP) 132–35 National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) 32, 40, 128, 129 See also trade unions National University Health Service 125 National University of Singapore (NUS) 55, 83, 125 Navy 119 See also Singapore Armed Forces Neo Kiam Hong 118 Neptune Orient Lines (NOL) 107, 121, 122, 126 networks and patronage 8, 42, 50, 52, 56, 58–60, 63, 64, 94–96, 107, 109, 130, 136, 142, 143 Ng Chee Meng 119 Ng Eng Hen 37, 84, 116, 123 Ng How Yue 119 Ngiam Tong Dow 22, 27, 30, 48, 55, 76, 124 Niam Chiang Meng 120

P Pang Kin Keong 119 Pang Tee Pow 48 Pareto, Vilfredo 4 People’s Action Party 4, 5, 21, 22, 25, 27, 29–33, 37, 29, 41, 49, 66, 86, 87, 93, 97, 98, 112, 116, 117, 132, 124–36, 138 People’s Association 5, 28, 41, 119, 121 Pillay, J.Y. 22, 30, 48 Poa, Hazel 132 population 13, 19, 25, 33, 51,68–71, 128 Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) 122–24 president/presidency 22, 71, 117, 124, 136–38 Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) 28, 48, 49, 56, 64, 104, 115, 117, 118, 121, 122, 124, 134 PSA International 125 PT Bank International Indonesia 125 PT Indosat 125 Public Service Commission (PSC) 26, 29, 43–46, 61, 67, 84, 109, 112, 117, 120, 121 Public Service Division (PSD) 117–19, 122

O Ong Boon Kwee Peter 118, 121 Ong Teng Cheong 40, 51 Ong Kah Kok 48 Ong Pang Boon 42, 43 Ong Ye Kung 98 The Online Citizen 134 opposition 30, 51, 52, 94, 98, 132–37 See also Barisan Sosialis, civil society, National Solidarity Party, Reform Party, Singapore Democratic Party, Singapore People’s Party, Workers’ Party and the listing of individual opposition figures Others (ethnicity) 13, 72 Overseas Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC) 34, 37, 124 Overseas Union Bank 34 Ow Foong Pheng 119

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Q Quah, Jon 85

R Raffles schools 74–77, 79, 80, 94, 104, 106 Rajaratnam, S. 21, 31, 42 Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) 28 Ravi Menon 119 Ravinder Singh s/o Harchand Singh 118 Reform Party 135 Residents’ Committees (RCs) 41 Rodan, Garry 7, 8, 52, 138

S Samad Ismail 21 SBS Transit 123

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index scholarships/scholars 8, 26, 27, 43–46, 67–69, 77, 82, 84, 92, 104, 107, 109, 120, 125, 132 schools 8, 19, 25, 43, 66, 67, 73, 80, 91, 94, 103, 105, 106 Seah Chiang Nee 41 Seah Lim Huat Peter 122, 125 Seah, Nicole 133, 134 Security and Intelligence Division (SID) 117–19 security/intelligence 136 See also detentions of 1987, Internal Security Department and Security and Intelligence Division Sembcorp 118, 122, 125 Seow, Greg 121 separation from Malaysia 2, 30, 43 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) 15, 41, 89 Shanmugam, K. 84, 116 Shell Oil 30, 50, 87 Shin Corp 127 Siam Commercial Bank 125 Siang Chiang Nee 41 Sim Kee Boon 27, 48 Singapore Airlines 15, 107, 121, 122 Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) 29, 43, 44–46, 82, 85, 86, 92, 94, 104, 107–109, 117, 118, 125, 132, 136 Singapore Broadcasting Authority (SBA) 120 Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce [and Industry] (SCCC/ SCCCI) 33, 34, 37, 124, 131 Singapore Computer Systems 125 Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) 132, 134, 137 Singapore Government Investment Corporation 13, 28, 29, 56, 58, 61, 62, 107, 108, 121–23, 125, 126 Singapore Health Services 125 Singapore Indian Development Agency (SINDA) 129 Singapore Labour Foundation 28, 126

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Singapore Land Authority (SLA) 121 Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) 122 Singapore People’s Party (SPP) 135 Singapore Power 119 Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) 28, 122–24 Singapore Technologies 63, 118, 122, 124 Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering) 118, 125 Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) 107, 108, 122, 123 Singapore Totalisator Board 126 Singapore Workforce Development Agency 118 size of Singapore 13, 14, 19, 20, 25, 33, 41, 47, 58 Skrbiš, Zlatko 8–10 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) 59 See also Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce [and Industry] and Chinese businesses socio-economic background/class 8, 24, 27, 50, 51, 73–75 SPRING Singapore 119, 121 Stamford Land Corporation 126 StarHub 125 STATS ChipPAC 125 statutory boards 13, 28, 29, 59, 83, 86, 104, 107, 118–20, 125, 126, 136 See also listings for individual statutory boards Straits Trading Company 126 Su Guaning 28

T Taiwan 138, 139 Tan, Jason 73 Tan, Keng Yam Tony 37, 51, 117, 123, 137 Tan, Kevin Y.L. 88, 134 Tan, Lay Thiam Tony 132 Tan Cheng Bock 137

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Tan Ching Yee 119 Tan Chuan-jin 104 Tan Jee Say 133, 137 Tan Kim Siew 118, 120 Tan Kin Lian 137 Tan Tee How 119 Tan Wah Piow 56 Tan Yong Soon 120 Tang Liang Hong 52 Tay Eng Soon 66 Television Corporation of Singapore 120 Telkomsel 127 Temasek Holdings 13, 22, 61–63, 107–109, 117, 122–27 Teo Chee Hean 37, 82, 84, 102, 115, 116, 132 Teo Ser Luck 116 Teo Soh Lung 57 Teo, Eddie 28, 84, 117 Tharman Shanmugaratnam 56–58, 71, 72, 83, 104, 111, 115, 116, 121, 123, 127, 142 Tin Pei Ling 22 Toh Chin Chye 21, 31, 42 Toynbee, Arnold 3, 4 trade unions 6, 7, 13, 21, 31, 33, 40, 42, 48, 128, 136 See also National Trades Union Congress Tsang, Kenneth 57

U United Overseas Bank (UOB) 34, 37, 124, 129 universities 13, 25, 26, 28, 29, 67 See also National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological

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University, Nanyang University and University of Singapore University of Singapore 25, 26, 43 Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) 118, 120, 122, 126

V Vennewald, Werner 5, 10 Visscher, Sikko 33 Viswa Sadasivan 37, 135

W Wee Cho Yaw 37, 124, 129 Wee Kheng Chiang 37 Wijeysingha, Vincent 133 Wildlife Reserve Singapore 125 Wong Kan Seng 98, 99, 127 Wong Shyun Tsai Lawrence 121 Workers’ Party (WP) 132, 133, 135 Worthington, Ross 6, 10, 59–61, 125

Y Yaacob Ibrahim 83, 100, 117 Yam, John 133 Yap Kim Wah 122 Yeo, George 98, 104 Yeo, Lionel 122 Yeo Ning Hong 124 Yeoh Ching Yee 119 Yeoh Lam Keong 56–58 Yip, Leo 120 Yong Pung How 87, 124 Yong Ying-I 110, 118, 125

Z Zainul Abidin Rasheed 98 Zulkifli Baharudin 93

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