Political Commentary

An Open Letter to the Prime Minister

I had thought to keep quiet during this period of political transition while watching events unfold. But what is happening currently has perturbed me enough to want to do another commentary. I have cast it in the form of a direct letter to the PM, to convey a greater sense of urgency.


Dear Mr Prime Minister

We are in the midst of a crisis where the people no longer trust their government, and the government no longer cares about regaining their trust.

There are two clear signs that the present situation has reached crisis proportions, that it is not just an affective divide, not just an emotional estrangement between your PAP leadership and the people.

Firstly, the people are resorting to forms of high-visibility, high-risk protest never seen before, such as graffiti writ large on public buildings, persistent, strident online criticism despite stern government warnings and threats, an increased frequency of mass gatherings held at the Speakers’ Corner, as well as increased hostility shown at these gatherings.

Secondly, the protest is not confined to a small group of young dissidents emboldened by Internet power, but is spreading to involve large segments of the population, as seen in a senior citizen’s active contribution to the angry graffiti, and in a public outpouring of sympathy, in the form of financial help, for the blogger Roy Ngerng who is being sued by you for defamation.

How did this crisis arise in the first place?

With utmost respect, Sir, I must point out that it is ultimately your inability or unwillingness to listen to the people. After your initial show of contrition and your ardent promises of change, following the shock of the General Election of 2011 (a change of heart which must have astonished as well as heartened a lot of Singaporeans like myself), your government now seems to be hardening its position and going back to the old PAP reliance on a climate of fear maintained by the deployment of the famous PAP instruments of control, notably the defamation suit.

In all fairness to you, Sir, the defamation suit, per se, is a legitimate instrument in any law-governed society, allowing anyone to seek redress and justice. Hence, making use of this means to defend your reputation is entirely within your rights, as indeed, you would be the first to affirm that it is the right of any blogger to sue the government if he or she thinks fit. But in Singapore, alas, it is by no means such a simple, straightforward matter. For Singaporeans have long got used to a certain belief that colours all their perceptions, namely, that here, there is no level playing field but one massively tilted in favour of an all-powerful, vindictive government that will have no qualms about reducing its opponents to bankruptcy. Hence while you see yourself as simply going by the rules, Singaporeans see you as the PAP juggernaut ready to mow down the little people in its path.

Again in fairness to you, Sir, it can clearly be seen that you and your colleagues have, since the debacle of 2011, made great efforts to improve the lot of the people. Indeed, anyone can see the improvements, continuously planned or implemented, in the many areas of jobs, transport, housing, education, recreation. But the hard truth is that the expectations of the people, especially the young, go well beyond material needs, to encompass the long denied need for freedom of expression, open debate and public assembly. Unlike the older generation who were grateful for simple amenities such as modern sanitation and clean streets, the new, better educated, globally-exposed, Internet population demand much more.

Indeed, you probably are tempted to call them the spoilt, blasé, so-what generation that is taking for granted these material achievements which would have been appreciated anywhere else in the world. The truth, Sir, is more sobering: they are seeing these so-called achievements as no more than what is owing to them from leaders who have chosen to pay themselves handsomely to do their job. Moreover, the skepticism bred by distrust has cast all these laudable efforts of your government as just self-serving strategies to advance party interests and stay in power. I have to say that I am somewhat dismayed by the pure vitriol of your more extreme online critics who gleefully twist everything that you say and do to serve their cynicism. It is a sad measure of what can happen when trust is gone.

In short, distrust is something so emotionally charged that it is guided by its own perilous logic and propelled by its own alarming momentum. It has already widened the original disconnect between the PAP and the people into an almost unbridgeable chasm.

What can be done to deal with this unprecedented crisis of trust before it escalates further and reaches a point of no return, something which obviously neither side wants?

For a start, there are some hard truths that have to be faced by the PAP, no matter how unpalatable:

1) For the change to be truly beneficial to the people, it cannot be something merely concessionary, much less cosmetic or superficial, such as the leaders giving up the traditional austere all-white uniform for something a little more colourful, so as to blend in with the crowd; abandoning their usual stern, distant style for greater friendliness and smiling approachability; purging their image of all signs of elitism through a more visible presence at hawker centres or the MRT; peppering their speeches with humorous personal anecdotes and admiring observations about ordinary Singaporeans, such as this young person with little education who made good or that hardworking teacher who went out of her way to help her students, etc.

True change goes well beyond all these surface overtures. It has to be no less than paradigmatic, enacted at a much higher level of sincere purpose backed up by sincere action, no matter how difficult. Only then can there be an overhaul of old mindsets and habits of governance, no matter how valued.

Now I will have the temerity to suggest, Sir, that the PAP leadership had, not too long ago, missed a certain rare and valuable opportunity to show the people its sincerity for this kind of change. Shortly after the watershed 2011 General Election, some ex-political detainees made a request for a commission of inquiry to look into the allegations that the government had made against them, a request which was brusquely dismissed. To accede to the request would of course have shocked PAP diehards and the majority of Singaporeans, simply because it would have been so uncharacteristic of the PAP style.

But if it is true that extraordinary problems call for extraordinary solutions, it would have been precisely this act of unaccustomed humility, courage and sensitivity to the people’s feelings, that would have conveyed unquestioned sincerity and honesty, and provoked positive reaction from the people. And if, additionally, there were gracious acceptance of the verdict of the inquiry, even if it meant an apology and the need to make amends, that would have been a gesture large and empathetic enough, to win over even the most vocal critics. It would certainly have begun the process of creating, for the first time in the history of the PAP government-people relationship, a nexus of understanding and reciprocity. (I have dealt rather lengthily on this example simply because to this day, I fervently wish that it had happened)

2) As long as the crisis of trust persists, Sir, all your words of advice, caution and encouragement to the people, all the statements you are making about the need for good politics and good policies, for constructive debate, for all Singaporeans to work together in harmony and goodwill to build a strong, prosperous, stable society where everyone will be cared for, which everyone can call home, etc, etc, will only fall on deaf ears, or worse, be construed as no more than PR pronouncements of much pretension and little worth.

3) The old era that may be aptly called The Lee Kuan Yew Era, is now over, and for the succeeding PAP leaders to be seen as clinging to it despite their obviously good intentions and efforts to respond to the unstoppable forces of change in the new era, is to be caught in a neither-here-nor-there, politically ill-defined domain that gets pushed and pulled both ways. It gives the unfortunate impression of lack of leadership direction, which is invariably and unfavourably contrasted with the strength, conviction and vision of the first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Hence, while Singaporeans attribute Singapore’s amazing success in the world to Mr Lee’s purposeful style, they are less ready to do the same for the two succeeding Prime Ministers whose achievements are by no means inconsiderable. While Singaporeans were ready to accord Mr Lee much respect and trust (though with scant affection), they perceive the younger leaders after him as less deserving of these, and therefore not entitled to lecture and scold them as Mr Lee used to do with impunity. If Lee Kuan Yew alone received the famously humongous ministerial salary increase, the people would not have minded, but when the rest also did, they were outraged.

4) What had worked well in the old era may no longer be relevant today, or worse, may even be damaging. When Mr Lee Kuan Yew liberally used the defamation suit against his critics, one of the reasons he gave (if I remember correctly) was that he wanted to punish them for implying government corruption, and thus eroding the trust of the people, which he said was necessary for the government to do its work. Today, in a twist of supreme irony that would have incensed Mr Lee, Singaporeans see the defamation suit itself, and not the act that has entailed it, as the very cause of the erosion of trust. A few more applications of this once effective instrument of control, even if legally justifiable, would surely damage the PAP cause further, in the highly charged atmosphere of the new Singapore.

5) While Singaporeans appreciate the original PAP principles of hard work, self discipline, responsibility and incorruptibility, they can see that the inflexibility of style based on rationality, reason, head-over-heart logic and letter-of-the-law adherence may be woefully inadequate to deal with a new era where politics is necessarily complex, messy and noisy. This is because human nature, ultimately, cannot be ignored, and has to be factored into any political equation.

So, in terms of practical action, what can be done about the present growing crisis of trust in our midst?

Again, Sir, I will beg to be presumptuous, and make the following suggestions:

1) You, and only you, Sir, can initiate the process leading to the solution of the problem. In theory and ideally, the three forces for major change in any society, namely, the government, the institutions and the people, work together. But in Singapore, unfortunately, the last two are helpless. Only the dominant PAP can initiate change and sustain it. Hence, whether you like it or not, Sir, if you genuinely seek a restoration of trust, you have first to go it alone, signal your new attitude to the institutions and the people, and patiently encourage them to take the cue and play their part. It will be a long, strenuous process.

A less-than-genuine effort would be something like launching a high-profile project such as the great Singapore Conversation, watch it go through the motions and various stages of a set timetable, and then shrug off the indifferent results.

2) There are some voices in your government, Sir, and some staunch PAP loyalists who have bravely, albeit gently, tried to draw your attention to the growing divide between you and the people. Professor Tommy Koh some time back actually commented that the use of the defamation suit was not exactly commendable or useful in the long run, and recently Dr Lily Neo calmly and tactfully suggested during a parliamentary sitting that you ought to be listening more to the people and communicating better with them. There must be many in your camp who feel the same way but are reluctant to speak up. It may be a good thing to start listening to them in order to start listening to the people.

3) In the end, you and your colleagues who have for decades been skilfully solving tough, bread-and-butter problems faced by the nation, will be in the best position to deal with this equally serious problem of trust. It is of course a completely different problem, but with the same application of efficiency, determination and dedication, it will no doubt be one more crisis solved, or at least defused, for the nation to move on.

This is an epochal time in Singapore’s history, when one era is fading into the past, and a new one is being transitioned into. If the present crisis of trust is not resolved, it will become even more intractable for the next Prime Minister and the new generation of leaders, for by then the crisis would have deteriorated into meltdown. In the absence of the people’s trust, effective government is virtually impossible, as every leader knows. To prevent this from happening, only you, Sir, can pave the way for a new understanding and reconciliation. It is a huge, onerous, daunting and certainly unenviable task of damage control, repair and restoration. But it is surely top priority, if only because the alternative would be just too scary.

Yours sincerely
Catherine Lim

350 comments below

  1. change.
    June 10th, 2014 at 4:00 am

    It’s rather sad how the country you once loved becomes a place to earn and retire elsewhere…

  2. PIGS Propaganda
    June 10th, 2014 at 7:41 am

    @ social studies June 9th, 2014 at 11:53 pm /// A stake for everyone, opportunities for all – anticipate change, stay relevant ///

    You left out the details of “how” PAPigs expect Singaporeans to stay relevant – low wages – long hours – 1st world medical care prices provided by 3rd world doctors employed in PAP’s public hospitals – the list goes on

    I’m voting with my wallet and enlightened self interest; PAPigs out in GE 2016.

  3. Level Playing Field For Our Children
    June 10th, 2014 at 7:47 am

    What are the qualifications of all these PAP foreign talents? Who checks on their qualifications before employment?

    How familiar are PAP employers with all the 100s of Indian universities?

    But for our Singaporean talent, our qualifications are scrutinized with a fine tooth comb.

  4. Convert One PAP Voter Today
    June 10th, 2014 at 7:51 am

    60% of our friends, family and relatives voted PAP in GE 2011. If all Opposition voters made it their patriotic duty to convert just one PAP voter into an Opposition voter, there will be 80% in GE 2016.

  5. Man
    June 10th, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Hi Catherine,

    If you really wish for the best for the country, maybe it is good to write a closed personal letter instead.

  6. @ Man @ 9.30am
    June 10th, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Why so scared? What is such a big state secret in Catherine Lim’s open letter?

    Obedience did not kill: South Korea Ferry disaster opens the discussion

    “Once again please do not move from your current location.”

    Instructions to students over the loudspeakers before the South Korean fairy sank.

    http://womennewsnetwork.net/2014/04/29/south-korea-ferry-disaster-discussion/

    Any lessons for Singaporeans here?

  7. Jason
    June 10th, 2014 at 11:11 am

    When we talk and feedback that show we care and want to see inprovemenet. Thanks you

  8. The eloquence of idiots
    June 10th, 2014 at 11:17 am

    The idiot picks good idiots and offer themselves to the people who are most capable of picking idiots. After sometime, idiots given power to safeguard idiotic power felt insecure and created an idiotic scheme his idiots supported because fundamentally they are chosen idiots whose job is to leave the complex thinking to one supreme idiot. After many many years, the idiots, probably the core idiots , realized it is rather idiotic of them to play roulette and collective idiocy decided to make a U turn and just stay with one core idiot, forgetting with their opponents so the idea of an adversarial idiot who may possibly run counter to all their idiotic schemes and threaten their well guarded spoils has to be canned.

    The people, still as clueless as before when all these happened, will once again decide over the goods offered by various idiots.

    The mother of all schemes basically allows good people to fight against another set of ideological good for the biggest spoil from the idiotic people.

    “I don’t see any problem. But if we,the idiots, don’t get a GOOD team and the opposing idiots do get a GOOD team together, we’re at risk.

    Stop and think. If it is “good” why fight it? Because there is a better good?if so, would the people able to tell? If not, what then is good when no one can effectively tell what’s good or not till it has wrought its evil?

    The people is still clueless. The bloodless system remains as bloody till this day.

  9. The eloquence of idiots
    June 10th, 2014 at 11:22 am

    The idiot picks good idiots and offer themselves to the people who are most capable of picking idiots. After sometime, idiots given power to safeguard idiotic power felt insecure and created an idiotic scheme his idiots supported because fundamentally they are chosen idiots whose job is to leave the complex thinking to one supreme idiot. After many many years, the idiots, probably the core idiots , realized it is rather idiotic of them to play roulette with their opponents and collective idiocy decided to make a U turn and just stay with one core idiot, forgetting that the idea of an adversarial idiot who may possibly run counter to all their idiotic schemes and threaten their well guarded spoils.

    The people, still as clueless as before when all these happened, will once again decide over the goods offered by various idiots.

    The mother of all schemes basically allows good people to fight against another set of ideological good for the biggest spoil from the idiotic people.

    “I don’t see any problem. But if we,the idiots, don’t get a GOOD team and the opposing idiots do get a GOOD team together, we’re at risk.

    Stop and think. If it is “good” why fight it? Because there is a better good?if so, would the people able to tell? If not, what then is good when no one can effectively tell what’s good or not till it has wrought its evil?

    The people is still clueless. The bloodless system remains as bloody till this day.

  10. The eloquence of idiots
    June 10th, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Sorry for my lack of eloquence – correction

    “After many many years, the idiots, probably the core idiots , realized it is rather idiotic of them to play roulette with their opponents and collective leading idiocy decided to make a U turn and just stay with one core idiot, forgetting that the idea of an adversarial idiot who may possibly run counter to all their idiotic schemes and threaten their well guarded spoils originated from supreme GOOD”

  11. religious dickheads
    June 10th, 2014 at 11:54 am

    and thus…blind leading the blind

  12. Allan
    June 10th, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Thank you for the well written open letter, Catherine.

    I hold my utmost respect for Mr Lee Kuan Yew for his great work during the early days. No one should deny him of his credit towards the country. Given his credential, he certainly has the authority to adopt his signature purposeful style.

    Mr Lee Kuan Yew does not need a handsome package to lead Singapore, not to mention the multi-million dollars salary package our ministers are receiving today. It is passion, belief and sheer determination. Do we see this it our leaders today? Sad to say, I do not feel it .

    Unfortunately, people feels that Mr Lee Kuan Yew stays on power for too long and his son’s eventual rise to the current Prime Minister does not help in our current situation.

    For our sons and daughters, may Singapore be led by Singaporeans truly passionate, selfless and treat Singaporeans as human being with respect, not economic animals.

  13. Min Tang
    June 10th, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Like the many other well wishers before me, thank you once more for speaking up for the good of Singapore.

    Even as some distractors might point at your place of origin, these outsiders have absolutely no understanding of the legacy of destinies that entwined Malayans.

    So even if you should decide to spend the better part of retirement outside of Singapore, you have our blessings.

  14. Singapura Pundit
    June 10th, 2014 at 1:32 pm
  15. Two Way Street
    June 10th, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    @ Man @ 9.30am June 10th, 2014 at 9:46 am “If you really wish for the best for the country, maybe it is good to write a closed personal letter instead.”

    Why not LHL visit Catherine Lim and seek a private consultation with her. Catherine sounded out her first warning 20 years ago.

    By the way. Why didn’t Singapore’s Forecaster – the Mentor Minister also not advise PM LHL to seek out Catherine Lim’s advice over the last 20 years?

    Everything also must spoon feed. Who has the subsidy mentality now? PAPigs or Singaporeans?

  16. Robin
    June 10th, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks Catherine.

    As more speaks, we may see the breaking of the camel’s back quicker.

    Fingers crossed

  17. @ Singapura Pundit
    June 10th, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    “Lee Hsien Loong’s Dilemma” – sayang sayang. – so poor thing – will another $2 million dollars in salary make you feel better?

    What about Singaporeans’ Dilemma? Why don’t we see you highlighting our dilemma? Boot-licking sycophant. So it’s our job to understand PM Lee’s problem and not his job to understand our problems?

    PM Lee is a big boy. If he thinks he has a dilemma or problem, let him address his nation. I don’t think he needs to communicate through his boot-licking minions.

  18. Ronald
    June 10th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    What brought about all this unhappiness and anxieties among local Singaporeans is the increasing influx of foreign population that is happening now. For one thing, this is mainly due to the greatest flip-flops of them all; the “STOP AT TWO” policy, which has worked too well in the 1970’s and the urgency now to increase the population . Family planning and sterilization was strongly promoted and severe penalties were inflicted if you were to have more than two child. On realizing the debacle for this policy, damage control was set in motion; the citizens were then encouraged to rev up their reproduction albeit with much inertia. Thus to speed it up, the foreign population was introduced.

    Oh maybe you can add this to your PAP Joke collection: Q: Why did the chicken cross the road. A: because it’s getting too crowded now.

  19. KK
    June 10th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Sure all of us want freedom in Singapore. Freedom of speech. Freedom to manage our CPF $$ and more.

    But go across the causeway and you will see… complaint against crimes, against corruption, against election fraud… in comparison, our issues are trivial.

    I don’t like foreigners to have one up on us Singaporeans either but I have trust PM Lee will calibrate the policy.

    Regardless, competition will still come very strongly. You go to India or China, you see how hungry their young and educated are. And what do their gov do for them?? Ultimately, it is up to the individual ie. us, to find our own way to survive and not keep blaming government.

  20. Circular PAPig Arguement
    June 10th, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    /// Ultimately, it is up to the individual ie. us, to find our own way to survive and not keep blaming government. ///

    Please lah! Nobody will ever accuse the PAP government of Lee Hsien Loong of being generous with social services to help Singaporeans. You are just repeating what every Singaporean knows – the PAP government will not help Singaporeans.

    All we are asking is please get out of our lives if you don’t want to help. Give us back our money to run our lives without your interference.

    The PAP government owns 90% of the land in Singapore. Including all the HDB flats. We are just tenants paying our rent 99 years in advance. That’s why we have to get HDB’s permission to rent out our flats. And we cannot give away our HDB flats as inheritance to our children without HDB approval.

    And still you say Singaporeans are champion complainers. Enough is enough. Talking is over. This can only be settled with a regime change. The credibility gap is too wide. And there is only so much PAP bullshit I can stomach.

  21. More PAP Chicken Jokes
    June 10th, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    Why did the chicken cross the road?

    LEE KUAN YEW: This is an unprovoked act of rebellion. And I’m fully justified in putting the chicken into jail without trial for the next 10 years.

    M. RAVI: I have investigated the road where the alleged crossing took place. But I have not been allowed access to my client, the chicken.

    INTERNAL SECURITY DEPARTMENT: At the bottom left hand corner of this satellite photograph. You can clearly see the chicken crossing the road.

  22. Julian
    June 10th, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Dear Catherine The only thing I agree is that the govt needs to communicate better on its policies and schemes. Their current outreach is not being heard across all dimension and strata of Singaporeans. Also related is, compassion for the less fortunate should be shown not just by the govt but also by the stat board personals executing the policies and schemes. As for use of the law to put right the wrong. I fully appreciate and support. No leaders in any organisations or countries should be falsely accused unless there is truth to it. Open debate is good to reccommend. But if every Tom, dick and Harry demands to have an open debate with the PM. How will he put in the time to do his job? It is not as if u r having an election everyday. Elections has allowed for the govt to have the mandate to run the country. Please allow the govt to have time to execute its job. I assure u if u allow an open debate for anyone asking for it. U will have a long line of ppl with different agendas in the Q. There r many other things u have wrote that looks good but do u really think it is true? Lastly, I am Singaporean, born and raised here. I do not agree with ur statement that Singaporeans do not trust the govt. but it is important for the govt to win back the hearts of those who “distrust” it.

  23. Roy Ngerng, CPF, and the Widow who Lost $1m | Donn's The Renaissance Man
    June 10th, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    […] Singaopre Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sues him for defamation. Many citizens think this is a bad move. See also: Catherine Lim’s open letter […]

  24. Ruby
    June 10th, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I am sure the 60 per cent of the voters know what the govt has done for them.. N still making effort to refine it.. There are still many die hard supporters who do not want to rock the boat! Many of my colleagues once supporters of the opposition decided to support PAP, after seeing the govt is working harder now, is because they still want our govt.. If it goes into the wrong hand..it is going to be disastrous!

  25. More PAP Bullshit
    June 11th, 2014 at 12:29 am

    /// Please allow the govt to have time to execute its job. /// Julian @ 7.34pm on 10th June.

    The PAP government has been in power for 50 years. How much more time does it need? Then there is the bullshit of needing 56 man years to give a complete inventory list of our assets. So how’s that going? Any progress updates? Clearly the PAP government needs spurs on its sides. This is reciprocity. PAP wants to spur Singaporeans. Fine. We will reciprocate.

    PM Lee got no time to talk to Roy Ngerng. What about all those “jobless” Millionaire Ministers in his cabinet. You know … the Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Office. And also the Ministers without Portfolios. Still too busy? Why not outsource to a PR company in India? Not enough government surplus every year to afford Indian talent meh?

    Please lah. According to PAP propaganda, we are just a barren piece of rock. One of the smallest country in the world. Even smaller than Johor’s Iskandar Project. What’s so difficult about governing Singapore other than to maintain a self serving myth? So small but still can increase population until 6.9 million.

    Singaporeans have been very patient with your PAP bullshit.

  26. PAP's CPF Logic
    June 11th, 2014 at 1:05 am

    /// But if every Tom, dick and Harry demands to have an open debate with the PM. How will he put in the time to do his job? /// Julian, June 10th, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    You think we so free ah? Only Roy Ngerng is asking. But PM Lee cannot answer Roy because every Singaporean is asking. Please lah!

    Just like CPF. One Indian lady cannot manage $1 million dollars. So all Singaporeans cannot be trusted.

    But one PAPig gets caught for corruption. But Singaporeans cannot say all PAPigs are corrupt or we get sued.

  27. PAP Anyhow Sue
    June 11th, 2014 at 2:07 am

    There was a female MP who was publicly accused of adultery. Did she sue? Nope. What happened to those rumors?

    Nobody gives a shit. She is collecting her MP pay still. Look,I can freely say Ms Lim is a lesbian or corrupt. You going to believe me? Why? Because I am anonymous ? Or if Roy said it, would it be more credible? No.

    If there are any damages done to the subject, it is because you are dumb(YOU are the problem not Roy. If Roy talks nonsense, he loses a mature audience) to believe without verifying or, in the case of Roy, most supported him NOT BECAUSE they have read(everything he has written) or agreed with his analysis(faulty or not) but because they wanted the CPF returned or their money back – with or without Roy wild accusations

    Roy free speech did not hurt PM. People, who opposed CPF policies, already made up their mind against the government or PM. Likewise, those who are comfortable with CPF policies were not perturbed by Roy arguments either

    Please do not demonize free speech and get carried away with responsible speeches and turn it into a bloody political inquisition.

  28. PAP Anyhow Sue
    June 11th, 2014 at 2:25 am

    Roy is as guilty as any religious leaders. Religious leaders made wild promises and fools listen to them. Do we sue religious leaders for talking nonsense? Nope. Fools deserve to lose their money! The government allows religious freedom or to many, religious leaders are free to fleece their flocks!

  29. DumbDumber
    June 11th, 2014 at 8:09 am

    PM is a great man. PM died for you. His blood washes away your sins. You got financial problems, PM will open up the windows of heaven and bless you ten to hundred fold return of what you give to his political kingdom. PM loves you.

    You believe me right? You come to my church right?

  30. DumbDumber
    June 11th, 2014 at 8:28 am

    PM works in mysterious ways. You cannot comprehends his ways because you are blind. Faith opens up your eyes and you will see that PM ways are higher than your ways.

    I am a Man of God, you believe me right? Please hand over your money.

  31. EK
    June 11th, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I’m guessing the Ruby who posted more than once is the same person. His/Her view reflects what the captain of the sunken Korean ferry was thinking from the moment the ferry struck the rocks till the moment it capsized and sank. The 60% who voted for MIW probably thought this way as well: Everything is OK, I won’t listen to those minority who tell me something is wrong (they may be vocal, but they are minority afterall). Anyway, the water is so cold, sekully the passengers jump in the cold water and freeze to death, then how? The ship won’t sink. Even if it will sink, let’s sit tight and wait for rescue. So the passengers obediently waited in their cabins, following orders to stay & wait (and not move). Eventually they perished. In the end, only those who didn’t obey orders and left their cabins survived. Our (Asian?) system of blind subservience needs to change, whether in SG or Korea. The keyword is BLIND subservience – it doesn’t mean everytime you ask question is bad, it means the duty of a leader is to be transparent & accountable.

  32. Easy2Rule
    June 11th, 2014 at 9:28 am

    We don’t call sinkies educated idiots for nothing.

  33. lelong
    June 11th, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    What’s the difference between him and religious leaders?  Is there any basis for religious leaders to condemn you to hell? Or charges you a law breaker (sinner)? In the religious mind and text book, you are as corrupted as the PM. So?   In Roy’s text book, PM is corrupted (because he is the head). So?   Sue everyone who calls you sinner because their text book said so?   Are you that small minded and INFERIOR?

  34. Xmen
    June 11th, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    It’s clear by now that the system is going to bankrupt Roy, take away his livelihood, and make him unelectable if he decides to run for office.

    The PM just threw your letter into the dustbin.

  35. Xiao
    June 11th, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    The love of money is the root of all evil. Who made millions serving the people? How? By being trigger happy?

    He is evil. Should we burn the book and close down the whore houses? Should we charge religious morons for defaming the Child King?

  36. Yet another blogger threatened to be sued by the PAP leaders ….and the CPF minimum sum fiasco | Askmelah.com
    June 11th, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    […] “your government now seems to be hardening its position and going back to the old PAP reliance on a climate of fear maintained by the deployment of the famous PAP instruments of control, notably the defamation suit.” – Catherine Lim’s An Open Letter to the Prime Minister […]

  37. There Is No Joy In Being Singaporean
    June 11th, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    Under a PAP government.

  38. Karam
    June 12th, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    With all due respect, there is no climate of distrust. A few protests and graffitis here and there do not imply that the people mistrusted the government. I think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill. As for the libel suit, it is the electorate that demand for the PM to clear his name. Someone said he is a thief and he must prove that he is not.

  39. catherinelim.sg » Letter To PM: A Follow-Up
    June 13th, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    […] the past week, my open letter to the PM generated tremendous interest not only on my website but on other media sites as well. Since I […]

  40. Jacob Chiong
    June 13th, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    The problem is not that LHL is not listening. The problem is that he has no respect for fellow Singaporeans. He thinks he can behave like his old man, forgetting the very important fact that he is nowhere near where his father is in terms of wisdom. When one has no respect for others, any ‘listening’ is fake and easily seen through. I, for one, has given up hope that the PAP will ever serve Singaporeans. Arrogant, foolish, short-sighted, treacherous and incompetent little people.

  41. Jonathan Toh
    June 13th, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    I believe in freedom of responsible speech. Period. How else could you encourage good people to serve if all sorts of untrue and vicious allegations could be hurled against you? If you make a statement, be ready to defend the basis upon which that statement is made. If you make an allegation against someone, be ready to provide evidence.

    By the way, some alternative media are also censoring anything that are pro-government, anti-opposition or even neutral views. Yet, these sites claim to be serving Singaporeans’ interests or to be a better, neutral alternative to the Straits Times. Please criticise them too.

    When exercising one’s rights, if one also considers obligations, one becomes truly free to do the right things

  42. Chetan Shah
    June 14th, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Pedestrian, just like your writing. Far, FAR too much flowery bullshit. What exactly stops you from getting to the point? I mean, seriously. Is Singapore so deprived and bereft of decent writers that this has to be classified as among the best that the country can produce?

  43. Pikachu
    June 14th, 2014 at 2:48 am

    hi

  44. Lin Bao Ying
    June 14th, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Dear Madam,

    You are quite confident that you represent majority (if not all) of Singaporeans. So am I to say that I can represent you.

    For democracy sake, I challenge you not to ignore my comment without publishing it.

  45. @ Johnathan Toh
    June 14th, 2014 at 11:12 am

    /// When exercising one’s rights, if one also considers obligations, one becomes truly free to do the right things ///

    Dun worry lah. PAP is always there to remind Singaporeans of our obligations. OUR obligations. Not THEIR obligations.

  46. Lucas png
    June 15th, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Hi,

    What makes a good leader? A good leader listens and is flexible to make changes and is always putting himself out in the field before anyone else. A good leader admits to his mistakes and make changes to improve, not by defending himself or herself with reason. A good leader gains the trust and the hearts of the people, not by injecting fear but by compassion.

    And please do listen to us, and give us our cpf pension back in CASH…. :(

  47. A Singaporean’s Open Letter that Became Viral: ‘The People No Longer Trust the Government’ · Global Voices
    June 18th, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    […] Southeast Asian novelist and Singapore-based writer Catherine Lim wrote an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong bemoaning the decline of public trust in the […]

  48. Shilin
    June 18th, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    I belong to the generation that is either highly apathetic about politics or highly enthusiastic about the subject. I fell into the former category for I know protesting is something that goes nowhere here.

    However, in recent years especially, it is not possible to live in that I-don’t-know-and-I-don’t-care attitude anymore. The policies made are no doubt to fulfill the prophecy or a single individual or family in this sense. It is depressing to see how events panned out to be the way it is.

    When I was young, nanny-state was how I hear we are being termed to be. I couldn’t fully understand that meaning till this very day. I am not ashamed to be a Singaporean. I’m just disgusted by how our political situation has evolved.

    I am not anti-government. In fact, I appreciate the progress and infrastructure to make me live comfortably in this little red dot. I cherish the stability that we get to enjoy. But I totally agree with you that it is time they listen. Time to prove the transparency that they claim and that there isn’t any hidden agenda.

  49. et2
    June 19th, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Dear Catherine,

    I suppose that this open letter in its format was a sigh of resignation since at the back of your head, you probably knew that it was a futile exercise, to have the PM be more receptive to feedback. Nonetheless, please do continue to write such letters since you are able to put in writing what many Singaporeans feel.

    The key issue that Roy’s case raised is about citizens having the right to choose how we are to utilise the our own CPF funds. I for one believe that the concept of the CPF is sound. However, the fact that I cannot choose how I can use it and may never see the hard earned money does not sit well.

    Moreover, Lee Hsien Loong’s (LHL) response seem an over-reaction in which he used his considerable resources to bear down on someone of humbler means. By no means do I condone irresponsible remarks but Roy Ngerng (RN) had already agreed to take down the offending article and apologise. What was galling was that LHL then further demanded the removal of all CPF-related articles by RN. To me, that seemed like a heavy handed attempt at censorship. After all, RN was just asking what many of us wanted to, what happens to my CPF funds?

    In addition, the attempt to demand more damages looks vindictive and patronising when calling the offered sum of S$5,000 ‘derisory’. This is still a fair sum for average Singaporeans, and only highlights the huge gap in pay between them and the steward of the country (after all, he was elected to look after Singapore).

    I have been neutral about the state of politics in Singapore for a while, but this saga has gotten me off my feet and up in arms (metaphorically)! Enough is enough, I think we can all do with more transparency about our CPF funds.

    As for people like Ruby and J Gill, it is understandable that changes are uncertain and unsettling. ‘Don’t rock the boat’ would be the response. However, if the boat is approaching danger, wouldn’t you want the Captain to be aware? And if he persists, shouldn’t he be replaced? And if he calls upon his powers to silence dissenting voices, is he a good captain deserving of support?

    “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F Kennedy

  50. Jim
    June 20th, 2014 at 11:40 pm

    Exactly what sort of public debate Singapore should have? Surely debate about CPF, Govt accountability and transparency to the citizenry for their life savings and retirement funds is not only 1 of the most important public interests but also principles of democracy and good government. Yet where are the free and vigorous debates, accountability, transparency, etc? Why is the reputation of the PM more important than the said public interests? Why is the Govt hiding behind defamation laws, using it to stifle debate and what are they hiding? These are some of the questions that beg to be answered by the Govt, but will they?