An open letter to PM Lee

Dear PM Lee,

I write this as a very concerned citizen of this land, one who is born and bred here in this great country of Singapore.

Once again, Singaporeans (and foreign talents living in Singapore) are seeing the all too familiar legal suit by the Government’s senior leaders against ordinary Singaporeans. This is just happening so often, whether it is suing local Singaporeans or foreigners, who had criticized and defamed Government leaders. I do follow what is happening in this latest salvo by local blogger Mr. Roy Ngerng, and I understand them.

For a start, I do think this blogger Mr. Roy Ngerng has probably gone a little too far by saying you misappropriated funds. It is indeed not well substantiated. I think you can rest assured Sir that most Singaporeans are well conceived enough to know that this is not well served on you.

However, at the same time, Sir, like most Singaporeans, I am also dismayed and unimpressed by your usual response – that is to sue people who criticized you in such a personal way that could actually defame you or discredit you.

Mr. Lee, I know you want to be respected, just like everyone on this planet wants to be. I believe many people in Singapore respect you and I do too on many levels.

However, Sir PM, if you truly believe in Singaporeans’ voices through your so-themed National Conversation, I can tell you honestly Singaporeans have far more and greater worries and pent up frustrations and anger than just housing, transportation, and cost of living issues. These three afore-named issues are just but at the top of the surface, but deep inside there are a lot of deep-seated anger and grouses on many other issues in this country. These grouses and anger may not belong to me, but I do hear them a lot from my being in touch with many an ordinary Singaporean.

This blogger Roy Ngerng is just one of those who represents a large segment of Singaporeans who are concerned, hurt, frustrated and angered. And who knows this large segment could form the majority? I shudder just to think.

While I do not agree with this blogger’s analogy of City Harvest case to you personally, and believe he has truly gone too far, I however do think he is just having a burning point to make, and somewhat got carried away in anger with you simply because you Sir are the Prime Minister of Singapore. As Prime Minister you represent the Government of everything.

If you want to truly hear the average or normal Singaporean’s voice, PM Sir, then I would hope you could listen to this humble voice of mine.

Just pull back your legal threat. Stop your legal suit. You are a public figure of great importance. It is a price to pay to be a public figure of this stature. No one can escape criticism, even defamation or discreditation at times by being a public figure. Tell me which public figure is well loved all the time? None Sir. None, period.

Even Mother Theresa, one of the most saintly and loving women of all time, has her critics and not spared. Not even Gandhi has all rooting for him. Not even Buddha or Jesus Christ in their times were spared from defamation. Every public figure may be criticized, defamed, or discredited at times throughout their entire public life, and maybe even right up to the time they step down from public to a private life. It may never stop.

Look at the President of the most powerful nation. Mr. Barack Obama as a black President was already disadvantaged, discredited and defamed from day one simply by being himself, yes that’s right, simply by being black. Even before he was chosen as President he was already discredited. Today as the President he is still so often defamed, sometimes shouted at, and sometimes even thrown objects. Yet look at him, he has so much poise, grace, confidence, and not less charisma, knowing full well that just because someone hurled insults and defamation at him does not mean he is not credible. In fact this increases his strength and stature as President, as a true leader. He knows that being a public figure you can’t please every body, but just do your best to be a person of value, integrity, truth and competence. I don’t see Mr. Obama going about suing people, in fact sometimes he praised his defamers. This earns more respect than anything else. People have eyes to see and can make good judgment.

So what do I try to say here, Sir PM? What I mean to say is don’t keep suing people. Instead of trying to protect your integrity and credibility by suing people down to their pants, let them be. What do you try to show by asking for damages from someone who is an ordinary salaried man? It only shows you tolerate no dissenting or opposing views and all you want is to silence all opposition voices or critics.

Trust me, you gain more respect for letting it go and let live. If what people say about you is untrue, then you can just trust in you integrity and move on. I, like most Singaporeans, do not believe too what Roy Ngerng insinuated. But stemming from this blogger’s anger and going a little too far, is a genuine concern of most Singaporeans about the unexplained story of CPF. This could be a deep demon in the Singapore system that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later, or it would be like what Mr Roy Ngerng said, a time bomb waiting to explode and then be uglily explained later and maybe too late too little. But CPF topic herewith put aside. The point is – it is time for the Government to stop suing people ever again just because it is criticized. No political system in this world I know is as intolerant and old school as Singapore when comes to this aspect of so called ‘defamation suits’.

Last but not least, Mr. Lee, please don’t impose fear like all the previous supreme leaders did. I believe in all our Government leaders who are really out to do well. I believe our Government has done a lot of good for this country. But in trying to do good, please do not impose fear to silence critics like Mr. Lee Kuan Yew did. It doesn’t bode well for the educated mind of today. It doesn’t endear you to the people this way.

Take a leaf from Mr. Obama. He has more respect for being open to critics. He definitely shows a lot more substance by being able to handle those who defame and discredit him with poise, grace, facts, substance, and humor.

More Singaporeans will continue to have dissatisfied voices. You must get used to it. Not to ignore it though. But to acknowledge it and meet them at their level, if the true spirit of National Conversation is what it is all about. You can sue people to submission, but you can’t sue them to respect you or love you. Most of all, for naysayers who aren’t well substantiated and writing wrongly against you, you stand to win as the larger public knows it would be untrue said against you. Keep leading Singapore forward. Singapore is still with the Government on many levels. Cheers to Singapore’s future!

A Singaporean, With Respect,

Mr. YC. Ho

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