DPM and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has proven that he can hold his own against hard-nosed interviewers, most recently BBC’s Stephen Sackur. Perhaps for fear of getting sued himself, Mr. Sackur withheld his harshest criticisms and instead chuckled as the DPM went on with his rant on how necessary it is for the PAP regime to be intrusive into Singaporean’s lives so as to build a better and culturally diverse society.
These are the kind of debates that are healthy for Singapore. Unfortunately, it will not happen within Singapore because no one dares to talk to Tharman or LHL in this manner. Outside the geographic confines of the Lion City, the rules of engagement are much more different, and these journalists and debaters are not afraid of what could happen to them if they asked a “wrong” question. At one point, Sackur wondered out loud about the virtues of “a simple yes or no answer” as he couldn’t get Tharman to commit to saying yea or nay. Even though it was quite apparent that the DPM was getting a little uncomfortable with the pointed questions from Sackur and the audience, it was commendable that he continued to answer as best as he can while still toeing the official PAP party line. LHL was probably watching anxiously at home in his pajamas eating mee siam to make sure that Tharman did not expose him and the PAP for what they truly are – fear instilling and “ruthless” as Sackur referred the PAP as. At one point, he pushed back with a stern motion from his left hand to “Don’t hit too hard a government that works very hard to do what is in the interest of the people and has a good track record. Don’t hit it too hard.” Sackur reluctantly lamented “OK. OK.” with a giggle when he realized that bringing up the fact that the PAP holds 80 out of 87 seats in the parliament did not resonate well with the DPM.
Chan Chun Sing, on the other hand, could never be this eloquent. CCS would probably have polled the audience and asked them to raise their hand if “Any of you know why I deserve to be the next PM?” Kee Chiu Sing is, of course, the famous 2-star general who outranks his boss LHL, who is only a relatively junior 1-star brigadier. This alone, in his mind anyways, is enough to make sure that everyone jumps when he says so, and to raise their hands when he simply asks. Alright, maybe he is actually very smart, and deserves to be sitting at the big boys’ table. However, to be the next PM, he needs to be able to debate with the best of them, without using broken Singlish. LKY had the uncanny ability to do verbal battle with anyone. Tharman seems really capable also. CCS… I’m not so sure. Then again, Tharman went to ACS and was an economist, while CCS went to RI and ended up becoming the Chief of Army where everyone was expected to kowtow to him. Maybe this explains Tharman’s eloquence and CCS’s kee-chiu-ism.
What say you, Tharman over CCS for the next PM if the ridiculous Singaporean 60.1% majority continues to vote for the PAP in the next GE? I say hell YEA!!!