Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information and Health, Chee Hong Tat, has tried to scold Li Shengwu, the grandson of Lee Kuan Yew and the son of Lee Hsien Yang, after the latter made a Facebook post criticizing Singapore’s judiciary.
Chee told reporters: ““I am disappointed at the actions made by Sheng Wu. Is this the way to respect Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his values? I also don’t understand why Sheng Wu continues to launch his attacks online despite his father (Lee Hsien Yang) has declared that he would stop doing so.”
However, what many people do not know is Minister Chee has absolutely no right to scold Shengwu for the very fact that he himself did not follow every word of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes.
Not only is Chee an outsider and a non-family member of the Lees, he had also disobeyed a lifelong goal of Mr Lee which was to eradicate the speaking of dialects in Singapore.
In 2009, when he was the principal private secretary to the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, he wrote an article to the Straits Times calling advocates of dialect use in Singapore “foolish” (‘Foolish to advocate the learning of dialects‘, 7 Mar 2009).
“Singapore’s experience over 50 years of implementing the bilingual education policy has shown that most people find it extremely difficult to cope with two languages when they are as diverse as English and Mandarin,” he wrote. “This is why we have discouraged the use of dialects. It interferes with the learning of Mandarin and English.”
“We also emphasised the learning of Mandarin, to make it the mother tongue for all Chinese Singaporeans, regardless of their dialect groups,” he added. “It would be stupid for any Singapore agency or NTU to advocate the learning of dialects, which must be at the expense of English and Mandarin.”
“That was the reason the Government stopped all dialect programmes on radio and television after 1979. Not to give conflicting signals, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew also stopped making speeches in Hokkien.”
Then came the General Election in 2015, where Chee ran for office with the People’s Action Party. During the campaign, he created controversy when he introduced himself in Hokkien and singing in Hokkien to serenade voters, especially the elderly.
When probed by reporters about the seemingly contradictions he was exhibiting during the 2015 GE, he “sidesteps the issue, and (declined) to say more on the matter”, reported ST.