Singapore—In an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria for the program GPS, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong underlined that the real test for the country’s political system is good governance and not the balance of numbers between parties represented in Parliament.
The Prime Minister said, “It is not whether you have got the right numerical balance in Parliament, between the opposition and the government.”
Mr Zakaria interviewed PM Lee on a number of topics during the Prime Minister’s week-long visit to New York last month, wherein he received the prestigious World Statesman Award from the Appeal of Conscience Foundation.
PM Lee told Mr Zakaria that he hopes that in Singapore’s future—in 10 or 20 years—the country will continue to have a functioning political system with good governance that earns the respect of its people.
Mr Zakaria had asked him, “There are many people who look at the Singapore political system and say it is too unfairly tilted towards the ruling party. Do you think that 10 years from now Singapore will have a more balanced two-party system, a more open democratic system?”
The Prime Minister answered, “Well, I hope that 10 years from now, or even 20 years from now, Singapore will have a system that is functioning for it, which commands respect from the population and acceptance that it is working for them, is delivering good government to them, is generating a leadership team which is competent, committed, and delivering results.”
He continued, “I think that is the key test. It is not whether you’ve got the right numerical balance in Parliament between the opposition and the government, do you have enough material to keep CNN actively and interestingly on the air, but is it functioning to govern Singapore well and to deliver security, prosperity and a future for Singapore?”
Mr Zakaria then asked the Prime Minster if the country can have a real democracy “where one party wins 80 percent of the vote for 50, 60, 70 years?”
Pm Lee replied, “If that is how the population votes and that is the will of the people, why should that not be a real democracy?”
The CNN interviewer pressed the point further, asking if he knows that there are arguments concerning unfair advantages for the ruling party, the People’s Action Party (PAP).
The Prime Minister calmly answered him, “Every seat is contested. In the last election it was so. In the last election before that it was almost so. The population so voted.”
The interview took on a lighter tone when PM Lee continued by saying, “If they were unhappy with me, I wouldn’t be sitting here peacefully, smiling and talking to you. I would have other problems on my mind.”
Mr Zakaria then endeavoured to ask the Prime Minister about his future plans beyond his current term.
PM Lee simply continued smiling and said, “I think I’ll worry about that when the future comes.” -/ TISG