Singapore—Prime Minister commented on the protests in Hong Kong twice this week, which earned him praise from commenters on social media.
At the NTUC National Delegates’ Conference on October 15, Wednesday, PM Lee talked about the “deep and widespread unhappiness in Hong Kong society” where “millions of people” are “feeling aggrieved.”
He said, “If it happens to us, like what is happening elsewhere, we will suffer the same consequences as the other countries – only worse, because we are that much more vulnerable.
It will then become impossible to govern Singapore, to make and carry out difficult decisions, or to plan for the long term good of the nation.”
The result, he said, “Confidence in Singapore will be destroyed. Singapore will be finished.”
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported these comments were picked up by mainland Chinese news outfits. The Global Times newspaper, which is state-owned, featured a 50-second portion of the speech on Twitter, specifically the part where the Prime Minister talked about Hong Kong.
On Weibo, a popular social media site in China, posts concerning PM Lee’s speech also appeared. SCMP also said that one of the posts, which had been published by Chinese news platform Guancha Syndicate, was liked over 4,400 times and commented on 600 times by the afternoon of October 17, Thursday.
The report included the following comment from Weibo users:
“Singapore’s legal system is very good, and the government is efficient. It would be great if China could become like Singapore.”
Another netizen cemented on the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) of which PM Lee is the head, saying that it had a “strong ability to control and rule. The top-down action is not weak, so the situation is very different.”
On the following day, Wednesday, October 16, PM Lee touched on the protests in Hong Kong yet again, this time at the Forbes Global CEO Conference, where he had a dialogue with Forbes Media chairman Steve Forbes that capped the two-day summit.
He said that the five demands of the protestors are meant to “humiliate” the government, and that to give in to these demands would possibly not address the deeper issues connected to the “one country, two systems” policy.
In an answer to Mr Forbes’ questions about his views on the Hong Kong protests, PM Lee said, “I don’t see any easy way forward because the demonstrators, they say they have five major demands, and not one can be compromised.”
He continued, “But those are not demands which are meant to be a programme to solve Hong Kong’s problems. Those are demands which are intended to humiliate and bring down the government.”
Commenting on the SCMP report, Singapore Management University law professor Eugene Tan said that the Prime Ministers comments could be seen to validate that the Hong Kong demonstrators have gone too far.
“From the average person’s perspective in China, Lee’s remarks are germane as they see Singapore as a city state with an ethnic Chinese majority and a strong economy, not very different from Hong Kong”
But he continued, “To be sure, Lee’s remarks will not find a similar reception in Hong Kong.”/ TISG
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