Home News Featured News Straight Talk: Singapore -- A democratic aristocracy?

Straight Talk: Singapore — A democratic aristocracy?




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By Aretha Chinnaphongse, Jillian Colombo, Misaki Tan and AJ Jennevieve

Four interns ask two veteran journos a tricky or cheeky GE question.


Question: Are the 4G leaders ‘natural aristocrats’?

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PN Balji: The answer is a simple one. Yes, the 4G leadership is becoming an aristocratic class. The moment LKY started paying the ministers unimaginable salaries, the roots were planted. Politics is a public service, not a money-making profession. The only thing we can hope for is that this group doesn’t become like the royal family in UK. 


Tan Bah Bah: Are they? Every society is supposed to have a natural aristocracy, otherwise, there would be chaos  – basically a headless group of people going nowhere in particular. The 4G leaders went to good schools and varsities. Usual scholar route, then top UK and US varsities. So very bright, no doubt. Majority from humble background, that is, not from “royal blue” families. Though Chan Chun Sing was once rumoured to be related to the Lee family which he denied. 

So how would they be “aristocrats” in the sense that they are natural leaders? That is the multi-million-dollar question. Good academic performance does not mean you will be a good leader. You either have it or you don’t. The first Prime Minister of Malaysia was a notoriously bad student. Winston Churchill wasn’t top of his class. 

Many of the 4G leaders went through the PPS route – they showed their mettle as assistants to Singapore’s PMs. That’s how they became blue. Nothing natural. They still have to prove themselves to the reds – Singaporeans at large.


This is part of a GE series, Straight Talk, that will be published daily up till Cooling Off Day on Jul 9.

Send in your scoop to news@theindependent.sg 

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