PM Lee Addresses Multiracialism And Unhappiness Over Presidential Election In PA Kopi Talk
On Saturday (23 Sept), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took part in a People’s Association “Kopi Talk” – a regular dialogue session that addresses current affairs – with about 500 grassroots leaders.
Held at Ci Yuan Community Club, he took more than 20 minutes to speak about issues of race in Singapore, terrorism, and more importantly, addressed the unhappiness over the recent Presidential Election.
Here’s the video of his speech in its entirety:
In case you didn’t check out his speech or the transcript released by the PM’s Office, we here at MustShareNews have got you covered.
Here are 10 interesting things said by PM Lee during the Kopi Talk.
1. PAP knew from the start that we would have trouble electing a minority President
Amidst the unhappiness over the recent reserved presidency, PM Lee admitted that this was an issue they foresaw even back when the late Wee Kim Wee was first elected 25 years ago.
When we created the elected presidency about 25 years ago, we knew that we might have trouble electing minority Presidents.
He also mentioned how Malay Singaporeans at the time knew that it “would be difficult to have a Malay President in (the) future”, and that the Government had decided to use the time to “observe and see how things developed”.
2. Non-Chinese candidates didn’t run for President because they knew they would lose
Fast forward almost 20 years later during the 2011 Presidential Elections, he cited the lack of Malay candidates as evidence that a reserved election was necessary for the minorities to be voted in.
So why didn’t [Malay candidates] come? Because they knew that in an open election – all things being equal – a non-Chinese candidate would have no chance.
He claimed that a non-Chinese candidate wouldn’t stand a chance due to the Chinese majority in the country.
You did not have a (Salleh) Marican, nor a (Farid) Khan or any other Malay candidate (in the 2011 Presidential Election). It is a reality.
Adding on, he hopes that Singapore will one day naturally and regularly elect citizens of all races as President.
We are not there yet, and it will take a long time to happen.
3. Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland have minority-reserved elections too
Furthermore, PM Lee mentioned that the reserved election was nothing out of the ordinary.
He stated that it was commonplace for multiracial countries to practice.
We are not unique in making special arrangements for our Head of State. It is necessary in many multiracial countries.
He provided examples in Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland, stating that they had reserved elections for the minorities in their countries to be Head of State.
They make deliberate arrangements… they have some kind of rotation or special representations for the minorities.
He suggested that if Switzerland were to hold an open elections, the majority Swiss-Germans would “probably win every time”.
4. 2017 Presidential Election was 2 years in the making
Which was why PM Lee had planned for the reserved election ever since raising the issue in Parliament almost 2 years ago in January 2016.
We have spent nearly two years preparing to make this (Elected Presidency) move.
5. Racial issues appear in day-to-day lives of Singaporeans
He also touched on the topic of racism in Singapore, mentioning that racial issues are still prevalent. One of the examples he gave was the minorities having difficulties getting employed and renting a house.
Minorities sometimes face discrimination when looking for jobs…
Sometimes, landlords prefer not to have minorities rent a house from them.
PM Lee also stated that he was also aware of the various racist jokes being made.
Racial stereotypes persist in conversations and jokes.
Guess we should all stop talking about Malays and them being in a corner.
6. Singaporeans are more comfortable with a president of another race than a son or daughter-in-law of another race
The Institute of Policy Studies also did a survey with citizens checking on their preference of races.
When asked if one were to be comfortable with someone of a different race becoming President, most gave the following.
“The answer was: “It is a bit easier than having a son-in-law or a daughter-in-law.”
I guess this proves that racial issues are still prevalent in Singapore, because if given a choice, the majority would rather have someone of a different race represent them as their President than be their son/daughter-in-law.
7. We were once seen as a “Third China”
PM Lee then threw back to 50 years ago before Singapore became known for what it is today.
Due to our majority in Chinese population, many saw us as being a “third China”.
We were seen as a Chinese country, a proxy, a stooge for communist China, and not an independent player.
As such, the Government had to make sure that Singapore was an independent, multiracial country.
8. Multiracialism is artificially created
Which is why over the past 52 years, they worked tirelessly to ensure Singapore’s multiracialism – stating that it wasn’t something that occurred naturally.
You must remember that (multiracialism) is not something natural, nor something which will stay there by itself.
Some examples include creating common spaces and opportunities, mixing all races together in HDB estates and creating GRCs to ensure that the minorities will be represented.
There is nothing natural about where we are. We made it happen, and we have got to protect it.
Only through hard work and perseverance was all of this possible.
9. Terrorism will happen in Singapore
He also briefly talked about the rise of terrorism in Southeast Asia, stating that Singapore isn’t immune from it.
We (Singapore) are not insulated from terrorism.
Mentioning how the Internal Security Department picks up a couple of Singaporeans who become self-radicalised every month or two, he insisted that a terrorist attack here is not a question of “if” but “when”.
10. ISIS’s efficiency in social media
This is largely due to ISIS’s proficiency in social media, utilizing it to communicate with countries like the Philippines and Malaysia, and also to spread their propaganda.
[Terrorists] may be in the Middle East, but they are in full contact with their people back in Indonesia and Malaysia. They use Facebook; their Facebook is more powerful than mine. They use Telegram; definitely more powerful than mine.
He also mentioned how their Facebook and Telegram was more powerful than his.
Let’s just hope he was joking on that.
Bonus: Don’t forget to use SGSecure
Not to worry though.
In the event of a terrorist attack, you know what to do.
If you have been working together at (keeping racial harmony) through the IRCCs and SGSecure… then we can hold on together and let life go on as one people.
Featured image from Youtube.