Singapore’s Lee slams protesters


HONG KONG, AFP

Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said Friday that demonstrations seen regularly in Hong Kong suggest its residents want to undermine the authorities.

“There is almost an unspoken campaign as I see it, to challenge and defy authority at every turn in order to de-legitimize it,” Lee said, according to public radio.

At a meeting with Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa, Lee responded to protests mounted by activists outside the Chinese University in Hong Kong on Thursday, accusing him of having run Singapore like a dictator.

He pointed out that Singapore had elected its own government since 1959, while Hong Kong’s first real government was in July 1997.

Lee said a culture of protest had developed and had been encouraged by the last British governor — Chris Patten — and the western media. As a result, there was a belief that Hong Kong must obtain a free representative government.

Lee, speaking to Tung, said: “Yu have no moral authority. You were chosen by 400 people…next time you will be chosen by 800 people.”

He continued that had Tung been elected by all those entitled to vote then that would “be different…then you would have authority.”

Lee had commented on Thursday that the SAR’s “penchant for protests” suggested its residents were more content under British rule.

Speaking earlier at a business lunch organized by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Lee expressed support for the introduction of a ministerial system of governance in Hong Kong. He said that while economically Hong Kong was an established society, “in political terms it is not yet established.”

He said the civil service had been trained more to implement policies made by British officials in London rather than “formulate and then win the support of the people for their policies”.

He added the British had merely aimed for a “buoyant economy so that British and other businesses would prosper and as a result, so would the people of Hong Kong.”

He noted that Tung alone carried the responsibility of formulating policy.

“Who will help him formulate them…the civil service secretaries? But they cannot fully perform this role unless they are politicized, and if they are politicized then it will negate their neutrality as civil servants,” he said.

“So it may have to be done by political executive councilors or his Cabinet members who may or may not be elected,” Lee said.