In an interview with a CNN host at the SG50+ Conference, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made a high-handed remark that Singapore society will lose out if Singaporeans do not have aristocracy:

“You want people to stand up, not scrape and bow. But if you don’t have a certain natural aristocracy in the system, people who are respected because they have earned that and we level everything down to the lowest common denominator, then I think society will lose out … If you end up with anarchy, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be delivered with brilliance.”

Aristocracy is a form of government that places power in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class. PM Lee was responding to the host’s comment that the technological advanced countries like the US, Sweden and Israel tend to have a common culture of a lack of respect for or challenging authority, and that restraining on the freedom of speech contravenes the principles of economic progress.

Photo by Don Wong, Today
Photo by Don Wong, Today

The CNN host, Dr Fareed Zakaria, also asked if the PAP government is overly paranoid and why didn’t the Prime Minister ignore Roy Ngerng and Amos Yee by comparing Lee Hsien Loong to Barack Obama:

“Look at what people call Barack Obama on the Internet. It would have made your blood curdle.”

Lee Hsien Loong’s particular reply to the question above was censored from the Singapore’s state media and not published.