In today’s (July 23) release of the transcript of his interview with US-based TIME Magazine, PM Lee Hsien Loong said that he “welcome” criticisms especially when they are raised in Parliament. However, he is very sad that the Opposition Workers’ Party’s criticism “comes snidely and round the corner”:
“…the problem is criticism comes snidely and round the corner…
When we face the critics across the aisle in (Parliament) with the television cameras on, their criticism withers. It’s very sad.”
PM Lee Hsien Loong also said that in an “Asian society” like Singapore, he has to sue Roy Ngerng or else he does not deserve to be the Prime Minister:
“If it’s true, the Prime Minister should be charged and jailed. If it’s not true, the matter must be clarified and the best way to do that is by settling in Court.
There must be clarity. Somebody says very bad things about me, I don’t clear my name, do I deserve to be here or not? In an Asian society, particularly, if the leader can’t maintain his standing, he doesn’t deserve to be there. He will soon be gone.”
When questioned by the interviewer about freedom of speech with particular reference to Amos Yee, PM Lee said that freedom is limited by a balance with the rule of law and that freedom of speech operates only within certain constraints. PM Lee also said that it is easier to give and take offence in the Internet and “it is necessary to learn where the limits are”.
With regards to questions about his father’s demise, PM Lee said that Singapore has strengthened economically instead even when there were an outpour of grief.
“The stock market didn’t crash, investors didn’t panic, confidence was maintained. In fact, at the end of that, I think confidence was strengthened. I think we’re not in a bad spot.”
PM Lee however revealed that his father Lee Kuan Yew had indeed interfered in his decision before:
“Only very rarely did he assert a strong view and asked us to please rethink something.”
As for the inequality, PM Lee admitted that it is a problem to bridge the income gap between tertiary-educated and the rest:
“For us to have an economy which can generate that quality of jobs and uplift their living standards, and at the same time uplift those who didn’t go to university where you don’t have a wide gap between tertiary-educated and the rest… I think that is a big challenge.”