In his Chinese New Year message to Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made reference to the zodiac year of Monkey and told Singaporeans to take care of themselves:
“Just as the monkey leaps onto higher branches to pick peaches, and through his wit and agility takes care of himself, and stays at least one jump ahead of others.”
The dictator also waxed lyrical about Singaporeans helping each other out and promoting the family spirit in Singapore society:
“They were all ordinary Singaporeans, but they all did extraordinary things. They brightened life a little, motivated only to put right what they found wrong, and bring solace and hope to those who were suffering or needed help.
…The family is also the model for how Singaporeans should relate to their fellow citizens, “seeing one another as members of an extended Singapore family.
By helping others, and inspiring many more, they have made a difference to Singapore and to the world. That is what Singapore should be about. How we treat each other and what we are willing to do for one another defines who we are. This country belongs to all of us, and is what we make of it. It is big hearts that must make our little red dot shine bright.”
However the Prime Minister himself has little mercy for anyone who criticize him as he continues to use defamation suits and the Sedition Act to silence his critics.
Singapore is also facing an income inequality crisis, with more than 26% of the population earning less than S$2,500 a month. In his CNY message, the Prime Minister did not hint of any new social support measures in the upcoming Budget to help the poor. Most poor are heavily dependent on poorly-funded volunteer welfare organisations as the government refuse to implement a Minimum Wage and welfare payment. In 2015, then Minister for Social Development Chan Chun Sing rejected the call for setting up a poverty line as an official report on the number of poor in Singapore will reflect badly on the country which is heavily dependent on foreign investments.
Despite the poverty issues many Singaporeans face, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is the most well-paid politician in the world, with a salary more than 4 times the amount of US President Barrack Obama. He also chairs the country’s sovereign wealth fund company GIC, while his wife Ho Ching is the CEO of the other SWF company Temasek Holdings. Two of his sons are government scholarships who studied at US’s ivy league university MIT.
Interestingly, Lee Hsien Loong also claims innocence when accusations of nepotism and corruption came flying from time to time. Also, Singapore also ranks 8th in the Perceived Corruption Index, which reflects the sheer percentage of trust Singaporeans have in the dictator.