Like the Chinese dynasty history where rouge Prime Ministers controlled their puppet emperors, Singapore’s Law Minister K Shanmugam has a similar rein over the weak Prime Minister. It certainly doesn’t help with Lee Hsien Loong being effeminate and fickle-minded, but a blanket silence on the furious debates raging in the recent headlines only goes to show the extent of his impotence.
It appears Lee Hsien Loong is only concerned with building new monuments to celebrate his premiership, where his state media papers can sing: “Under the wise PM, we have the beautiful and magnificent casinos, Garden By the Bay and Terminal 5 costing tens of billion”. Having raised a number of taxes including the GST and making Singapore the most expensive city in the world for 5 years running, it could not be more apparent that Lee Hsien Loong just want Singaporeans to pay for his exorbitant pet projects.
Spend money? Lee Hsien Loong and Ho Ching is there. Raise taxes? Heng Swee Keat will take care of it. Day-to-day government affairs? Leave it to the Law Minister.
This begs the question: Who is then the real Prime Minister?
The spate of new draconian laws enacted recently have all been spearheaded by Minister K Shanmugam, while PM Lee Hsien Loong has not even a single comment to make.
Welding two heavyweight ministerial profiles, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam wrote his own green paper, sat in his own Select Committee and now he is going to enact new his own censorship laws. He went to Parliament calling Sylvia Lim “dishonest” and slithered away when facts proved him wrong. The same snake of a minister wrote new laws allowing policemen to lethally shoot protesters, strip search women, and give himself extra-judiciary powers to ban media and communication.
K Shanmugam is no longer only a Law Minister, his new lawless powers made him the new dictator of Singapore – surpassing the PM and his two deputy PMs. Lee Hsien Loong is only as relevant as Halimah Yacob, his premiership is just ceremonial while the one in full power is the Law Minister.
Lee Hsien Loong may be stepping down, but everyone is asking the wrong question who is the actual one in power. The likely PM successor, Minister Chan Chun Sing, will be just another puppet to K Shanmugam.
Compare this to Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong’s administration, former Law Ministers like Edmund Barker and S. Jayakumar did not even weld a fraction of the power K Shanmugam possess today. The past PMs would lead the discussions on new laws, even if they were similarly authoritarian, and never the Law Ministers themselves. The weakness of Lee Hsien Loong has created a monster, and it is too late: K Shanmugam is unstoppable.