Two-party political system won’t work: PM Lee

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PM Lee Hsien Loong provides a solution for two-party government. (AP Photo)
PM Lee Hsien Loong provides a solution for two-party government. (AP Photo)

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says a two-party political system is "not workable" in Singapore because there is simply "not enough top talent".

Speaking at the National University of Singapore on Tuesday night, PM Lee said such a system would result in weaker governance, reported The Straits Times.

Druing a 45-minute speech, he went on to stress to the audience of about 1,200 university students that Singapore just did not have enough talent to have two top "A-teams" to govern Singapore.

"This is the way to safeguard our common future - not to weaken the 'A' team in the hope of buying insurance, but to strengthen the 'A' team, to give it the best chance of succeeding," he said.

He also revealed how the People's Action Party (PAP) "seriously considered" splitting the PAP into two parties but gave up after it was obvious the second team would not be as good as the original.

Mr Lee also cautioned against Singapore following the two-party example of countries such as the United States or Britain because it could result in a split along the lines of class or race and religion -- a "worst-case scenario" that could spell "the end for Singapore".

Touching on the impending General Elections, the 59-year-old -- who is also the PAP's secretary-general -- also said he found it hard to see how the opposition parties could pitch themselves as a fall-back plan should the PAP fail.

Giving the example of a capable person weighing his options as to which party he should join, he said, "He has two choices. First choice, join the Opposition, oversee the PAP, but really spend his life and quite a long time waiting and watching, just in case the PAP screws up, then he'll be ready to take over."

The second option is "join the government, help it to make better decisions, implement good policies and avoid making mistakes and screwing up."

"Now, which makes more sense for him, and for Singapore?" he added.

PM Lee's comments come even as some government ministers welcome a strong opposition in the country.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in a recent televised political forum on Saturday that, "I think a strong opposition is good for the PAP, and for Singapore, as well."

A day later, Foreign Minister George Yeo also stated that, "It is important to have a credible opposition so that should the PAP turn corrupt or become flaccid, there's an alternative that Singaporeans can go for."

During a question-and-answer segment at Tuesday's NUS forum, PM Lee also dismissed a recent comment by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong on leadership renewal as his "personal view". SM Goh had previously stated before that ministers might not serve more than two terms in the future.

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