Workers’ Party’s Chen Show Mao not so brilliant: Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew says Member of Parliament (MP) for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) Chen Show Mao has not lived up to expectations.

In his new book titled “One Man’s View of the World”, the former minister mentor said that with credentials such as being an international corporate lawyer, The Workers’ Party (WP) MP appeared to be a “talented person” in the 2011 general election.

However, Lee said Chen “has not turned out to be so brilliant.”

“In Parliament, he [Chen] makes good prepared speeches, with a written script, but in the follow-up, he is all over the place. It simply does not gel for him,” said Lee.

He added, “The weight of public expectation of the man, given his rather impressive résumé, has probably added to the disappointment.”

The former prime minister also attributed the 2011 election results – one that the People’s Action Party (PAP) polled an average of 60.1 per cent nationwide and lost six seats, the worst results since Independence in 1965 – to WP chief Low Thia Khiang’s ability to produce Chen as a “solid-looking candidate” to stand in Aljunied GRC, along with party chairman Sylvia Lim and himself.

Lee said WP’s implied message to voters was clear:  “We’re putting all our eggs here. Let us have one GRC.”

Another factor that influenced the election results was the unhappiness over the large number of foreigners, added the founding father.

But, repeating sentiments he’s expressed before, he said Singapore needs to take in immigrants and foreign workers because its people have not been reproducing.

Singapore has one of the lowest total fertility rates in the world at 1.29.

Lee added that the government has been moderating the influx to a level that causes less discomfort.

In his book, the former minister mentor also expressed doubts over whether the opposition can live up to expectations and persuade enough good people to join them.

“Can the opposition produce the likes of the younger generation of PAP ministers, never mind the likes of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong or Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam?” asked Lee.

He also warned that if Singapore decides to move towards a two-party system, then the people are “destined for mediocrity”. 

“The biggest problem with the two-party system is that once it is in place, the best people will choose not to be in politics. Getting elected will be a dicey affair,” he pointed out.

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