Posts Tagged ‘Lee Hsien Loong’

Only one Singaporean is fit to be president — So who decides in a democracy? — Or who cares if it is a democracy?

September 14, 2017

Or so the government concludes

IT IS very important, Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore’s prime minister, explained last year, that all Singaporeans feel they have a genuine chance of becoming president. To that end, his government tinkered with the eligibility criteria for candidates. Yet Singaporeans primed for a festival of inclusiveness at this year’s election must be confused. On September 11th a committee of senior officials declared that only one candidate was eligible to stand, and that the woman in question, Halimah Yacob, a former speaker of parliament, was thus deemed to have been elected unopposed. She will be sworn in on September 14th.

Singapore’s democracy can sometimes seem a little regimented: the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has been in power since before independence in 1965. So when the government decided to amend the constitution in 1991 to allow direct elections for president, ostensibly to deepen popular engagement with politics, observers were suspicious—and rightly so. The criteria for eligibility were set so narrowly that only two of the subsequent five elections have involved more than one candidate. Even so, at the previous election, in 2011, the PAP’s preferred candidate came within a whisker of losing.

The government says this close shave had no influence on its decision to narrow the eligibility criteria yet more before this year’s election. The intention, Mr Lee explained, was to make sure that none of Singapore’s three main ethnic groups—Chinese, Malays and Indians—was excluded from the job for too long. In November the government duly changed the constitution to reserve presidential elections for members of a particular ethnic group if no one from that group has held the job for the previous five terms. On this basis, the presidential election this year was limited to Malays, who make up 13% of the population but have not held the office of president since 1970. Coincidentally, the new rules prevented the candidate who fell just 7,383 votes short last time, Tan Cheng Bock, from running again, as he is one of the 74% of Singaporeans who are Chinese (9% of the population is Indian).

Cynics point out that the government’s concern with diversity goes only so far. All holders of the much more powerful post of prime minister have been Chinese—two out of three of them from the Lee family. Singapore normally prides itself on being a meritocracy, in contrast to neighbouring Malaysia, where Malays and other indigenous groups are accorded special privileges. And while candidates for president this year had to be Malay, not just any Malay could apply. They also needed either to have served in an extremely senior government job or to have run a profitable company with S$500m ($371m) in shareholder equity. The figure used to be S$100m but a decision to raise the bar was announced last year. Undaunted, two other Malays beside Ms Halimah applied to run, but were judged not to have met the criteria.

Popular and competent, Ms Halimah seemed very likely to win even with some competition. Disqualifying her challengers robs her of the modicum of legitimacy the election could have given her. Voters excited to mark ballots for Singapore’s first female president are particularly disappointed. Then again, Singapore’s repeated tightening of the rules suggests a lack of faith that voters, given a wider choice, would make the right decision.


Singapore PM Lee addresses abuse of power allegations, MPs question platform to clear issue

July 3, 2017

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SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has delivered a ministerial statement refuting the allegations made by his siblings, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, in Parliament on Monday (Jul 3).

The dispute between the siblings over the house of their late father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at 38 Oxley Road spilled into the public sphere on Jun 14, when Dr Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang issued a joint statement accusing their brother of abusing his powers in Government, saying they have “lost confidence” in him.

This led to PM Lee apologising to Singaporeans for the dispute, saying it has affected Singaporeans’ confidence in the Government, and that the “baseless accusations” against the Government must be dealt with openly

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has also delivered his ministerial statement on the matter.

PM Lee has lifted the party whip for People’s Action Party MPs, and called on all MPs to “examine the issues thoroughly” and question him and his Cabinet colleagues “vigorously”.



Singapore PM to face questions in parliament over family feud

July 3, 2017


By Fathin Ungku | SINGAPORE

Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was set to face questions at a special sitting of parliament on Monday over whether he had abused his power in a dispute with his brother and sister over what to do with their late father’s house.

The bad blood between the heirs of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, has gripped the country since mid-June, when the younger siblings launched a series of attacks on their elder brother in social media postings.

Monday’s parliamentary session is extraordinary for Singapore, a small but wealthy island state that prides itself on being a rock of stability in Southeast Asia.

The prime minister will make an official statement about the matter before taking questions. Prime Minister Lee’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) controls 83 of the 89 elected seats in parliament, and lawmakers submitted their questions in writing at the end of last week.

In a rare move, the prime minister removed the Party Whip for the debate, allowing PAP lawmakers to question their own cabinet regardless of the party line.

The prime minister’s younger brother and sister, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling, allege Lee Hsien Loong has abused his power in the dispute over the old family home at 38 Oxley Road, and fear that he would use the organs of the state against them.

Lee Hsien Yang said he and his wife, lawyer Lee Suet Fern, would be leaving Singapore because they felt closely monitored and hugely unwelcome.

The prime minister has consistently denied the allegations, and said he was very disappointed that they have chosen to publicize private family matters.

The accusation of abuse of power prompted Prime Minister Lee to call for the special sitting of parliament in order to defend the integrity of his government.

Lee Hsien Yang has said that parliament is an inappropriate forum for airing the dispute, as his brother will be legally protected by “parliamentary privilege” to say what he wants.

Lee Hsien Yang and his sister, Lee Wei Ling, say they want to honor their father’s wishes for the house to be demolished, once Lee Wei Ling vacates the property, rather than be turned in to some kind of museum.

Prime Minister Lee has questioned the will, while a government committee, from which has recused himself, considers whether the old family home should eventually be turned into a heritage site.

(Writing by Simon Cameron-Moore; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

China Steps In Where U.S. is Absent in Asia

March 28, 2017

Beijing builds its influence in Asia by default, not design, as Trump retreats


China is building its influence in Asia more by default than design, making the region’s power brokers nervous as the U.S. retreats.


Updated March 28, 2017 6:06 a.m. ET

BOAO, China — For more than half a century, Washington has set the economic agenda for the Asia-Pacific, where global wealth, technology and military power are concentrating.

Today, increasingly, Beijing does.

That’s not because its economic model…

See it all:


See also:

China Touts Its Own Trade Pact as U.S.-Backed One Withers


From Sputnik

Is China Filling the Economic Vacuum in the Pacific?

© REUTERS/ David Gray

“The bilateral relationship between China and the United States is the single most important one for the prosperity and security and stability of the world, and the fact that we have very strong relationships, but different relationships — different in context and in terms of history — with both the United States and China, that is a great strength.”

Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAP

Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Picture: AAPSource:AAP


Premier Li agreed, saying China-Australia co-operation was not targeted “at any third party” and would benefit other countries and regions

“It is China’s consistent position that all countries, big or small, are equal members of the world, and there needs to be mutual respect and co-operation on an equal footing,” Premier Li said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Australia and New Zealand this week, while US relations with Australia cool over the migrant deal negotiated by the former US administration. Will China fill the vacuum in the region? Radio Sputnik’s Brian Becker invited China expert Keith Bennett to discuss the issue.

China Expected to Import $8 Trillion Worth of Goods in 2016-2020

US President Donald Trump’s relations with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had a rough start. During their first phone talk, an apparently emotional exchange, Trump declined to fulfill the deal negotiated by the administration of former President Barack Obama in which the US pledged to take more than 1,000 immigrants from Australian detention centers.

“The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal,” Trump tweeted after the phone call to Turnbull, which he reportedly ended abruptly

In general, it becomes more and more likely that the US is disconnecting itself from active foreign policy and concentrating on its internal affairs. This allows for other nations to seek new opportunities for trade that had been unavailable for them. One might think the time is ripe for China to approach the Pacific with propositions of trade.

However, China already is significantly involved in trade with New Zealand and Australia, according to China expert Keith Bennett.

“China has very good relations with the two countries, at least on the economic level,” Bennet told Becker. “Politically, it’s more complicated, but this is not an unprecedented visit.”

According to various data from open sources, China’s share in New Zealand trade seems to be already twice as big as that of the US. The same goes for Australia, whose exports to China are several times larger than those to the US.

This creates a complicated situation in which Australia is a close military ally of the US, but its economic interests naturally go along with China and other Pacific nations, says Bennett.

“There is a dichotomy between the economic factor and a political and military security factor,” he says.

According to Bennett, the United States relies heavily on political and military force to prevent Australia’s drift towards China, even using political means to organize a “soft coup” to get rid of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The Obama administration also increased its military presence in Australia for the very same purpose: to send a signal to Australia not to get too friendly with China, Benett explains.

Given all that, it would be hard to imagine a sharp move by Australia toward China, but there are signs it could happen under the Trump administration. The United States under Trump seems to be stepping back from its role of global director of trade and finances — at least for capitalist countries — a role the US has taken since 1945 Bretton Woods agreement. Bennet said this shift by the US could create a situation in the Pacific in which close trade ties of those nations with China could finally result in corresponding political closeness.

“What we are entering is a very unstable period of convulsion and realignment,” Bennet noted. “So it’s hard to make predictions, but I think… that economic changes will come first and political changes will have to catch up.”

See also:

China’s Plan For Asia and Onward To Iran — Involves Domination on Land and Sea — “Without firing a shot. That’s Sun Tzu.”

March 26, 2017

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China’s “One Belt, One Road” master plan for Asian land and sea trade starts and ends with China itself.

Vietnamese in Hanoi are already starting to chit chat about what to do when Vietnam becomes a Chinese province.

Vietnamese with money and other assets are already heading to Canada, Australia, Europe and the U.S.

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President Duterte in the Philippines seems to have some kind of secret accord with China. There must be a big chunk of gold or currency hidden for Duterte somewhere.

Our sources in Asia tell us everyone with resources is taking an angle to make what they can from the notoriously corrupt Chinese in case there is a bloodless takeover by China.

The Chinese are already fortifying the South China Sea, intimidating Singapore, and moving in with Malaysia.  Maybe Mr. Najab can have his 1MDB debt “fixed” by Chinese backers….

Pakistan is already prepared to stand with China as the Indian Ocean Super Power.

Iran has helped China and Russia immensely in Syria, Yemen, North Korea and elsewhere. Mr. Obama’s nuclear deal took worries about Iran as a dangerous nuclear power out of the headlines as they hone their ground and sea forces and perfect the Republican Guards. They are still a dangerous nuclear power. Just more discrete — or below the radar in the nuclear research arena.

Isreal seems to have fewer and fewer friends.

Yet Donald Trump pledged to stand behind Israel.

But he also pledged to repeal and replace Obamacare — so let’s wait and see what he is really able to accomplish….

From the Peace and Freedom Strategy Team, March 26, 2017

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 (Chinese Naval Base)

Geo News screen grab
Geo News screen grab

What is China’s Plan For Asia? —

March 26, 2017

Moved to:


China prosecutes captain, shipper in Singapore troop carriers case — “Make no mistake: Everyone that crosses China will be punished.”

March 24, 2017


Fri Mar 24, 2017 | 1:10am EDT

Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign ‘to weed out rivals’

January 5, 2017


Criticism made by outspoken sister of Singapore’s prime minister in a rare salvo against Beijing by Southeast Asian leaders or their families

By Shi Jiangtao
South China Morning Post

Monday, January 2, 2017


The daughter of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew appears to have weighed in on the debate over President Xi Jinping’s much touted anti-corruption campaign in China, describing it as “a game” designed to tighten his grip on power.

“Xi is playing a game where he appears to weed out ‘corrupts’” while replacing them with “his own people”, said Dr Lee Wei Ling, a neurosurgeon and the younger sister of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, on her Facebook account on January 1.

She was commenting on a report by The Guardian newspaper, which cited mainland authorities as saying Beijing had recovered 2.3 billion yuan (HK2.56 billion) from losses to corruption and arrested 122 government officials who were on the run last year.

Her criticism came as diplomatic and economic relations between Beijing and Singapore have been strained over a series of spats in recent weeks including territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the seizure of nine combat vehicles by Hong Kong customs in November as they were shipped back to the city state from Taiwan.

While Xi openly warns that the Communist Party’s legitimacy hinges on the fight against rampant official corruption, his critics have long argued the anti-graft drive he launched after taking office in late 2012 was largely aimed at tearing down or silencing his opponents.

But it is rare for foreign dignitaries or their relatives, especially those in Beijing-friendly Southeast Asian nations, to openly rebuke top Chinese leaders.

While her brother Lee Hsien Loong has been critical of Beijing’s assertiveness in pressing its claims in the South China Sea, he has seldom pointed the finger at Xi.

Dr Lee grabbed the headlines early last year over a rare feud with her brother over the first anniversary of their father’s death.

She accused the incumbent Singapore leader on her Facebook account of “abusing his power” by conducting elaborate anniversary events and trying to establish a political dynasty.

“Lee Kuan Yew would have cringed at the hero worship just one year after his death,” she said.

The family feud escalated in September when she lashed out at her brother for media censorship.

She said the Singapore media dare not disobey her brother and sister-in-law Ho Ching.

Could Philippine President Duterte be Impeached?

October 14, 2016

Carpio: Impeachment possible if Duterte gives up Scarborough

Philippine Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio addresses the U.S. and Philippine marines at the closing ceremony of the 33rd joint U.S.-Philippines amphibious landing exercises dubbed PHIBLEX at the marines corps in suburban Taguig city, east of Manila, Philippines Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. The Philippine president says he will not abrogate a defense treaty with the United States but is questioning its importance and that of joint combat exercises, which he says only benefit America. President Rodrigo Duterte criticized the United States and his country’s engagement with the American military in a speech Tuesday as Philippine marines and their American counterparts ended combat drills a day early. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte can be impeached if he gives up the country’s sovereignty over the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal to China, Supreme Court (SC) Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said on Friday.

Carpio noted that Duterte would be violating the Constitution if he concedes to Beijing on the issue of the Scarborough Shoal.

File photo

“I would not want to go to that extent because if the president concedes now our sovereignty of Scarborough Shoal, yes, you can impeach him,” Carpio said in a forum at the Asian Institute of Management in Makati City.


The SC justice added that Duterte can never recover the disputed territory once he gives it up as China will not submit itself to Philippine courts.

The case can be brought before the International Court of Justice but the court may only have jurisdiction over the case if China agrees to the arbitration.

“Once we lose sovereignty over Scarborough Shoal, we lose it forever. I would not want to wait for that time because we cannot recover it anymore,” Carpio said.

Under the 1986 Constitution, the president may be removed from office by impeachment for violation of the Constitution, treason, bribery, graft and corruption, other high crimes, or betrayal of the public trust.

The Constitution also states that the national territory of the country comprises the “Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas.”

In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China’s nine-dash line claim over the disputed South China Sea does not have legal basis.

READ: The verdict: Philippines wins arbitration case vs China

The international tribunal also concluded that China violated its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)  when it constructed artificial islands inside the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Duterte will visit China from October 18 to 21. He will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss bilateral relations, cooperation across the board and regional issues of common interest.

RELATED: Beijing: Philippines, China ‘neighbors of traditional friendship’

He has said that he will set aside the issue of Scarborough Shoal during his trip.

Chinese H-6 bomber patrols near Scarborough Shoal in the Philippines. Xinhua photo

“Pupunta ako ng China. Okay tayo sa kanila. Huwag muna nating pakialaman yung Scarborough. Di natin kaya. Magalit man tayo, hangin lang (I will go to China. We are okay with them. Let’s not dwell on the Scarborough issue for now. We can’t solve it even if we get angry),” Duterte said during an agrarian reform forum in Lamitan, Basilan earlier this week.

He said, however, that he would ask China to allow Filipino fishers back into Scarborough, which also known as Panatag Shoal and Bajo de Masinloc. — Video report by Efigenio Toledo IV




President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial



 (These people understand human rights)

 (These people understand human rights)

 (This shows a lack of understanding of human rights)

Rodrigo Duterte may hand China the strategic piece it needs to take control of the South China Sea

October 13, 2016


By Steve Mollman

Next week Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who took power in late June, will make his first state visit to China. Of course he’s hoping for a bonanza of loans and trade deals. What he’s not expecting or demanding: the return of Scarborough Shoal, which China seized from the Philippines in 2012, sparking demonstrations by Filipinos around the world.

“We cannot win that,” he said during a speech this week. “Even if we get angry, we’ll just be putting on airs. We can’t beat [China].”

A large coral atoll with a reef-rimmed lagoon, Scarborough Shoal lies about 120 nautical miles (222 km, 138 miles) from the Philippines’ coast. Filipino fishermen have relied on the atoll’s rich fishing grounds for generations. China has blocked their access to it since the takeover.

But China didn’t seize Scarborough Shoal just for the fish. It took it for control of the South China Sea.

Beijing is close to creating a “strategic triangle” in the sea that would allow it to monitor and police the waterway for decades to come. In recent years it’s rapidly built large artificial islands—with bunkers, landing strips, and surveillance equipment—atop reefs and other features, including in the Spratly and Paracel archipelagos, in the south and west, respectively. All it needs now to complete the triangle is one more such island—at Scarborough Shoal in the northeast.

Warning signs

In the US, lawmaker Dan Sullivan warned the Senate Armed Services Committee about the triangle in April. On a map he showed a ring around each point of the triangle, showing the approximate range of Chinese fighter jets. The overlapping rings easily cover most of the sea (Woody Island below is part of the Paracels):

Within range. (Senator Dan Sullivan)

Earlier this year the US warned China that it would cross a red line if it built an island at Scarborough Shoal, suggesting the move could set off a conflict of some sort with US-Philippine forces. But that was when the Philippines was more on the US side. In recent months Duterte has become enraged with the US—along the EU, UN, and human rights groups—for criticizing his dubious anti-drug war, which has encouraged vigilante and extrajudicial killings.

Duterte is prone to losing his temper and using coarse language—a Filipino actress described him as “a psychopath.” Last week Duterte said the US could “go to hell,” part of string of vulgar insults he’s hurled at critics. He indicated he may eventually decide to “break up with America,” and suggested he’d be fine with the US (and EU) withdrawing aid because of human rights issues.

In mid-September Duterte said the Philippines would begin buying weapons from China and Russia (the US is the traditional main supplier), and that it would cease joint patrols of the South China Sea with the US.

“It looked like Duterte was pivoting away from US towards the Chinese camp,” said Richard J. Heydarian, a political scientist at De La Salle University in Manila. “This is where a lot of countries were caught off guard. Duterte could actually make a huge impact, not only on Philippines foreign policy but also on the broader regional geopolitical dynamics.”
Befriending the bully

Under the previous administration of Benigno Aquino III, the Philippines defied Beijing’s bullying. Realizing it lacked the military strength to take back Scarborough Shoal, it turned to international law, specifically the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which both nations are signatories.

China justified its aggression with its “nine-dash line,” which encompasses the part of the sea it considers its longtime territory. That area includes nearly the entire waterway, and it cuts well into the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) granted to coastal states by UNCLOS. In an EEZ, which extends out 200 nautical miles from the coast, a nation gets sole rights to natural resources within and under the sea.
Map of China’s nine-dash line showing the Spratly and Paracel islands and Scarborough Shoal
A contested sea.

In 2013 the Philippines opened a case under UNCLOS against China. In a ruling handed down on July 12, a tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines and rejected China’s sweeping claims, invalidating the nine-dash line. Filipinos celebrated—but by that time Duterte was in power.

Were Aquino’s anointed successor Mar Roxas currently president of the Philippines, it’s likely the nation would now be rallying international diplomatic pressure against China, said Heydarian. Instead Duterte, after years of the Philippines building its legal argument and winning, appears set to essentially reverse course and give China Scarborough Shoal after all. (The about-face plays right into the long-standing view in China that the Philippines is a weak country that should respect the regional superpower.)

Of course that won’t necessarily mean China immediately building an artificial island there. “I think it’s possible the Chinese, in the short run, may suspend any construction activities in the Scarborough Shoal to facilitate a warming-up of relations with Duterte,” said Heydarian.

But the writing is on the wall. China has expressed satisfaction with the Philippines’ changing stance under Duterte. The Chinese ambassador to Manila, Zhao Jianhua, said in late September:
“Ever since president Duterte took office, China and Philippines have been engaging in friendly interactions, which have yielded a series of positive results. The clouds are fading away. The sun is rising over the horizon, and will shine beautifully on the new chapter of bilateral relations.”

It also bodes well for Chinese energy companies. China’s bullying in the South China Sea has also included preventing the Philippines from exploring for oil off its own coast. Beijing has its eyes especially on oil or natural gas deposits that fall within both the nine-dash line and other nations’ EEZs. In those instances, it insists on bilaterally negotiated “joint development”—getting a share of the profits, in other words, even though under UNCLOS the resources belong solely to the coastal state.

Who else will stop China?

Since the tribunal this summer, the US, Australia, Japan, and Singapore have maintained strong stands insisting China respect the tribunal ruling and international law. Otherwise, Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong has warned, the “law of the jungle” would prevail in the South China Sea, with small nations falling under the control of big ones.