Five enduring myths that threaten our future

WHEN YOU LIVE your whole life experiencing one and only one ruling party and fed the same political yarns over and over for half-a-century, it is hard to adopt a worldview that is radically different your overlords’.

These views, often unconstrained by regard for factual information, become more than articles of faith; they form the very life force of society, ingrained in the national soul.

Yet, the evidence that explode these myths which I’ve enumerated below are hiding in plain sight.

Myth #1: Singapore has no natural resources

It has been repeated ad infinitum that our island has precious little to mine, dig or frack. The corollary, of course, is that despite this lack of natural resources Singapore has succeeded beyond expectations. We made good, we are constantly reminded, only because we have had masterful political leadership.

Such a conclusion (that Singapore succeeded only because of the PAP’s prowess) would be valid if the premise of the argument (that the country is not well-endowed by nature) is true to begin with.

We often forget that we have a deep harbour that has enabled us to build up our port. Additionally, and more importantly, we are situated at the southernmost tip of the Asian continent right smack in the middle of the Eastern and Western maritime halves of the planet. No other country on earth possesses such a geographical blessing. (We think little of this until the real threat of the Kra canal looms.)

This is where the government’s self-aggrandisement comes apart.

Two hundred years ago, a certain seafarer in the British East India Company recognised this gem of an island and duly came to our neck of the woods to claim it for King and country. The rest is history which means to say that Singapore was transformed from that oft-described sleepy, fishing village into a trading powerhouse since the 1800s – not the 1960s when the PAP took power.

Well before the party jumped in front of the band and pretended to lead it, there were the Loke Wan Thos, Tan Lark Syes and Tan Kah Kees who drove Singapore to preeminence in the world of trade and commerce.

That the gift from the gods of geography to the people of this island is just as precious as anything we could have harvested from the ground below is not in dispute. What must be contested is the hijacked and fraudulent narrative that a barren Singapore succeeded only because it was yanked into modernity by the PAP.

And let’s face it, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan – places that were up against greater odds than Singapore, two of them even ravaged by war, haven’t done too shabbily themselves. Contrary to the PAP brochure, we are not unique.

Myth #2: We have exceptional leadership

Which brings me to the second myth.

“I’ll put this quite bluntly,” PM Lee Hsien Loong said (not to mention rather extravagantly), “If we hadn’t had a good Government, led by exceptional leaders…Singapore would not have survived.”

Comfortably nestled in the echo-chamber, Mr Chan Chun Sing called out that this “improbable country” that we live in must possess “exceptional leadership teams that can win the trust of the people”.

Modesty, if not a firm grasp of reality, has never been the government’s strong suit. The PAP persuading people that its leadership is exceptional is the exact opposite of Einstein trying to convince us that he’s just an ordinary bloke.

By what metric does Mr Lee and co. lay claim to a leadership of exceptionalism?

With a litany of scandals and screw-ups including the embarrassing escape of terrorist-suspect Mas Selamat, the ignominious bungling of the Health Ministry’s protocol which resulted in a Hepatitis-C outbreak and multiple deaths, the non-existent readiness of the police to quell a riot in Little India, an unhappy MRT system whose breakdowns have even elicited the incantations of the country’s religious leaders, a prime minister in whose leadership his own siblings swear they have no confidence, claims of exceptional leadership border on the bizarre.

On top of this, we’re stuck with an economic structure that is dependent more on perspiration than inspiration, a people unwilling to procreate because the place is just too damn expensive, and an older generation whose retirement savings have been held hostage and, to add insult, told that their flats – once prized nest-eggs – will actually be worth nothing when their 99-year leases expire.

Myth #3: It’s the PAP and only the PAP

First knee-cap your opponent, then tell everyone that he is not fit to play. That’s been the PAP’s game plan since the Republic’s earliest years. With mass arrests under the ISA, the opposition’s ability to mount a challenge for power was hobbled right from the start. In latter years, defamation suits were the tactic of choice.

And to ensure that victory is never in doubt, the PAP tilts the court just that little more by changing election laws whenever it loses a point. It is also helpful that the party relies on the fabulously funded People’s Association as an additional player.

With the newspapers and TV appointed official cheerleaders and civil society gagged and banished from the stands, it was always game, set and match to PAP even before the first serve.

All this has had a pernicious effect on the national psyche with many Singaporeasns believing that the PAP has been so dominant precisely because it has cornered the market on political talent in the country leaving little for the opposition.

The truth is that there are many capable Singaporeans who, because they detest all that the political system here embodies, refuse to participate in electoral politics, much less join the PAP. This has resulted in the dearth of leaders within the ruling party’s ranks, a situation made evident by the PM as he struggles to name a successor even after all these years.

Perhaps the biggest lie that the opposition is incapable of presenting an alternative to the PAP is the fact that of late, the party has been picking up ideas advanced by the SDP. From the concept of universal healthcare to mandating minimum wage to ensuring that citizens are employed first, the ruling party has adopted many of the policies, or at least some form of them, proposed by the Singapore Democrats. (See here)

Myth #4: We have a meritocratic system

Embedded in the idea of meritocracy is equity.

Only the very naive will think that a system based on genuine fair play can emerge from a government stuffed with elitist-minded oligarchs who could very well have authored The Definitive Handbook for Autocrats.

The Singapore system is painstakingly woven to maintain a structure that benefits what Mr Lee Hsien Loong calls the natural aristocratic class. The most egregious case in point is the PAP’s proposal that smart – it didn’t hurt that they are also usually rich – people should procreate more because they tend to produce smart babies.

Even our school system is designed to prop up such a stratified structure. It is not fortituous that the nation’s top schools are disproportionately concentrated in the richest residential districts. With well-to-do families able to afford the best private tuition that money can buy, competition for places in these highly sought-after schools is anything but meritocratic.

Is it, therefore, happenstance that we are placed fifth out of the 23 countries on the Crony-Capitalism Index?

Myth #5: We need a big population

The government wants a population of seven million by 2030. Some planners are even pushing for ten. The government explains that as the baby boomer generation comes of retirement age, we need more working-age folks to pay for increased healthcare needs. The bigger the younger segment of the population, therefore, the better.

Herein lies the fallacy. Quality, not quantity, is what will keep Singapore viable in the future. In today’s terms, the ability to out-think and out-create our competition is going to matter much more than our ability to show off how many bodies we can squeeze onto this island. What we lack in numbers we can more than make up for in nous.

Consider this. Ireland, Norway, Denmark and Austria, all with tiny population sizes like ours, boast of multiple Nobel laureates – 7, 13, 14, and 21 respectively to be exact. Even Luxembourg, with a population one-tenth that of ours, has produced two Nobel prize winners.

A small population is no barrier to big ideas. What is needed, however, is the populace’s ability to think independently and critically, one that is unafraid to question authority. It necessitates a people who are disciplined because they are educated, not because they are mentally conditioned by state-generated, fear-inducing myths.

Therein lies the danger for Singapore’s future.


Chee Soon Juan 



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17 Responses to “Five enduring myths that threaten our future”

  • LIONS:

    The greatest myth is there is NO ENOUGH SG TALENT when the PAP quickly KILLS ANY SG TALENT that they imagine is a THREAT to their IDLING WAY$?

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  • Titiana Ann Xavier:

    LKY once boasted that if the PAP elites are in a plane crash and all of them perished, Singapore will die a slow and painful death. This myth has become ingrained in 70% of voters. It has allowed cronyism, nepotism, abuse of power and sycophancy to flourish. Meritocracy has led to the rise of aristocracy. Singapore needs a major restructuring including far-reaching reforms that would allow the citizens to feel they can actually play an effective role in its destiny. This is necessary as PAP politicians are fast sinking into a murky bog of moral corruption.

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  • oxygen:

    IF PAPpys ARE TALENTED, how come, after 52 years of one-party dominated rule, LEE-jiapore is stuck trapped in an airbag asset bubble economy bloated by a sub-prime balance sheet funded of bank borrowings and CPF retirement savings of its peasants?

    The end result is depreciating property asset values touted by HDB and ZERO RETIREMENT SAVINGS – all those musicians of asset enhancement scam all fell silent?

    Clever people don’t live a life on an orgy of spend….spend…..spend current consumption of FAKE WEALTH CREATION financed out of debt and future retirement money.

    ONLY STUPID PAPpypolitics of the dumbest kind DOES THAT.

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  • self-aggrandisement comesapart:

    Additionally, and more importantly, we are situated at the southernmost tip of the Asian continent right smack in the middle of the Eastern and Western maritime halves of the planet. No other country on earth possesses such a geographical blessing. (We think little of this until the real threat of the Kra canal looms.)

    This is where the government’s self-aggrandisement comes apart.

    PAP’s self-aggrandisement comes apart

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  • Corporate Singapore dimmed:

    Well before the party jumped in front of the band and pretended to lead it, there were the Loke Wan Thos, Tan Lark Syes and Tan Kah Kees who drove Singapore to preeminence in the world of trade and commerce.

    Under the PAP appointed scholars, our GLCs, despite have the crucial advantage of having virtual unlimited access to State-backed capital and resources were unable to compete with corporations elsewhere in Asia without that advantage, let alone the world.

    And Corporate Singapore dimmed.

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  • Amos proved PAP hypocrisy:

    Spot on. That is why Amos was easily able to prove in US Court TWICE that PAP is a bunch of HYPOCRITES.

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  • Bapak:

    Today l read the greatest joke by PAP G. They condamn the use of chemical poisoning of a spy. Saying it is against intl law.

    What happen to jailing withour trial? No condamn yourselves?

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  • opposition dude:

    What Dr Chee calls myths we see it as pure hogwash.

    There isn’t a need to even say that PAP is good, everyone can see just how fantastic the current leadership is with just the frequent train disruptions alone. No need to mention frequent flooding, er, ponding, failing HDB lifts and Keppel engaging in bribery for over a decade ahem!

    So yet another myth that Dr Chee might want to add is the part about Singapore not being corrupt. After 1MDB’s usage of DBS and of course Keppel’s massive fine I don’t hear the monkeys making so much noise anymore.

    Let’s wait until the next GE, it will be next year or the year after anyway.

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  • Dr Tan Tai Wei:

    True. Who, who has true leadership qualities, would want to join a regime where you can only excel by playing second fiddle? What else could you be under LKY? He is gone, but most of those now on came in while he was still MM? And even now, LHL has his genes, or trying to be him? So even his brother and sister fear? And Kishore had to remind him he isn’t his father? And so Kausican, longtime ambassador, recently said Kishore had to be put down hard, and true enough, he had been retired as Dean of that LKY School? (Kishore is well remembered for saying that Singapore is a sampan that cannot be swayed whilst pursuing its destination. So now he has learnt that even advising that LHL isn’t quite LKY at the international stage is to sway that sampan dangerously!)

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  • 木宰羊喜西蜜懒赛:








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  • MarBowling:

    Hopefully, the 69.9% DAFTS esp those educated but clueless and ball-less, will be able to wake up from their slumber after reading this Great and Insightful comments by Dr Chee!

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    Indeed Dr Chee had enunciated the 5 myths about S’pore which had been distorted by the PAP & their Propaganda Mechanism to revise an alternative parallel universe of S’pore to those who had not lived during that era.
    The greatest resource of any nation is the creativity & innovative spirit of a country’s people. It is not natural resources! Look at what makes money in today’s world:
    * anything that is online in nature & involving the Internet;
    * online gaming [e-sports, MMO/MMORPG],
    * top level budget movie productions:
    * merchandising of media assets & content:
    * print media original content like writing best selling books & novels, expanded graphical novels & fantasy world comics:
    * creating viral music/video content, etc. &
    * top level sporting events & nurturing of emerging sporting talents.
    But S’pore can’t embrace this world. The truth is that the PAP is deathly afraid of losing political control; therefore they:
    * exert extreme measures & controls over [censorship, propaganda, behavioural control, self-censorship, fear methods] to close minds;
    * use subtle methods to restrict & control the people – using high pressure cooker methods in education, working life (low pay, long working hours, high stress factors), state-control broadcast media, etc;
    threw a wet blanket over the arts & drama segment for the unsubstantiated fear of provoking people’s mind;
    While developed economies shift to global platforms, S’pore, PAP & their GLCs are stuck with essentially low-return businesses & marginal unleverage-able domestic ventures (can’t be adopted anywhere in the world). PAP’s SWF were also behind the curve in their investment nous seeking yesterday’s heroes to invest eg. global banks (UBS, Standchart), real estate & commodities (Olam).
    I’m afraid that the PAP & much of the S’pore population were barking up the wrong tree as they pursue an outdated view of the world, one that had been imposed by the late LKY & are still being use as the template for their world of Stability & Govt Controls/Market Intervention. Ha-ha-ha-ha!
    No one is a born leader! Leadership is distilled within an enviroment where leaders learn from their mistakes; reconfigure their views & take control of a situation when it calls for them. The stable environment where PAP had nearly 30 years of exceptional rule was over by the early 2000s. Even that phase had been achieved using an Economic Doctrine Formula devised by a Western Academic/Economist Dr Albert Winsemius whose own experience in his native Netherlands (recovering from WW2 destruction) & from his own personal experience (as a…

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    - Cont’d -
    … from his own personal experience (as a Cheese salesman & as an Economic Reconstruction advisor).
    Today, S’pore is under no clear leadership fending itself in a disruptive & discontinuous eco-system but under a collective junta of an Ideologically flawed Group-thinkers intended to continue & execute the late LKY’s misguided policies to the very end. Most of the population are blind to this being brought up in a toxic eco-system of brainwashing, Stockholm Syndrome & a slant Govt-control media system which have distorted their minds.
    When people in S’pore can say, ‘WHAT CAN THE OPPOSITION DO FOR ME?’ or scold people for harbouring emigration thoughts with ‘MIGRATE THERE & BECOME A SECOND-CLASS CITIZEN! NO THANKS!’. One soon realized the full extent of the brainwashing & indoctrination process that had taken place with the population. I have no more to say on this!
    S’pore don’t have a Real Meritocratic System. It’s more akin to the former South African APARTHEID system which practices institutionalized segregation & discrimination to achieve power over the broad masses. The early S’porean natives were chased away using a subtle MOTHER TONGUE POLICY which handicapped non-MOTHER TONGUE speakers like Peranakans, Eurasians, Anglo-Indians but basically appealed to MANDARIN-SPEAKING CHINESE CULTURAL CHAUVINISTS.
    Noticed that with each economic crisis in S’pore, English-educated S’poreans stealthily migrated overseas while the Mandarin-speakers stayed behind. The major govt broadcast TV channel is Channel 8, not Channel 5. Watch how the govt sponsored ads in English – actors speak poorly either in Singlish or in heavily-accented English leading to the view that English has become a 2nd class language in S’pore. Lo & behold, many don’t speak English well except for the top hierarchy in Corporations, Parliament & serious media programs like the News. If the Malays weren’t discriminated by the PAP, why an Indian had to be disguised as a Malay Elected President? And that is S’pore Meritocratic Policy for you! Even the politicians have become less proficient in English eg. Zorro Minister & Kee-Chiu Minister.
    Also, HDB racial quotas (which affect minorities selling of their HDB flats economically) & the 30% local tertiary educational quota. If this is not akin to APARTHEID, what is then?
    - Cont’d -

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  • NotMyProblem:

    What about these Myths;

    Foreigners create jobs for Singaporeans. Ended up most jobs went to the foreigners!

    Singaporeans don’t have the skill set for jobs. Only suitable to drive crane and security. Foreigners with questionable qualification could get better jobs.

    Singaporeans are racist. But Bukit-Botak by-election proved otherwise!

    PAP had LKY. What about other countries without LKY doing better now?

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    - Cont’d -
    A serious Economic Fallacy by the PAP! We’re into an era of declining natural resources, environmental damage & serious climate shifts. In addition, Indiscriminatory & unregulated foreign intake can lead to serious security issues, cultural mismatch & racial tensions. Certain nationalities don’t assimilate well with the Indigenous local natives while others tend to have either Nationalistic views or tribal tendencies. Just look at the recent mass emigration of people into the EU. They have created not only security issues but also horrific terrorists acts, acts against local women & increase crimes in general.
    The other major issue is Food Security! S’pore can’t feed it’s own population because much of the land is earmarked for development & the rest for natural conservation. In an age of climatic shifts which affects food production, S’pore is exposed to fluctuating Food Prices. S’pore’s economy is heavily dependent on intermediary services, trade route intermediation & basically, foreign owned offshoots for tax evasion & capital holding. These aren’t stable income earners & subject to various Bilateral issues like Double taxation & Trade agreements, unilateral factors like trade tariffs, tax cuts & tax amnesty programs to deter capital flight & overseas tax havens. The mismatch of how S’pore pays for Food (necessity) & how S’pore earns it’s money (discretionary) is worrisome. A large population in a small footprint compounds that problem!

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  • INDIAN malay INDIAN president:

    in genetics incest breeds weaker and weaker offsprings to the detriment of survival of whole tribe.

    in pap Singapore pap GRC system breeds weaker and weaker pap Ljs and pap Cbs. worse because of the S$m pap pays each other the weaker pap Ljs and pap Cbs not only weak but also world class yes men yes women. they take it as their duty to please ONE pap Lj clown to the detriment of survival of 70% sheep.

    in pap Singapore because it knows one on one system pap dies immediately pap chicken and hen about GRC which actually goes against national pledge just like selection of INDIAN president goes against national pledge.

    70% sheep does not understand. pap shall cause the whole of Singapore to die because the pap GRC system is going to breed weaker and weaker leaders all who cannot stand on own two feet and speak and act without pap script.

    every time pap mouths about 4G prime minister we shudder. because NOT one of the so called 4G yes men Ljs and yes women Cbs have fought one on one in any national election. so weak. how not to cause demise of Singapore?

    the title NEVER makes the man. just calling a clown prime minister does NOT mean clown is truly prime minister. rather clown being clown only makes situation worse by surrounding with yes men Ljs and yes women Cbs to tell clown things clown likes to hear but NOT good at all for Singapore or Singaporeans. 70% sheep truly root cause of demise of once great Singapore.

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  • Bad Boy:

    With all respect dr chee, Theres plenty of myth out there.

    Take a look at this China article ,


    This big country even more bs. always create that kind of vibes and hype.

    In the end , cannot work or break promises.

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