Saturday, 8 December 2018

Why I can’t abide Lee Lin Chin

I wrote this a months ago and sat on it for almost half of the year, and decided to go ahead and publish it today.

The ‘4 Corners’ program on the ABC on 30 July, about Cambodia’s bloodthirsty autocrat Hun Sen should give everyone in Australia who are regretting the departure of SBS newsreader Lee Lin Chin second thoughts. Lee Lin’s plummy vowels and clipped consonants might be idiosyncratic here but they remind me of those of the leaders of Singapore, a quasi-democracy dedicated to preserving the influence of old men in government.

Singapore is a big investor in countries like Myanmar and Cambodia where the rights of ordinary people are swept aside by faceless men who have the power of the courts, the police, and the army at their disposal. It’s not just China investing in these places. Singapore is a big participant in the schemes that leave ordinary people in Cambodia without the means of supporting themselves.

In Singapore itself, the government routinely launches vexatious court cases in order to prevent the Opposition from contesting elections. Which is exactly what Hun Sen and Vladimir Putin did to their opponents in order to make sure the outcomes of elections recently held in their countries were not in question. In Singapore, the People’s Action Party are hell-bent on keeping the same party in government that has ruled the country since 1959, when it was still a British colony and before it was expelled from Malaysia in 1965.

They even gave their ex-prime minister, Lee Kwan Yew, the title “minister mentor” of the country from 2004 to 2011. His son, Lee Hsien Loong, is the current PM. It’s a joke. Malaysia is light-years ahead of Singapore in the democracy stakes. What kind of example does Singapore, an ostensibly democratic country, hold out to other Asian countries? None. It’s a decrepit gerontocracy.

Chin travelled to Singapore after she left SBS, and more recently has been offering her services to the Australian Greens and the Australian Labor Party as a candidate for a seat in the upcoming federal election. But she should now be denouncing the gerontocrats in Singapore and so using her public profile for good, instead of helping its corrupt leaders remain in power.

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