PRIME Minister Goh Chok Tong on Tuesday dismissed suggestions that the exercise to remake Singapore was an acknowledgement that the Lee Kuan Yew model of government had failed.
In a lively half-hour interview with BBC's HARDtalk programme, he told journalist Tim Sebastian that the old ways worked.
But Singapore was also looking to the future and offering its younger generation an opportunity to decide for themselves what kind of future they want.
Goh indicated the exercise was also one that would ensure Singapore was in good shape when he handed over.
Im remaking it after 13 years in the Government. So its not remaking Lee Kuan Yews Singapore. In a sense, its my Singapore that I am trying to remake. Im doing that because Im leaving the scene, so the younger generation should decide.
Sebastians rejoinder: What was the point of remaking and handing Singapore over to Lee Hsien Loong, who presumably is going to perpetuate the system of his father which has proved to have failed.
Youre telling me that this isnt some sort of just dynastic continuation in Singapore?
Gohs reply: It was not. Im here and Im not going to be a pushover, just to hand over to Lee Kuan Yews son because he happens to be the son.
The journalist quizzed Goh on stock issues like: Singapores human rights record, defamation suits against political opponents and the nanny state reputation.
On whether nanny-like boarding school rules such as fines for not flushing toilets would be changed, he said the Government would when Singaporeans could keep the city clean without the threat of fines.
Sebastian picked on another familiar bugbear, saying there was a pattern of leaders using defamation suits to crush political opponents.
Goh said: Because there is a pattern among the opposition leaders to be accusing us of wrongdoing.
On Remaking Singapore, Sebastian said the entrepreneurial spirit being encouraged can only flourish in an atmosphere of freedom and independence. And its true that until you create that atmosphere, your economy will continue to stagnate, wont it?
Goh disagreed: I think Singaporeans are entrepreneurial. You see, they can be very free in their economic activities and many are not really interested in the so-called human rights or free speech. But youve got to allow people to be creative, to think, otherwise how can they be entrepreneurial? So I accept that freedom and creativity and entrepreneurship go together.
And taking Sebastians point that Singaporeans did not think much about rights because of the high standard of living they enjoyed, Goh asked: How did the standard of living come about? Its through our method of governing Singapore. The Straits Times/Asia News Network