Thursday, March 5, 2009

When is corruption and nepotism acceptable?

After reading ST's report on Lee Kuan Yew's "GIC bought too early" today [link], I can't help recalling this report by CNA of 13 January 2008 [Link]:

JAKARTA: Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew visited former Indonesian president Suharto at a hospital in Jakarta on Sunday.

Mr Suharto is in a "very critical condition" after suffering multiple organ failure.

Speaking to Singapore media after the visit, MM Lee praised the former president for bringing progress and development to Indonesia, and stability to the region.

As Mr Suharto has been widely criticised for corruption and human rights abuses during his 32-year rule, Mr Lee said he is sad that the former leader is not getting the recognition he deserves.

Mr Lee is the first foreign leader to visit Mr Suharto after he was admitted to the hospital more than a week ago.

The minister mentor was briefed by Mr Suharto's doctors before entering the ward where the 86-year-old ex-leader remains in critical condition.

Mr Lee said he has come to visit and pay tribute to an old friend.

He said: "I feel sad to see a very old friend with whom I had worked closely over the last 30 years, not really getting the honours that he deserves. He deserves recognition for what he did. And the younger generations – both in Indonesia and in the world – do not remember where Indonesia started. I do. That's why I came here to visit him.

"He gave Indonesia progress and development. He educated the population. He built roads and infrastructure. And from Sukarno's konfrontasi and other foreign policy excesses, he stabilised international relations, cooperated in ASEAN and made ASEAN more successful than SARC in South Asia. And today, we have a stable Southeast Asia."

Despite the growth and prosperity that Mr Suharto brought, the former military general has come under heavy criticism for abusing his power.

Mr Lee said: "Yes, there was corruption. Yes, he gave favours to his family and his friends. But there was real growth and real progress. I think the people of Indonesia are lucky. They had a general in charge, had a team of competent administrators – including a very good team of economists to build up the country."

Mr Suharto was forced to step down from office in 1998, soon after the Asian financial crisis that derailed the Indonesian economy.

Many had put the blame on the former president. But Mr Lee put the developments in perspective.

He said: "From '67 when he became president right up to '97, the economy grew and Indonesia was on the point of taking off the economy. It didn't take off not because of his fault (but) because bank Indonesia's interest rate was too high, and so the companies borrowed in USD for low interest rates. When confidence was lost after the Thai baht crisis and people wanted to pull their money out, the whole thing collapsed. It was not his fault."

Comparing Mr Suharto to former Myanmar leader Ne Win, who came to power almost at the same time, Mr Lee said Indonesia is doing better now because of Mr Suharto's leadership.

"In the 1960s, Burma had the same coup with General Ne Win taking over. He did not have this team of economists. He did it his own way – the Burmese way to socialism – and if you compare Burma with Indonesia, you would know what a difference Suharto has made.

"I'm very sad to see his life come to an end without the full glory that he deserves. There're very few people of his age and my age who can remember the past. And if they can remember the past, they will know that in the 1960s, Indonesia was in very dire economic difficulties – hyper-inflation like today's Zimbabwe," said Mr Lee.

Through decades of formal ties established as leaders of neighbouring countries, it is clear that a strong bond exists between the two former heads who played a significant part in the growth and development of their respective countries as well as within the region.

- CNA/so

Nobody lives forever.

When time on earth is up for Lee Kuan Yew, will he get the honours and recognition that he so sadly felt that Suharto deserved?

Will people think that "
Yes, there was corruption. Yes, he gave favours to his family and his friends" when LKY pass on? I don't know. To each, his/her own thoughts.

There was a mean joke going around about a leader. With the transparent glass showing the face of deceased in most caskets, this joker suggested that the leader's coffin should have special windscreen wipers (as in cars) on the glass of his coffin. Reason: It's to wipe the saliva from the spits of visitors paying their last respect to the deceased.

Not being overly superstitious, I have spoken to my darlings to feed me to the fish when it's time for me to go. I have no need for wipers :) However should some crazy wish to spit on my face on the final days of my journey before the fish gets me, I've told my darlings to be cool. In my happy topsy-turvy life, I may have offended some without knowing. If they can get it off by spitting on my face when I'm in a casket, it's fine with me. Having had the last breath (laugh?), what difference would it make? :)

Seriously though, is it honourable and right to practice corruption and nepotism just because one has helped to build a country?

Does wrong become right when one has attained almost absolute power?

Does the fear to lose power and the reluctance to 'let go' cause one to lose honour and integrity even when one has done much in the early development of a country?

Help me with an answer before I'm fed to the fish.

Thank you.

feedmetothe fish


At March 6, 2009 at 3:02 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good one Mr. Fish...wipers indeed !

Thanks for reminding us how oldfart
praised Suharto and in the same breath admitted there was corruption, favours to family members.

We can take it that oldfart is indirectly telling us he is similar to Suharto, so progress and growth justify whatever means.

We can assume all this while, poor blokes like JBJ,CSJ,FS,TLH,etc
were victims of his corrupt system and incidently oldfart is one up on Suharto, because I don't recall the latter using the zoodiciary to settle scores and earn a side income.

By the way, the wipers joke reminds me of another equally outrageous one.
To honour oldfart's long service, Singpost was commissioned to design a postal stamp with oldfart's portrait.
However there was immediate feedback from the public that the newly designed stamps will not stick. Ho Ching was tasked to investigate and to her horror discovered that the public were putting their spit on the wrong side of the stamp.

At March 6, 2009 at 12:28 PM , Blogger Kaffein said...

I actually laughed aloud in office. Good joke, non-stick stamps.

Gee, it's so ironic sometimes. The very thing you wish to have and have been chasing for it all these years suddenly becames elusive. Soon desperation creeps up. The guy who wrote "I love you, Harry" at the Parliament House? His writing should be cast in stone. Adoration indeed.


At March 6, 2009 at 1:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a laugh ! postage stamps, wipers on casket.

Comparing both despots, obviously LKY is far more intelligent.
With a great team of men and a much smaller country/population, LKY had the easier task.

It was obvious from the start, LKY
need not end up a despot like Suharto.

It is LKY's lust for power that overcame the desire for greatness, and history has shown that a good ending determines success.

What I see now is a oldman who cuts a pitiable figure.

At March 6, 2009 at 4:50 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

LKY should reflect on the outcome
of his good friend, Suharto.

There is never ever a good time and justification for corruption and nepotism.

LKY should be thankful that not all govt's operate like Suharto, otherwise we would be taken to the cleaners many times over.

Watching Suharto's ending, we know there was hardly any empathy from his people.

And it is the empathy from ordinary folks that is the true measure of one's worth.

At March 7, 2009 at 12:21 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

LKY thinks singapore owes its success owes to him.
thats why u won't ever see him apologise even if throwing away billions foolishly.

the angmohs perpetuate this myth by calling him 'father' 'founder' etc of modern sg whenever interviewing him.

At March 7, 2009 at 4:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

can anyone point out any country that has a more obvious arrangement
of father,son and daughter-in-law ?
North Korea,Myanmar,Libya,Cuba,
Somalia,Soviet Union, China ???????
there is much the leaders of these countries can learn from us.
so mr feedmetothefish, corruption and nepotism is acceptable when you can make both legal. lol

perhaps another postage stamp with familee portrait ? hahaha

At March 9, 2009 at 2:03 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what I can only say is that he has done a good job and that is his reward.
I do not think that I owe him any respect. One does not own a respect is this way.

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