Now Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew weighed in. (via Blood and Treasure blog, and also Danwei)
- my outlook, my mental approach is different from theirs. I would laugh at the west. Just like, you know, they say “Singapore is a fine city.” Everything is fine, no chewing gum, no litter in the streets, it's antiseptic, it's sterile. I don't take offence.
People come here, people stay. It's safe, 3 a.m. in the morning, you can go jogging by the marina, nothing happens to you, no rape, and no muggings. News gets out: “We are dull.”
Now, we are not dull, we are quite cool. We're going to have reverse bungee, all-night dining by the river and by the marina, two integrated resorts, Formula One. How do you explain that? Whether they like it or not, they have to shift the nuances.
- You take Tibet. Who started it? It was started by the Tibetans. The March incident, March 14. I was reading Jonathan Eyal who writes for our Straits Times. He was a commentator from London. He is from I think Chatham House, a very thoughtful man. He said if they had called in the newspapers right from the word go, and said, look, this is what happened. The Economist correspondent was in Lhasa when it happened and wrote about it. He was favorable to them. The rioters started killing people and they were not reacting. The orders were not to shoot, not to take on the rioters because they didn't want trouble. Had they engaged the west, all this would have turned out differently.
Why didn't they? Because there was a chasm between their mental make up and that of the west. So they say all western correspondents out, that means you have got something to hide. I think that was not very wise. Supposing it was Singapore, do we say all correspondents out? No. I say look come on, stay, watch it, see what happens, see who started what.
Are they [the Chinese] stupid? They can't do what we do? No. Its just people at the people at the top have not been educated in the west, they have not been exposed to that kind of environment, that kind of rules of the game, and are not playing by those rules of the game.
The day they build up an educated middle class, a large middle class, huge numbers of whom have been educated abroad, PHDs, MBAs in America, Europe, Japan elsewhere, and they are the people setting policies at the top, not people whose mental mindsets are from Soviet days, that day they will find they can play by the western rules and win.
I am a bit shortsighted than Senior Minister Lee. I think it takes more than (or it does not really) a new western world exposed generation to pull this. The source of the problem is not just the old hags at the notorious Propaganda Dept (which controls SARFT and the media). It is the extreme risk-averseness of the government which picked the Propaganda heads. This would hinder the effort to let in foreign reporters. However, Mr Lee is right. With the ubiquitous DV and camera phones plus the internet, with or without foreign reporter there is really little difference. They might as well let them in.
If what Mr Lee said is serious. The Singaporeans have to thank the MSM for labeling Singapore "dull", as it forced it to become cooler. In the same spirit, when China becomes "cool", the MSM should be credited, whatever their "original intention" was. The great people are those who could turn even the malicious force against them into something good for themselves. Mr Lee is a great person. China needs to take heed of him.
Anyway, I think what Mr Lee showed is a win-win scenario. Just like in his example of arm-wrestling between Singapore and the MSM. Singapore is now not dull (even if not all agree it is "cool"). When China takes his advise, the accompanying measures (which is as harmless to China itself as making Singapore "cool" for Singapore) will transform China, into something that is closer to the "Western ideal" -- well, in reality, the "universal ideal" which is created by extracting the portion of Western ideal which also is acceptable by China. (again, the "coolness" which fits both Mr Lee's and MSM's definition).
The nitpicking I have on Mr Lee is the notorious T3, and the equally notorious Norman Foster for airport, who had so much pratice at London's Heathrow that walking a km is considered short stroll. T3, though better than Chek Lap Kwok in terms of the limping walks, is not what Mr Lee thinks. It still suffers from the Heathrow/Chek Lap Kwok syndrome, i.e. they are designed as your exercise machines, not as your airport.