Singaporeans alone decide how our system should work

I refer to Mr Lam Chi Tun's letter (Have constructive discourse on what democracy means to us; Dec 19).

The letter criticised Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for disagreeing that foreign countries should use trade agreements to pressure Singapore on human rights and democracy.

Singaporeans should most certainly discuss the democracy we want, among ourselves, learn from the experience of other countries and consider the merits of critical views, including by informed foreign critics, so as to improve our system.

This is precisely what we have done since 1959, evolving a system that suits our unique circumstances.

For example, our Constitution guarantees our racial minorities representation in Parliament.

We modified the Westminster model of democracy we inherited to make the system work in Singapore and protect the multiracial character of our society.

But ultimately, it is for Singaporeans alone to decide how our system should work.

Using trade deals or other threats to pressure us to dismantle or change our system is coercion and not discussion.

Singapore would not have survived all these years had we been so easily coerced by another country, foreign media or foreign non-governmental organisations.

We must do what Singaporeans decide is in our national interest, and not what foreigners who know little of our society and have no stake in our future demand that we do.

Chang Li Lin (Ms)

Press Secretary to the Prime Minister

Prime Minister's Office

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2017, with the headline 'Singaporeans alone decide how our system should work'. Print Edition | Subscribe