Good government, not numerical balance in Parliament, is key test for Singapore's political system: PM Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking to US broadcaster CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview which aired on Oct 6, 2019.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaking to US broadcaster CNN's Fareed Zakaria in an interview which aired on Oct 6, 2019.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes that in 10 or even 20 years, Singapore will continue to have a system which is functioning for it, which commands respect from the population, and is delivering good government to them.

He thinks that the key test for Singapore's political system is whether it is generating a leadership which is competent, committed and delivering results.

"It is not whether you have got the right numerical balance in Parliament, between the opposition and the government," he added, but whether it is functioning to govern Singapore well.

PM Lee was speaking to CNN's Fareed Zakaria on the presenter's GPS programme, in an interview conducted during his visit to New York last month.

A video of his responses on the future of Singapore's democracy was posted on CNN's website on Monday (Oct 7).

Mr Zakaria said many people look at the Singapore political system and say that it is too unfairly tilted towards the ruling party.

He asked PM Lee if Singapore would have a more balanced two-party system or a more open democratic system in 10 years.

The CNN anchor also asked: "Can you have a real democracy where one party wins 80 per cent of the seats for 50, 60 or 70 years?"

To this, PM Lee replied: "If that is how the population votes and that is the will of the people, why should that not be a real democracy?"

 
 
 

In response, Mr Zakaria noted that there are arguments that the ruling party has unfair advantages.

PM Lee said that every seat is contested in the elections - it was the case in the last election in 2015, and almost every seat was contested in the previous election in 2011.

"The population so voted," he said. "If they were unhappy with me, I would not be sitting here so peacefully, smiling and talking to you. I would have other problems on my mind."

Part of PM Lee's interview was aired on CNN on Sunday, during which he spoke on the impact of the United States-China trade tensions on Asian countries and the situation in Hong Kong.