The little article that rocked Singapore
SINGAPORE— From Saturday's Globe and Mail
(extract)That little article was published in the fall of 1994 in Singapore’s Straits-Times newspaper. In it, Ms. Catherine Lim – until then best known as a novelist – committed the shocking act of pointing out that while the long-ruling PAP had done a good job running Singapore’s economy, it had done little to endear itself to those it governed. “There is very little in the way of affectionate regard,” she wrote.
It was a truth the government didn’t want to hear. In the weeks that followed (and particularly after she wrote an equally blunt follow-up column), Ms. Lim was attacked in print and in person by the government of then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong
Suddenly, Ms. Lim’s columns weren’t welcomed by the Straits Times any more. She was told that she had angered the country’s paramount political figure, Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s authoritarian founder who once said “if you are a trouble maker … it’s our job to politically destroy you.”
“I understand [why the government was angry]. I knew that what I had done – which seemed innocuous to Western eyes – was to them a gross violation of the Confucianist ethos” of respecting your seniors and superiors, Ms. Lim explained in an interview Friday.
Flash forward to 2011, and Ms. Lim has reason for her good humour. The recent elections – which saw a best-ever result for the opposition – saw criticism of the government become commonplace on the Internet and particularly on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. During the campaign, Ms. Lim, who now blogs on her own website (catherinelim.sg)