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Singapore PM invokes Nehru to drive ideals of democracy home during a debate

Singapore PM invokes Nehru to drive ideals of democracy home during a debate

Singapore: Singapore Parliament saw India's first PM Jawaharlal Nehru having a moment the other day.

During a debate in the house Tuesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong invoked India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

He was ramming home how democracy should work just the way people of high ideals envisaged it.

It was then he cited exemplary personalities including Jawaharlal Nehru and Israel's founding leader David Ben-Gurion.

"Most countries are founded and start off on the basis of high ideals and noble values. But more often than not, beyond the founding leaders and the pioneer generation, over decades and generations, gradually things change," Lee said on Tuesday.

He was participating the debate on the Committee of Privileges' report on complaints about untruths told by former Workers' Party lawmaker Raeesah Khan.

The Committee of Privileges, chaired by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, was looking into Workers' Party parliamentarian Khan's conduct after she admitted on November 1 that she had lied in Parliament. This was over a claim that she had accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station where the victim was treated insensitively, PIT reported.

The committee has recommended that Khan be fined SGD 25,000 for stating an untruth in Parliament on August 3.

She repeated the untruth on October 4, for which the committee is recommending an additional fine of SGD 10,000.

Khan, 29, resigned as a WP member and MP on November 30, a mere 15 months after being sworn in as Singapore's youngest MP after the 2020 general election.

Giving the debate a staunch moral vigor Lee said "Things start off with passionate intensity. The leaders, who fought for and won independence, are often exceptional individuals of great courage, immense culture, and outstanding ability. They came through the crucible of fire and emerged as leaders of men and nations. They are the David Ben-Gurions, the Jawaharlal Nehrus, and we have our own too."

Lee said that succeeding generations find it hard to keep the momentum beyond the initial fervor.

The founding leaders strove to meet high expectations of their people to build a brave new world.

Summing up situation today he has said that the texture of politics changes and respect for politicians erodes.

Founding leaders would find their political systems quite unrecognisable to them today. He referred to the plight of Ben-Gurion's Israel which can barely form a government. Alongside, many senior leader face " a litany of criminal charges" while some are in jail, he said.

"While Nehru's India has become one where, according to media reports, almost half the MPs in the Lok Sabha have criminal charges pending against them, including charges of rape and murder. Though it is also said that many of these allegations are politically motivated," Lee said.

The 70-year-old prime minister said each succeeding generation must protect and build upon the system that Singapore has inherited, PTI reported.

"Our democracy can mature, deepen and grow more resilient, as both the governed and the governing embrace and express the right norms and values. Singapore can continue to flourish. But if we allow ourselves to slacken – loosen standards here, just a bit; overlook a lie there, just this time – the virtuous cycle will stutter and start to fail," he said.

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TAGS:Singaporean PM Lee Hsien LoongNehru
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