Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Telling It Like It Is

Charlie Rose is the consummate master of the double entendre. He can tell you to go to hell, and get you to thank him for giving good advice. Interviewing Lee Hsien Loong on his Current Affairs program on 14 April, he gave the world the following gems, straight from the horse's mouth:

On his wife
"She’s -- I’m not sure I’d call her a businessperson. I think she’s an employee."

On his father
"He calls himself a mascot. "

On Jeffersonian democracy
"So we’re not trying to approximate you. We are trying to find a formula which works for Singapore. "

On moral authority to govern
"So if there’s any doubt that this is so, and people believe that I’m there because my father fixed it or the whole system is just make-believe, then the system will come down. It’s not tenable. "

On efficacy of suing journalists
"In this case the same journalist and same newspaper had made the same allegation and apologized and paid damages and promised never to do it again. And they did it again. "

On the demographic problem
"I have one coming. That’s one of the reasons why we emphasize babies as well as immigration. "

On his family's legacy
LEE HSIEN LOONG: And if you look at Indonesia and President Suharto, he came to power in a coup, military-backed. But over 30 years he acquired legitimacy, he developed a kind of ideology to legitimize the rule. He had some kind of elections, he had some sort of a political process.
CHARLIE ROSE: But at the end of the day he was a dictator. He was in control.
LEE HSIEN LOONG: At the end of the day he did a lot of good for Indonesia, but unfortunately towards the end the rapacity became intolerable. And he didn’t deserve the end he came to.
CHARLIE ROSE: And if he’d given up power?
LEE HSIEN LOONG: If he had given up power, even in the last election which he contested, or better still the one before that, and there had been three, four years for a new government to settle in and grasp the reigns before the Asian crisis had come, I think Indonesia might not have gone through the traumatic time which is it did. And Suharto would be remembered today as a great patriot.

And how will the Old Man be remembered? Like his pal Suharto?

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