|Pass the Kleenex, please|
The tears came like a flash flood after uttering the words, "For me it was a very difficult process to accept the casino". He also said he saw wages stagnating for the lower income group, some even falling, due to implementation of globalisation policies. Perhaps the Minister had personally witnessed a relative, or friend of a friend, haplessly snared by the social evil of gambling. Or someone caught in the double whammy of job or income loss, and had to resort to the casinos as would a drowning man grasping at straws. Only a cold hearted heathen would fail to be moved.
Then again, he might have interpreted "group think" as an euphemism for "yes-men", given the unsettled debate about diversity in the party ranks. At age 63, Lim would surely feel sullied if his 31 years of office should go down in history as a mendicant lackey. On the other hand, with Goh Chok Tong making threats (Straits Times, April 6, 2002) like, "If you sing Jailhouse Rock with your electric guitar when others are playing Beethoven, you are out of order. The whip must be used on you," Lim had little choice but to fall in line if he valued his paycheck. Besides, what does a Minister Without Portfolio exactly do to earn a performance bonus?
Han Fook Kwang presented the recurring issue to Lee Kuan Yew in this way: "One concern is that with such high pay, ministers will become beholden to the PM and afraid to go against the PM's wishes because there's too much to lose." We get a hint about the possibility when Lim said, "The trouble is that if you have a public debate on some matters that are very sensitive, somebody will have to lose face." No prizes for guessing who that thin skinned somebody might be.
Lee Kuan Yew's counter argument to Han was that if a prime minister uses his patronage to keep a minister obedient, he will end up with a dub Cabinet. That's the Hard Truth (page 125), and that should explain the proliferation of duds over the last few years. Really, Singaporeans should be doing more of the crying.