According to James Minchin, Lee Kuan Yew during his early days as prime minister had to soften his TV image, as his official smile is not unlike that of a crocodile tenderly anticipating its prey. When he is not tensed up to rebuke or attack, he tends to appear bored or chemically over-relaxed, wrote Minchin.
When Lee first saw himself on television, (Alex) Josey tells us, he was momentarily shocked into silence. He was appalled at the fierce and unsmiling figure on the screen, clearly spoiling for a fight. "This was not the figure the political Lee wanted to present to the electorate," wrote Josey.
(page 284, "No Man Is An Island", James Minchin)
We don't know why Lee Hsien Loong - or his hired public relations consultants - thought of going before the cameras, or what political figure Lee plans to present to the electorate. The mainstream media says he wants to forge a new way forward with all Singaporeans by answering questions "live" on a TV forum on Channel NewsAsia on September 24, and the "open discussion" will see him answer questions raised by people from "all walks of life". It's all Orwellian Doublespeak, of course.
Questions have been solicited from the public three weeks prior to the forum; that's as "live" as can be orchestrated. The "open discussion" session will be facilitated by Walter Fernandez, MediaCorp's Editor-in-Chief, and Ms Sharon Tong, a presenter - moderators, never leave home without it. As for "all walks of life", the list is curated and, purportedly, members of the public are invited to vote on the issues. "Curated" is defined in the dictionary as "Select, organize, and look after the items". Nothing is left to chance.
Lee junior has his own version of a smile, abandoned only when he had to apologize for not getting it right, as in during the 2011 general election. What did Aung San Suu Kyi say about leopards during the Q&A at Singapore Management University yesterday? "It's not that I want the leopards to change its spots. I just want the leopard to stay beautiful and dignified in the jungle." The "soldiers shouldn't be in govt" message was delivered before 400 government officials, business leaders, academics and students at the Ho Rih Hwas Leadership in Asia Public Lecture. Among them was Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim. The generals, if sighted, were not mentioned.