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Koh Hui Theng
Friday, Jul 18, 2014

Singapore

Author Catherine Lim laughs off proposal to set up political party

The New Paper | Koh Hui Theng | Friday, Jul 18, 2014

Her open letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month caused a stir.

In it, author Catherine Lim claimed that Singaporeans "no longer trust their Government and the Government no longer cares about regaining their trust".

There was no rebuke from political leaders. No call for her to step into the political arena.

She told The New Paper: "Deep down, I suspect the Government actually respects integrity."

"That's why the worst has not happened. When I speak up, no one calls me up."

That wasn't the case in 1994. She wrote two articles - her analysis of the leadership styles - and received a strong response. There were calls for her to step into the political ring if she wants to have her say. She did not.

That will not change any time soon either.

"I'm not fit for political office," she said. "I don't have the qualities and the talent.

"More importantly, I don't have the inclination."

The woman dubbed Mr Lee Kuan Yew's "most persistently perceptive critic" described herself as too "ferociously independent".

That's why she laughed off farm owner Ivy Singh-Lim's proposal to set up a political party.

"If I join a party, they would boot me out in two months because I'm so opinionated, I won't go by consensus," she added.

What the 72-year-old would rather do is pen her observations, like that open letter to Mr Lee.

Post-General Election 2011, she had decided not to write any political commentaries but watch and observe.

"I'm quiet because I have nothing new to say and I never like to say old things," she said.

Sensing a "distinct hardening of the government position" through actions like the $50,000 bond that some online news sites had to post and the PM's defamation suit against blogger Roy Ngerng, Ms Lim became nervous.

"I won't write it if I have nothing urgent to say," she added. "I deliberately made my opening line absolutely gripping."

That open letter netted more than 300 replies in a week on her website.

She was happy at how it sparked debate and raised awareness on government-people ties.

"If the relationship between the Government and people isn't good or healthy, they're finished," she declared. "Never mind the infrastructure, the bread and butter issues."

NEW BOOK

Next up is a book to mark Singapore turning 50 next year, to be launched in late October.

Expect her personal story, blended with political observations.

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