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Half of India’s MPs have criminal records: Singapore PM Lee Hsien

Ground Report | New Delhi: Singapore Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong invoked India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru while explaining how democracy should work in the city-state during a heated debate in parliament.

Most countries are founded and start with high ideals and lofty values. But more often than not, beyond the founding leaders and the pioneer generation, over decades and generations, things change incrementally,” Lee said Tuesday during the debate on the privileges commission report on complaints about the untruths uttered by the former Workers’ Party lawmaker Raeesah Khan

“Things start with a passionate intensity. The leaders, who fought for independence and won it, are often exceptional individuals of great courage, immense culture and exceptional ability. They passed through the fiery crucible and became rulers of men and nations. They are the David Ben Gurions, the Jawaharlal Nehrus, and we have ours too,” he said.

Imbued with enormous personal prestige, they strive to meet the high expectations of their peoples to build a brave new world and shape a new future for their peoples and for their countries. But beyond that initial fervor, later generations often struggle to maintain that momentum and motivation, Lee said.

The texture of politics changes, respect for politicians declines. After a while, the electorate comes to think that’s the norm, and you can’t expect better. So standards are deteriorating, trust is eroding and the country is in further decline, the prime minister said.

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“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.

However, India strongly objected to remarks made by Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referring to criminal charges against half of India’s lawmakers.

According to Ministry of External Affairs sources, Singapore’s envoy to India, Simon Wong, was summoned to the MEA on Wednesday regarding Prime Minister Lee’s February 15 speech in parliament.

“The remarks of the Prime Minister of Singapore were misplaced. We are taking up the matter with the Singapore side,” they said.

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