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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mobocracy

'I would much rather Harry got unseated and stayed out of politics'

While gangsters might be giving PAP cause for concern in Farrer Park in the 1955 election, the sight of Chinese students campaigning aggressively for Devan Nair was raising more than eyebrows.

In her letters to Goh Keng Swee in London, Mrs Lee expressed her reservations about the 'kids' and 'brats'. She complained about how they came to see Lee at all hours for advice, demanding for one statement or another to be issued to the press. When Lee refused to be pushed, they hinted that they could not help in the elections.

'I am not sorry Devan Nair lost in Farrer Park,' she told Goh, who was then involved in a tussle with pro-communist elements in the Malayan Forum. 'With Nair in legislative assembly, you would have far more trouble than you are having in the forum, and the PAP would become just an apologist for the 'freedom forces'.'

Referring to the Farrer Park defeat, she wrote: 'They had masses of socialist club boys there and masses of kids and their whole organisation collapsed on polling day. Now I hear they are waiting for Harry to be unseated on petition and then they will put Devan in Tanjong Pagar. They've got a ruddy hope.'

Two days after Lee won Tanjong Pagar in a landslide victory, his Democratic Party opponent Lam Thian challenged Lee's eligibility to sit in the assembly on the grounds that he had not lived in Singapore for the last 10 years, a Rendel requirement.

In London, Goh lobbied British MPs to sort out Lee's eligibility problem - Lee had spent three out of 10 years in Cambridge so technically he was not qualified. Eventually, the government declared that Malayan students studying abroad should be treated as eligible to stand as candidates. The petition was dropped and Lee went on to represent Tanjong Pagar for the next five decades.

All the politicking, however, was beginning to grate on Mrs Lee.

Evoking a tinge of despair, she said: 'Sometimes I would much rather Harry got unseated and stayed out of politics and lived quietly on the law. What's the use of it all?'

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