The Legitimacy of Governance Authority

At the conclusion of the infamous Gettysburg Address on 19 November 1863, Abraham Lincoln summed up an ideal government as follows:

“… that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Let us first examine the significances of the above statement.

·       The term “government of the people” means that the country shall ideally be governed by local citizens of the country, rather than by foreigners.
·       The term “government by the people” endorses democracy, that is, the ideal government is to be duly and fairly elected by the people.
·       The term “government for the people” means that the government should always act in the interests of the people, rather than in the interest of itself or of any foreign entity.

Within the span of one sentence, Abraham Lincoln laid down the essences of an ideal government.

The Situation in Hong Kong

We now examine the current situation in Hong Kong with respect to the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam.

While Carrie Lam was born in Hong Kong, her entire family (husband, 2 sons and herself) took up British citizenship.  In 2007, only Carrie renounced her British citizenship so that she could take up the principal official post in the Hong Kong SAR government.  While the readers need to decide if this qualifies the “government of the people”, one cannot help wondering if her heart is truly with Hong Kong.

Carrie Lam was appointed by China to take up the post of the Chief Executive of Hong Kong and was never freely voted by Hong Kong citizens for her current position.  With 2 million Hong Kong citizens taking to the street to demand for her resignation, it is probably safe to conclude that she is probably not the people’s choice for the position of Chief Executive, that is, this is hardly a case of “government by the people”.

Finally, it was not obvious why Carrie Lam wanted to introduce the extradition bill, which triggered the massive protests until today.  To begin with, one can search the internet and find numerous articles alleging that China police have secretly infiltrated into Hong Kong to arrest anti-China protesters and to kidnap and bring them into China.  The current unhappiness might have been triggered by the perception that the extradition bill only serves to make this process legal.

A critical question is to understand why Carrie Lam would want to introduce this bill, especially if China had not demanded her to so.  Of course, conspiracy theory may suggest that China might have demanded this bill to be elected, or at least strongly hinted that they wanted this bill to be made official.  Leaving these arguments aside, the critical question is in what ways is the establishment of the extradition bill aligned to the interests of Hong Kong citizens, that is, is this a case of “government for the people”?

A check on Wikipedia indicates that Hong Kong citizens’ unhappiness might have been building up over some time and the extradition bill merely served as the straw that broke the camel’s back.  In particular, an interesting consideration is whether the clamping down of pro-democracy elements is aligned to the interests of Hong Kong citizens?

Nevertheless, it is probably safe to conclude that the massive protests suggested that most Hong Kong citizens perceived Carrie Lam is not acting in the interests of Hong Kong citizens.  However, interestingly enough, even at this moment, Carrie Lam insisted on not stepping down so that she can continue to serve the people in Hong Kong.  So exactly what does Carrie Lam mean when she continues to cling on to the position of the Chief Executive to serve the people, at that time when 2 million people (out of a 7.5 million population) wanted her to step down?

Of course, conspiracy theory may suggest that China disallowed her to step down.  If she steps down now, it may be a precedence that Hong Kong citizens may rally and protest against any future Chief Executive to force his resignation, something that is a definite no-no for China.  Worse still, massive protests may erupt in China if this massive-protests-lead-to-stepping-down culture spreads from Hong Kong into China.  Hence, Carrie Lam might could not step down simply because China might have threatened her that she would face huge negative consequences if she does so.

The Situation in Singapore

Of course, it is always easier to look at other peoples’ problems as bystanders.  The important question for all of us here in Singapore is whether our current system fares in the three points with regards to the formation of a good government.

·       How many of our ministers and MPs are born and breed in Singapore, with their hearts to Singapore?
·       Are our ministers and MPs elected into power on totally level playing field?  Do Singaporeans choose to elect our ministers and MPs based on the conviction that we really wanted them to govern the country, and not because of fear or flavour?  Equally important, are people afraid of joining Alternative Parties to voice out opinions that may not align to the incumbent Party’s stance?
·       Are our ministers and MPs dedicated to act in the interests of Singaporeans and not for their own vested interests, especially in the areas of office appointments, renumerations and turf protection?

While I am no Abraham Lincoln, I think that we also need to consider a fourth critical criterion of an ideal government, namely, competency.  In order words, are the elected officials competent to govern the country and to lead the country into greater heights? If local monkeys are duly and fairly elected to govern the country, the country will only go downhill even if the monkeys are 100% dedicated to act in the interests of the country.

One thing I will caution is this.  I personally feel that a person refusing to step down in order to “continue serving the people”, especially when the people wanted the person to step down, does not command any legitimacy of governance authority.  If one is not given the mandate by the people, any attempt to stay in power in order “to serve the people” is pure nonsense.

On the other hand, we need to cultivate mutual respect in a democratic country.  If majority votes for a party or candidate that we do not like, we have to respect the decision of the majority and not call them “stupid” or “daft” simply because their opinions differ from ours.  Just as we may feel strongly on some issues, we have to respect the fact that other people may have equally strong feelings on the same issues and that their opinions may be different from us.  That is why, it is a case of one-person-one-vote in a democratic system.

Of course, I have my own opinions on these issues and I am sure readers in this forum have their own views.  Nevertheless, I believe all Singaporeans, including the ministers and MPs themselves, should critically examine these issues before the next General Election.  The choice of a good and competent government can and will make large difference towards how our country can progress forward.


Linda Chopra



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20 Responses to “The Legitimacy of Governance Authority”

  • talk another day:

    @Linda Chopra:
    ….cultivate mutual respect in a democratic country

    Not just any democratic country and not when the MSMs are state controlled, and especially with the need to empowered themselves with exemption on accountability for spreading falsehoods and propaganda which distort the truths and restricting freedom of speech to one tiny corner.

    Ask yourselves what CC did for the Hougang East GE? Is MiloIndianCumMalay Elected?


    Unless you are certain whose views are those from. There are needs to fight those fakes propaganda falsehoods from the IBs from harming the people.

    Democratic Country….talk another day, after this one is done.

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  • oxygen:

    @ Linda Chopra

    WHILST WE NEED TO CULTIVATE RESPECT FOR CONTRARY VIEW on the other side of the political divide, you can’t deny the pervasive reality of Dunning-Kruger effect inhabiting the minds of the infected beyond simply unyielding ideologue.

    Dunning–Kruger effect

    Linda Chopra : On the other hand, we need to cultivate mutual respect in a democratic country. If majority votes for a party or candidate that we do not like, we have to respect the decision of the majority and not call them “stupid” or “daft” simply because their opinions differ from ours. Just as we may feel strongly on some issues, we have to respect the fact that other people may have equally strong feelings on the same issues and that their opinions may be different from us. That is why, it is a case of one-person-one-vote in a democratic system.

    You see that way beyond the sphere of political discourse – rough as they are.

    Millions in EU/USA bought/gamble on properties before GFC with easy access to money with “teaser” loan, pay interest only, no need repayment of mortgage principal in rest for holiday moratorium.


    I haven’t discover any.

    The same has happened to real estate speculation Down Under – pay interests only loans with holiday moratorium waiting for the property bubble to inflate valuation and grow the ghosts of equity for the financially-incapable borrower.

    Now that property market burst in 2018, who is stepping forward to save these entrapped mortgage slave TRULY TOO STUPID TO EVEN BEGIN TO DISCOVER THEY ARE STUPID TO IMPOSSIBILITY?

    Political indoctrination and propaganda reduced these DUNNING-KRUGER MINDS (let us not call them “dafts”) into desiccated coconuts.

    Should we not “educate” them and wake them up to save their sorry “a*se of near total ignorance?

    There are peasants who believe in POFMA (the elites knows the fart of fiction of invasion/liberation controversy), they “own” the forever rising HDB and CPF is their retirement money. THEY CALL US MAD LIBERALS WHO DISAGREE WITH THEM TOO!!

    GET REAL!!

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  • Thinkforothers:

    Very well done for the piece of the wright out and also the perfect timing for the 70% to balance their mindset by doing the righting for all Singaporeans.

    I do hope, more of this Wright out in the further.

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  • patriot of TUMASIK:

    Simple Linda…Abe was a Hardworking Fronteirman who knew that to improve his lot he has to improve himself than the family and people around him…

    Hongkongers by NATURE like early Singaporean Pioneers from all over SEA & South Asia WORK Hard to improve their LOT…after spending 3 years in HK I feel more at HOME @ Hong Kong than I do in Singapore…there you will see workers who work hard regardless of the hour and ambience…successful Businessmen all started in the same way except for a few mostly from overseas with their scamming ways…and the govt does what it does BEST govern but leaving the people to DECIDE…they Do Not Decide for the People…Hence the problem in Hong Kong Today

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  • Putuman:


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  • Haigen-Diaz:

    Most of Lincoln’s efforts were designed to tamp down passion for the sake of sustainable, incremental progress. Lincoln’s greatest desire was for the unity of America, hopefully Xi’s efforts for China.

    You will never hope to get a Lincoln these days, not because there are no intellectual giants in par, but this is the age in the throes of Information and communication technologies (ICT) revolution, shaping our everyday lives both as consumers as well as in the work place and have considerable impact on the political sphere, which is characterized by collective decision-making. ICT provides information and to communicate it at much higher speed and very economically, leading to a decrease in search and transaction costs. Moreover, ICT also influence the political transaction costs of public policy making. In addition, it could also result in changing the underlying institutions shaping the political process so as to make further improvements possible.

    We live in a radically different age than Lincolns. When “we do need someone with a portion of his gifts — someone who is philosophically grounded, emotionally mature and tactically cunning”, exactly the luxury which stand stripped by the ICT revolution. This is an insightful portrait of Lincoln but I must take up issue using Otto von Bismarck’s book of learning.

    “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best”
    ― Otto von Bismarck.

    Let’s agree on one thing. We have to find a way to govern a country, like Singapore where it’s elected representatives are a) not very smart and b) in over their heads on practically every important policy issue. The present problem is not the quality of debate, the doctrines or philosophy of the debaters. The problem is the shallowness and lack of willingness on the part of the political class to spend time learning about tough issues.

    We also need a government that is willing to engage with the opposite party in a way that empowers that party. Empowering doesn’t mean capitulation. Rather, empowering means recognizing that the other party’s perspective is just as valuable as one’s own. It means respecting the other party’s views and needs, and seeking the path that will address some of the needs of both parties.

    Our system of government requires adapting views and leadership to changing circumstances.. Only when we embrace this will we as Singaporeans progress as a society.

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  • Ms Linda, be not Indianee:

    Ms Linda Chopra, u have unfortunitely talked like a fake Indianee who definned conflict of interest on career success or flop. U on the other foot defined the dedication of a government on where he was born n not the humamness of the government. In both cases, it is not birthplace as citizens defines the qualification except US adds on a preventive criteria ie the birthplace of president must be US. Even then they didn’t demand how many generations it should be perhaps because US n for that matter many colonized countries the indigeneous people r either all or nearly all eliminated or pulled out all roots n all the root puller generation has left perhaps none or problematic to find one truly can regard jhis country as where he was since time immemorial.

    The real issue is envy leading to greed n by hook or by crook lie or con with what internationally understood idiomatic best description of a FAKE Sheepskin-cladded wolves. These r the very scums of the country with blood saturated with violating all that is public goodness n replacing with self. In other words, their blood n physiological fluids r poisoned beyond salvation with GREED.

    This is the basic ingredient for nurture b breeding of bootlickers, brownosers n polanpa inflicted with the same virus GREED. This is perhaps what led John Lennon to write his lyric entitled IMAGINE. It is greed of chalking points to get what she is incapable otherwise which led to rationalizing Lucien Appted AG violating the criminal definition of conflict of interest as a non issue becos of career success with no further definition of seuccess esp wrt its wholesomeness! Ha ha ha ho ho ho jin jin jinger bell ho ho mdown the chimney into the fire of …

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  • Legitimacy of Elections:

    Why is it that our PM are never first elected by the people and is appointed or selected by a small group of people?
    CCP also selects their leader as president and their president are never elected by the electorate.

    Election means selection by the entire electorate.
    It’s not selection by a small group of people or sunset of electorate.

    That’s how the word Electorate came about.

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  • DemolishTheHouse:

    In the real world, governments do not serve the people instead both people and government serve the economy. The rule of the economic marketplace is general services and goods have to be purchased which creates contractual relationships which sowed the seed of self destruction(self interest).

    The destructive consequences of economic activities are felt worldwide, including Singapore.
    Singapore has a more enduring public housing than HK which substantially contributed to a better political climate.

    Nevertheless, the economy is a bad political master. The people would be naive to think a democratic elected leadership will be able change and improve the economy for everyone.

    Hello, if you make deals with the devil then be prepared to pay with your life.

    Everything is relative to the mighty dollar which include hiring the best meritocratic monkeys to run nations and not by way of wishful thinking in democratic process by the people and for the people.

    Singapore gained much from the world and their politicians were duely rewarded like none else – gain the world loses their soul or conscience – the people conscience/righteousness are already dead so they happily lived in their own lies

    HK concrete nation already collapsed which explains the current political climate . If they vehemently oppose the Chinese is because they don’t see hope, nor have faith, in the Chinese leadership ability to revert a… falling tower.

    Who BTW, planted the seed of destruction in China? The devil himself? Then you have to demolish “the House” to save yourself( any clue whose House? )

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    @ Linda Chopra:
    Your lengthy written article has a lot of high sounding words, regurgitating political ideals from past (& long dead) leaders but in truth, tells very little about the real situation today!
    The simple reality is that Politics are failing the people everywhere. The fact is that the world is running out of sustainable resources & our politicians economic growth-at-all-costs mentality is aggravating this problem.

    The whole global economic system is under the grips of a Neoliberialism mechanism – “Neoliberalism’s premise is that free markets can regulate themselves; that government is inherently incompetent, captive to special interests, and an intrusion on the efficiency of the market; that in distributive terms, market outcomes are basically deserved; and that redistribution creates perverse incentives by punishing the economy’s winners and rewarding its losers. So government should get out of the market’s way.”
    Neoliberialism sound very convincing & attractive to voters anxious to reap the benefits of a “free market” system. Which is why Globalisation was born; following by outsourcing of industries & onshoring of foreigners to man certain industries (H-1B, Visa 457, EU free access [BREXIT]).
    But ideals can be corrupted by those with immense riches buying political influence.
    This is a story of power using theory. The mixed economy was undone by economic elites, who revised rules for their own benefit.

    To conclude, we’re seeing a forthcoming collapse of political mechanisms. We’re seeing the collapse of civilization with the decline of humanity:
    * Look at America – richest country in the world but hordes of homeless people living amongst the rich;
    * The old pathways eg. Education, Skillsets weren’t guaranteed anymore for future prosperity. In S’pore, new graduates directly migrating to driving Grab, etc.
    * New paradigm shifts emerging everywhere destroying old industries, permanently ending jobs & reducing work to low-value content (low pay) while automation, robotics take to the higher ground of work dispensing off excess labour & human effort. Artificial Intelligence & machine learning would further dispense off thinking work & white-collar jobs.
    Even Abraham Lincoln didn’t have to face such terrible issues while governing the US. I fear for the future but am glad that I won’t see it happened in my time.

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  • What's going on this country?:

    Government of the people by the people for the people?
    Yes, once upon a founding father time in Singapore; not anymore, not after the great 1980′s schism within PAP.
    Public retirement funds accounting henceforth became a closed book privileged affair of the powers that be. And ministers and parliament members have shadow remunerations from government-linked companies.
    You know you’re labouring under falsehood unto a retirement day never forthcoming.

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  • Election of Legitimacy:

    The electorate first elect a small group of people to represent them. This small elected group then select a leader to represent them.

    CCP members were first selected by CCP leaders. These selected members then ‘elect’ back the same CCP leaders. At no time the ‘electorate’ is involved in the process.

    See the difference?

    Legitimacy of Elections:

    Why is it that our PM are never first elected by the people and is appointed or selected by a small group of people?

    CCP also selects their leader as president and their president are never elected by the electorate.

    Election means selection by the entire electorate.
    It’s not selection by a small group of people or sunset of electorate.

    That’s how the word Electorate came about.

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  • Government of the People:

    “U on the other foot defined the dedication of a government on where he was born n not the humamness of the government.”

    From what I can understand, Abraham Lincoln’s expression “government of the people” means that the country should be governed by the people of the country, as compared to being governed by foreign invaders.

    I think Linda’s contention is not debating on whether Carrie Lam is or is not a citizen of Hong Kong, since Linda has already pointed out that Carrie Lam had renounced her British citizenship and is now legally a citizen of Hong Kong.

    Rather, Linda is asking if Carrie Lam’s heart is truly with Hong Kong since the rest of the family (her husband and 2 sons) are still British citizens. In other words, Linda is suggesting that the only reason Carrie Lam renounced her British citizenship is to take up “the principal official post in the Hong Kong SAR government”, rather than because Carrie Lam’s heart is with Hong Kong.

    Hence the final question … if Carrie Lam’s heart is not really with Hong Kong, can Carrie Lam be considered as “government of the people”?

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  • Harder Truths:

    We need to make something very clear – Hong Kong is Chinese Territory. Does not matter what anyone in HK thinks – as far as the people of China are concerned – HK will toe the line sooner or later. They have no choice. US or not – that is the reality. HK people have two choices – accept their fate or leave. They have no third option.

    I am not a pessimist – I am a realist. Reality does not care whether anyone starves or not. It lays out the facts. And people look away and then wonder why they are in such deep shit.

    Carrie Lam is just a tool – nothing more. If it was not her it would be someone else. The individual is not important – the situation will happen because the situation is what it is.

    $ingapore in that way is no different.Under the plan formed by Dr. Albert Winsemius (not the old man) the tiny island became an investment hub based on the oil trade and international finance.

    Using the state assets stolen from the people, the government corporations systematically invests this money and maximises profits for its private shareholders. As world growth slows and $ingapore’s position falters, more and more money must be sucked from the population to keep the corporations alive after losing unknown amounts of monies in lost trades and stupid spending sprees.

    This is at the cost of relegating its local population to a slave nation status, easily replaced by any foreigner with a working visa (available from well-known vending machines set up worldwide).

    Yet 70% of the local population prefer being slaves – until the end.

    It really does not matter who is in charge. As long as the people want it this way they can expect nothing different.

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  • Roger Mc Smiley:

    Election of Legitimacy:
    The electorate first elect a small group of people to represent them. This small elected group then select a leader to represent them.

    CCP members were first selected by CCP leaders. These selected members then ‘elect’ back the same CCP leaders. At no time the ‘electorate’ is involved in the process.

    See the difference?

    In the Singapore political model, is it not possible for someone to he an MP without receiving any vote?
    If so, there is another scenario you need to include.
    I however understand what you say which is a normal way our pm gets to become a pm but my question is there an exception to this norm?

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  • Trafu:

    You need to agree pap marketing is great and their brainwashing amongst the best, not to remember the fear they inculcated.

    70% are daft and naive, that’s the truth.
    If election is free and people are not intimidated, i think 30% might agree with 70%, majority rules same in Taiwan or Japan.

    Singapore system is basically same as China, total dictatorship and no term limit, we can’t call it democratic, even the supposedly independent unit reports in to the Clown. This is why Nephew and Brother had to run.

    Nothing much we can do until 70% finally see what these white parasites really are.

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  • Jman:

    HK is a failure, viewed from the perspective of ordinary HKers. The HK Govt, from the days of the British, had colluded excessively and been totally swayed by the rich HKers and large corporations. If there are Politicians who should be in the dock for negligence and lack of due care, it would be a whole line of HK senior civil servants. Many deserve to be thrown into prison, and a one off large tax levied on the tycoons there for their part in this garbage property policy they have there.

    Frankly, the whole liberal economic system is broken. It is a disease that has spread to many countries outside of the Anglo Saxon world. The Politicians and the TOP businesses are really in it for themselves, and will step over dead bodies to get their way and enrich themselves. It has gone on for too Long. And just look at the exceedingly poor political leadership we have today in this world. The big rotten octopus of Big Tech in Amazon and Google and Facebook are still around sucking the life out of so many people and businesses, and the Politicians are still there sipping champagne and discussing it while people are squashed under their weight.

    Many things need to change. And this includes many rotten Politicians and businesses. The whole lot needs to go, not just the Politicians.

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  • Jman:

    The existing system relies on clever academic arguments that end up benefiting a tiny portion of the TOP of the pyramid, while so many below suffer. Any system like that deserves to be discarded.

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  • HK vs SIN:

    Reading thru the comments in HK sociopolitical website, I came across one on if HK follows Singapore, the problem of social unrest will be resolved which i wonder whether any citizens have the same weird feeling. There is some similiarity between HK n SIN. The HK demonstrators tearing down HK n PRC flags n proudly waving the surprising no US, Canadian or Aussi flags demostrated the same mentality n deplorable attitude of PAP govt. Yes the commenter is right but also wrong. How can PAP eliminated the pro onmore kwei rioters. They r stench compatible n in fact, there will be immediate creation of new ministerial position to give each ministry a mahjong team n these newly created ministers position will be filled by the front line pro alien agitators.

    The HK current scenario is a lesson to learn of the effect of ridiculous pro anymoh n alien govt policy. The nfi 4G best to note their dead big LP that no one owes u a living does not just mean for Singaporeans but for the PAP themselves. zif PAP thinks that US, British n the foreigners can sustain their power n they continue to work for that dream, Singaporeans would sooner than they expect wake up from the long brain washed stupor state n boot them out with immediate closure of all immigration points before they can scoot will SIN hardearned $ which they think they can legitimately taken as their own as their billions payout to them Abuse of power to self gratify n glorify is violation of their oath of office before CJ n it is no less criminal than corruption.

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  • Not the Full Picture:

    HK senior civil servants and top tycoons need to be put in the dock, and a special levy be applied to confiscate their ill gotten gains because of extensive collusion over the past decades.

    HK is a resounding “success” built on the blood and sweat and suffering of their ordinary folk. It is a true disgrace.

    And what did the current overlord PRC do about it? ZILCH.

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