The FamiLEE Saga: A Non-Emotional Analysis Of Why I Support PM Lee

Commentary, Singapore
lee hsien loong

Hey folks! This post is on the logical, non-emotional analysis of why I support PM Lee. Singaporeans have been really riled up about this issue, so I thought I will write something logical and rational about it.

In the previous post, I wrote that the various parties in this FamiLEE saga were very consistent in their actions towards their respective objectives from the PR perspective. In this post, I will demonstrate how all parties are consistent in their cognitive bias too. If you were to follow this analysis from the lens of cognitive bias, you will realise very quickly that all parties are not lying in their versions of events.

Think about the story your teacher told you in primary school, of the blind men who touched different parts of an elephant.

elephant

The blind men all reported different versions of what an elephant is. The guy who felt the tail said the elephant is like a rope; The guy who felt the legs of the elephant reported it to be thick and short; The guy who felt the trunk said it was long and powerful. All blind men felt the same elephant and reported different things because of their differences in positions, and all were not lying.

To observe how any blind man would report the elephant, you simply have to observe exactly where the blind man is located. If he is located near the tail of the elephant, then obviously he will report the elephant to be “akin to a rope”. You can change blind man A and put blind man B near the tail, and he will be reporting the same thing from the same spot.

Now, in this FamiLEE context, what do the blind man and elephant refer to?

  • Degree of blindness = degree of cognitive bias
  • Elephant = reality.

So a man with perfect eyesight can be thought of as a man who is logical and base his decisions 100% on verifiable facts and zero emotions. Which is probably none of us. The most we can do is to minimize our degree of cognitive biases (= minimize degree of blindness), in order to see reality (=the elephant) as is. It is always beneficial to be aware of your cognitive bias so that you know exactly how your emotions affect your logical thought process.

Therefore, the implication of identifying the consistency in cognitive bias is that you can quickly understand how each party perceives the world.

Think of cognitive biases as lens by which you interpret things that happened. If there is an apple in front of you, and previously you bit into an apple filled with maggots, then you will feel repulsed by apples. So while most people would view the apple as a sweet fruit, you will view the apple as disgusting. Likewise, while a girl might be thrilled when her boyfriend tells her “You’re the apple of my eye”, you will feel like puking because looking at the apple triggers disgust which was learnt from .

So you see, you can actually predict reactions once you test for and identify a consistent cognitive bias. The way to test for a cognitive bias is to compare the first situation with a “control observation” by a person who is indifferent to the issue. For our apple example, simply ask someone who is indifferent about apples how he will react if he sees an apple in front of him. The likely answer will be that he doesn’t react either positively or negatively– “I will just eat the apple, lol?”

In the same vein, to test for the cognitive bias of LHL, LHY or LWL, you can ask a non-Singaporean without emotional ties to Singapore, on what he thinks about this whole FamiLEE saga. It is very likely that the non-Singaporean will say that he really doesn’t see the big deal about the house issue. And even if he does, he is likely to comment that the national heritage matter is really blown out of proportion.

So, here are the cognitive biases of each party:

  • LHY and LWL’s cognitive biases// The anger that LHL might be “too” politically ambitious, to the extent of going against LKY’s wishes;
  • LHL’s cognitive bias// The suspicion that LHY and his wife might be “too” greedy, even to the extent of possibly manipulating LKY’s final will.
  • LKY’s cognitive bias// I think LKY was actually pretty logical and minimized his personal cognitive biases. Having said that, I personally feel that LKY identified both LHY/LWL and LHL’s biases and wanted to minimize risks of Singapore falling to a “personality” type of political leader in future. LKY did have to balance contradictory objectives simultaneously–to weigh the risk that Singapore will fall to a leader without any substance VS the benefit for Singapore to have some sort of national heritage. This explained why there was a change in clauses for the wills, because all these are not easy decisions to be made. Now, note that LKY’s final decision is consistent with LKY’s past behaviour as a pragmatic rather than ideological politician. So, my personal view is that he minimized his own cognitive biases to his deathbed.

Also, note that the cognitive biases of all parties have been consistent throughout the saga.

That is, everyone is speaking the truth and their perception is reality to them.

Here, you can do an experiment–try viewing the evidence from the lens of LHY and LWL first with the cognitive bias that your brother is a crazily politically ambitious person, to the extent that he would manipulate LKY’s last wishes.

This would explain why:

  • The last will was done in such a rush– most likely, they did not want LHL to intervene or “plot” to intervene;
  • LHY and LWL have to secretly plan such a calculated and unpre-empted social media against LHL, and
  • They refused for the statement that “LKY agreed with the MPs that the house should be kept as a heritage site” to be read out in parliament.
  • LHY and LWL concluded that LHL and Ho Ching must have planned for their son to be the next prime minister after LHL.

Similarly, if you were to view LHL’s world via his cognitive bias that LHY and his wife might be “too greedy”, you will also come to the same conclusion as written in LHL’s lawyer’s press release. This conclusion is also logical, because LHL is unlikely to even see that LHY and LWL view him with that particular cognitive bias of him being “too” politically ambitious.

Imagine this purely fictional and entirely possible scenario:

  1. Long long ago, LKY created his first will and in the first will, the house was to be demolished. This is because LKY is a pragmatic leader and has consistently always preached practical values. He even built Singapore out of pragmatism!
  2. Then LHL suggested to LKY, “Pa, why don’t we keep the house? It might serve as a great national heritage.” LHL says this because he has experience also as Prime Minister of Singapore.
  3. LKY might consider this. After all, LKY knew the importance of symbols in national building, and the house will remind Singaporeans of their roots and not to take things for granted.
  4. LHY and LWL watched this and got suspicious, because they could have interpreted LHL as using this as an excuse to prolong his own political power. This is how the cognitive bias built up. There might have been triggers in the past that caused the seed of doubt to be there.
  5. So, LHY and his wife went to persuade LKY to will to demolish the house after LKY is gone, for the good of Singapore not to fall in the hands of a leader who feels that he needs not account to anyone.
  6. LHL probably realised only later that this particular clause in the will is changed. If it were you, will you get suspicious as to exactly why it is changed? Of course you would!
  7. My guess here is that LHL does not know of the sibilings’ cognitive biases, defined as an irrational anger and suspicion that LHL is “too” politically ambitious. LHL probably sees himself as politically ambitious, which all leaders would. So the logical conclusion is to suspect that LHY and his wife are doing this out of greed for money.
  8. This explains the reason why LHL sold his share of the house to LHY conditional on LHY giving the proceeds of any sale to charity. LHL donated his share to charity too. This is out of the cognitive bias LHL has towards LHY, that the masses might interpret BOTH LHL and LHY as greedy.
  9. This cognitive bias that LHY and his wife are “a little too greedy” also explains the press release sent out by his lawyer, on the part that there was suspicion that the last will was tampered with.

Now, some people might question, “If PM Lee is really innocent, why doesn’t he sue his siblings? Therefore, he must be guilty. After all, did he not sue Roy Ngerng most recently on the count of defamation? There is inconsistency, there is something he must have wanted to hide, why does he have such double standards when it comes to his reputation?”

There are actually many reasons why someone might not sue another person. And in this case, it is because the opponent is not only strong, it is family.

So, here are several very rational reasons why PM Lee might not sue (yet):

  1. Opportunity cost// The opponent this time is strong and if this matter goes to court, the lawsuit is likely to be a protracted one. What will the opportunity cost be? It is basically future time taken away from attending to more important political matters for Singapore. Is the trade-off worth it? Obviously not by any measure!
  2. Magnanimity and the will to avoid a public relations disaster// The parties against him are after all his siblings, people he grew up with. It is entirely possible to also take kinship into consideration.
  3. More dirty linen due to (deliberate) lack of context by the mass media and the public// A text without a conTEXT becomes a con. It might be possible that the non mainstream press will simply take words from LHY and LWL out of context and sensationalise them, making public opinion towards PM Lee even worse.

Now, accusations of conflict of interest are VERY COMMON amongst people in high positions. If you hold a political position and a business position, it is very easy to accuse you of conflict of interest, and sometimes sincerely so. And who knows, in this case there might be conflict of interests that nobody previously paid attention to. Because nobody ever dared or bothered to voice out in Singapore as the system works okay for majority of the people.

Therefore, all in all, I am for PM Lee because I believe that he cannot be faulted for being politically ambitious– that can only be good for Singapore. I personally don’t think PM Lee is “too” politically ambitious because…come on, Singapore is not so easy to run in recent years, what with the rapid rise of China, crazy Donald Trump and the ever widening income gap.

I can empathize with PM Lee’s position–it is a pretty difficult situation to be in because he faces accusations of conflict of interest as son, brother and leader of Singapore. In fact, I would go as far as to say “who on earth would want to be ‘too’ politically ambitious in Singapore?” It really is hard enough to run this country–Imagine making a speech until you faint. And after you faint you CHOSE to come back to finish your speech. 

This is not it. The most important reason as to why I support PM Lee is this: In lieu of suing, what did PM Lee do?

Yes, you got it. PM Lee decided to address parliament in July in a humble and accountable manner.

He apologised to the public for causing concern at the expense of Singapore and explained his stance in an elegant, non-dramatic manner.

He won my respect because this position still gives his siblings the space to backtrack.

In other words he did not force LWL and LHY into a corner with a lawsuit. This position also gives the Singaporean public a chance to understand his position and intention better.

Some might say, Come On, the PAP IB/ bootlicking MPs might just ask stupid questions. Well, yes, then let’s vote them out in the next election then. This is the time to see the true colours of what is meant by “ownself check ownself”.

But the fact that PM Lee CHOSE to open himself to scrutiny and tight questioning by NCMP, Opposition party MPs and PAP MPs showed me his humility and I respect that very much.

And the above reasons are why I support PM Lee. I do not doubt his positive intentions for Singapore. And I hope after reading this post, you will not doubt it too. Everyone in the FamiLEE saga are acting consistent to their cognitive biases. And guess what, everyone involved has the heart for Singapore.

Or perhaps, that’s my cognitive bias.

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