They say a white lie is a minor or unimportant lie, especially one uttered in the interests of tact or politeness. In the Prime Minister's press conference announcing his new cabinet line-up there was no shortage of examples. Some of them border on prevarication - a statement that deviates from or perverts the truth.
He said the departures of MM Lee Kuan Yew and SM Goh Chok Tong were not due to election results, and particularly not due the comments made by MM Lee. Despite all the rhetoric about communicating with the people, he chose not to hear about the many PAP supporters who openly declared that they were voting for the opposition on account of the "5 years to repent" remark. Even opposition supporters were (pleasantly) startled by the vehemence of the reaction on the ground.
He said Wong Kan Seng, Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim "expressed their desire to step down earlier." Except for Lim, both Wong and Mah featured heavily in the mainstream media during the hustings, pitching vigorously for the party and more good years. Mah even penned a whole series of weekly articles in the TODAY broadsheet to defend his HDB pricing policy, which was subsequently published into a glossy booklet. Does that look like a guy who planned to quit any time soon?
He said Yaacob Ibrahim is moved to MICA "because we think they've done well". We don't know about Halimah Yacob, but Ibrahim was definitely an EPIC FAIL! Apparently MICA has already announced plans to treat Malay as a foreign language. Somehow that is not going to make the guy any more popular among his fellow Malays. Haven't we just gotten over the bad patch about the integration over sharing meals ugliness?
Asked by a reporter what he was looking for in the newly minted ministers, he said "Proven performance and potential as well as political touch." That's how he picked Chan Chun Seng for the MCYS slot? Barking orders on a parade square is proven performance for political office? Even the aunties he bribed with free packet meals to make up the numbers at the election rallies would balk at that. PM Lee contradicted himself by admitting that "He's not (even) been in a ministry as a civil servant".
On why there's no woman minister in his line up, he said "when have a suitable person, we will promote her." So what's wrong with Lily Neo? She has the track record (proven performance), she's well accepted by her constituents (political touch), they even pulled her into Tanjong Pagar to improve their chances over there (potential). Is she blackballed because she took down flavor-of-the-month Balakrishnan in parliament over the welfare handouts?
He claims to aim to deliver better results and a better life for Singapore - whether it's housing, health care, a better transport system, or better social safety net - and then talks about trade-offs and judgments which ministers have to make. And the people to accept at face value, he might as well add, whether they like it or not. Another repeat of the last 5 years of "my way or the highway" style of arrogance and hypocrisy.
Abraham Lincoln said this in the 1860s, "You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time." You don't have to be very old to recognise the truism here.