"Official text" of speech delivered by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at his National Day Rally 2007 on 20th August as posted on Channel NewsAsia website:
e. e.g. mr brown’s column in TODAY
i. Column hit out wildly at the government, in a mocking tone
ii. Hence MICA replied
iii. Some feel that reply was too harsh
iv. My view
(1) mr brown is very talented
(2) He is entitled to his views, and to express them
(3) But when he attacked the government, it had to respond
(a) To set record straight
(b) To signal that this is not the way to conduct responsible public debate, especially in the mainstream mass media
Transcript of audio file from Channel NewsAsia:
".... So I give you the example of MrBrown's column in Today. Some of you may have read it , some of you may not, but it hit out wildy at the government and in a very mocking and dismissive sort of tone. So MICA replied, how can you not reply? And some Singaporeans feel we were too harsh. We should have been gentler, or maybe just even accept it. It's just niceness, he didn't mean us any harm.
Well, my view is like this. MrBrown is a very talented man. In fact he is Mr Lee Kin Mun. If you listen to his podcasts, they are hilarious. But when, and he is entitled to his views, and entitled to express them; but when he takes on the government, and makes serious accusations, as he did in this case, because he said the government suppressed information before the election which was awkward and only let it out afterwards. Then the government has to respond. First thing to set the record straight, and secondly to signal that this is really not the way to carry on a public debate on national issues."
Report of what was aired on TV by Dominique Loh/Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia:
The Prime Minister said that mr brown is entitled to his views and to express them.
But when he attacked the government in a mocking tone in a mainstream newspaper, the government had to respond and set the record straight, even when some may feel the government's reply may be harsh.
PM Lee said: "By all means, criticise the government and leaders, but be prepared to stand by your criticisms. But in fact we have some serious decisions to make. Because we have to decide: how far to go, what tone to set. And it's not all just fun and games. I give you an example: you put out a fun podcast, you talk about 'bak chor mee'; I will say "mee siam mai hiam", then we compete. Then what will I do? I will hire Jack Neo to be my National Day Rally adviser. It will be a fun time, we will enjoy thoroughly, go home totally entertained. But is this the way to deal with serious issues?"
"Official text" for above paragraph:
c. But have to decide - What tone do we set? How far do we go?
i. You put out a funny podcast
ii. I reply with a funnier podcast
iii. If we compete on that basis, will ask Jack Neo to be my adviser
(1) NDR will be highly entertaining
(2) But is this the way to deal with serious issues?
What was actually said on national TV:
"But in fact we have some serious decisions to make. Because we have to decide: how far to go, what tone to set. And it's not all just fun and games. I give you an example: You put out a funny podcast, you talk about "bak chor mee"; I will say "mee siam mai hum**", then we compete. Then what will I do ? I will hire Jack Neo to be my National Day Rally adviser. It will be a fun time, we will enjoy thoroughly, go home totally entertained. But is this the way to deal with serious issues?"
** According to the Tues 22 Aug 2006 Straits Times report of the speech, we are told his press secretrary clarified that the Prime Minister meant to say "laksa mai hum".
On Thu 24 Aug 2006, it was observed that the transcript on Sprinter, official government source for the speech, does not the carry the complete reference to "mee siam" anymore. Zapped. Just like that.