HAR?Talk: BBC Interview With PM Lee (in Singlish)


PM Lee was recently interviewed by the BBC’s Stephen Sackur for HARDtalk, speaking about international trade, geopolitical bromance, Trump, 377a, press freedom, as well as the impact of race and religion on voter decisions. About halfway through the interview, I found myself thinking: Hey, you know what would be awesome? Translating the entire thing to Singlish, like I did with the rallies in GE2015.

And so I did it.

The original interview transcript can be found at the PMO website here. For the simisai also complain kings and queens reading this: I am not saying PM Lee said this in Singlish. This is purely for entertainment, so don’t be a gorblok and say I anyhow say PM Lee say things, hor.


Trump, the TPP and Trade


SS: Harro PM Lee. Eh I ask you ah, now Donald Trump president of America already ah, then he say US wants to siam trade deals. Liddat Singapore how ah?

PM Lee: See how, lor. Our foreign trade is how big, 3 and a half times our GDP leh. We got so many free trade agreements with everyone and the US until lost count already liao. We kaypoh with the WTO also, because we are so enthu about trade. Last time, the US built the trade system, then we use lor, then everyone happy like bird. But now, America change pattern. You see Trump talk, you know the pattern already. So we better don’t kancheong first, see what Trump does, then we talk.

SS: How you feel when Trump say things like the global trading system potong jalan so many jobs in the US?

PM Lee: Singapore never kena potong jalan by global trade leh. The American companies damn huat because they got globalize, but some Americans believe they kena potong jalan. So the president also say kena potong jalan by globalization, lor.

SS: You si beh stressed now, right?

PM Lee: Got a lot of people talk cock during election fever lah. We dunno whether what he said during campaign time will jadi or not. That one is the new adminstration’s taichi.

SS: But PM, they already gostan on the TPP leh. That one is Singapore’s taichi, correct?

PM Lee: Yah lor, sian half. Everyone in the TPP kaipei kaobu over the terms for so long, then the US gostan. Wah lau eh, this is 40% of the world’s GDP okay. Then they fasterly pull out, their engagement in Asia how?

SS: Eh, you think America still ah kah liao with Asia anot?

PM Lee: This issue, Trump got deliver his campaign promise, but it doesn’t mean America will anyhowly isolate itself from Asia or the world. Acherly, he said he wants muscular engagement. Simi muscular engagement? We find out soon, lor.

SS: Before Trump won, you said people will say America fly their aeroplane if they gostan on the TPP trade deal.

PM Lee: Is liddat lor. People will think America boh steady, but lan lan we must cope.

SS: The other TPP countries said maybe they heck care the US and sign the TPP, but Japan dowan. Singapore how ah?

PM Lee: If we all say ok, heck care the US, we sign the TPP without them, then good lah. But not so easy, hor. Japan made concessions until jialat because the US also made concessions until jialat. Got no US in the TPP, then Japan make concessions for what sia?


Geopolitical Bromance: Singapore, China and the US


SS: Eh, the Singapore-Beijing bromance of the two kingdoms how ah? Limpeh last time maintain the bromance with Washington and Beijing until damn steady but I heard Beijing don’t lubchew any more. They got take your Terrex some more, still got bromance meh?

PM Lee: No more bromance your head lah. You never quarrel with your friends before ah?

SS: China anyhow take your Terrex, you still can say got bromance ah?

PM Lee: Eh this kind of thing, no need to kao pei kao bu until drama already. They took our Terrex, yah. They gave us back our Terrex before CNY, what.

SS: But China damn du lan because you supported Philippines in the South China Sea dispute. You really think y’all still got bromance? Their fewlings hurt leh.

PM Lee: Eh, you don’t anyhow say I support Philippines ah. I said I the court made a strong statement. Not the same, hor.

SS: Ok but the court said the Philippines won liao…

PM Lee: Aiyah, China not happy, Philippines happy, court say already, you want us to say what some more?

SS: But acherly who is correct, China or the Philippines?

PM Lee: Hallo, my part-time job is judge at the international court issit?

SS: The court said is liddat…

PM Lee: We are Singapore’s number 1 fan of the international courts of the world. The court decides, we can say it’s a bobo decision or damn steady decision. We care about freedom of navigation and our ASEAN buddies. ASEAN die, we also die.

SS: Ok but China also not happy about your defense bromance with America, right?

PM Lee: Please lah, we got defense bromance with America for how long already, almost 30 years leh. We will continue to have defense bromance with America because if got no American presence in the region, later everybody become siao and they don’t grow peacefully then jialat already.

SS: Wah, the whole region cannot relak, Trump anyhow say America First, Singapore must be damn stressed now, hor?

PM Lee: Yah lor, later if America and China don’t want to be friends any more, we will be si beh stressed, cause both countries want our bromance. But we must choose liao.

SS: Wah, jialat eh.

PM Lee: Sian half lor. What to do, both China and US want to bromance with us.

SS: You think got chance America and China won’t be friends any more?

PM Lee: Geopolitical bromance needs effort one, you know. China got put in effort, I hope America also can. They got a lot of taichi in Europe, the Middle East, Ukraine, Latin America. But if they don’t maintain friendship, then got problem already.


Brexit, Press Freedom, and Freedom of Expression


SS: Brexit how ah? Got make the UK more huat or not?

PM Lee: Brexit made the EU less huat. UK won’t die one after Brexit, but y’all didn’t make your influence in the world more huat with Brexit.

SS: Boris Johnson said everybody never see Britain as EU member, but as Britain because it is ownself quite happening as a world power. You agree anot?

PM Lee: LOL. This one really your taichi, lor. But I tell you ah, this is why we joined ASEAN. We are not so steady that we share currency and passport all, lah, but more influence is better than less influence, hor?

SS: Eh you got lim jiu with Britain’s international trade minister Liam Fox anot?

PM Lee: No, but I lim jiu with him last time already.

SS: Now Britain is damn enthu about bilateral trade, and also very enthu about bilateral trade with Singapore. Y’all got lim teh together already anot?

PM Lee: Haven’t lim teh yet liao. If Britain jio us, we sure steady one. But hor, all this lim teh, y’all must ownself do without the EU already. Guaguagua.

SS: Got people in the UK say we cannot be trade buddies with Singapore unless we kao pei kao bu about your freedom of press and freedom of expression. You feel pek chek when you hear this anot?

PM Lee: Got no freedom meh? You ask me how many questions already?

SS: Wahlaueh, I am not a Singaporean reporter, lor. You can guarantee that the Gahmen here will be steady and give the Singaporean press more freedom, anot?

PM Lee: I never kaypoh in your press council, why you kaypoh in how I run my country? We are how relak already, our internet is how fast, got no great wall of internet, can surf any website you want also. Got restriction meh?

SS: Ok so if Britain’s gahmen say they won’t trade unless got guarantees about everybody and their grandmother’s rights, then how?

PM Lee: This one they say first then we talk, hor. See the Americans, they got promote democracy, freedom of speech, women’s rights, gay rights, even transgender rights also have. But they neh force all their trade kawans to do the same thing. The oil towkays never kena pressured, because must do business mah. Nobody got monopoly on virtue or wisdom leh. If we cannot unnerstan this, then very difficult to work together liao.


A Different Kind Of Democracy, Lor


SS: Eh y’all say Singapore’s democracy very power one, but acherly is not that power cause y’all only have one-party rule since how long already leh.

PM Lee: One-party rule your head lah. The gahmen belongs to one party but got so many other parties in Singapore what.

SS: Er but PM, you got so few opposition MPs in your parliament leh. Until you have to pass a law to make sure they can win a seat, otherwise almost no opposition MPs in Parliament.

PM Lee: We got six elected opposition MPs what. Some more 3 unelected …

SS: But you got so many MPs, one hundred plus leh.

PM Lee: Eighty plus lah, you don’t anyhowly ah. Later we increase the number to 12. But I tell you hor, if the peepur of Singapore want to vote PAP, not our fault mah. They like us, they think we steady, then they vote for us lor. If liddat then can. If the gahmen suddenly cannot make it, or one of my MPs damn buay sai one, then maybe different story already when I field him.

SS: Ok but Singapore’s economy is damn open, then other things not so open. Liddat also can ah?

PM Lee: Eh, Singapore voters got vote for PAP means we are not open meh? We are how open!

SS: Er, gostan a bit ah, PM. You still got Internal Security Act leh. Got lock people up with no charge, no trial leh.

PM Lee: Arboden? We only lock up terrorists and Islamist extremists what. In recent decades, lah.

SS: But then you took legal action against teenage bloggers when they kao pei kao bu online. Human Rights Watch got say you imposing absolute political control and repressing dissenting voices some more leh.

PM Lee: Eh, relak ah. If Singapore is really so jialat, you won’t be interviewing me. You will be interviewing aunties and uncles on the street and everyone sure say the gahmen is damn buay sai one. But Singaporeans have fewlings for the gahmen okay, they voted us in mah. We never anyhowly govern one. In fact, we are so not anyhowly governing Singapore, everyone and their grandmother and their grandmother’s hamster also wants to come here.


377a: Ai/ Mai?


SS: Yah, but 377a how leh? Y’all never prosecute, then really still need to keep it meh?

PM Lee: This one not we say one. Is society say one. And last time British Victorian society say one.

SS: Siao liao, you want Singapore to have British Victorian attitudes ah bro?

PM Lee: No lah, but society still not very liberal. I think hor, if today got referendum on 377a, most Singaporeans will say don’t want to repeal liao.

SS: You damn long time PM of Singapore already, you can just tell society limpeh say be more tolerant and they will unnerstan they must also adapt right?

PM Lee: No, the gahmen cannot dictate values one. This issue, the gahmen better don’t cucuk api too much.

SS: I don’t want to anyhowly say, but-

PM Lee: Mai kancheong, you never anyhowly say.

SS: If acherly your children or grandchildren are gay, you still dowan to repeal 337a, ah?

PM: The law is there, lor. I take away the law, the problem will disappear also issit? Of course not, lah. Even in the West, got people demonstrating because they feel damn du lan about gay marriage.

SS: Ok, neh mind the gahmen view. What is your view about 377a?

PM Lee: Aiyah, cannot make everyone very happy lah. So until society changes, make everyone a little bit unhappy lor.


PM Succession: Next Limpeh of Singapore of The World


SS: PM, you still think Singaporeans dowan a Muslim or non-Chinese prime minister ah?

PM Lee: I think hor, when people vote hor, they got see race one. In America also liddat, in Singapore we not so jialat as before, but still got see race and religion one. Liddat not easy lor. But maybe one day people won’t see race in Singapore.

SS: Singaporeans can don’t see race right now anot?

PM Lee: Right now, I don’t think so leh.

SS: But PM, here in Singapore is the Everybahdy Lurves DPM Tharman show leh. Singaporeans say in polls also they think he’s the most huat minister to be the next PM. Really meh, people still see race here?

PM Lee: Maybe I salah a bit, but I think Singaporeans want a PM who can be huat and has fewlings for the people. They need to have fewlings for him also. And they need to identify with him liao.

SS: So, Tharman can lah?

PM Lee: Maybe someone same same but different.

SS: Eh, Tharman is your deputy leh.

PM Lee: Can be someone like him, lor. Voters still see race lah, got very few countries where voters don’t see race one.

SS: PM, how is Singapore going to cope if the next limpeh of Singapore is not a Lee? Damn long time got a Lee as limpeh of Singapore already leh.

PM Lee: Of course I must hand over lah, I cannot be limpeh of Singapore forever.

SS: Bro, you ok, bro? You got health scare last year right?

PM Lee: Yah, two years ago.

SS: Ok, and you recovered. But since you recovered, do you want to keep being limpeh of Singapore for … a long, long time?

PM Lee: Aiyah, I say already how many times I dowan, lah.

SS: You got succession plan anot?

PM Lee: Wah, this part damn siong. Got some younger ministers who can make it one, and they must do all the work and choose a leader lor.

SS: They choose one, not you choose one ah?

PM Lee: Har, dowan lah. They must choose. Later I anyhowly choose and the fella not steady, then Singapore jialat already.

SS: PM, thanks for being on HAR?talk.

PM Lee: Thanks, bro.