Initially when I saw the title I actually thought it was about keeping his system of running this country with mandarins alive. He was talking about Mandarin the language, not mandarin the scholar elites that help run the PAP govt. I thought the later would be more interesting.
First there is the problem of selecting these elites to serve the people. Unlike other countries where leadership emerge naturally from ordinary people, leadership in Singapore is selected and groomed. If you're from the SAF, civil service or GLC your abilities are considered proven because life is so hard in these organisations leadership has to be the strongest. These there are those tea sessions where the MM & PM decide whether you are in or out.
Next step tackles the problem of getting these people into parliament. That is where the GRC comes in, these people so good, it cannot be left the the citizens of Singapore to decide whether they should enter parliament - so they get in by riding on the coattails of ministers in GRCs and with upgrading carrots dangled to encourage voters....getting into parliament is a certainty.
So are elections important in such a system? Actually not. That is why the govt allows only 9 days of campaigning....no live debates, ...so we hardly know these people we have to vote for on polling day....anyway. In the end, we vote for upgrading progammes NOT the people who are suppose to represent us.
I hope one day LKY writes a book to explain to us this advanced form of govt that is cleverly adapted from the Imperial system in China. Singaporeans are so lucky to have such a wonderful political system, one in which they can relax and not think too much about politics and still get people who will sincerely represent our interests in parliament.