• (The quote above called to mind the over-idealisation and/or over-demonsation of the person below)

    Why We Have Mixed Feelings Towards Lee Kuan Yew

    ‘It’s irrelevant to me what young Singaporeans think of me…
    I’ve lived long enough to know that
    you may be idealised in life and reviled after you’re dead.’

    – Lee Kuan Yew

    There are many with mixed feelings upon the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore. In the days leading up to his death, while some wished him to have a speedy recovery, the more clear-minded wished him a swift and peaceful passing instead, as his state was steadily going downhill with no credible hope of recovery. Any continuation of his condition would be torturous, and it would not be right to wish this upon anyone. He had wanted a quick death, but it turned out somewhat long drawn, too much so for onlookers’ comfort, and probably his.

    Many used to be in awe of him, because of his grit in shaping a country to its materially properous state today, though he did have many very capable but often forgotten teammates. But upon unearthing history swept under the carpet, some of these same people came to be shocked by his dark deeds. For instance, he incarcerated more than 129 (or 1190, according to https://jesscscott.wordpress.com/tag/teo-chee-hean) political opponents without charge or trial, simply to silence their dissenting voices and actions, up to 32 years in one case (Dr Chia Thye Poh: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chia_Thye_Poh) – one of the world’s longest serving political prisoners of conscience. And many were forced into exile from the country they were fighting for. You could had been one of them then, and you continue to possibly be the next, if you do not get sued for ‘defamation’ first, for asking good yet touchy questions and raising way too valid points. Is this not abuse of power and lack of accountability? (For more information, see http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/?s=thum+ping+tjin)

    This is but one of many examples of how he created a climate of fear, for control and oppression. He also streamlined mainstream media (television, radio, newspapers), history textbooks, memoirs, unions, schools, courts,law society… for party propaganda, and used unfair gerrymandering for political advantage. (Singapore has no free press and its press freedom, which is essential for public checks and balances, is rated 153 out of 180 nations.) Many aware of what is continually suppressed abhor living in an environment that stifles communication of crucial opinions through self-censorship and media censorship, of being conditioned to think in certain ways, needing to tread gently around, instead of speaking firmly on ‘sensitive’ issues close to heart. All these make life sterile and artificial. So successful is whitewashing by the country’s mainstream media that many of its consumers only sing praises of Lee Kuan Yew, as if he had no dark side at all.

    Some would argue it was a necessary evil to restrict freedom of expression, to stunt multi-party democracy and even individual dissidents for stability, but such restrictions could be argued to reflect the lack of confidence in himself and the people’s wisdom to reflect and choose what they deem to be best for themselves. They arise from one imperfect man’s self-righteousness too. The continuing climate of fear created reflected his insecurities, of losing control perhaps? While many have deep appreciation of his good works, there is deep disdain for his dark deeds too, which Singaporeans clearly did not vote for. This explains the mixed feelings, of gratitude flavoured with disgust – for he was both hero and villain.

    Due to the lack of knowledge and capability to reconcile both sides of the portrait of this man, many tend to either idealise or demonise him. But the truth about unenlightened beings is often murkily grey – neither totally white nor black. Some proposed wearing black to mourn him, and some propose white, the colour of his supposedly ‘pure’ party. Some might wear grey instead, for grey is his nature. His complete picture contains contradicting details, of him eventually going against his own early ideals of true democracy. Did he forget that the world is also made better by opposition parties and individuals, who challenge the status quo? Perhaps, before his death, he had forgotten that he was originally an opposition party leader himself? We will now never know.

    Let his passing be no distraction from the current state and direction of things. What we know for sure is that, according to recent statistics, nearing its 50th birthday, Singapore is the richest country per capita in the world, though this means little to the average Singaporean with ever rising costs of living, who face high income inequality versus the fewer very rich. Singaporeans are also the most unhappy and overworked people in the world. It is then true, what they say, that money cannot buy happiness. Singapore is living proof of this. And money cannot buy true freedom too, for politically incorrect yet morally correct speech and activity – which are essential attributes for individual and societal happiness. Is life not about the quest for happiness?

    Now that there is relatively great material success, it is high time, after the reign of Lee Kuan Yew’s fear tactics, to go for spiritual success, to save the so-called soul of Singapore – before it is too late. Singapore continues to be ruled by his most overpaid party of ministers in the world, supposedly to ‘prevent corruption’. Yet, there are signs of corruption among highly paid civil servants recently. But did ‘corruption’ not begin earlier, in terms of unjust ‘detention without trial’, which should itself go on trial? All signs are such that Singaporeans are still primarily utilised as economical machines for increasing the GDP, whose dropping birth rates means foreigners are imported, lured by many advantages locals miss (such as not needing to serve National Service and its reservist stints, and having reserved scholarships). With overpopulation’s strain, infrastructure in terms of transport, lodging and job market are also being strained. Stressed, Singaporeans give birth to even less. Singapore (in terms of Singaporeans) is being lost as we speak. Singapore is losing Singapore. All this is surely not true progress. The point then, is not so much to count the mixed blessings left by Lee Kuan Yew now, but to plot the way ahead, free from his negative legacies once and for all. May Singapore’s mid-life crisis be its turning point – now.

    – TruthBeSaid

    ‘We will never know what Singapore could be
    without Lee Kuan Yew’s iron-fisted control –
    not in the sense that it will surely be worse,
    but that with the true fairness that he denied,
    Singapore today might be even much greater.’

    – Anonymous

    Suggested Reading:

    The Fajar Generation
    Entering The Post-LKY Era
    Separating Myths From Reality
    Lee Kuan Yew’s Death Will Set The People Free
    Singapore Is Not An Autocracy But We’re Not Free Either
    Lee Kuan Yew And The Law Society
    What Lee Kuan Yew Got Wrong About Asia
    A Middle Ground Perspective On Lee Kuan Yew
    Security Is Not Freedom
    LKY’s Route To Power And Premiership Of Singapore

  • All things are impermanent. We shouldn’t dwell in the past. Be in the moment.

  • Respect Haikus

    To pay tribute to
    one who benefited you
    is not always right.

    To pay tribute to
    one who harmed many others
    disrespects others.

    Freedom Haiku

    What freedom is there
    if you cannot freely speak
    for freedom of speech?


    Weep not for him now
    as many already do.
    Weep for his forgotten victims,
    who are further forgotten now.

    Necessary Evil?

    Don’t tell me he did necessary evils for my good, and that I should be grateful, for I did not ask him to do so, what more at expense of the freedom and happiness of others. My welfare will not be the excuse for any evil. I would rather have less material welfare and more rights for all, which is essential for the true happiness of all.

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