In no way this is to be treated as an academic historical paper or the absolute truth. It's just an opinion piece I penned one last time for my own leisure and of course, for our leader Lee Kuan Yew. There will some good and nasty things I will write about him so extreme LKY's worshipers (those who ignored his past deeds and want to whitewash him) and haters, please go away. We are not on the same channel. And for the rest, I believe you already have your own opinions on the old man but I hope you can read on. Click on some of the links I shared and form your own new opinions on the man. This posts will have some video links and also some historical facts that I know. Most of them are pulled from the Internet so it might not be correct as I need something to reference upon on, If readers do spot a mistake, please just drop me a comment and I will correct them.
History is important to me. It's a form of way to identify myself as a Singaporean Chinese. I enjoy reading Ancient Chinese history to lean more about my roots but I especially love reading Singapore's history as I am a true born 3rd generation Singaporean. I also love his-story as I am fascinated with people. People with powers that shape future generations to come.
Lee Kuan Yew is one such character.
I actually started to write about him again while he was critically ill in bed but I decided to stop when I saw the euphoria of some of his haters online. And indeed, those who adore him started to condemn those who are happy about his inevitable demise. People then started taking sides and posting irrational thoughts, provoking each others. Some called for unity. Some called for respect. Some ask others to go fuck themselves I'm of course, indifferent about the whole death issue as all men will die some day. But all these hate and love on one single person? Then followed by the mourning and the long queue to pay a last visit to an empty shell. Don't you want to know why leh? I want to know and I think I know. :P
People likes to simplify things. I tends to complicate them. So for this piece. I will just list out the good and bad things that people say about him that I agree with.
1) He's charismatic, good looking and definitely an intellectual who posses some wisdom to guide our country. Just look around us now. Singapore as a country is successful and rich. There's no denying it that he helped to shape it into this. Of course he had help from others like Goh Keng Swee and Dr Albert Winsemius. But at least for those haters who say he's a dictator, he did listened to their suggestion and implemented them. And for those worshipers who are still reading or clueless. No. Singapore is not a "fishing" village when he took over.
2) He's a tough and strong willed leader who can bring the best out of people. "People, especially the ministers and senior government officials working under him literally fears him" one of his critics and ex ISD detainee Francis Seow said. Such fears normally will push oneself to excel. It's not the best way but I agree it's one of the ways to do it.
3) He's not corrupt. He's frugal in his expenses. I had heard rumours that he enjoyed expensive whiskey or wine but I think that's fine. All man have some sins. Same old shirt and briefcase for years..... I sincerely love the windbreaker he always wears to parliament sittings. This frugality also extended to his family members. I think Tin Pei Ling will faint if she is part of the family. Also not to forget he's not in this for the money. The CIA bribe scandal is also another good indication.
4) He's a loving, devoting father and husband. Although last time no instagram but there are enough pictures in his memoir and on the Internet to proof that :P I especially feel the love in this and this video on youtube.
5) He's hardworking and put Singapore 1st. Countless accounts of civil servants says he work hard everyday and when he speaks, is mostly about Singapore. There's no denying that.
6) He's a master orator. Period. ND rally and election speeches was so much more interesting during his era.
7) He's gentle, kind and approachable. Some of you might go HAR!!??? But sad to say this is genuine. I once had a very brief encounter with him. My friend and I went to Marina Barrage to shoot but we got ourselves right in the middle of a PAP convention . So we retreated and took a long walk towards the Marina Bay MRT station. Along the road, we saw the whole road empty with traffic. A limo stopped just beside the road and there he is, the old man was in the car heading towards the convention. I made eye contact with him, he smiled at me 1st and I smiled and waved back. He actually waved back and the car drove off. No high horse or attitude or a fake smile. A very genuine and sincere one I would say. There are, of course other countless people who have the chance to talk to him and find him the same way. I will explain why this is such a big contrast to what others says of him. This love of the people is like a Lord or a King loving his subjects. He is concern with our livelihood as he felt responsible for our well beings. Not exactly bad but I would not say it's exactly good too as his world view is that people are born with a difference. Some are more "elite" then others.
1) He's a bully, a gangster and power crazy. Especially to his political opponents or those with influences and opposes him. I think I can list a very long list of names. But some notables are during Operation Coldstore in 63 and 66. People like Chia Thye Poh (32) , Said Zahari (17), Lim Hock Siew(17), Dr Poh Soo Kai (19) and others. I named the 1st four because they were imprisoned without trial for the longest period of time. The brackets beside the name is not the age but the years spent in detention. The links are video interviews that was made but please don't treat them as the absolute truth. But it serves a good understanding on who LKY targets and how his opponents felt about him. Then in 1987. Operation Spectrum sees another wave of arrests. This could be the main gist of his flaw. He also stayed too long in power. From Senior Minister to Minister Mentor! What a title! The rest of the founding fathers have already retire from politics or not involved in cabinet meetings. But he stayed on till 2011!
2) He's ruthless and authoritative. Even Mr Dhanabalan who said it that he was ruthless to all who would undermine his authority. It's not easy to work for such a boss.
3) He's cunning,calculative and not trustworthy. In the declassified British documents The late Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lord Selkirk does not have good words for him.
4) He practices nepotism. Giving various high senior government position to his own people. This is not surprising as he needs to consolidate his power and control.
5) He's greedy and a hoarder of money. This seems to be contradictory to point that he's not corrupt. But being frugal and not accepting bribes does not mean he's not greedy. There are people who likes to see money in their bank grows indefinitely for no apparent reason. He may not spend it but he just loves to hoard it. How he acquires the money will be another room to debate for but the fact is that he acknowledges that ministers needs to be paid according to the highest income group shows he enjoys being wealthy.
6) He's egocentric, living in his own grandiose. I think the books, the state funeral of his wife and allowing all those ass lickers surrounding him is a good indication that he likes to hear people say great things about him.
7) He's a coward. Yup. He's scared. Scared of all the bad things that might happen if he loses power and all. His public persona is always a strong and fearless man but I believe underneath he is damn scared of those whom he finds are his equals. This is quite easy to spot as when faced with challenges to his authority. He uses backstabbing and underhanded methods to solve them rather than with the rule of law. Eg. like the ISA. and lawsuits . J. B. Jeyaretnam, Dr Chee and Mr Tang Liang Hong. He's also highly suspicious on people who would undermine his rule.
7 good points and 7 bad.
There are more like he's a racist towards our Malay brothers and sisters but I think he had no choice in that. He needs the Chinese voter base to consolidate his power. I sincerely don't think he is racist but I do apologise to my fellow Malay Singaporeans for the biased treatment under his rule. Those who knows me well knows I hate hypocrites and he's seems not. He did said in his books that he don't believe in western style democracy and so he didn't deny its all just a cover up. I'm still struggling with these 2 points so I left them out.
I believe majority of my fellow Singaporeans on both end of the spectrum agrees with my assessment and some of them in the middle ground like me still find it sad to see him go and have an unknown urge to pay him a last respect. It's perfectly normal and make sense because he did indeed became a part of our heritage. Majority of the Singaporeans did not even know our own Singapore history well. Which is to me quite sad and why I wrote this post. Most of our heritage are torn down for the sake of "progress". The only person we knew well together and closely tied to our history is Lee Kuan Yew himself. One of the founding father of modern Singapore. Whenever we go overseas, we'll be surprised to hear our foreign friends knew about a person called LKY. From young, we're educated sub-consciously that he is the embodiment of Singapore. Just look at the euphoria and joy every time when the old man shows up for NDP! So whenever one of our heritage or national identity are destroyed, we felt something is lost. And for the supporters and haters, we did lost something today.
So would I pay my last respect to him in person and mourn. Not really. I find that a lot of the current problems we face in Singapore is actually the legacy of the old man himself. Due to his authoritarian style of rule. Majority of the Singaporeans became too dependent on the government and thus, lost the ability to think critically and paints everything in just plain black or white/ true or false argument.
I also don't believe in wearing black or mourning together is a way to send him off. It creeps me off actually. I don't think he will like it either as he clearly stated he did not want to be worshiped after he's dead. He don't want to be embalmed and put in a display case like Chairman Mao. Instead, I'm actually glad he's finally out of the picture so we can reorganise ourselves as fellow Singaporeans and move on. This is so pragmatic Lee Kuan Yew style isn't it? :)