Agree, disagree, or what else? These are voices in this national narrative (if I had not chosen the word incorrectly) or a national conversation. But they do throw some light into what Singaporeans are.
Possessiveness : Once Lee Kuan Yew becomes a monument, it becomes a possession of the people. 38 Oxley too becomes a possession. They can exercise their rights over these possessions. Now they cannot.
Superficial : Quick way of getting things done without much thoughtfulness nor deeper consideration. What else can be better to honour a man than to create a perpetual physical presence so that it cannot be lost in time? It does not take a lot of effort and Singapore has the resources to afford one that no one else in any part of the world can.
Opportunistic : Politicians and others who are aware of such weaknesses and took advantage of these by proposing or supporting such calls that they may stand to gain. The Lee Kuan Yew name brings a lot of goodwill, very valuable.
Hollowness : Looking for a god to worship.
To begin with, 38 Oxley is a private property, and there is a last will of the owner that determines what it should be upon demised. The only special between this and every others is Lee Kuan Yew was and is Singapore's First PM. The people can "unusually" or "misnormally" request state intervention to take possession of this private property, which if it happens to someone else and not Lee Kuan Yew then it would have been an utter abuse of authority.
How to honour Lee Kuan Yew in his very spirit? Those who knew him personally and closed to him would have already found his character too unachievable. Just his discipline alone is beyond our reach let alone his unwavering stand on truth.
But it is in the painful effort of following the man's way of dealing with the world in us and around us that we Singaporeans can sufficiently honour him in the best and acceptable way.
His last books were done not in the best of physical conditions, but we can now look back an marvel at his tenacity and perseverance to finished those books before allowing himself to succumb to infirmity.
We ask : Why? What is so important about another one or two more books? Haven't he already put his thoughts in the previous books?
His Life are in all of his books being put together, and they must come complete. If only we understood him well, and treasure the true treasures hidden in his books that he may be honoured in the most appropriate manner.
If only I can read what Lee Kuan Yew has to say, he would have said thus : Don't look to my house for answers. Don't worship my statue for blessings. Don't waste my name in meaningless airports or parks that will degenerate into no more than another name for another place.
Look into my books and I will be very very honoured
Sunday, 19 April 2015
Sunday, 5 April 2015
During the hustling of 2011 General Elections, supporters of the opposition were having a field day in social media and practically dominated the discourse over internet.
The PAP was not prepared for such tsunami like attacks, and its supporters were thrown into disarray not knowing how to respond. They were outnumbered and grossly ridiculed.
The PAP had believed and I think they still do that the real battle is on the ground. Social media does not accurately represent true sentiments of the electorates vis-a-vis the silent majority. They are not wrong except that they underestimated the significance of what dominating social media and the internet means.
Very quickly, PAP supporters picked up the ropes of social media discourse, thanks to social media group Fabrication About the PAP. They set about exposing unverified statements and blatant lies that opposition supporters created to win over at discussion platforms.
By and large the PAP supporters had done well but in my opinion are still lacking behind the opposition supporters. Why is this so?
On the side of the opposition, they had a number of well known academics, historians, lawyers and prominent figures in the arts fraternity and bloggers who have no qualms about being public about their support for the opposition, some cloaked in the grandiose of democracy, freedom of expression etc but nevertheless opposition in spirit.
Capable, sharp minded similars on the side of the PAP prefers to remain neutral or anonymous. There are not many, perhaps none that writes with the same convincing power comparable with the adversaries. Gladly of late, certain ex-diplomats has entered the foray giving the PAP side a much needed shot in the arm. But still, he is not one who engages in day to day battle.
The game changer came with the demise of PAP strongman Lee Kuan Yew. The "Silent Majority" armed with moral uprightness went into battle and started slaughtering every disrespectful comment about Lee Kuan Yew.
The opposition camp was caught unprepared and retaliated with some half-baked commentaries that don't make sense to ordinary educated folks. Their logic and arguments were incongruent.
For the opposition camp that habitually wins most of arguments through crooked logic now find themselves standing on a shaky platform, and spared no effort in trying to prevent it from coming down disgracefully. They started commentaries attacking the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew.
But this did not work, so they changed tactic by honouring Lee Kuan Yew and disparage Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong instead.
Will this work? This does not depend on how well they craft their attacks but instead on how well the public, in particular the moderates as to how they analyze these commentaries. By conventional wisdom they should win because analyzing matters takes efforts and most people prefer to jump quickly to conclusion by way of the superficial. But we cannot rule out that these moderates are now fairly emotionally charged and in the words of Lee Kuan Yew, their adrenalin are so charged that there is tremendous amount of energy in them to take the trouble to analyze and make intelligent response.
Whether PAP supporters have the strategy and/or the will to do a concerted counter attack in the face of this strategic advantage, a special gift from Mr Lee Kuan Yew, is left to be seen.
Friday, 3 April 2015
Western media were talking about trade-of and then Calvin Cheng went to tell them off.
Because of that, Donald Low, a lecturer from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was not impress. He said Calvin Cheng deserved a response, and of course that invited a counter response from Calvin Cheng.
But what the hell trade-offs are they all arguing about?
The story goes that those Westerners, angmo writers were somewhat upset about the accolades and honour Western leaders are showering on one man Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's No.1 Prime Minister but their No.1 hated person.
Lee Kuan Yew was no fanboy of the Western media, and vice versa. Doing away with diplomatic protocol and courtesy, the West has always believed that Singapore is so small that their media alone, if not add a couple of NGOs would be sufficient to teach and tell Singapore how to run a country. But for Lee Kuan Yew, it had always been such that if you want to step on my holy ground you better remove your stinking shoes or else I'll kick you hard at where it pains you most.
But to Singapore and to Singaporeans, Lee Kuan Yew is the man. It is not about what is written all over the world, neither is it about what is being taught in the Ivy league.
Singaporeans knew the man via real life experience. You tell them Lee Kuan Yew is a dictator, but what they know of him was a strict father. You tell them Lee Kuan Yew restricts their lives and movements, but these to them were necessary household discipline. You tell them not to listen and believe in everything Lee Kuan Yew says and to them Lee Kuan Yew had always been a man of his word.
So now even as Singaporeans are yet to recover from a state of shock and great loss, you Western media come along and insult the man whom Singaporeans fondly call Founding Father? You want to tell them that all the things Lee Kuan Yew did for them were nothing but sinister exchange?
Hey buddy....take note of this. During the time the name Lee Kuan Yew was first introduced, Singaporeans had to head to streets of Chinatown to get a letter written to relatives in China. Look at the pictures that are proudly hung up on my walls in the living room, and please count how many mortarboards there are. Go round the neighbourhood and you will know we are not unique.
What trade-off? Look at me, do I look like I've been imprisoned and tortured like those appearing in documentaries over RT TV? Singapore's prison is for criminals, not ordinary folks. Have I ever been taken to court for grumbling about parking fine and speeding? No, not when I pay up in time. Are you suggesting that Singaporeans should not be paying fine for parking or speeding offences?
Yes I heard Low Thia Khiang mentioned about Singaporeans being sacrificed for Lee Kuan Yew's policies, and society paid a price for that. I am not sure if Mr Low was talking about me. Yes I was asked to sacrificed, but I was doing it for my family. But in all honesty, we never knew we had in fact sacrificed. Practically everyone lived the same way.
The house we used to live in in Toa Payoh was rented from the HDB, It was small but there were basic services like water and electric was there. We had to squat to do our business if you know what I mean. But comparing with our previous abode, a rented room in a large house in Ah Hood Road where at least more than 20 families sharing two toilets and bathrooms, this little rented house was luxury. Was that a sacrifice? If you want to compare to the executive condo we are living in now, that may sound a lot of discomfort no doubt.
Oh yes, I guess you may also want to know about General Elections in the 60s. There were no less than 10 political parties and independent candidates to choose from. Political activities these days cannot compare. Did you experience fighting between parties? Those days political freedom wasa in their own hands. Only those with guns or associated with guns were later arrested. Some of them ran away to Western countries and tell stories about us. How much do they know by living in advance countries?
So for goodness sake, don't talk too much about trade-off. We know better. Yes there is a price to pay for everything, and what we see today, how we live today are bought with a willing price, not a trade-off.
This footnote is added for Mr Low Thia Khiang.
Maybe others may have questioned your sincerity in offering your tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, after listening to your speech in Mandarin I do not doubt your sincere tribute. The only thing you did,and I can understand that you need to as leader of your party and the opposition as a whole is to make a dent in the PAP.
While you praised Lee Kuan Yew for his tenacity and relentless efforts in building Singapore, you tried to differentiate Mr Lee from the PAP by rejecting the PAP's contribution and influence in bringing about progress and prosperity for Singapore. But your attempt sticked out like a sore thumb. Lee Kuan Yew and PAP cannot be separated nor differentiated. They are synonymous or perhaps homologous.
We do understand the need to differentiate Mr JB Jeyaratnam or even Mr David Marshall from the Workers Party, or do the same with Mr Chiam See Tong with Singapore Democratic Party. You simply cannot do that with Lee Kuan Yew and the PAP.
So your recognition to Lee Kuan Yew having indeed brought about progress and prosperity to Singapore by rallying Singaporeans to unite, it is unequivocal that the same recognition is on the PAP's one party rule in unity. Please bear in mind that when Singaporeans rally around Lee Kuan Yew, they are also rallying around PAP.
As to your reference to sacrifices of Singaporeans, I mentioned earlier that we sacrificed for the sake of our families and our future. We were never interested in power not holding political offices. We just wanted a secured future. To those whose ambitions were to seek political office, they do so for their own ambitions. To each his own. Do I owe them for their sacrifices....certainly not.