|Paying my respects at the Istana.|
I grew up in an era where Malaysia’s Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew were at the driver’s seat of each nation social economic and political agenda. The little red dot to the South and the mighty big bully to the North are best used to describe how these two giants of Asia look at each other during their years in power. It is no hidden secret that both leaders loathe each other, look at each other as competitors, sometimes a nuisance yet they can’t completely cut each other off.
Any remarks by either leader were studied and analyzed with great details. More often than not, editorials of newspapers were dispensed for three purposes; to gauge the sentiment of the people regarding their neighbor, to convey the messages of the government that won’t look nice if conveyed through diplomatic channel and to stir up emotions of the people, especially the older generation that live through the days when Singapore was part of Malaysia. As an avid newspaper reader, these created an even higher curiosity to know Lee Kuan Yew and there is no turning back.
Security, water, KTM lands, the causeway, competing ports, CPF monies, airspace, land reclamations, economy miracles, technology might …..all these were never ending bickering and competing points between the Dr. Mahathir and Lee Kuan Yew. Even when both leaders were fully retired from public office, their views on the other nation were passed down to their successors. Thus, hardly a week goes without reading in print of what the political leaders from both side of the causeway say about each other. It was only in the last few years that the trading of barbs between both nations tuned down.
|I weep in silence for him.|
I am not afraid to be called unpatriotic to admit that my idols are Mao Zedong and Lee Kuan Yew. I’d written quite a fair bit in explaining why Chairman Mao is my idol eventhough half the world call him a tyrant. The same goes with Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away on Monday, 23rd March 2015.
Historians, benefactors and detractors alike are starting to debate his legacy but to me, it is his pragmatism in creating the Singapore miracle that makes him so special in my heart. I do not care if he have to put dissidents behind the bars for years, I do not care if he made those who slander him bankrupt hence unable to compete in the general elections, I do not care if his words are mean and curt, but what I care is the end result of what he produced, his political will power and above all, his determination to resists corruption and his integrity in not enriching himself and his family members despite his enormous power. To measure a man, measure what he did with power!
|Penning my condolences.|
When I was 3 years old, I embarked on my first overseas holiday with my parents and our destination was Singapore. With a twist of an irony, for the moment, Singapore can be considered my second home. Since then, Lee Kuan Yew’s towering name is like a chime that will ring frequently and books about him were my constant companion. When his memoir, The Singapore Story was launched in 1998, daddy did not hesitate to get me a copy. And this is the book that followed me to New Zealand, followed by From Third world to First. The books accompanied me throughout my Auckland years.
|Wished that he will get well to see SG50 but....|
I never have the chance to have a photograph taken with this idol of mine but I am thankful for the many opportunities that I get to hear him speak at forums and to shake his hand. I am thankful too, to be able to make it to the Singapore General Hospital to leave a bouquet of flower to him, barely 36 hours before his passing and I was choked with emotion when I went to the Istana to pen my condolences. I am glad that work took me to the Lion City, at no other better time than this trip, to bid good bye to this hero of mine for one last time. Rest in peace, Mr. Lee, though I know you’d said that you’ll get up from your grave if something is wrong with Singapore, but rest assured, Singapore is in good hands.