Mr Lee Kuan Yew has passed away last Monday while everyone was still soundly in bed. My first reaction to the news was: ‘Is this another hoax?’, after all, many reliable news broadcasters were reporting the hoax, thinking it for real. I have also been contemplating whether or not to publish this post.
I am after all a Singapore citizen, thus no doubt will be saddened by his passing. But people on the internet seem to have taken it into a whole new level! There was nothing on Yahoo news other than black and white pictures, talking about the life of Mr Lee. News radios were playing back interviews with Mr Lee, and talking about what he has done for Singapore, with no upbeat songs, after listening to the radio for the whole day. Companies have changed their website’s colour schemes to black and white. All television programs were also changed to documentaries of Mr Lee.
Most of my friends on Facebook seemed to be caught up in the hysteria, making me feel unpatriotic just because I did not change my Facebook picture to that of Mr Lee within a black ribbon, or that I wasn’t posting anything about him and what he has contributed.
Now, my Facebook timeline is 3/4 posted by seemingly the same person, since everyone was using the same Facebook profile photo, that of Mr Lee within a black ribbon. People who used to complain, diss, and blame things that don’t work to their advantage to Mr Lee, hypocritically became fanboys of Mr Lee overnight.
There has also been a call for a campaign for everyone to wear a black top last Sunday, to mourn for the late Mr Lee.
There’s even car stickers of the black ribbons for you to show off how patriotic you are, to the rest of Singapore. I understand that the whole world is mourning for a great man, but has anyone given a thought for his family? Every black top or passing ribboned car, would just be a living reminder of the father or brother they have lost.
Speaking of ribbons, shouldn’t the coloured ribbons of Singapore be for Singapore projects? Like Yellow ribbon( for ex-offenders), Silver ribbon (for mental health), Pink ribbon (for breast cancer awareness) etc? The irony is, the black ribbon was used before, to signify the opposition party in Singapore being oppressed by the government.
That aside, I just feel that everyone is exaggerating the passing of Mr Lee. Yes, he was great, I wouldn’t disagree with that. He was indeed, one of the greatest leaders. However, to say that he built up this nation by himself, is totally discrediting the rest of the people that helped build up Singapore. Whatever happened to William Farquhar, Singapore’s ‘forgotten’ founder? He too, did a lot to make Singapore into a bustling city. How about Albert Winsemius, who made Singapore from an entrepot trade port into a centre of manufacturing and industrialization, attracting investors like huge oil companies like Esso? They may not be Singaporeans, but they had done much.
Singaporeans like Goh Keng Swee, Tan Tock Seng, S Rajaratnam contributed much to what Singapore is today. They were considered founding fathers too. Even Ong Teng Cheong, who pushed for the MRT(Mass Rapid Transit) to be established, too, contributed to what Singapore is today. Yet, do people even know the story of Tan Tock Seng or Goh Keng Swee? Having this pack mentality that Mr Lee did everything by himself from past to present, is in fact, delusional.
There’s a saying, that history is written by the winners. What more of the history lessons we learnt in schools? Whatever have we learnt of the other founding fathers? Should we be surprised that Singapore’s press freedom is even lower than Russia’s?
I agree that Mr Lee was a great man, a visionary even. His love story with his wife was nothing but touching, and the speech by his son, Singapore’s Prime Minister, tear-jerking. I thank him for his forward-thinking and his policies; ending corruption, corporal punishment and turning Singapore from a Third world into a First world country, putting Singapore unto to world map. For more equal rights for women, a unified educational system and industrialization of the country. No words can really describe how much he has done, to change the lives of millions of Singaporeans.
I am grateful for Singapore. For being able to walk the streets at 3 am and be assured I’ll still be home safe. For being given the opportunity for education, proper housing etc. Yes, he did modernise Singapore, but to give all the credit to one man, means discrediting every other founding father who have also contributed to what Singapore is today, so how is that gratitude? He was ONE OF the founding fathers, not THE founding father.
I do not have strong feelings towards this man. He was just one of the more prominent figures I grew up learning about, and seeing on the telecast of the annual National Day celebrations. This post is not about criticizing Mr Lee or his principles. It just irks me that there are so many people who seem to just jump on the bandwagon, trying to outdo each other when just months ago, they kept criticizing him and his party, it is just getting ridiculous.
Moving forward, we should be happy for him, that he can at least, be with this beloved wife now, no longer suffering.
R.I.P Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
PS: To those who kept saying that Mr Lee built up Singapore from a small fishing village, please brush up on your history. When PAP took over Singapore, Singapore was already a bustling city, thanks to the colonisation of the British.