Conferment of Ford’s Theatre Lincoln medal to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Dear Ford’s Theatre,

I refer to the recent conferment of the Ford’s Theatre Lincoln medal to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The Lincoln medal is supposed to be awarded to individuals who through work, accomplishments or personal attributes, exemplify the legacy and mettle of President Lincoln.

President Lincoln is best remembered for the emancipation of slaves in America. Lee Kuan Yew never accomplished anything remotely close to that. Singapore was founded in 1819 as a free port, not as a slave colony. The closest we had to slaves were the coolies from China. It was William Pickering who stopped the coolie influx when he became the Protector of the Chinese in 1877. When coolie trade was finally abolished and banned in 1914, Lee Kuan Yew wasn’t even born yet.

President Lincoln is also credited for upholding equal voting rights for all. But Singaporeans’ right to vote was never a gift from Lee Kuan Yew. Conversely, it was our right to vote that put Lee Kuan Yew in power. Our right to vote as free citizens of Singapore is the result of a long journey that began after the Second World War when the local populace pushed for greater political self-determination. This was followed by David Marshall’s fight for full independence which eventually led to full internal self-government for us. All that Lee Kuan Yew did was to surrender part of that self-determination to Malaysia through merger. Independence was thrust upon us because we were expelled from Malaysia, not because Lee Kuan Yew fought and won independence for us.

In fact, Lee Kuan Yew once said he is not convinced that one-man-one-vote is the best and that we practise it because that is what the British bequeathed us. How can a man who doesn’t believe in one-man-one-vote exemplify Lincoln’s belief in equal voting rights for all?

Some people might think that Singapore’s prosperity is due to the work and accomplishment of Mr Lee Kuan Yew – an accomplishment worthy of Lincoln’s legacy. That would be a grave mistake. Singapore was already an important and prosperous port city soon after its founding. Even in 1960, around the time when Lee Kuan Yew took power, Singapore was already one of the most prosperous in Asia, bettered only by Japan, oil rich Brunei and Hong Kong. While it is true that our per capita GDP grew manifold after Lee Kuan Yew took power, the architect of that progress wasn’t him but Dr Albert Winsemius, a Dutch economist sent by the United Nations to help us industrialise.

President Lincoln is said to have given hope to nearly all regardless how humble their beginnings. But Lee Kuan Yew once implemented the Graduate Mothers Scheme which advantaged a small number of graduate mothers and disadvantaged many more non-graduate mothers. He is thus an elitist quite unlike President Lincoln.

President Lincoln is said to be the master in the art of rhetoric. Lee Kuan Yew recently threatened voters with five years of repent if they voted in the opposition. He once referred to Singaporeans as ‘working animals’ whose spurs are not stuck deep enough in the hide. He once said that our women will become maids in other countries if not for his good government. Does Lincoln ever give such crass rhetoric?

President Lincoln released political prisoners after the Civil War but Lee Kuan Yew locked away political opponents for more than thirty years – a record even Nelson Mandela cannot beat.

President Lincoln believed in democracy for America. Singapore’s democracy is only in name. Imagine one company owns all the paid newspapers, is always chaired by important ex-ministers and the company’s shares belong mostly to government linked companies. Imagine opposition wards being excluded from nationwide housing enhancement programmes. Imagine six constituencies lumped together as one and contested as one, thus raising the bar for political new entrants while entrenching the incumbent.

In many fundamental ways, Lee Kuan Yew is the diametric opposite of Lincoln. He is far from exemplary of Lincoln. He is most exemplary of Joseph Stalin instead.

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7 Responses to “Conferment of Ford’s Theatre Lincoln medal to Mr Lee Kuan Yew”

  1. Hsq Says:

    I concur with your argument. In fact one is over glorified. Need to put black and whtie in their rightful place. Thanks for doing it.

  2. oute Says:

    Dont know whether the Americans knows their history.

  3. singaporeburning Says:

    Poor Honest Abe. He must be horrified to have his name associated with someone who condoned slapping defenceless women.

  4. Daft Singaporean Says:

    Medal is cheap. Americans are looking at the money the red dot has with a ‘private’ organization that is controlled by this man and his cronies. What behind the award is doubt and an insult to President Lincoln if President Lincoln is truly what the other people see him. Most Americans do not really know their own history, let alone other countries’. Such award is nothing. Yet, our old man can spend public fund to fly there to receive it even escaping parliament sitting. Uniquely Singapore.

  5. Canbury Says:

    What did we know ?

    It takes US$100 billions of lost state money in US investment fiasco and eternal shame of toxic financial product approval from this old fart just to receive this medal of “shame” to feed his ego !

  6. Alan Wong Says:

    Was the award in any way linked to some American kind of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours in return” favour ? Of all people, why him ?

    In fact it is an insult to the harm and suffering caused to hundreds, if not thousands of friends and family members of innocent victims of political tyranny.

  7. george Says:

    So the Lincoln award is really awarded to any tom dick and HARRY – who happens to do the biddings of the U, S and A?

    Abe Lincoln must have been turning over in his grave many many times.

    This award to LKY is like grievous assault to what Lincoln stood for in his life time. But I suspect its the doing of the Repugs with GW Bushes’ blessings !

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