The less than half-past-six special one

I refer to the 16 Aug 2013 Straits Times letter “Mr Lee is indeed Singapore’s ‘special one’” by Mr K. Kalidas.

Western leaders generally do not contest for power beyond two, three terms even though they can if they wanted to. Choosing to step down after three decades in power means Mr Lee far overstayed his time in office by Western standards. Only autocrats and despots tend to stay in power for that long.

Furthermore, his so-called stepping down wasn’t complete as he retained such roles and positions as Senior Minister and Minister Mentor which allowed him to continue influencing cabinet decisions like the use of dialects in the media which he recently revealed.

Dr Winsemius wasn’t just one of the brains behind Singapore’s industrialisation and economic development, he was the chief architect and planner. The scale of the plans was such that no one person could possibly have executed them all by himself or herself. That would be most unfair to Dr Goh Keng Swee and others who more than Mr Lee deserve that recognition. There can be no doubt that in the economic arena, it was Dr Winsemius and Dr Goh who mattered, not Mr Lee.

Mr Lee has always been a shrewd politician and the political risk of the Land Acquisition Act was clearly not very high because the number of people who would benefit from it would outweigh the number who would suffer from it. The act was in essence the expropriation of land from land owners much like the collectivisation of farms by the communists. It was nothing to be proud of and we should consider the suffering and loss of pig farmers who lost their livelihood overnight. While it did contribute to nation building, the land acquired on the cheap then is today leased out for 99 years at such a high price that a discount is considered a subsidy by the government. Where is the justice to those people whose gift of land to the nation has become a subsidy by the government today?

It wasn’t Mr Lee who defeated the Barisan Socialis but the British instead. Whether it was Lim Yew Hock or Mr Lee, both depended on British might to destroy the Leftists.

Mr Lee could shut down Nanyang University because he had gained absolute control of the population and the economy by then. It wasn’t something creditable but regrettable because Mr Lee forever wiped out Chinese medium schools in Singapore. While Malaysia still has Chinese medium schools today, Singapore no longer has Chinese medium schools, something Malaysian PM Najib quite rightly pointed out recently. Singapore’s second university, NTU is not Nantah. Nantah forever vanished after Mr Lee closed it down.

If someone else had been in charge, we might still have Barisan and Nantah and the nation would have been richer for it. But regardless of whether or not he was in charge, it was clear that the Singapore economic engine would have roared just the same with the brain of Dr Winsemius and the execution of Dr Goh Keng Swee plus countless other people. Even our bilingual system today was first introduced by Mr Lee Kong Chian, not Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr Kalidas is just one out of more than 3 million Singaporeans. If only 60% are like Mr Kalidas in regarding Mr Lee as the special one, wouldn’t that make Mr Lee a less than half-past-six special one?

[1] Straits Times, Mr Lee is indeed Singapore’s ‘special one’, 16 Aug 2013, K. Kalidas

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2 Responses to “The less than half-past-six special one”

  1. Pat Says:

    When I was a kid I could hear all the un-educated adults (my old folks and other poor village folks) talk politics. Of couse I did’nt understand what was going on, but I remembered their sentiments were all pro-Barisan, they being Chinese and with some Chinese education. My dad was die-hard anti-LKY. He was someone who would believe the slightest anti-PAP slur he heard in the coffee shop, but never believed that Armstrong landed on the moon, even though we had TV by then.

    Fast forward 20 years, and we all basked in the economic success of Spore. My dad was still full of anti-LKY rhetoric and grumblings at home. My mom was the most un-educated immigrant from a backward part of China. But in her un-educated mind, something was very clear to her. She knew her life was a thousand times so much easier. And she knew one way or another, LKY had something to do with that. So she used to say to us siblings to stop listening to your stupid old man’s anti-LKY bablings – he’s lost in his vitriolics that he can’t have a balanced view of reality.

    I’ll say the same things to you (and many other degree masters degree holders ) what my dirt poor un-educated mom said to me.

    • trulysingapore Says:

      Your situation is quite similar to mine, my mom leaning towards the PAP while my dad leaned otherwise. My mom may have leaned towards the PAP because she doesn’t have the knowledge of the truth about how Singapore progressed. My dad may have leaned against the PAP because he, like your dad, got first hand taste of the disadvantage they faced under the Lee regime. In any case, our generation has the potential to be much more enlightened than our parents ever did if only educated people like you would apply more conscience and intelligence in reading up facts and accepting them as they are and the conclusions that they point towards.

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