Spare our children the hypocrisy please

I refer to the 24 Jul 2014 Straits Times letter “Lack of kids’ books on Singapore history” by Ms Irene Louis.

Ms Louis was taken aback by the high price of a children’s book on Lee Kuan Yew. She pointed out that in the US; children’s books on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are plentiful and cheap and reasoned that it was because Americans have been exposed from young through colorful storybooks that they take pride in their past. So she suggested making children’s books like the one on Lee Kuan Yew cheaper to instill national pride in the young and asked the government to look into it.

Ms Louis should refer to the 29 Jul 2014 Straits Times report “Same name, different lives”. Photographer Samuel He was quoted as saying Mr Lee’s “name stirs up equal amounts of pride and anger among Singaporeans.” Ms Louis should therefore understand that Lee Kuan Yew is no George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. He is not respected by all Singaporeans, not even most Singaporeans but perhaps half of Singaporeans only. Therefore, a storybook on Lee Kuan Yew will only instill as much national anger as it would instill national pride. It is better for Ms Louis to look to other less controversial figures to instill national pride in the young of which there are plenty like Sir Stamford Raffles, Lim Bo Seng, Goh Keng Swee, Yusof Ishak, Lee Kong Chian and so on.

Ms Louis should also understand that Americans take pride in their founding fathers not because they were exposed from young but because their deeds were indisputable. On the other hand, many Singaporeans cannot take pride in Lee Kuan Yew because he is not even a founding father by any definition and nearly all the good deeds that have been attributed to him were deeds by others like Dr Winsemius and so on. How to take pride in someone whose good deeds belong to others?

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