Saturday, March 28, 2015

We are mourning and Israel wants to talk business

The nation is in grief, the PM just lost his legendary father and here the Israeli President wants to talk business. This is totally surreal to me but I better wake up my idea. The Israelis are out in front telling us, we like them are tiny and have to be tough. Thank you Israel.

With LKY gone, history teaches us that others will test us. Unlike others Israel offers us a friendly test which can only make us stronger.

I sympathize with PM Lee. Even in his greatest personal loss, he has to put Singapore first. Israel has come to remind him that. We need to be tough to survive.

We welcome the tutorial from Israel to prepare ourselves for our frenemies testing.

Just in case we are weak, Lee Kuan Yew has bought us time to be strong before he left from the goodwill he had built for us.

The unthinkable long queues waiting to say good bye to him at Parliament House send the strongest signal to the world our resolve to carry on successfully without him.

I am not sure if I still blogging for myself only.

Update: 10:25 am

One people, One nation, One Singapore.

Update: 1:45 pm

Grateful to former MP Peh Chin Hua and CCTV for this.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Bertha Henson: I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew...

Over the last few days, my mind has been in overdrive over LKY. I have done very little work and now the pieces are falling into place, coming together. Conundrums are giving way to ideas and solutions. Things are starting to clear up. It is sad that it took his passing away to create the right emotional cauldron to make these thoughts surface. I am learning very rapidly, faster than I can record them. I never consider what I write on this blog as sharing. After all I am blogging for myself (and family).

Going to Parliament House to honor LKY as he lays in state is not my style. Were he able to talk to us from the beyond, I imagine he would say we are wasting our time. We should just get on with the business of tomorrow. On the other hand I understand people feels right, in fact they feel a deep need and desire to send him off. I want him to live with us in the spirit through his words.

Bertha Henson began each line, "I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew..." She is absolutely right. But each of us can be a bit of LKY in ways we are born and nurtured. Pick your choice from Bertha's list and develop them. Together we can be Lee Kuan Yew and because LKY is Singapore. We cannot just rely on the PAP. In the short to medium term we cannot count on the opposition parties either.

And LKY is also complex enough (read rich enough) to be interpreted and understood in myriad ways. Whatever we do with this just don't do it stupidly like the Chinese worshiping Mao, who to me is a monster however much the Chinese needed him to free them from their past.

But in an earlier post I said LKY is also a conduit from which I could draw in the richness of knowledge, ideas and experience beyond Singapore. What do I mean? I am shamelessly going to borrow it from my Christian faith which allows me to find a way for him to live among us even if he is gone. I am not explaining it here, not yet. Too difficult.

Now what works with LKY will also work for GKS, but LKY is the final piece to bring together all the other pieces from the works of former colleagues. Until he goes away, I simply couldn't get it.

Can you imagine a US President sitting in the room Thomas Jefferson once thought and wrote? He goes in there for inspiration. Actually he goes in there to feel in a certain way to help him think. Let's do the same in our own way with LKY. We desperately need to as the PAP is good but not good enough. Thanks once again to General Prem for his advice to continue working on what LKY could not complete.

The best tribute we could give Lee Kuan Yew is for a part of him to live in each of us and make Singapore a success for a very long time to come. I don't know how we can be successful otherwise.

Update: 11:35 pm

I forgot to add that we must learn not to detain the innocent without trial under our security laws unnecessarily. There must be due process and ways for them to be protected if they have to be locked up for a while.

Update: March 29 8:15 am

I took this from Asiaone article.

Hope this advanced a little toward helping doctors be less money minded too, "affordable healthcare"

Update: March 29: 11:30 am

Read this earlier today

I know I have company whom I do not know. I am glad to be able to name at least one - Tong Ming Chien. Some of us with this perspective would need to guide or lead many of those who showed up at parliament house. Nevertheless I am truly glad those who wanted to bid him good bye for the last time had the opportunity to. We must respect that we are all different people with different ways and needs. Many lived in the present, a few are always casting their eyes ahead.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Losing LKY, Prem's advice to Singaporeans

I really appreciate what former Thai PM Prem had penned in his condolence message.

"The things he wanted to do for Singapore but was not able to complete, the Singaporean people must come together to finish" he wrote.

On the surface this is a most unusual message. Didn't LKY already meticulously set up for a new team to take over? Prem did not say what were the tasks to be completed, objectives to be achieved but he suggests there are!

There are insights but not knowledge or data I do not tell my children before they are ready. There are also lessons they must or can only learn on their own. I know what these are but I have to keep them to myself. If I tell them they might not understand or I could also spoil it for them.

If I may borrow from Luo Guanzhong, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Zhuge Liang often gave sealed instructions to his generals which they must not open until they are desperate.

Unlike many Thai premiers, Prem is a very wise man and knew LKY well.

This is not the place to speculate what these tasks we must complete as a people but clearly Prem must have understood they are what this PAP government could not deliver. We must also bear in mind the situation in Thailand which must be constantly on his mind even as he offer us that advice.

Of course this is not it, but one of the things the government cannot deliver quickly and satisfactorily is getting the damn MRT system to be more reliable. I suggested in an earlier post that a more courageous leadership would have come clean and co-opt their customers to find a solution. This is an example but I say this is not what Prem had in mind, that we must come together as one people to solve.

We also know that if any of the young ministers could be a geopolitical strategist par excellence, LKY would not fail to invest in him or her. There was no one, not even George Yeo. So he kept performing that role of watching out for Singapore to the very end. As far as I know nobody ask to see someone else if LKY is not available. It is like I can't get the top specialist doctor I had to settle and worry about living with the next available doctor. I might go somewhere else. The Americans will ask Kissinger. That shrewd man just visited China and got an enviable reception from Xi Jinping. Kissinger is sending a message to America, no more LKY just ask me.

Now I need to prove that there are some likely worrisome and even scary developments otherwise I am just speculating. For that, I have to borrow Han Fook Kwang. He is a good guy but I don't know why they got a dud to succeed him as ST editor.

On Tuesday, Han Fook Kwang shared this piece with us. This guy is quite good at inserting ideas surreptitiously when he needs to. If you are perceptive Han Fook Kwang has the message.

You are naive if towards the end you assume the LKY when he was still strong and vigorous, able to intervene like he did when the SIA pilots union had problems in 2003 (read he was no longer PM and yet he had to step in) is the same guy who losing physical stamina and emotional vitality would pick fights.

No, he will adjust. Before he got too weak he gave up on rising from the grave if he feels something is wrong here. He replaced that with he had given his whole life for Singapore. The job is finished.

See the bit underlined in red. He was still in good shape at that time. After all he took on the SQ pilots union but he was no longer PM. Had he been the one which the buck must stop with him, he would tell us what Goh Chok Tong wouldn't. He will deal with it his way.

If he was in charge as PM today, he wouldn't even allow the MRT to be in this shape. In fact he warned his son and the ministers about the problem of taking in too many people, not to mention so quickly.

Assuming he booed booed, he would not live with a situation which the people ceaselessly complain about the unreliable train system. If he can't fix it quickly, he will plead with us once and for all to come along and help. He knows how to rally us. His successors do not. He told his younger colleagues to under promise and over deliver, which I heard on TV Ng Eng Hen repeated in parliament just now. Unfortunately those who succeeded him over promise and under deliver. Whenever the PM or any minister say "don't worry", I start worrying. That is shorthand for over promising!

Yes, Prem is spot on,. We must unite as one people to continue working on LKY's unfinished business for us. He is gone but he left us this beautiful place to build on for the generations.

I wonder what  other ominous thoughts LKY had which we need to discover for ourselves. We have to earn the right to know? No use if we are frightened. We must rise and say the only thing to fear is fear itself.

Gaining from Robert Kuok vs Lee Kuan Yew

Borrowing from the great man LKY, I try to be unsentimental about losing him. I thank him very much for making a gradual exit because that is the most selfless thing he could do for us.

Toward the end he was clearly passed his peak and some of his ideas were near their best used by date.

We must separate the man from his insights which would be a low precision compass and map for the way forward.

Looking around, reading how he had impacted so many leaders, I am amazed the world is not an even better place than we are finding it today. Clearly many sought his advice but are poor users of his wisdom.

I find Robert Kuok's response to LKY the most practical and useful.

Using his own SCMP he had this published about LKY.

Kerry Group controlling shareholder, Robert Kuok, a life-long friend of Lee, paid tribute to “a giant of a man’’.
“All of us who have known him, feel greatly distressed and saddened by his passing,’’ said Kuok, who was a schoolmate of Lee at Singapore’s Raffles College.
“Lee Kuan Yew was a giant of a man. His mind, sharp as a fine blade, was focused on pursuing his wish of establishing a just, fair and decent society. And no-one, whether friend or foe, can deny that he achieved this.
“He pursued his aim with great determination, never giving in to the many set-backs and disappointments, with all this taking a heavy toll on his health. However, he still lived to a remarkable old age and retained his mental faculties until the very end. May he rest in peace.’’
ST Li Xueying also gave us a good piece on the relationship and differing views between these two old schoolmates.

The article and many others we will come across must be adapted to be usable. Robert Kuok's differing views bring balance to the extremes in LKY. For me I prefer to borrow historical figures larger than LKY to draw lessons for us. These past high impact personalities and their work combined with what LKY had thought and done for us is one of the best ways to benefit from all of them. In this arrangement LKY is the conduit and no longer become the focus by which we can benefit from the accumulation of global wisdom across time. Many people here and I had also indulge in this myself, often analyzing LKY policies before and after his Old Guard ministers retire from Cabinet. How men like GKS, Raja and Dr. Toh brought balance to LKY's extreme views. I wished his son LHL was also able to act in that capacity, but I thank him for trying his best.

The above from Li Xueying's article.

I thought that read like some of the academic high scoring obnoxious scholars we have all come to hate. But the pragmatist in him let in nice fellows like Hon Sui Sen eh?

LKY is a complex character and you can study him up to PhD and beyond. I can only write at most 1% what is on my mind about him. 70% of my thoughts about him are contradictory and clashing. There is no profitable way to learn from the man unless you are first clear about what you want. Now if you want something else another time, you can come back and pick up something different. That's the richness of the man. That is also why two quite opposed powers the US and China they could go to him and pick up what they want, but in the end LKY used both of them to get what Singapore wants. When we lose LKY, we lose the ability to influence major powers to create the environment for our security and prosperity.

In the days ahead people will be studying LKY with earnest interest but I am afraid many of those studies are time wasters. Some will be looking for stuff to fill men and women magazines even, e.g., like how to love your wife. Others would be so impossibly ambitious as try to deconstruct the man completely. As for me, I will benefit from the rich trove he had left behind for us to consult wherever I have a clear question peculiar to Singapore that I want answers for. Yes, I would also often use him as a conduit for greater and time tested wisdom from the Greats before him. How to make insight elsewhere workable in our context.

Finally an important point from Robert Kuok.

"Politically, I did not share all his views," revealed Mr Kuok, citing as an example the benchmarking of ministerial pay to the private sector

That mistake I fear could cost us more than we imagine.

Update: 1:35 pm

I just have to update my post with this one by Viswa Sadasivan: All His Adult Life....Singapore.

You ask me, I think Mr. Sadasivan should be the ST editor than Warren Fernandez. He it not too old to do the job, a more than worthy successor to Han Fook Kwang.

My original post has 1% and only happy to make it to 2% with Mr. Sadasivan article. It also brings some balance to my 1%, which I feel it sorely lacked and kept me unhappy for the last few hours.

I just came from explaining to my daughter that LKY possess humility, but it is too time consuming to explain here. I rounded up the discussion explaining that people are queuing over night to see him the last time because even if they can't say it well enough they could feel he had always cared about this place and its people more than himself. That is the meaning of selfless in LKY life. As for Robert Kuok, he is a smart businessman who sees LKY more clearly than most. LKY was never interested to compete and be richer than him or Li Ka Shing. Yep, unlike LKY, Kuok is not a selfless man. For me, he was useful to bring out another dimension of the very complex and multi-dimensional LKY.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LKY: The Red Box and Passion

First thing my kids remarked when they saw this red box was, they have something like this for PM Hacker in, "Yes, Prime Minister". I told them we inherited our system from the British. If it was helpful we keep it, no need reinvent the wheel.

Heng Swee Keat story of this red box was an interesting read. Coming after reading too much about LKY that it is starting to weary me, my thoughts are straying to other matters. I was surprised where they were leading me.

This man was as obsessed as Paul of Tarsus.

Now Paul lived and died nearly two thousand years ago. It is hard to piece together his passion and hard work. Myths surrounding the man also made it doubly hard to understand him, but as lots of information about LKY begun to appear, I thought I was beginning to understand Paul better.

Paul was obsessed with his relationship with Jesus whom he never met in this life. So he directed his passion toward what is closest to his new Lord: the community of believers which became the Church.

Few Christians treasure and invest themselves to know their Lord. They usually jumped into it in many lazy ways to many to enumerate. So they don't get rewarded.

My children told me how Newton obsessed himself with natural philosophy and was amply rewarded. Darwin obsessed over nature and so figured out the process of natural selection.

Occasionally we have seen Paul again in the likes some Christian saints down the centuries and closest to our times Mother Teresa. Yet none was as manifold as the original Paul. If we can't have Paul, any that approximates him is good enough. Ditto LKY.

Where to find the next LKY? He or she is someone as obsessed with Singapore at the original was.

We can only look for him or her, more likely he or she will surface without our looking. Don't bother looking at anyone in our present parliament. Just like the Dalai Lama, the successor do not make its entrance until the incumbent has left.

Were Christians as obsessed with their Lord as Lee Kuan Yew was with Singapore, but Christians love to look in all the wrong places, and act as they please. What relationship? what way of the Cross? Jesus is best as Santa Claus or counselor and problem solver. It is always about them and not their Lord.

What if we do not have another LKY? We will have to make do wishfully trading one giant CPU for many smaller in a massively parallel processing configuration. The magic sauce is the software that connect these processors. Perhaps that is the way to go. We have to build that software. LKY tried but doesn't look like he succeeded. At least I think he bought us time.

Like Paul, the man was selfless. Paul was often misunderstood and the same fate befalls LKY. I don't understand him either. On the other hand now that he is gone, I can see him as long as I am in Singapore looking out of any window.

We will never understand him and in time he will be mythologized. He expected scholars to study him and I sincerely hope they do as the Americans are still studying their founding fathers.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Low Thia Khiang's stingy tribute to LKY

This is the front page of what Xinhua has put up to honor the life and work of our late founding PM.

And here is the tribute to Lee Kuan Yew by President Obama, Joe Biden & Jill etc from the US side.

From Low Thia Kiang we have

To save time, I just exchanged messages with my siblings on this topic. The transcript.

Despite being hounded and bullied by the PAP, Low must still show magnanimity. Political high office aren't for ordinary men and women. He is not extraordinary enough. This guy will serve his interests, focus on his pet projects than putting the people first if he ever becomes our leader.

Low could have written like he had perhaps for another of our PMs when the time comes, but LKY was special and it is revealing of the man's character and attitude that he publicly failed to recognize that. In many ways LKY transcended politics even if he operated from the political arena. Like it or not, he is part of our social and political DNA. To me any leader who fails to recognize that disqualifies himself or herself. Can you imagine any US President pouring scorn on George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and even later Abraham Lincoln? Even the Chinese kept Mao for all his terrible mistakes. For all the Great Helmsman faults, China would still be mired in darkness without him.

Update: March 24 4:05 pm

Compare Chiam See Tong's condolence letter to Low Thia Khiang's. Kudos to Chiam, ever the gentleman and patriot. He likens LKY to Singapore's Churchill, which is the view held by Nixon of Lee as far back as the 70s.

Update: March 25 2:45 pm

Mr. Low, eat this! New Zealand's parliament pays tribute to Lee Kuan Yew. And who are those ignorant people who left some comments for me like they were from another planet? Eat this too.

Thanks TOC for this.

Update: March 25 11:15 pm

You can naturally expect like the Kiwis, the Aussies to also pay tribute to LKY.

Update: March 26 12:40 pm

The secretary in his own words.

"His views that he shared with me as a young senator have helped to shape my thinking today as a Secretary of State. And those are the things we build on": US Secretary of State John Kerry on Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Posted by Channel NewsAsia on Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Lee Kuan Yew now belongs to the stars

I go to bed each night wondering if I will wake up in the morning to learn that Lee Kuan Yew has left us. This morning I woke up to receive a message from my brother that LKY has passed away.

LLAP: Live Long and Prosper. We are all trekkers.

Now Lee Kuan Yew belongs to the stars together with those who had gone and once served with him before.

It is now up to us to do the same for the next generation as he had once for my parents and us.

I woke my daughter this morning for school and the first thing I told her was Lee Kuan Yew is gone. I am not expecting very much from her but wonder how and what we must preserve for them in order that we finally reach the stars. My thoughts wander to how the Americans had mythologize their founding fathers and when the myths are established and matured, they then add on the human frailties. I think we can borrow from them. The Chinese had done the same but long ago and what they had to do was to turn their heroic leaders into gods.

This is an excerpt from Obama's surprisingly long tribute to Lee Kuan Yew. Shows how much he admired him. It also gave me the opportunity to reinforce my point to too many clueless people the irreplaceable role LKY served in the security and prosperity of Singapore. This was a role his successors never took over from. Well nobody could but now we badly need someone who can.

For this missing bit I am afraid for Singapore. But I can hear him say to us, "make the effort!"

Never give up!