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.


  1. Can we really truly study him "as the Americans study their founding fathers" ?
    Even the Chinese to this day, do not study Mao Tse Dung "as the Americans study their founding fathers". Maybe after several decades have passed.

    Beginning to tire of LKY, LKY, LKY ? Hang in there .. we're not even past the halfway mark yet.

    My hope is that beyond grieving and showing gratitude for all that LKY had done, the people can begin to question why wasn't more gratitude shown to the other founding fathers when they passed away, particularly GKS, Rajaratnam and LKS. To use your analogy in your earlier post criticising LTK for being stingy, its like only George Washington was eulogized but nothing even nearing that sort of recognition was given to the other founding fathers including Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln etc. Don't underestimate LTK -- the key word in his letter was "team".

    And finally, my other hope is that Singaporeans are mature enough to know that today's PAP is no longer the same as the old PAP. If anything, I hope that this week of intense looking back at the past, can open the people's eyes to realise that the present crop of leaders are a poor shadow of their predecessors. If LHL were totally new, I'd say : Lets unite, Support him!! But he's already in charge for >10 years already. You still want to put absolute, total power and control to him and this team?? To blindly transfer our gratitude for LKY to him will be blindness, and frankly speaking, a disservice to what the founding fathers have left us. Previously, its ok to "Just Trust and Obey". Today, its time for "Trust but Verify".

    1. I think it is natural and necessary to study our founding leaders especially LKY. Perhaps we can't even resist doing it. However to do it like the Americans that will come later. I am not thinking we will ape them, not at all. I am thinking more of the intensity and rigor. Unlike the Chinese with a long history of which Mao and Deng were their last in a long line they could draw from, we have an extremely short history.

      Yes as we have agreed on this forum before, the present PAP leaders are not like those before. I find their lack of courage which is also an indicator of the lack of convictions worrying.

  2. It is easy and a great temptation to bask in the glory of the past "giant". But then he was a giant among giants as there were good men in the cabinet that worked as hard, if not more. Deifying a person is dangerous and it is as much a devil's temptation to blind the eyes and minds from reality. Let's pray Singaporeans wouldn';t be so naive to imagine the nation had succeeded on the shoulder of one person. I am sure our founding father LKY would have always wanted many would have responded to his rally to build the nation. Let's do that bit rather than laying back and expect someone will do the driving. Don't disappoint him.

  3. For sure Mr Lee Kuan Yew didn't do it alone. His team of Messrs Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaratnam, Hon Sui Sen, Lim Kim San, etc, was also instrumental in shaping Singapore to what it is today. Not counting out the nation of people which supported this team. But ultimately it was Lee who led the team and nation to rally behind him - he was a leader of leaders. And that no one can deny that however much they hate Lee.

    It is fallacious to say that the thousands who appreciate what Lee Kuan Yew did for us and mourn his death as though we are mourning the passing on of a father or a dear close one deitify him. Rather, we are grateful to him and want to honour him for his unsurpassed contributions to Singapore. No one hates his benefactor who gave given him a lifeline and that is what Lee Kuan Yew did to Singapore and its people.

  4. I was reading the speech LKY made at the us congress in 1985 where he received a standing ovation. He was speaking abt the strategic downsides of protectionism on developing nations. Although he was speaking on the side of the developing nations, but he intelligent spoke from the perspective of United States, and not look like a Asian leader begging the USA to reconsider protectionism.

    I am sure he did not invent this argument by learning. I make a guess that he might have learnt it somewhere reading/talking to other ppl. but that's the beauty abt him which others have also talked abt. He is like a vacuum machine keen to suck in all the knowledge in the world. Never stop learning.

    1. **typo: I am sure he did not invent this argument by himself