(1) “Finish each day and be done with it. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – essayist & poet , Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)
(2) “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man,and writing an exact man.” – philospher Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626)
(3) “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – author Rick Warren
(4) “…labeling begins when the appreciation for nuance ends.” – local playwright Alfian Sa’at
In Singapore’s week of national mourning over the passing of the country’s 1st Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, a number of opinions have emerged online. Here are links & excerpts (that promote quotes 3 & 4 above) :
“There was no guarantee that LKY would become the founding father of Singapore – Singapore was going through very uncertain times in the late 1950s and early 1960s, LKY fought hard to climb to the top of the pecking order in Singaporean politics and he did what he had to do to stay on top. Some say he was ruthless, others have called him a dictator …. Having said that, I didn’t always agree with his policies and certainly, I do question the future direction of Singapore – but that has far more to do with the way I feel about the current leadership given that LKY had effectively stepped back from politics in his final years. What I don’t like it s the way some people think that nobody has the right to say anything vaguely negative about LKY upon his death – whilst I have deep respect for LKY, I do believe that there should still always be space for us to speak openly about his past and his legacy without any need for draconian censorship.”
“I treat his death and comments about him personally not because I am a PAP fanatic or because he was a saint. It is important to me because everywhere I look, I do not just see prosperity, success and stability; I see all the things that could have gone wrong, but didn’t. No country can claim that its success was premeditated. Nobody can say that this journey was easy.”
LKY played a huge role in creating modern Singapore, but was not the only one. However the system he left behind far exceeds him, or in fact anyone. Any overcoming of the limitations, weaknesses, and peculiarities of the system requires (1) a refusal to equate the Singaporean state with LKY and his name, (2) a refusal to reify the system because of some ‘inherent Asianess or Confucianness’ (which really means ‘Chinese’-centric, and is therefore a kind of violence against our society), and (3) a resistance to the disciplining effects of a stulfiying bureaucracy that is designed not to breed LKYs (singularities) but technocrats (cogs in a machine).
LKY did not suffer fools, neither should we. In our pursuit for a greater and better society we must build something that answers to our needs, not to create a society in the image of others (be it “the West”, Europe, China, a religious utopia, etc.)….
We must believe that we can produce statesmen comparable to LKY. Otherwise we would wither away under his shadow, and fulfil the expectations of those who resent us and wish us to fail. His death is a psychological blow to us, but it does not mean that Singapore will be henceforth rudderless.
Likewise, though we may resent many things about Singaporean society, we must remember that it is up to us to instigate change for a more just society. No one else will do it for us. That is the essence of the decolonial impulse. Thus in a way, we will always be ‘decolonising’. We should be suspicious of those who tell us to ‘trust in the system’, just as we should be skeptical towards those who just want to destroy it….
Finally, I think it is worth pointing out again that LKY was very much human with his impulses, fears, and weaknesses. Nevertheless, he also had much intelligence, foresight, and moral courage. His struggle is done, and it is now ours to live.”
Thank you, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
—-only the self can study / 2015 is the year of the Opinion Collectors —-