The pleas for empathy and forgiveness by the mainstream press over the Anton Casey incident has a higher purpose.
Lee Kuan Yew has not been seen in public since his 90th birthday on September 16, 2013. His last public statement was a condolence to the family of the late Sir Run Run Shaw, issued on January 7th.
A day earlier, on January 6th, in an attempt to remind us of the eminence grise, the mainstream media ran this strange report entitled “Former MM Lee Kuan Yew conferred Russia’s Order of Honour” which not only carried a photo taken 4 months earlier, but comes with the confirmation that “the award was also conferred in conjunction with Mr Lee’s 90th birthday in 2013.”
The award was given in September, but reported in January.
Similarly, the New Nation noted that two articles in the Straits Times (January 19th) had featured archival photos of LKY, but the content of which were not about him at all. It smacks of another attempt to remind the readers of his omnipresence, but for some reason the man himself is unable to appear in public.
Also earlier this month, a doctor friend received word from the medical community that LKY had suffered a “second stroke”.
Will we see Lee address his constituents in Tanjong Pagar this Chinese New Year? Or is he too ill to do so?
Why is the imminent death of LKY an issue we need to pay attention to?
A shared opinion among some political observers is that the PAP Government will call the next elections immediately after his funeral – which will no doubt occupy the headlines for weeks in order that the party can leverage on the expected flood of tributes and sympathy from both the local and international media. It will be the biggest advertising campaign for the PAP, which the party will gladly exploit in order to win another election. That LKY’s death will be used by his party and loyalists to secure another term of rule would be a fitting tribute to a man whose primary modus operandi throughout his political life was motivated not by ethical consideration or ideology but by hard nosed results-orientated pragmatism.
But is the PAP reading the ground correctly?
Or will LKY’s death be greeted by general indifference from a people grappling with more pressing bread-and-butter issues?
Or will it be celebrated by many, followed by retributive justice for alleged human rights abuses?
Will the death of LKY unite or divide us?
Will the stock market spike or tank?
Will the PAP consolidate itself or crumble in a post-LKY Singapore?
How will LKY himself be remembered?
” I’m no longer in active politics. It’s irrelevant to me what young Singaporeans think of me. What they think of me after I’m dead and gone in one generation will be determined by reasearchers who do PhDs on me, right? So there will be a lot of revisionism. As people revised Stalin, Brezhnev and one day now Yeltsin, and later on Putin. I’ve lived long enough to know that you may be idealised in life and reviled after you’re dead.”
– Lee Kuan Yew, Hard Truths
Will this be his last NDP?