The continuous endless stream of accolades that have been published and broadcasted these few days by the state controlled media, propagating and forced feeding to Singaporeans with overwhelmingly out-of-proportionate ‘all-good-no-bad’ comments about LKY, is getting a bit nauseating.
It gives everyone the impression that Singapore is single-handedly built by 1 man, completely ignoring the contributions from other Singapore leaders like Goh Keng Swee, Toh Chin Chye, Ong Teng Cheong, and others. Many of them contributed significantly in the economic progress and development of Singapore.
The media appears to have elevated LKY to God status, as The One – the one and only sole founding father of Singapore and therefore, we should all be grateful to him and praise him as Lord of Singapore.
But I, for one who has experienced life directly under LKY since the independence of Singapore have something to say here. Unlike others, I am not offering my gratitude to him nor I want to praise him.
I have several doubts about him:
1. Why did he take up a job as translator for the Japanese during the 2nd World War when tens of thousands of Chinese were slaughtered by the Japanese in the Sook Ching massacre? Why couldn’t he be like Lim Bo Seng who took up arms to fight the Japanese during 2nd World War? Where was his loyalty? It’s no wonder many of the PAP policies today never put Singaporeans first. Some of the policies were changed only after facing protests from Singaporeans.
2. For a man who believed in eugenics and actually implemented eugenic policies to favor more graduate women to procreate more in the 80s, he seemed to share the same belief practised by a certain political group in Germany during 2nd World War.
But then somehow, he contradicted himself by bringing in all kinds of undesirable migrants, ranging from prostitutes to fake degree holders and con-men from mostly 3rd world countries. He even allowed them to settle down in Singapore as citizens!
3. He discriminated and persecuted the Chinese educated during his fledgling political days. He even closed down Nantah. He did not have the foresight that one day, China would open up. Thanks to Nantah, many Chinese educated Singaporeans are now doing good business and doing well in China. Suddenly, he adored the Chinese language again.
4. He rather be feared than respected by his people. That speaks volumes about his dictatorial personality. Indeed, he practiced what he had preached, resulting in whole Singapore fearing to stand up to him except for a few contemporary political heroes like Chia Thye Poh, Lim Hock Siew, Tan Wah Piao, Tang Liang Hong, Francis Seow, Jeyaratnam, Chee Soon Juan, and few others. But we know that we only can say good luck to those who dared to defy him.
Singapore should have many talented people. After all we pride ourselves with one of the best educational system in the world. But too bad, many of them are absorbed into the system, especially the civil service. People who used to ask pointing questions become cowed by LKY and his system. Out of fear of losing good salary, good career and good life, many changed after some time being in his system. Minister Vivian Balakrishnan is one good example.
5. Is Singapore really such a success story or is it over rated? Or could Singapore be better without LKY?
We may have one of the highest per capital GDP in the world but this is nothing to be happy of, if we also have a lopsided Gini Coefficient. This unfortunately means that although Singapore is technically rich, but the majority of the wealth is owned and controlled by a small minority. The rich gets richer while the poor gets poorer. Meanwhile, the middle class is being squeezed upside-down. Thus, we see more elderly collecting cardboard, working as cleaners and other menial jobs and more middle and lower income people overworked and underpaid.
As more FTs are allowed in, our salaries continue to be depressed. Cost of living goes up relative to income because our income is being depressed. Unemployment rate may be low but under-employment rate is getting higher. Many years ago, who ever heard of degree holders driving taxis or working as security guards? These days, you can even see a 30 something young fellas driving taxis! Do you see this say, 10 years ago? And according to their statistics, all these people are considered employed! Is there quality of life, I ask you? So far, the only people who have quality of life are themselves, who all enjoy their million dollar salaries tremendously, I’m sure.
We may attribute our exposure to western ideas and English language to LKY for having the foresight to force us to adopt English as the main local language, thus attracting many western MNCs and international banks, and therefore making Singapore into an international metropolis. But if we examine ourselves closely, we have nothing to shout about. After opening to the western MNCs for decades, we still can’t build one ourselves. Our so-called MNC equivalent are only our GLCs. But yet, their profit and sustainability are actually supported by the tax-payers’ money!
Is the success story of a fishing village turning into a metropolis with a short time of 50 years solely attributable to LKY really justifiable? Confucianist societies like HK, Taiwan and South Korea were just as backward as Singapore in the 60s and 70s but they are also doing not too badly in the modernization of their countries without an authoritative ruler like LKY.
I can go on but enough have been said. My ultimate point is the relentless self-glorification and propaganda trumpeted by our state controlled media every day and night over LKY is not helping the country to move forward. Asking the people to blindly worship a man who was not made out to be so will make us all dafter.
Except for our good geographical location, we have nothing. What LKY did was the easiest, get MNCs to come in and solve our unemployment problems. This worked fine in the 60-90s, but I’m not sure this formula can continue to work. It’s no secret that our cost is no longer cheap. China has awakened and the iron curtain has fallen. MNCs have got many choices to go these days. Even your Geylang and Orchard Tower are not attractive to our angmo MNC CEOs anymore. People can go for even cheaper and more exotic alternatives in the world! The old LKY way does not work anymore. So, stop championing him in the media like he was our savior!
Finally, great nation does not build on economic achievements alone. It also has to do with the character of its people who must be fearless, intelligible and discerning in questioning, always seeking for the truth
and fairness for their own country.