The once powerful and invincible Lee Kuan Yew is finally gone, after suffering for 46 agonising days hooked to a mechanical ventilator in the Singapore General Hospital. The Chinese believe that how well a person dies reflects on his or her kindness or cruelty in his or her life. Is this the passing of a Titan? This will depend on which side of the political spectrum one stands. PAP diehards and mesmerised aficionados will of course hail him as a great man who has brought Singapore from a third-world backwater to its first-world status today. Is that an honest assessment? In actual fact Lee Kuan Yew merely provided the figurehead leadership and without the indispensible expertise and monumental efforts of PAP pioneers like Dr. Goh Keng Swee, Mr. S. Rajaratnam, Mr. Hon Sui Sen and of course the eminent UN Economic Advisor Albert Winsemius, the much vaunted Lee Kuan Yew would have been reduced to a nonentity.These economic and political goliaths, especially Albert Winsemius, helped build Singapore to what it is today. This has been the narrative among discerning Singporeans.
When he was prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew had been known to be frequently hobnobbing with world leaders and with his oratorical skills had no trouble getting these world leaders to eat out of his hand. That they held Lee Kuan Yew in very high respect was never in doubt, quite oblivious to his severe character flaws. So we can now expect the outpouring of emotions from these world leaders to mourn Lee’s passing. Such display of hypocrisy is not uncommon.
Is there any character flaw in the late Lee Kuan Yew? Some of his unfortunate political opponents are no longer alive to answer that. Some of them suffered immensely, whether real or imaginary depending on which side you are on, at the hand of the humanitarian Lee Kuan Yew but strangely bore no ill-will against him. The late Dr. Lim Hock Siew’s son was five months old when he was unceremonously detained under Operation Coldstore on 2 February, 1963 and entered university when his father was humanely released after 19 years in detention. Chia Thye Poh held the honour of 32 years in detention, even longer than the famous South African leader Nelson Mandela.
If, in a moment of compassion, we think that Lee Kuan Yew had suffered enough in his illness, perhaps we could allow his tortured soul to rest in peace. We could show some magnanimity even if this was not one of his traits in his lifetime. Lee Kuan Yew had said this in a moment of bravado:”When the coffin is closed, the verdict will be known” (蓋棺論定）. So historians, whether authentic or pseudo, will soon scramble to fulfill his wish by giving a verdict of how he had contributed to Singapore’s society and the world, including his severe character flaws, if they strictly abide by the code of their profession.
It will not be remiss here to give a little conscientious advice to the enlightened PM Lee Hsien Loong. Would you be humane enough to redeem a little bit of your late father’s handiwork by relaxing the inordinate persecution of Francis Seow and Tang Liang Hong by allowing them safe return to Singapore to lead a normal life? By no stretch of imagination can they be described as major security threat. There is a Chinese saying that if you want to impose a criminal charge on a person there is no dearth of a reason.(欲加之罪，何患無詞）.
There is no dissenting view that the late Lee Kuan Yew be accorded a State Funeral, which is befitting his status. However, the conundrum of denying a State Funeral to the late President Ong Teng Cheong has never been satisfactorily explained. The late Mr. Ong Teng Cheong is popularly known as the People’s President.
Lastly, we offer you PM Lee Hsien Loong our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your loving father, the late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.