This article is not written in support of Amos Yee’s actions. I do not agree with celebrating the death of someone, no matter how horribly one thinks of the person. Neither is this article meant in its entirety as an attack on Lee Kuan Yew.

When Amos Yee posted his infamous video on YouTube celebrating the demise of Lee Kuan Yew, the response was 20 police reports against him. What was mentioned in the reports against Amos Yee was not just his insults against Christianity but also the fact that he insulted Lee Kuan Yew. Some of the lines in the police report in general read as such:

“…he insulted Lee Kuan Yew”

“…Amos Yee should be taught a lesson for insulting Lee Kuan Yew who brought Singapore from Third World to First”

Another line read as such:

“No Singaporean can deny the benefits we have got from Mr Lee’s service to our nation. He has only just left us and yet we have a beneficiary of his legacy barely of adolescence but sparing no insult against the man who put this country on the world map.”

Chia Boon Teck most famously had this to say:

“This is not a mindless rant. It is a well-considered campaign backed by graphics and statistics to defame Mr Lee and our government. It cannot go unchallenged. He has to take responsibility for his social media posting that was calculated to provoke the public’s response.”

It is forgotten that before this statement was the following by Chia that

“…without Lee Kuan Yew we would not have rice on the table”.

These people will be slammed as “lapdogs” or sycophants here but to me that just scratches the surface. The problem is much deeper. The problem is the “Asian” mentality behind, or more specifically, the East Asian mentality behind those lines and the police report.

The Asian mentality is about authority. Deference and respect, to the point of reverence must be shown to someone higher in the social hierarchy, because that person is in authority.

The second aspect of the Asian mentality is the aversion to sparing the rod and spoiling the child. That phrase, taken from the Bible is meant to highlight the consequences of not disciplining a child. But the Asian mentality takes this saying to extremes. To the traditional East Asian mind, harsh discipline and treatment is necessary, regardless of whether the child is “good” or “bad”, to produce “good” fruits. Those in authority have every right to use such means, because they are in authority. Anyone lower down the social hierarchy is regarded as a “child”, regardless of age.

To quote Amy Chua, the author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”:

“When my 7-year-old daughter failed to master a new piece on the piano, I drove her relentlessly.

‘I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.’”

This is the Asian mentality. This is also the same mentality behind Lee Kuan Yew’s “knuckle dusters” and teachers, bosses and parents of the traditional Asian mould who spend most of their time enforcing their position of authority and disparaging, reprimanding and criticising the people beneath them.

In some way I empathise with Amos Yee. I don’t believe that he is outright rebellious. There are issues beneath the surface which he needs a kind heart to guide and walk him out of.

Not so for those feudal, reactive Confucians, most of whom are staunch PAP supporters, who still think that they are living in the age of the mandarins. In their eyes, Amos Yee is not one deserving of empathy, but one deserving to have his life thrown down the mire in jail in order to be taught a lesson for trying to cross someone in authority. Never mind that he needs a caring and listening ear. What he needs is the rod, hard and furious, the harder the better on his buttocks.

I was discussing the matter with some adults after Amos Yee was arrested. I said that I felt that the charges to an extent were politically motivated. Some of Amos Yee’s views on Christianity were similar to that of atheists such as Christopher Hitchens or Bertrand Russell. His comments about Jesus Christ were nowhere near the claims denying Christ’s divinity as put forth in “The Da Vinci Code”. Yet “The Da Vinci Code” was shown in cinemas and the novel is still on sale in the bookshops. Perhaps the outcome would be otherwise if Dan Brown had put form claims that Lee Kuan Yew was never the founding father of Singapore.

A YPAP member insulted Muslims but has not spent a single day in jail. But those adults told me that Amos Yee deserved to be in jail because he showed disrespect to a figure of authority. They also told me that it was necessary for Lee Kuan Yew to skew the system against his opponents and use brass knuckle tactics against JBJ and Chiam See Tong to prevent the Opposition movement from growing and turn the country upside down, like what the Democrats and the Republicans in the United States are doing.

It is time this madness has to stop. Does the “greater good” mean the type of tribulations JBJ and Chiam See Tong had to go through? Does the greater good mean that those who fell through the cracks should be left in the lurch? The PAP Confucian mandarins think so. If Lee Kuan Yew thinks that one-party rule is the best way, by all means, engage in a debate, fair and square and put forth your case. The use of brass knuckles is simply abhorent. How many of us have suffered in the hands of traditional Asian teachers, parents or bosses. I have and that is why the responses to the Amos Yee incident churns me. This is why I am saying strongly that this Asian madness has to stop. Enough is enough. Too many people have been hurt and scarred by this Asian mentality.

Call me a nihilist, unfilial, a person who prostitutes himself to the West or a person who has no regard for his roots if you want to. To an extent, you are right. I do not want to have any part with a mentality and culture where because I am lower down in the hierarchy, I am someone’s dog or treated like a palace maid in a Korean drama, or some proletariat to be lorded over by arrogant mandarins. I do not want to be part of this mentality or culture that desires to cane me harder in the buttocks no matter how I try to be a good person in the name of a “greater good” or “producing good fruits”.

To the feudal, reactive Confucian mandarins such as Chia Boon Teck, Lionel De Souza and the 19 others who filed police reports against Amos Yee, if you think I am wrong, debate me right here. Or perhaps you might think that I should join Amos in jail or be put down because I am going against the “Asian values”.

It is time to put an end to this madness.

Ronald Tan

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