Remembering our founding prime minister

Two days ago I wrote a ranting piece about how blessed I feel to be living in Singapore and how it is in large part due to the early PAP team led by Mr Lee Kuan Yew. That night, in my dreams, he passed on.

He did live a ripe old age by most standards. And he has made a greater difference in his lifetime than most can claim to have made. From that perspective, his death should not be such a sad matter. But as I watched the numerous snippets of his life shown on TV yesterday, I can’t help but feel concern for Singapore’s future. Already my generation of Singaporeans, those who have not experienced the sharpening of parang knives in preparation for racial riots, appear to be unable to appreciate what a miracle the pioneer generation, under the leadership of the PAP government formed by LKY, has created in Singapore. There is such a general complacency, expecting the government to give more and still more benefits to the poor (which is fine), which call was extended to the middle class (who feel they are “sandwiched”) and now even to the upper middle class. The spirit of working for your own needs and wants is gone. The appreciation that Singapore’s resource is the hard work of our people is gone. What more then the next generation, the generation who will only know the early leaders like Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee the way we know Stamford Raffles and Sang Nila Utama, ie merely as a name in the textbook. So too the early leaders’ spirit that made today’s Singapore, I fear, may be lost. It is already being lost. Just to quote a readily observable trend, the bilingualism policy that LKY put in place is rapidly being eroded. Our children’s mother tongue ability is appaling. 

During this time of mourning, can I venture to suggest that Singaporeans take the chance to reflect on where we are, how far we’ve come, is there anything we’ve lost that we should pick up again, and yes also the part that much of the online noise immediately before this is calling for: whether any and what change is warranted (and carefully consider whether a suggested change is indeed a change for the better). Here’s hoping that the sad event of a great leader’s passing can be a positive energy for Singapore.

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