It is easy for the public to wade into polemics and politics even when something is essentially a family spat. When what is at stake is an attack on the system, it goes beyond a family affair.
Voicing an opinion in this era of social engagement is unstoppable. Let me start, with a comment rooted in frivolity, by dipping myself into the unexpected burst of sensitive charges in Singapore that has set international tongues wagging.
China may have abandoned its one-child policy, but I think families in Singapore, and elsewhere, must consider giving it weightage. It may sound feather-brained, yet, at least it will save families from having to lock horns in public over trivialities that destroy unity, harmony and peace.
The family spat that has put Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in an unenviable spot goes to show that without brothers and sisters to contend with, issues will find easy resolution. No egos to get bruised or animosities to become toxic!
No to Monuments
Late Lee had willed that the house he lived in must be demolished after his death, firmly opposed as he was to monuments and memorials. His place will be firmly etched in the annals of history as a powerful, scholarly and visionary leader who was instrumental in the phenomenal economic success of Singapore.
The incident only goes to show that no matter how educated, affluent and civilised you are, family tussles can come to a boil, with sophistication and maturity in reactions seriously compromised.
Preparing to Leave Singapore
Mr Lee Hsien Yang, the Prime Minister’s younger brother, has generally been soft and gentle, keeping a low profile despite the powerful positions he has held and seldom seeking attention, going by what I have read about him in the past.
I find it shocking that he was preparing to leave Singapore over his differences with the Prime Minister and over fears that state organs may be used against him and his family. That appears to be too far-fetched an apprehension.
Notwithstanding the family feud that has spilled into the open, my faith in the Singapore leadership remains firm. The country has been and is in good hands. No crystal ball gazing can help one determine how it will be in the future.
Singapore’s Best Bet
There have been many governmental policies that have not resonated well with me. I have consistently blogged against the relentless focus on boosting the country’s population and globalisation at the expense of locals in terms of education and employment. There is no wavering on that even now.
Mr Lee and his ministerial team, however, are Singapore’s best bet amid the challenges all around – the most significant one being the terror threat within and outside the country which is at the highest ever with the recent arrest of an ISIS sympathiser.
Shelley, Ozymandias and LKY
An avid reader, the late leader himself, though, may have viewed history as ephemeral. The statement from Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling (brother and neurosurgeon sister of PM Lee respectively) referred to the late leader as having pointed to PB Shelley’s memorable sonnet, Ozymandias, to explain his desire to have the Oxley Road house demolished.
Oh, what a masterly piece of poetic genius Ozymandias is! I am reproducing the last few lines of the poem here.
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
The scuffle within Singapore’s preeminent family has indeed taken me back to my days as a student of Literature
Although not all has been well among the siblings, with tension simmering since the March 2015 death of Lee Kuan Yew, I did not think it will come to this pass. The Western media are certain to play up the feud, flashing their favourite themes of a lack of free speech in Singapore.
Revulsion for Abuse of History
I have a personal revulsion for any use of the past to float a stream of thought in defence or derision of the present. History, to me, is not a lesson for us to learn from. History is for knowledge acquisition, not a weapon for the world to use against a transformative way of life.
A past that has been full of evil cannot be taken to mean it will fester and manifest itself in the present. Just as any goodness and virtues of the past need not necessarily be carried over to the present. Today’s Greece is a far cry from ancient Greece.
However, heritage getting reduced to rubble will not find favour with me.
As for the dispute around the Oxley Road house of Late Lee, I may like to see it preserved but it is for the family to address.
G Joslin Vethakumar