Category Archives: Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Family Dispute: Legalese and Venom Show there is Little to Do with Matters of the Heart

PM’s Statement Brings Up Serious Questions on Will!

“It is with a heavy heart that I will leave Singapore in the foreseeable future.” This note is from the statement released by Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling, but by bringing matters of the heart into the public domain they laid bare their intent which may not necessarily mean bringing down late Lee Kuan Yew’s Oxley Road house in line with his will in probate.

With legalese and venom against their elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the statement does not leave me convinced that what they want is nothing other than honouring of their late father’s wish.

In contrast, PM Lee’s first statement in Facebook appeared to have come from the heart, an expression of disappointment at the decision of his siblings to go public with what was essentially a family dispute. He followed it up with a detailed rebuttal, through a statutory declaration issued through his lawyers.

Bringing Disrepute to First Family

A naïve question from the brother-sister combine is why PM Lee did not take the issue to court. It beats me how it did not occur to people of their stature that it was simply to stay clear of anything that could bring disrepute to the family.

PM Lee has raised doubts about how the demolition clause that was not in wills 5 and 6 made it to will number 7, the final one. He also brought up a conflict of interest since the final will appeared to have been prepared or supervised by Lee Hsien Yang’s wife, Lee Suet Fern. So, the matter may end up with a legal resolution.

Criticism from China: “Lackeys of America”

By making the family feud public, the siblings have brought international embarrassment for Singapore. Even China and its netizens have heavily criticised Singapore with comments such as: “Lee Hsien Loong did not go against the wishes of Lee Kuan Yew because both father and son chose to be lackeys of America”.

The siblings are to be blamed for not only causing harm to the legacy of late Lee Kuan Yew but also to Singapore’s reputation.

There is no question that the house must go if it is established the will was valid and reflected the late leader’s final wish.

If, however, it emerges that the father of the nation was only tentative about having the house demolished and if the issues the Prime Minister has raised are confirmed in a court of law, then the Lee Hsien Yang family may not be able to leave Singapore as they now wish. 

If that happens, it will prevent heritage getting reduced to rubble.

My Earlier Post: https://joslinv.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/singapore-in-good-hands-the-lee-family-feud-notwithstanding/

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Singapore in Good Hands, the Lee Family Feud Notwithstanding

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.

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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

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Finally, Amos Yee is Free to Spread Message of Anarchist Communism

U.S. Grants 18-year-old Lawbreaker Asylum

So, finally, precocious Singaporean blogger Amos Yee (18) will be able to spread his message of “anarchist communism and ending private property and wage labor.”

Lee Kuan Yew is finally dead” was among the posts the juvenile delinquent released when Singapore’s founding father (91) passed away on 23 March 2015. 

Amos Yee was then 16 and had been regularly attacking Christianity and Islam in his posts using unprintable four-letter words. To him, both Lee and Jesus Christ were “malicious but deceive others into thinking they are both compassionate and kind.”

amos-yee-1He was largely ignored by the Singapore government, treating him with kid gloves, but was arrested following his post on Lee Kuan Yew’s death. 

After all, there had to be an end to incessant, immature rant against both Islam and Christianity in his own interest as he could have easily become the target of physical attacks in a world that was becoming communally sensitive.

But to the U.S. Immigration Judge who granted Amos Yee asylum yesterday the law-breaker was politically persecuted in Singapore. That shows how intellectually impoverished the liberals and the judiciary in the U.S. are.

Why NO Absolute Freedom for Snowden, Assange, Fischer and More?

If the U.S. is a country that stands by absolute freedom, why is Edward Snowden on the run, now taking refuge in Russia. Why did it hound the greatest ever chess player, late Bobby Fischer, so much that he gave up his American citizenship and settled down in Iceland after hopping from one country to another?

Even whistleblower Julian Assange of WikiLeaks is under house arrest, taking shelter in the Ecuador Embassy in London.

And just what are the travel bans? Aren’t they actions infringing on not that of individual freedom but that of entire nations?

Singapore is not a country to be rattled by publicity-seeking 15-year-olds. As I had argued in a recent post, the fact that Yee was able to escape from Singapore and land in the U.S. is a clear pointer that he was not on the country’s watchlist

I am a regular blogger with my posts often being critical of politicians, parties and countries. I have argued against some of Singapore’s policies as well, but never with any personal or any other agenda. I merely wear the hat of a critic and seek to advance my thoughts with reason, logic and a sense of responsibility.

I do not think Singapore will crack down on objective criticism. 

But the U.S. loves duds, there are millions of them the world over, Uncle Sam. Go get them!

G Joslin Vethakumar

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The Story of Singapore Through Art

I chanced upon this exhibition that presents the story of Singapore through photographs, paintings and videos of prominent leaders who helped shape the country, with particular focus on founding Prime Minister Late Lee Kuan Yew.

IMG_2141It was an impressive show more so because it was the collection of one man — Vincent Chua, pictured here. He recalls the historic meeting of Late Lee and Deng Xiaoping in 1978 when China was an impoverished country. Mr Lee convinced the Chinese leader to open up the country’s economy and the rest is history.

He recalls the historic meeting of Late Lee and Deng Xiaoping in 1978 when China was an impoverished country. Mr Lee convinced the Chinese leader to open up the country’s economy and the rest is history.

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The show that opened at the Suntec City on 15 April 2015 will continue until 30 June 2015. Admission, from 11am to 7am on all days (except Monday) is free.

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Media Overdose on Lee Kuan Yew

Hope Family, Government Do Not Fall for Sycophancy

Anything that is overdone will almost invariably result in it having the opposite effect. Two weeks have passed since Singapore lost its founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, and I am beginning to get the feeling that the media here are getting swept away by excessive passion and melancholy.

lee-kuan-yew (1)The Straits Times and other local newspapers are continuing with an overdose of tributes for the late leader. I am hoping the family and the government are not ones to fall for a fawning practice, which is what the writers appear to be doing.

Today’s edition of The Straits Times had many pieces waxing lyrical about Mr Lee and I hardly found anything that has not been said in the last two weeks. Why persist with such rhapsodies that readers can find tiring?

Sycophancy is something that is alien to First-World countries but embraced in impoverished personality-centric democracies. Let Singapore not fall into that pit.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Singapore is Free, Whatever the Western Media May Say!

Only it does not have the freedom to spread lies and hate

lee-kuan-yew (1)Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, who had his final journey through the country he helped build today, was often accused of muzzling the media, stifling the opposition and depriving the people of civil liberties.

Today’s edition of The Straits Times has a piece by its Editor-in-Chief, Patrick Daniel, that puts the media scene here in the right perspective.

Mr Daniel recalls: “Mr Lee knew too well the power a press baron could wield to make or break an elected government, and he was determined to have none of it in Singapore.”

Lee views on mediaThe West generally gets it wrong when it comes to reporting on Asia and its people. The Reporters Without Borders group puts Singapore at number 150 in terms of media freedom, as Mr Daniel points out. Even Russia is ranked better than Singapore. The country sits with the likes of Libya where journalists are routinely killed.

Has any journalist lost his life in Singapore? At worst, there have been some journalists and publications brought to justice for inaccurate reporting,

Media in SingaporeMr Daniel writes: “Mr Lee made sure that political leaders are never beholden to unelected media owners, and wanted the media out of the political process. Foreign colleagues who have worked for capricious owners tell me how smart a move this was.”

When the media and misguided elements behave irresponsibly they will need to be restrained in the interest of the nation. Every sane country will do that or will need to do that.

Mr Daniel was once hauled up for publishing the Government’s flash estimate of quarterly economic growth ahead of its official release.

Singapore is free, peaceful, prosperous and commands the respect of major global powers. That is why political biggies from all over the world became Mr Lee’s close personal friends, including Mr Henry Kissinger. He and several others, including Bill Clinton, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Guen-Hye, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China Vice-President Li Yuanchao, were at the funeral today.

Still the media, particularly the Western media,continuously attempts to run down Singapore by saying that all progress the country achieved was at the expense of civil liberties, media rights and the opposition.

I enjoy every right in the world to express my opinion on any issue and that may be critical of some of the government’s policies. I have consistently come down heavily on the government with no backlash or fear of reprisals. That is because I do not make sweeping allegations or try to propagate hate.

The Rights that Singapore Does Not Have!

Some of the freedoms that Singaporeans do not have are:

  • the right to make wild allegations against people without any shred of evidence
  • the right to be a traitor by letting Singapore down on international platforms – by spreading lies that the West is quick to lap up. Why will the Westen media care about whether Singapore succeeds or not as all they want is to enjoy proximity to the leadership, slam them on a daily basis and prevent a tiny Asian country from becoming a mega power.
  • the right to defame people and spread hate, religious or racist
  • the right to call all and sundry corrupt, criminal and more and still not be called upon to substantiate that

Do you think we need all of those?

LKY-ribbon FBImagine what will be in store for the country if it was soft with all of the above. Worse, imagine, if Lee Kuan Yew had given the media and the opposition a free rein in 1965 what will have become of Singapore.

China is today an economic superpower because some of the freedoms the West has are curtailed there. In contrast, India has all of the freedoms that China has but remains a poverty-ridden country despite having all the advantages that the communist nation does not have (free speech and a large English-speaking young middle class, for instance).

Now that Singapore is a First World nation with a well-educated population, there is room for relaxing some of the curbs without going overboard. The world knows the kind of harm the Internet can do by spreading racial venom, something that can easily lead to turmoil and upset the very fabric of the nation.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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Singapore’s Efficiency on Display at the Lying-in State of Lee Kuan Yew

Very well done for Nation’s Founding Father!

Today is one day I may have used a Google Glass if I had one.

LKY-ribbon FBWearing one I could have gone to the Parliament House from the Padang taking a video of the full stretch for an appreciative view of how efficiently Singapore has been dealing with the huge crowds converging there to pay their last respects to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who passed away on March 23.

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That could have allowed me to capture on video the moments inside the Parliament House where Mr Lee’s remains rest. Photography / videography is not allowed inside.

But the technology-heavy smart nation that Singapore is, the Google Glass may easily have been detected and me stopped!

The Red Sari: In any case, I went there armed with just a book, The Red Sari by Javier Moro, an unauthorised biography on Sonia Gandhi. Since the wait was said to be around eight hours the last few days, I thought the book can keep me engaged and any tedium away.

It was not a continuous walk all the way because the crowd was heavy and regulated. That offered me the opportunity to read along the way.

IMG_1949But I was also merrily clicking away with my iPhone 6 Plus, so I was able to complete reading only about 40 pages of the book.

Umbrella, Refreshments and More: With an umbrella on one hand, distributed free to all those in the queue, and a book on the other, it was not easy to go on any clicking spree. Plus, I had a water bottle, wet tissues and snacks that were also given free to visitors.

With all that, it was a hassle for taking photos of the breathtaking Singapore skyline, hence the Google Glass desire!

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No queue jumping, no stampede: Unquestionably, Singapore’s efficiency was on showcase throughout the walk.

With such a large mass of people congregating there, I was amazed at how easily they managed to keep the flow smooth — no queue jumping, no shoving and pushing and no stampede!

There were barricades all along and the path was not a straight one but lined with bends and curves. That helped prevent any mad rush, with ushers, officials and policemen guiding people and monitoring the movement.

IMG_1944Scorching Heat: The public were continuously provided with refreshments — bottled water, juices, yoghurt drinks, buns, biscuits and fruits. Water was also sprayed on those in the queues to help them cope with the scorching heat. By the time I came out of the Parliament House, the weather got better and there were even some mild showers.

I went there around 9am and was out by 12.15. I tried to pay my respects on March 25, the first day when the doors were open to the public. But as the crowds were huge I chose not to join the queue which could have kept me there for eight hours or thereabout.

I was nonetheless determined to take a bow before the final journey of the man who gave Singaporeans a nation they can be proud of! So, I am glad I had the opportunity to do so today. My daughter joined the queue after I had completed it. She had gone there yesterday as well, but the queue was too long to join. She just messaged us to say she was able to fulfil her wish today.

This was a solemn week for Singaporeans. It was also a time for them to recall with gratitude the phenomenal effort of Lee Kuan Yew in making Singapore what it is today – peaceful, prosperous, multiracial and the envy of the world!

My earlier posts on Singapore’s founding PM

G Joslin Vethakumar

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