SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
Sim Choon Kiat “A Mission Impossible Made Possible by Mr Lee Kuan Yew”
The year 2015 is to be remembered in the history of Singapore, not as 50th anniversary of Singapore but as the year we lost the Founding Father.
If I use a word “Great”, I shall be misunderstood to be a guy who worships a dictator of his country enthusiastically like people in some country. But if you know me, you understand easily that I will never be such people no matter what I do. And I dare to use a word “Great” to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew although this expression may be misunderstood.
There are a lot of publications, books, essays and articles of newspapers and magazines analyzing merits and demerits of his results. Please read such publications, if you are interested in his leadership, his oppressive political skills or his dictatorship. As a citizen who was born and raised under one-party dominant regime of PAP (People’s Action Party) , I like to express my faithful feelings here.
Whenever I visit developing countries in Asia, I feel “déjà vu”. I open an album in my memory and remember such scenes like houses in bad repair, electric cables networks laying out on the ground like spider’s webs, a lot of unclean stalls and water channels which dark water flow, all of which I have looked in my childhood in Singapore. I cannot imagine such scenes in Singapore where per-capita GDP is about US$60,000 and it exceeds that of Japanese US$40,000 and we are always ranked in the tenth in the statistics like IMF and the World Bank. No Singaporean has an objection to the opinion that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is the greatest person who has made Singapore possible to change surprisingly. I cannot deny this fact no matter what as a generation after the independence who have grown up together with the progress and prosperity of Singapore and have received its favors. However, there is no such thing as perfect in the world.
Perfect people or perfect nation would be an illusion. It is true that even Singapore which seems to be managed well has various issue like other countries. It is rather mysterious to me that, in Singapore where the land is limited and resources are scarce, we are coexisting happily with people whose culture, habit, language and religion are different in such complicated situation like multi-racial, multi-lingual and multi-religion, A mosque is built near a church, there is a Mausoleum of Taoism 50m ahead and we can hear prayers from temples of Hinduism. It is very usual in Singapore now. If we recall our history of racial distrust and religious riot, it may be a miracle. Every people in Singapore knows that there was Lee Kuan Yew with no religious faith behind.
Of course, Lee Kuan Yew is not perfect. People who hate him is not a little. As a matter of fact, I also dislike him. He was ultra-rationalist and elitism and has often aroused criticism saying that:
―we should change such tendency that university graduated ladies bear less children
after marriage than ladies of lower-education,
―electoral system which give one vote to one person is not always best and we should
give two votes to one person who has family and children,
―it is quite natural that prime minister or ministers and high government officials who
are responsible to the government and its future, which has no natural resources,
should be paid the highest salary in the world,
―opposition parties will be unnecessary if they would oppose always and have no
abilities to propose better policies.
Sometimes I feel pleasantly when he expressed his opinion straightforwardly without
hesitation which ordinal leaders would never put into words even though they have in
his mind. If we think it calmly, we can feel freshness and boldness as there is a point
in his creative idea. I do not like him, but I respect him profoundly.
He was, so to speak, a strict father.
This strict father was, at the same time, an affectionate grand-father. Lee Yee Peng,
one of his grand-children and a son of Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister and the eldest
son of Lee Kuan Yew, and his late wife, was “albino” and has visual disturbance and in
“Asperger’s syndrome. Lee Kuan Yew has wrote in his memoirs that he loved Yee Pen
most. When his coffin was brought to the House of Parliament to receive calls of
condolence of the people, Yee Peng lead the row holding a photograph of his grand-
father. The row was so long as it took eight hours which was longer-than-expected and
the Government recommended the people to refrain from calling of condolence.
A few years before he has passed away, he replied to an interviewer “Are you asking me what I have got? It is a success of Singapore. Are you asking me what I lost? It is my life”, acknowledging there were some who opposed to or dissatisfied with his difficult political decision.
A bronze statue of Lee Kuan Yew may be built somewhere in Singapore in several years later. A portrait of bills may be changed from Yusuf bin Ishaq to Lee Kuan Yew.
Anyway, his name will be remained forever in the mind of Singaporean, even though there would not be a statue or bills.
(Associate Professor of Showa Women’s University)
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Mac Maquito
SGRA Kawaraban 454 in Japanese (original)