Monday, March 23, 2015
Lee Kuan Yew - Rest In Peace
I promise I won't write NASTY letter of condolences to Prime Minister Lee, just as he did to Kenneth Jeyaretnam when his father JBJ passed away.
But let me share with my friends what I really think of LKY.
Whether we like it or not, Singapore was lucky to have an opportunistic pragmatist like LKY to wiggle us out of danger and animosity during the 1960s. He was a good schemer, pretender who was able to convince the British Colonist that he was the right one to run Singapore so that their interests in Far East would be protected. On the other hand, he was able to con the Leftists into fake collaboration of anti-colonial fights, gaining their trust and riding on their enormous political capital and organization to gain prominence among the largely Chinese based voters.
Whether we like it or not, that is one of the greatest political maneuver ever in Singapore political history. He could on one hand, scold the British "White Man" but at the same time, struck back door deals with them, making sure all blame went to them but yet, convince them he was the man they need!
His pragmatism has also allowed us to gain the necessary peace and breather from the animosity from Indonesia. He managed to convince Suharto that peace is what we need. On the other hand, he could well continue to convince Tunku Abdul Rahman to settle for peace and continue to supply us water, even though he has agitated him bad enough for him to ask Singapore to leave the Malaysia Federation!
His pragmatism has also made the normalization of foreign relationship with China possible, not only for Singapore but Malaysia and Indonesia as well. He could have put up his rally cry of anti- "Communist Terrorists" throughout 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s, but still he could shake hands with the leaders largest communist country in Asia who were behind the exportation of communism to SEA. He seized the opportunity to get China involved in forcing Vietnam, the only Communist Country in SEA, into peace in Cambodia and thus, removing the last threat of Communism to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.
On the other hand, his cultivation of warm ties with the western powers, particularly US, has allowed us to make use of their presence at our port to provide the necessary peace and stability, not only for Singapore, but also for SEA and North Asia. Singapore's role in the Vietnam War as a logistic base for the Americans in the 1960s and 1970s has provided opportunities for us to ease the pressure of the pullout of the British troops.
On the international front, his opportunistic pragmatism has allowed us to make use of the American to balance the power and provide a security net against potential Chinese expansionary threat while on the other hand, despite of his suspicions of China, continue to reap economic benefits from China's economic growth and development.
We cannot ignore all these delicate but important achievements of LKY, which have brought important benefits to us over the generations. This is even though we dislike the man who has in some point in time, get overwhelmed by the power he held.
As I have mentioned, his greatest failing is to destroy the tenets of Democracy in Singapore. He should have stopped his addiction to unnecessary harsh treatment towards dissidents and political opponents after he gained power in the 1960s. But he didn't stop but continue with his devious ways. The imprisonment of activists in 1987 under Operation Spectrum was the last embarrassment which made him realized that he could no longer use ISA in such a irresponsible way against dissidents. Nobody believe the "Marxist Conspiracy" which he tried so hard to put up because USSR was in the midst of disintegration and China, thanks to him, had stopped the support of exporting communism to the rest of Asia! This is why Operation Spectrum became the LAST ISD operation against political dissidents and opponents of LKY.
However, instead of reflecting on his insatiable desire to monopolize power, he continued persecution of his political opponents and dissidents by legal means: defamation suits and bankruptcy of his opponents. He didn't realize that such petty politicking internally is really unfitting for a Great International Politician like himself!
In his relentless pursue of such monopoly and concentration of powers, he has unwittingly destroyed the tenets of Singapore Democracy. This is the biggest failing of his political legacy. And I reiterate, we have to try to rebuild what he has destroyed, Democracy, in Post LKY Era.
For whatever good or bad deeds LKY has done for us, let us accept the man of what he was. He was a Dictator, unlike most other Dictators in past and present, has done both great good and bad for his people.
As a person who believe strongly in Democracy, I will still not mourn the Death of a Dictator. But I will remember both the good and bad deeds he has done, putting these as lessons for future.
Last but not least, I will still wish him, Rest In Peace. There is nothing more for him to do anymore. Please don't jump out of the grave even if there is any problem in Singapore. Just Rest In Peace.
Goh Meng Seng