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1/30/2011

The man and his thoughts

The Hard Truths was a book about the ideas of a man, his thinking, his perspectives and how he related them to nation building. The reactions to his thoughts are expected from the respective corners of the communities. The rational and objective will analyse and rationalise what he had said. The irrational will react irrationally. The racists or extremists will behave as they are. A whole spectrum of reactions will go through its motion in respond to the sensitive comments in the book. Why would a man who could live life peacefully, kissing children, touring schools to tell grand father tales, did a thing like this, penning his personal thoughts and beliefs that obviously will incur the wrath of the wrong people? The Chinese have a saying, ‘Eat too full, nothing better to do.’ Is this the case of a man who is out to draw flaks on himself? Some have now accused him of chauvinism, racism, anti Malay, anti Islam and many things along this line of thinking. The polite ones will say they disagreed with some of the views expressed in the book. Did he set out to tell the world that he is a chauvinist, a racist, anti Malay or anti Islam? It is important to understand the agenda of the book and the hard truths. What does he want to achieve by saying the unpleasant things at this time of his life when he could say all the good things, all the politically correct things, niceties and to be praised and remembered as someone with kind words? If the readers of the Hard Truths miss out what he set out to do, or intentionally refuse to understand the bigger things, it is a cause lost. The book is all about the pitfalls that could untangle all the efforts in building a cohesive multi racial society, national integration and nation building. Unfortunately not everyone is sensible and composed when issues of race and religion are invoked. The primordial instinct of tribes and religious purity will surface to rule the day and hijack the agenda, even turn it into a contentious issue that requires apology or else. What is there so disagreeable or difficult to agree in the Hard Truths? Is accepting the Hard Truths so difficult and politically wrong? Compare this to the closing down of Nantah in the early days. That was a hot potato, highly emotional and touching the raw nerves of the chauvinists. Till today, the chauvinists have not forgiven the decision maker. Having Nantah teaching mainly in Chinese was divisive in a way. The graduates will present a serious social and political problem if their limited command of the English Language makes them less relevant to the national effort of integration through the primacy of the English Language in government and commerce. The chauvinists will argue that it is as relevant then as it is today. A difference in opinion, just like some will claim that whether under Lim Chin Siong or anyone, Singapore will still be what it is today. The point I am making is that the agenda or motivation of the incident was about national integration, not anti Chinese or trying to kill Chinese education though the direct effect was exactly that. The man and his motivation was and is all about how to make the country relevant and survive despite the opposing forces pulling in different directions. More flexibility, give and take, adaptation and accommodation are needed from every corner to the bigger good of the nation. Sticking rigidly to ones own little corner will undermine the effort of national integration. The Hard Truths was nothing about anti this group or that group. The intent is there for those who want to understand and appreciate it. For those who chose to deride the book and feel offended, it is all a matter of interpretation and looking at things from their own little corner and interests.

8 comments:

Matilah_Singapura said...

I always enjoy it when Lee Kuan Yew comes out and hantams the Muslims.

I think that rocks.

Anonymous said...

I can generally agree with what you say. But, I don't believe the way he set about doing it is/was the only way. There are many paths leading to the fountain in the middle of the square, as the saying goes.

The issue also is that there was little saving grace in the way 'victims' of his methods were treated. You cannot claim an amoralistic justification for the maltreatment of people who disagree or have an alternative viewpoint. How different is it from the rule of a tyrant if you cannot even behave in a civilized way. Putting someone into prison without even charging him in court for decades cannot be justified in any human sense even when he no longer posed any real 'danger'. IF THE WORLD SHOULD ROUNDLY CONDEMN, AND JUSTIFIABLY SO, THE JAILERS OF NELSON MANDELA, SO SHOULD IT CONDEMN THE MANY ACTIONS OF lky. Where is the difference between Mandela's jailer and Chia Thai Poh's?

Ultimately, why is lky above explaning himself and needs proxies like you and NEA's Yakob Ibrahim (who has to claim on his behalf that lky's reference to the Malay community was in a 'worst case scenario?). The man is a great orator, CAN HE PLEASE NOT SPEAK FOR HIMSELF? Why are people forever expected to provide the subtext on his behalf, even though there is obviously no shortage of sycophants and ABCs around?

Anonymous said...

You obviously don't understand the underlying intent of Lee Kuan Yew's remarks because you are Chinese and you have been in a racial majority all your life.

You should live overseas for a while to understand what it's like to be in the minority.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason he can go about saying the things he said, in all his memoirs, is because Singapore is a majority Chinese society.

If he were in Indonesia or Malaysia, I think the consequences would be vastly different.

And not all that he said is necessarily right, or the only path we have to take. It is his personal opinion and he cannot expect others to think like him or accept wholesale what he wrote. People can be forced to be physically obedient but the heart and mind may not submit.

I can only say that he can write a thousand more memoirs and espouse his innermost doctrines, not everyone will be converted to his beliefs.

Matilah_Singapura said...

The wonderful quality about Lee Kuan Yew is that for himself he has freedom of speech.

But if you argue against his position or worse -- lay into him with an frequently accusation, he will annihilate you -- and he won't stop until you're down.

If you are going to be an authoritarian ruler, you must possess and frequently hone these valuable qualities.

Lee Kuan Yew has never believed in a "fair" fight -- a credit to him. There is no such thing in politics. Neither is there "equality", "justice" or "honour" or any quality the average person would consider "admirable".

Politics is all about understand POWER and how it works. One thing I'll give Old Lee -- he does understand power -- how to get it, how to maintain it and how to wield it -- even if you are a frail old man. Usually in the game of politics, the young lions cannot wait for the old lion to get old and frail. The old alpha ape will eventually be challenged by a young alpha ape -- at the very least just as cunning, ruthless and audacious.

In Lee's case -- this has not and probably will not happen. He still has the power.

Fucking amazing.

Anonymous said...

It is all a matter of interpretation and looking at things from their own little corner and interests.

Tell that to Lee Kuan Yew...

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

In issues like race and religion or social values, everyone is coloured by his own experience, belief, culture, education, the people he mixed with etc etc.

Some people can make a very strong statement by virtue of a single experience or encounter. LKY is looking at the world from his own perspective and no one needs to agree with him like no one needs to agree with Solo Bear or with me.

What is important is how we handle our disagreement. We can totally disagree with someelse with resorting to ridiculing the person or hating the person. That is what sharing of views is all about.

Matilah_Singapura said...

Racial and religious differences are best handled by WAR and VIOLENCE.

I relish the prospect and look forward to the spectacle caused by people who get so hot they cannot than but begin killing each other.

So I do not agree with redbean that racial and religious differences should be handled respectfully and peacefully. Absolute nonsense.

Here's the reason: there is no such thing a "race" and there is no "truth" in religion. They are both bullshit, made-up concepts which no 2 group agree on.

That being the case, there can be no "battle of ideas" where the "good" ideas win out. Eventually it i the people who are the lucky ones, or the more crafty ones or have better technology that win the conflict and get the chance to impose their ideas of race and religion (same old bullshit, different flavour) on the vanquished.

Go to war you fucking pussies! ;-)