Singaporeans are all reading the life of Dr Toh Chin Chye, one of the founding father of modern Singapore and the PAP. Chua Mui Hoong has a half page article of Toh Chin Chye in the ST today describing his tenacity and fearless fight for equality, press freedom, the politicising of the young Singaporeans and advocating more space for political freedom when he became a back bencher.
In the same breath it also described the irony of Dr Toh’s image as a repressive vice chancellor of the University of Singapore and his role as an integral part of the PAP machinery of oppression against dissenting voices and political opposition.
It seems that Dr Toh would be best remembered as a tough critic of the PAP during his last term as a back bencher, and for understanding and championing the plight of the powerless. The dying years of Dr Toh must be full of regrets that he did not do more for the powerless when he could. And when he was not in a position to do much, he fought hard but in vain, as a back bencher.
The moral of the story is that when a politician is in power, he is with the establishment, heart and soul. It was not a time to really think for the oppressed and the losers. It was all might and glory and fame. It is only when one is cast away from the pinnacle of power that one starts to understand what it is like at the receiving end or at the wrong end of the stick.
Such an enlightening experience seems to be repeated every time a politician falls from grace without fail. Several have stood up openly to speak for the oppressed people and even against the bad policies and culture of the power of the day.
Must such hypocrisies be repeated over and over again? Would those still in power reflect on this and stand up for the oppressed while they are still in power, still able to do something right, to live with their conscience of righteousness? Or would we see them crawling back, regretting that they should have done this and that when they could?
Would the living hypocrisies be repeated, be recycled all over again? Would more of such ironies be rewritten in the media as each leader hits the dust? May the living hypocrisies learn from the past masters and live a life of little or lesser regrets while there is still time for them to do something before they end up in the same boat?
The experience and regrets of our founding fathers are wisdom that is not taught in the textbooks. They are living examples and lessons to be learned to make one a better man. Future generations will be less forgiving of the failings of political leaders who could have done otherwise but chose not to do so in their heydays of power and glory.
Don’t come crying and wanting to defend the weak when they should have done so when they could. A spade shall be called a spade and hypocrisies should be called hypocrisies and nothing less.