1970, I was a young man in the land of our past colonial masters. I was in a pub one evening and the bartender told me that they would all be watching the TV later that night. I was curious. What was so important on the TV and why must he said that to me. I asked. His reply was that our Lee Kuan Yew would be speaking on their TV live that night. And probably the whole of England would be watching and listening to his wise words.
Those were the prime years of LKY. He was highly regarded, highly admired and highly listened to all over the world. He still does. The local citizens too were captivated by his oratory skills for decades too. Over time this following has gradually shifted, from great admiration to cautious and guarded reticence, to private criticism. This morning I read Feedmetothefish. He quoted an article by a Judy Zhou who openly criticized LKY, his policies and the way he demolished his political opponents. And she is not alone.
Criticism of LKY is getting more prevalent and more fortright today. Some could be very nasty. It is something that was unspeakable in his heydays. The foreigners are still holding him in high regards for his achievements and for the shining little jewel called Singapore. They did not have to live with his policies and his knuckle duster. Those who have and those who are living in the little jewel and disagreeing with or hurt by many of his policies are having different thoughts.
The changing perception of LKY is mirrored in the changing perception of his party, his ministers and MPs. From a time of high regards, deference and acceptance, it is now open criticism, questioning and opposition to ideas and policies that are no longer accepted with reluctance. The awe is gone and skepticism has crept in, and unstoppable when nothing seems right and everything seems wrong. It is a strange development, but it is happening. No amount of propaganda can remove the new perception of both LKY and his party and his chosen political leaders.
They still have 60% of the votes in the last GE and 35% of the vote for their sponsored President. How would these numbers changed come the next GE? A good indicator will be the coming Hougang by election, if there is one. It will be the harbinger of the PAP’s fortune in the next GE.