Thoughts on the death of Lee Kuan Yew from an ambivalent person



Reading time:

13 minutes

I’m still figuring out how I really feel about the death of our nation’s first prime minister. I feel rather ambivalent about all the tribute/funeral activities that has taken place in the past week since his death. I even googled “how did people react when hitler died” to get some sort of reference to how I should feel. I figured that I’ll just start writing down my thoughts so that maybe can I somehow see some light in all of these.


Firstly, I wasn’t upset, or had any kind of emotion upon hearing about his death. My mum first heard about his death on the radio, and told me that morning “Lee Kuan Yew has died”. “Okay.” I replied. I went about my day; went for BJJ training, came back home and had breakfast, got onto FB and saw many LKY related post on my newsfeed. I think I wouldn’t even have remembered or feel any need to blog about his death if not for the constant flooding of related news on my newsfeed. I saw many people on my FB giving thanks to him, for without him, we wouldnt’ be where we are today. Okay… maybe I’m missing something. But whatever.


I saw news and watched the videos of the queue to pay tribute to LKY. That was a lot of freaking people. People really queued for 8 h to see a dead body? Even my peers, people around my age, queued to visit him. I know those people who actually thanked and love him (at least that’s how it seems on FB anyway, you know, it could just be a hype thing. Some people can’t help but to join a queue right? Haha.). I saw videos of people crying when they were finally in the same room as LKY, people of different ages and races. As if the young ones really know whats going on… but seeing a non-chinese elder so emotional, obviously bursting with gratitude for LKY… damn, that’s powerful. Regardless of race, language or religion indeed.


But I’m confused, didn’t I get this feeling since the previous general elections that there was growing discontent with the government in Singapore? Weren’t people sorta pissed when LKY threatened/said something about us regretting not voting PAP or something? Didn’t I get a sense that people were realising he was still holding on to power even though he was meant to be retired. That seemed kind of power-hungry didn’t it? I don’t know… it seemed like his was a person who liked to be in control and would have loved to rule the country forever if he could live forever. I thought people didn’t like him! But now that he’s dead, maybe he wasn’t that bad? I guess it’s a case of appreciating someone/something more after you lose it. Then again, it wasn’t the majority of Singapore who were expressing so much love for him (or maybe it was?), and of course those who don’t love him aren’t gonna say shit about him right now (except one).


I finally got out into the city to go for capoeira training on sunday and passed by the esplanade in the afternoon. It was pouring, there were many people, and many umbrellas (the media is gonna love this downpour, ooh, so dramatic). I saw the bridge at fullerton, damn that’s a lot of people! Being in a such a big crowd, I felt a lot of energy. Wow, one man, can mobilise so many people to watch and wave at his casket for a few minutes. That’s impressive. Since I started also being discontent with the government, and watching many occupy movement related docos, I imagined that one day, we will have to take it to the streets to fight against our government, but it would probably be a global movement, where we stand up to BEET the system, and SQUASH the state, the system of free market and capitalism can suck it! I’m cool, I’m cool. I imagine that if and when the nation finally turns up in huge numbers on the streets it would have looked like this, it would have been to rise up against the government, yet there I was witnessing this huge crowd on the streets to show their love for LKY. So many acts of kindness have been reported throughout the week. People are seeing the good side of Singaporeans because of LKY. That’s great, though why don’t we pay it forward every day and not only when we see a big reason to do so.


So everyone thanks LKY for bringing us up from a small fishing village to a bustling metropolis. They said things like, if it were not for him we would not be here. I was like, why would people say that? Are we not in control of our own lives? If anything, isn’t our society sorta stifling our ability to really be in control of our lives? We worry about the money, about how to afford a house, about transport etc. And who made this society like that? The government…which is = LKY…? And so many world leaders paid tribute to LKY, I didn’t realise he had such a powerful influence worldwide! But then again, all these leaders are politicians, and politicians are all the same. They are almost always disappointing. The NZ leaders talk about how LKY brought Singapore’s GDP up from nothing to one of the highest in the world. Not that damn GDP shit again. I get it, of course most politicians operate under capitalism, only judging success by materialistic things. Why can’t they understand that the money doesn’t mean shit in terms of people’s quality of life! If I just a regular citizen of the world can understand that, why can’t they?! LKY planted some trees and gave direction to make us a garden city, but at the same time destroyed our native forests? I overheard on TV of one of his old speeches where he said something along the lines of “if you make profit a bad word, we are all in trouble”. So, is he putting profit before people? Shouldn’t it be people before profit? (Ok, but people obviously love him so that’s contradicting…) But nevertheless, if he considers profit one of his goals, in order to make profit, you gotta keep growing the economy, which means people need to consume more, which means promoting consumerism. Damn all those shopping malls everywhere! I can’t even bring myself to go into town, as in Orchard rd, the devil lives there, he bought the whole street.


—— WARNING: DIGRESSION, but not really.

I had a theory on why we don’t have more cycling lanes. How did we become, from a fishing village 50 years ago, where I’m pretty sure bicycles > cars, to now a place where cars > bicycles, where drivers complained about cyclists on the road, and why we have to pay road tax (or maybe people don’t complain about this anymore, but they did). The bicycle was invented way before cars, so in terms of seniority bicycles should have greater right of way on the roads! If a bus is carrying 50 people and a car is carrying 1 person, the bus should have 50x more right of way on the roads! Ok, ok, so LKY is a smart man, he’s got great foresight, he knows Singapore is a small island. Puny. But we gotta grow that thing called GDP right. So hey cars are invented! Lets bring them in, and sell it to the people. We need them to keep buying! Because if no one buys, no one sells, no sale, no money. But you gotta keep people buying! We only have this many people living on the island, and hey the island is pretty damn small, they can easily cycle from one end to the other! We need to get more people traveling in cars, and being traditional frugal asians, they won’t buy new things until they are broken! (I assume people back then still had such values). So to address this, you can’t own a car for more than 10 years! Plus, cars are taxable! Bicycles… not so much. But we have limited space, we need to create a lot of roads for cars to be on, but we can’t have too many cars, so we will put ERP. Fyeah, profitssssss. Everyone knows we have a transportation problem situation. The government wants less people in cars, so they increase taxes for cars but they also increased the fare of public transport? BUT I have to say Singapore’s public transport is fantastic, it’s brilliant, I’ve taken it for granted. But you know what, cycling from east coast to orchid country club takes me 50+ mins, which is faster than public transport. Ideally we need a exclusive bus lane, and all the cars can just have one lane to themselves, and drivers can sit in their cars stuck in traffic while they watch in envy as cyclists and buses pass them at < 50km/h. Pretty sure that’s how you have less cars on the road. I used to think the government is anti-cycling by commuting, but changed my opinion on that since I found the LTA’s master plan for singapore. Alright, they ain’t that bad, they seem to have the right solutions… perhaps they were just slow in seeing the light.





I was on my usual bike ride along east coast park while listening to the Joe Rogan Experience. I’ve only recently started listening to his podcast. It’s good sometimes when he actually talks about self-improvement and motivational stuff, but not all the time. Anyway, on that podcast #621 I was listening to, he and the guest speaker talked about empathy, and tribal mentality. They mentioned the golden rule, “Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you.” but maybe it should be changed to the platinum rule, “Do not do unto others, because they are you”. Basically, if you had transferred your soul into another person’s body and experienced the exact same life experiences as that person did, you might have turned out to be the same person as they are. That’s how you empathise with others, and how you put yourself in their shoes. That’s like some deep shit man, isn’t that such a high level of consciousness to see yourself in everyone?


I also happened to watch a bunch of motivational/self-improvement/futurist docos this week, and they were also about empathy, and how the environment we grow up in has so much influence on how we turn out. So if we were to have empathy, we shouldn’t have this tribal mentality of “us” vs. “them”, no “if you are not in my tribe then screw you all”. That made me think that I shouldn’t, in this situation, see people as either a PAP or non-PAP supporter, and try to determine what kind of person they are based on that. Everyone’s life experiences are unique and so their ‘filters’ and world-view are different. I shared my thoughts with my one of my best friends about this whole situation over dinner last night, and I realised that it’s actually interesting understanding why someone might not have your same view on things. For example, my peers who I saw as people who would have the most similar life experiences as I did have such different reactions to LKY’s death to me. Why is that?


So maybe I do owe LKY something. Maybe I’ve closed my heart to anything government related, because for too long I’ve associated negative feelings towards our government. Let me dig deeper within my heart and soul to find some gratitude for this individual. Let me consider him as Lee Kuan Yew a human being and fellow Singaporean, not LKY of PAP. Alright Mr Lee, you’re not that bad. Whatever life experiences you had growing up, made you who you are. And I am who I am because of mine. You did what you thought you had to do, though I may not agree with them. Though if we remained a fishing village, who knows, people might be happier than they are now, you know how sometimes you hear and see that the poorest (in terms of money) people in the world are also the happiest people? We could still be happily living sustainably and growing our own food and stuff, but ok we could also then be easily exploited again if we stayed a fishing village. We will never know, until we get a Walter Bishop to bring us to the alternate universe. Maybe you had to focus on the materialistic objectives because this is the world we live in, in a materialistic world. If you can’t change the environment, you gotta adapt to it right? But maybe you could have at least planted a durian tree as the first tree you planted in Singapore. That would have been so much more meaningful, but whatever. I wonder if you had heard of the Zeitgeist movement, I would have loved to hear your thoughts on it. I wonder if you have ever tried drugs, I mean you know marijuana is natural right, and you know it can actually help in fighting against cancer. If the government can change its mind on chewing gum, natural herbs should be close (haha.) I guess I am grateful for what you have done, thanks and rest in peace. We’ll take it from here, thanks ah thanks.


Post digression:

btw, in regards to what amos yee posted, people seriously need to eat some rice and calm the fuck down. stop hatin’ so much. he’s just a kid on youtube, I don’t think he deserves to get arrested? Just because he spoke up and didn’t say things you liked to hear doesn’t mean he deserved to be arrested. There are worst things to get arrested for like murder, theft and rape. Why the hell do we need to waste resources on a kid who made a video?! And stop saying shit like “if you don’t like this country then leave!” this country is as much of his country as yours. Is it my-way-or-the-high-way kinda deal? NO! SIGH. I’m sure Mr Lee is damn happy you all went to see him, he wouldn’t give a shit about a kid. In fact he might have asked amos yee to join PAP, yknow?!



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