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Père nationale

(Having spent a good portion of the day reading around about our Great Man again, this being true also for many other people today no doubt.)



A case of sombre skies prompting gloomy forecasts, perhaps:

‘However, the most important reason for Singapore’s singular experience is Mr Lee himself […] Even in Singapore the model may not outlast its creator for long.’ – in The Economist.

‘The discontent has raised questions about the sustainability of the system put in place by Mr. Lee.’ – in WSJ.

‘Lee bequeathed to Singapore prosperity and order, but the durability of his legacy is in question.’ – in Forbes; headline: ‘Singapore After Lee Kuan Yew: Future Is Uncertain For The Utilitarian Paradise He Created’

Against pronouncements like these, I believe he would have most loved1 for us to just keep carrying on.


The rather more bullish piece in FP would have us enshrine ‘Lee Kuan Yew-ism’ (roughly, institutional values) as the monument to the man himself, as the more fitting act of remembrance. I’m not sure this is much better. I think he would have wanted more for us than an ideological inheritance – not that we don’t have ideology, but better to build for the living than build up from leavings, I say2. Though we’ve done that too, with a different kind of pride.


That perfect quote that’s been coming up all day:

‘At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.’ – in Today, and many places elsewhere.

Quiet sunset, I thought. Maybe with a distant black-and-white echo of blood-sacrifice, though probably no more than would have been asked of anyone else living through the times they did, with him.


1. Or relished; as quoted in NYT, he once said, ‘To understand Singapore and why it is what it is, you’ve got to start off with the fact that it’s not supposed to exist and cannot exist.’
2. I like to think, He might have said.

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