Lee Kuan Yew, 16 September 1923

Dear Boys,

Today is a day where a great man was born. Before my time, in his heydays, he was the top dog in Singapore, what he said, was absolute. He did what he did to make sure Singapore can survive. We became a great country with only less than half a century of existence. But I heard, and to some extent still feels the effects of his policies, and many of those, I tell you, were  not popular.

Lee Kuan Yew is never about populist. He can be called existentialistic to a certain extent. He did what he did at that point in time, when it is in the best interest of the situation. We have a multi-cultural, English speaking Singapore because of him. You see, Lee Kuan Yew is a Chinese and being the first Prime Minister, could have made Chinese the must-use language, and this was actually what the Chinese expected him to do. He didn’t, in fact when members of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce came to him to advocate Chinese as the national language, Lee Kuan Yew resisted them. ‘You have to fight me first.’ He stood in front, for all Singaporeans, true to our pledge, regardless of race, language, or religion.

He is existentialistic because he knew our existence was meager then when he took over, has no room for error, no room for luxury. He had to rally the country together and forge ahead, single-minded.  And in doing so, pissed of a good many bunch of people, like I said it, Lee Kuan Yew had a new country to run, he has no time for pleasantries and niceties. Like it or not, he gets the job done and a good job he did.

Right now, at my age and time, the dissent against his policies are getting louder, I’m sure there would be many out there who would disagree with my ‘hero-worshiping’ of him. Truth to the matter, we would not have Singapore as it is today, without him. That is a fact.

What I am saying is, boys, give the man credit where credit’s due. He is not perfect, but he was the right man at the right time at the right place, for the right job. Had he been born in my time, his strong-man tactics would have been irrelevant. It worked, he was effective during his times, where orderly is imperative in a disorderly world. If 48 years ago, not for him, then who? Who was as driven and ruthless as him back in 1965? He was the meanest, baddest and toughest of them all, He survived WW2, fought the Brits for our independence, fought the Indonesians, Fought the Communists, spend his whole life fighting for Singapore.

But don’t take it from me. I don’t think he will still be alive by the time you boys read this, but find out about him, come to your own conclusion. Many of my peers these days do, and they love their versions of the conclusion, Lee Kuan Yew is a man hated by many, but these ‘many’ didn’t learn more about this great man, the sacrifices he did for the land. So please, learn more about him, you may dislike his policies, or hated the consequences his decisions brought, but never hate this man, and when you find that you do, you have not read enough about him.

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