Remembering a man of Iron: Mr.Lee Kuan Yew

lkyquotes

The author wrote on a tumblr page, paying respect and tribute to the one great man who ruled this tiny island that is big as a dot on the map. He passed on 23rd March, 2015 at the age of 91. This year 2015, also marks the Nation’s Golden Jubilee of 50 years of independence. His passing leaves a tremendous impact on many who had hoped he would be around to share this otherwise joyous occasion.

Here is the actual write-up, after more soul-searching, on what the author wanted to convey in his memory:

He might have been a person no different from you and me. A man on the streets; A man of average stature, with slight receding hairline showing the high forehead that is probably his trademark look, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew would otherwise have been your average quick-witted, wise old man with a sharp tongue. Had it not been for that moment in time…

For that one event which propelled his decision and resolve to commit the rest of his life for the tiny island where his roots planted, and where it dug deeper, and spread throughout the whole island that is now Singapore. That one event, the epiphany of his life, and everything else as we see it, is history. He worked tirelessly for the rest of his life after completing his education, paving his route that leads Singapore from a phase of colonial rule, to an independent state, and finally a wholly independent nation-state. If Great Britain had an Iron Lady that is Margaret Thatcher, Singapore had a Man of Iron, as he famously proclaimed in one of his rally speech in 1980:

“Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards. This is your life and mine. I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.” – Lee Kuan Yew (1980)

And nobody was ever able to knock him down.

Like any typical Asian Family, he does not spare the rod when it comes to discipline, be it his family or for the nation. His policies and regulations are pointed and harsh, and not everyone can agree with the way he governs. But if you were to stand from his point of view, at that moment in time, it made sense, impacting not only from a Singapore standpoint, but it also allows Singapore to be noticed and shine on a global scale. A firm grip on upholding law and order to all who stands on Singapore soil may not bode well with some other nations, but he persevered, and it made sense, and commands respect that a nation so small, seemingly insignificant, cannot be trifled with. For the tough and sometimes seemingly unreasonable decisions he made, would it have been different had he not made that decision? How would the world view Singapore then? Would Singapore have what the people now enjoy? Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t; but for all that Singapore has become, for the simple comforts that we the citizens enjoy, we must have it in our hearts to forgive him, as he too did admit that he had made bad decisions. No one man is ever perfect. But he stood by his decision, and I respect him for that.

In just 50 short years, his vision and his hard life work can be seen, heard, and felt in every corner of the nation. And it will continue to thrive, and blossom in his memory for future generations. As the nation progresses, the citizens will have to work closely with their government to not only maintain the reputation of this tiny but volatile city-state, but to constantly make changes to better the system, keep it up to date and relevant to time. He started the journey for Singapore; it mustn’t just end with him. For that, the people must never fear to open up, voice out, but also keep in mind that your opinion must be for the good of the whole nation regardless of ethnicity and gender, not just yourself.

A big Thank You to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew for sacrificing his life and for his dedication to better not just for Singapore, but for the world as well. His vision and sound advice made it possible for a world to be as small as it is well-connected today. A fond farewell for the founding father of this tiny red-dot, but it’s never really goodbye, until time comes where Singapore is no more. But that’s not going to happen as long as its people believe in it.

Are School Teachers your childrens’ parents?

Singapore is a booming meritocratic city with more than half the population once decedents of migrants from different parts of the world.
Education then was not compulsory, limited in material, and very dedicated to specific racial and religious groups. With majority being originators of the Asian or the “Eastern” side of the globe, naturally thought of the greener pastures, the West, for better education. So there we were then, becoming “westernized” and saw the benefits of unifying the residents of the island colony as one independent state, after we taste the defeat and the witness the helplessness of the protectors of the colony to the Japanese.
So 48 years has past, and we are deemed one of

The richest country in the world – The Straits Times, Singapore. 2012

We have indeed achieved a lot, and in a short amount of time. Rather, this is the achievement of our forefathers, who came without fear of the unknown, and built what we can call our home now.
Now all this does sound a little like what you would study in history and social studies from the time of independence to now. Education soon after became compulsory, and since has always been a core of every citizen born and bred here in Singapore. From this core, lies the educators, who forms the pillar which the foundation of education is laid out for the future of Singapore’s well being and prosperity. We are who we are today; where we are today, if not for these educators, or teachers as we call them. They are well respected, and shaped the otherwise lazy, cheeky, rebellious us into respectable citizens today. And where they are unable to reach us, we have our ever stringent parents who will with a rattan, shape us up further into individuals who are independent, reliable and responsible for the society.
But as the society prosper, material wants kicks in, and every Singaporean starts to work the extra mile to gain better social status, better quality of life. We thought that by doing this is for the sake of our children, that they can live a better life. But are we forgetting the values our parents taught us?
Children are born innocent; an empty vassal, waiting to be filled with whatever he/she is being taught. As the saying goes: Rubbish in; rubbish out. Children are good emulators of their parents, and if the parent sets a bad example such as being ungracious when shopping in a mall (cut queues), or filling up more than one can consume at a buffet (kiasuism), that is how his/her child will be when he/she grows up, unless he/she relearns new values from other influences. So when a child misbehaves in school, not knowing what he/she has done wrong, the teacher may first reprimand the child, but ultimately the real discipline should come from the parent, and such teachings should be done privately at home. But of late, this doesn’t seem to be the case. These days, the parents expect the teachers to take on the role of the parents, to discipline their children at school, a public sphere. I guess some of the reason being: No time at home; paid higher school fees, therefore expected more out of the teachers.
For the first reason: Having no time to discipline a child at home is a poor excuse to skive off the duty that is expected for the parent. You have a child, you are responsible for them, and therefore responsible for their actions until they reach adulthood. You, the parent, therefore should be the primary discipline master in both the public sphere, as well as private sphere. You don’t push your responsibilities to some strangers (in general), and then blame them for not doing a good job, because they definitely can’t mold your child to look like themselves. My opinion: Teachers/Educators primarily can only instill societal norms and conformity to your child. Cultures and behaviors are learnt at home.  So if you, the parent expects the teacher/educator to teach your child not to poke his/her chopsticks in the middle of the rice bowl, or not to squat on the toilet seat, the teacher/educator won’t be able to do that, but they may very well teach your child to be less respectful to their parents, because that really shows your failure at parenting. There is no formula to discipline your child, and I don’t think I am qualified to give any suggestions, but just firmly inform your child, be serious about their actions and correct them, and your child will understand you. That would not take you too much your time, right? Check out this page in Parent-Child Social Development.

The second reason: You think you pay a high price for your child’s education, you should be expecting more out of your investments, right? You think that when your child complete s his education years a well-polished, well-chiseled individual. That is not going to happen, and raising a child is not like making a business work! (if it does, well you just created a new crop!) Cost of living goes up, and everyone drives to attain a better standard of living. No less when it comes to paying for an education. You work and got a pay rise, so does the teacher/educator. They work; they get a pay rise, and how to justify for a pay-rise? By increasing education fees. But there are things that just cannot be learned in school. As mentioned in the first reasoning, education institutions can only impart social values and social norms (Pretty much in line with the societal needs). Other forms of social skills such as social interactions on a personal level and communications are basically learnt at home.  That is where parents play a part in ensuring their child is well prepared to face their peers and to network. Such skills are priceless and will shape the unique character of the child, and no better institutions than at home, with their parents. Therefore, if there isn’t enough interaction and communication, or whatever that is played out at home is negative, you will have a child that is so full of negativity; he/she will become imbalanced, and may not be able to reach their fullest potential. So it boils back to the first reasoning.  Wait, Do you even think that money can get you everything? Check out Daniel Wong’s page and you might find some pretty good tips to turn your life (as well as your child and anyone else affected) around.

I’ve said so much.  It is pointless to rant on more when the trend has been present from 2012 (I actually started this post from 2012, and it took me 2 years to come up with appropriate words to sum up my observations and reactions). If you are a parent and finds some of what is written here similar to your current situation, there is still hope! The help links that goes into this post is very useful.

<Ranting ends.>

The Singapore Proposal

The past few years have seen numerous weddings taking place among my friends and family. This is a joyous occasion to learn of their happiness, to share in their joy and be a part of their new life. No doubt about that, at least, until the process that climbs up to their eventual nuptials.

Typically a boy meets girl, they date, they feel very good with each other, and finally a proposal, usually on the guy side, and eventually planning their new life with a house and some celebratory events, provided she said ‘yes’. Well, this is somewhat different in a country where your finances shift faster out of your hands than you see actual results, and that is putting things mildly in perspective.

The process of a happy marriage takes on a slightly different process in Singapore: Boy meets girl; they date, they feel very good with each other. Up to this point, all is well, but when it comes to taking the next step forward, is when things start to become complicated, or rather in my opinion, redundant. Instead of a pure surprise of a proposal with the lady either screaming with joy at the top of her lungs, or simply crying tears of joy when her significant other half pops the questions out of nowhere. The Singapore way will see the couple take a queue number to get an apartment, settle all necessary formalities, perhaps getting their keys to their apartment, and one fine day, he just pops the question to ask for her hand in marriage. Of course, she will also be showing the same kind of expressions as what I have mentioned previously, but at the back of the mind: it has become a sure ‘yes’ thing, or she would not be in the queue line with him in the first place, queuing to get a house, right? One of the clauses of securing a public apartment in Singapore is to have the couple’s eventual marriage in a stipulated time. Then would it not be obvious that by applying for the flat together, eventually will be the path that the couple will be taking? If that being so, shouldn’t the proposal be done years earlier before the couple get a queue number?

Let’s face it: since the wait for a home is going to take 5 years (on average), and the couple is sure (or the feeling of it) that they want to be together for all their lives, the guy should be popping the question and asking her to marry him 5 years ago, before they go to the HDB office for a queue, get keys, and maybe in these 5 years, strengthen their relationship as well as plan their celebration. 5 years will pass in a blink of an eye. And the surprise when he pops the question: really priceless; not when everything is already a done deal, and then pops the question where you already know what the answer would be. If you really want to surprise her at this point of time, maybe a surprise party with a tagline “We are getting married!” that would be more logical, and just as surprising.

In any case, this is just my opinion, and each couple has their special way of informing the masses of their intention for celebration. Good luck, guys!

The excessive use of the word ‘Revert’ in local context

When you see the word ‘Revert’, what is the first definition that comes to your mind? It is quite possibly different definitions, depending on where you are from, and what your profession is.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, ‘Revert’ basically means to return back to a previous or original state, be it chemically or conditionally. But the abuse of words just doesn’t warrant an arrest, neither is it chargeable in the court of law (unless it being a result of contractual breech or whatever).

So why am I saying this? Having worked for a decade or so (don’t ask me where), I have come across words in emails that absolutely made or broke my day. For example,

“Hi.

Is there any update on this issue we discussed last week?

Please revert.

Thanks”

Let us analyze this highlighted word in the above context. The sender was asking for an update for an issue that was raised a week ago. So I am supposed to reply with updates regarding the issue at hand. An update is a change of condition from a current state to a new or next state. So when this sender reiterates his/her intention with the word ‘Revert’, the whole condition changes. So instead of asking me for new information, he/she now wants me to go back to the original or a previous agreed update, from its current status. But is that his/her true intention? As it turns out, it was newer data that he/she requires, because he/she called me back immediately when I replied thus:

“Hi XX.

To answer your query in 2 conditions:

1) New update: Panel 2 requires a new set of drawings.

2) Reverted update: Panel 2 has a set of drawings in the 3rd revision. FD is using it to check the panel.

Please pick a choice and let me know what you require exactly.

Thanks”

Now this phenomenon is a rising trend in emails, especially profound in Singapore.  It is the wrong word to use when you are asking the other party to reply back to your enquiry, but perhaps the word ‘Revert’ makes the sender feels he/she is a well-learned or well-cultured individual. But it confuses me and everybody else who knows the meaning of the word ‘Revert’.

So just a gentle reminder to senders who may think that the word ‘Revert’ would give you a straight reply to your query, please stop using it! It is not going to give you an upper hand in your current state of situation, but you may create more confusion when you do not make your intentions clear. A rule of thumb: Use simple words to convey your intentions. You do not need to sound like an academic, and risk making an idiot of yourself.

What Jackie Chan did, what rights you netizens have?

Jackie Chan made headlines again: this time for his plans to open a theme park that focus on Chinese culture that is so commonly seen in Chinese films. Being an avid collector of Chinese antiques and many interesting collectibles, it will be no surprise that this theme park will allow people to see and feel “Jackie Chan”. Indeed a park like this will be a great draw for tourist all over the world, since Jackie Chan is a well known figure from both the Chinese entertainment scene as well as Hollywood entertainment: a la Bruce Lee.

His contribution of antiques and old collectibles will indeed allow tourists to also see and learn about the Chinese culture, which is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Without a doubt, it should be welcome news to the Chinese government, as well as appeasing to the local (Chinese) netizens, because this would meant no more “country’s treasure” will be leaving their homeland, correct?

Now about the four pieces of antique buildings that Jackie has generously donated to a Singapore University; that has drawn numerous criticisms from Chinese netizens. Their main concern for the relics are simply because “treasures” are being “stolen” and put on display in a foreign country, which may seem like a huge insult to them. But from a CCTV source, it was claimed that Jackie has tried to seek sponsors to help him with the preservation of his collection relics, but no one is willing to offer him the assistance with no ulterior motives. Until some Singapore scholars came, and offered to help with preserving a culture that is also a part of Singapore’s multi-cultural origin (remember Singapore was once a well-known trading port between Asia and the Westerns, thus the multi-cultural nature of the country). Then Jackie was slammed by Chinese netizens for donating something that is originally representative of China’s history to a foreign land.

My opinion on this issue would be: What rights do these netizens have to criticize Jackie when they didn’t bother to offer genuine assistance when it was asked for? To have to wait until someone from another country offering to help, that they feel that they are losing something precious to them, and blaming him for what he did. That is just hogwash, and I believe what Jackie did, he did it with his best interest in the preservation of his precious collection. If a place can offer to help him lengthen his collections lifespan and can allow people to see and learn a bit about its history at no extra charge, why should he give it a miss? Shouldn’t these netizens who made no effort to help be ashamed of themselves that Jackie has to take up offer from another country, because his homeland locals are unwilling to help unless it benefits them? They should take a good look of themselves at a mirror and evaluate on their actions. It’s not to say that it should be totally free-for-all to view, but perhaps a sales booth with proceeds of the sales going to the continued upkeep of the relics, would have made Jackie a very happy person and proud to be Chinese in his homeland. But given what has transpired here, I feel that his enthusiasm could dip a few notches. And I can hardly blame him for that.

Water Burial at Bedok Reservoir

The news has been repeating this piece of information for over a few months. A recorded 6 deaths for the period since June of 2011; quite a surprise for the locals in Singapore, not to mention the location. It is an amazing feat for a park so small an area, but becoming a highlighted trend in Singapore’s forms of burial rituals. So far, a majority of recorded deaths are classified as unnatural, and pending investigation. Sometimes, the writer wonders if this kind of investigations necessary.

One example the writer would like to draw on was the case involving a mother and child, embraced in death. The water burial caused a huge uproar among citizen, who are unable to fathom the necessity of such a lavish form of burial. Covering an area of approximately 0.88km²,  it is no wonder a burial site like this is the latest talk of the town. But so far with 6 signing up for such burial over a span of 5 months, business seem to look positive for the reservoir, if only most of these  thoroughly soaked recipients could give an accurate account for their preferred choice of burial method. Giving a more accurate account for their choice of burial could help investigators close their case on them(the deceased), saving on tax-payer’s money, and allowing them investigators to focus on more important criminal cases.

The writer therefore concludes the necessity of water burial is solely based on individual’s preference. But the writer would like to caution members who are interested in signing up for such burials, to be very mindful to the public’s opinion of your (the soon-to-be deceased) actions. Keeping a good account of your intention to be buried in the fair waters of Bedok Reservoir, is vital to saving time and money borne by tax-payers; and it to the tax-payers interest (including the writer), that they be duly informed of your choice, so at least we (the tax-payers) know what miscellaneous are worth paying for. One method you (soon-to-be deceased) can do is to leave a note to your next-of-kin, or someone you trust. Such note can be in written form of any language, or a recorded audio or video. Then set your affairs straight, such as leaving a duly signed will attached with a copy of your identification. Once all affairs are set straight, then you may peacefully depart. Of course, it is subjected to your inner-voice approval.

*The writer here would like to leave on a caution note that such intentions are illegal in Singapore, and would urge all readers with similar intentions to reconsider their options, and not do silly things. There are help available, and you (the one-with-such-intentions) only need to ask.

What I learned after an Election

The gruelling week had all been lessons to learn, activities to discuss on, lectures to attend although it is optional; and the glory of the teachers who won the affection of their student: congratulations to them. The tasks at hand had just started, and the assignments handed to them by their student of their groups, are tasks to be completed in the next five years. The challenges had just begun, and I have a feeling some of the teachers are still enjoying their life in limbo. Here is my analysis.

The main group of teachers, who have long standing track record, though old, believed that they are still capable to lead, to teach/preach for more years to come. This group of teachers are sometimes arrogant, unconscious of the needs that their student requires, and are pretty old fashion, or outdated in some ways. There are a few who are willing to learn, and further progress in order to keep up with the time, and better to lead their student by being better role models. In this, I have to give them their due credits, and not classifying them bad sheep just because a few of them are black.

So though this group have a well mix of white and black sheep, I would just single out the blacks for further analysis. This group of black sheep, though teachers in their rights by vote, were made up of old-timers, and largely primitive to the “good old ways” of organising their lectures and preaches. It was no mistake that a speech has to hold some firm convictions, and stand of goal, but a serious mistake to make a blatant threat to your student. Threat likes “Repent the next five years if you choose the opposition”, are just plain old-school, and will not be accepted by the majority. You may once be an influential teacher, always having your student enrapt in your speeches. At times then, speeches have to be bold, very firm, and cast out like a lion ready to pounce on its prey. Your student then accepts such method of speech with a mix of awe and submissiveness, as it was at times then, where such method of speech proves you as a teacher, a leader, worthy to hold the place in parliament. They salute you then, in 1965.

The time is now, year 2011. Almost half a century has past. In terms of technology, and sociology of human, the rate of technology advancement has increase more than triple, and it has affected human sociology in more ways than one. So said that politics are a study in part to social science, therefore the rate of improvement should be running in parallel to sociology. With such improvements, people evolved; views the way of governance differently, and have different expectations, though largely influenced by the way the world seem smaller now with technology advancement. Threats and fears are thing of the past.  With this information in mind, the statement previously made, would irritate the people of this time more than it did 45 years ago. This is how I define and analyse the black sheep of the group. This group ought to be advised not to be too pompous; reflect on your result given to you by your student, and update yourself in the next five years.

Another group is a different mix of old and mostly new. Some are old in terms of experience in the scene to a small percentage, and new to the newly inaugurated, and thus inexperienced. They have won the respect of their students, and were accepted by most by their sheer conviction and promises to their students to lead as better role models. This group just tasted the top layer of sweetness in a whole package of challenges ahead. Untested yet, they rely on the experience of a few old-timers, who are eager to teach them, and who they themselves are eager to please. They are lucky to have the next five years to prove their worth, and with the slight increase in power to the parliament, to test their strength in the art of persuasion and calibration. When I mention calibration to this group of teachers, I expect the readers to wonder why I made such definition. This group are calibrators to the group of black sheep mentioned earlier. They are tasked to question the motive of the black sheep, and to steer this group of heads out of the clouds where they have been hiding their proud heads for years.

The coming five years will be a time of challenges to both the old and the new. There will be a lot of learning from the old to the new, and a lot of calibration from the new to the old. Indeed, the outlook of the country that is as small as a red dot on the Atlas is promising and I personally hope to see a better evolved government, in tune to the latest era, and ready to bring the country to greater heights.

No more “Repenting”, Singapore!