As had been expected before Lee Kuan Yew’s demise, the PAP and the mainstream media have gone on a one week propaganda blitz.
For the PAP to capitalise on LKY’s death in an attempt to gain sympathy votes, it reveals not only the desperation but disgust.
We have seen ministers, sycophants, etc falling over each other to see who is able to elevate LKY to God-like status. But LKY was only a human being, a cunning politician who was as fallible as the next person.
But what is LKY’s legacy? Are most Singaporeans so daft as to believe the mainstream media that it’s merely all form and no substance?
It is an insult to reduce LKY’s legacy to the sum total of all the gleaming buildings, the most expensive public housing, advanced weaponry or stratospheric GDP figures. We have to look a bit deeper into how we have managed to “not drink water from a well” after 5 decades ie the system of governance left by LKY which brought us to where we are today. This is the real LKY legacy which the mainstream media have conveniently ignored in its glorification of Singapore’s first PM.
While we should continue to build on an efficient system with relatively little corruption, we cannot ignore there are parts which require an overhaul.
To balance PAP’s propaganda, below are some negative aspects of LKY’s legacy:
1 LKY’s approach was 100% top down ie dictating to citizens. LKY: “We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”
To this day, PAP has continued with LKY’s approach such as in shoving the PWP down citizens’ throat. PAP has also continued to withhold OUR CPF despite many members needing OUR savings for our children’s education, daily expenses, etc. All part of LKY’s legacy.
2 LKY: ““If we had considered them serious political figures, we would not have kept them politically alive for so long. We could have bankrupt them earlier.” Where LKY had only bankrupted politicians, PM Lee’s lawsuit threatens to bankrupt an ordinary citizen who had highlighted the shortcomings of our national pension system. Not LKY’s legacy?
3 Under LKY, there was minimal accountability and the PAP got away with every epic failure. Till this day, the PAP has remained unaccountable for the wrongful detention of political detainees even after 5 decades.
(But across the causeway, the Malaysian government accepted it responsibility for the wrongful detention of 5 ISA detainees, awarding damages amounting to RM2.6 million.)
The PAP actually has it easier because ex political detainees such as Dr Lim Hock Siew was not even seeking monetary compensation but a simple apology.
4 After gaining total control, LKY implemented a system of minimal transparency. Despite GIC’s inception 34 years ago, CPF members are totally clueless as to how/where our retirement monies have been invested. Even statistics which should have been in the public domain have remained state secrets and are privy only to some PAP members and the press.
How is the current government any different where transparency is concerned? What do ordinary citizens know about the businesses of lawmakers, the directorships they hold or their business dealings with the government? How many grassroots members have business dealings with the government and why is the public still prevented from access to such information?
5 Under LKY, the mainstream media were at the disposal of the government. Cheong Yip Seng, Former editor-in-chief of the The Straits Times, has confirmed how the government systematically controlled the press to achieve its political objectives. Till today, the mainstream media remain the government mouthpiece engaged in spreading propaganda. Flawed policies are never questioned but supported by distorted logic and half truths.
6 Ex top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow said that when ministers are earning millions of dollar, they will hesitate to tell PM Lee off “when he thinks of his million dollar salary”. As a result, “the entire political arena has become a civil service” and he doesn’t “see anyone speaking up anymore”.
There are numerous instances which confirm even top civil servants such as CEOs of statutory boards and permanent secretaries are now only focused on their financial rewards, never mind if the people suffer.
The above are all hallmarks of LKY’s governance, copied and pasted by PM Lee while LKY was mentoring him till 2011. This is LKY’s real legacy and it is not possible to argue otherwise.
To sum up, LKY’s real legacy is the system of governance he had created ie having total control but without transparency and accountability.
Instead of addressing the shortcomings of LKY’s legacy, PAP and the mainstream media have created a myth.
Hopefully, Singaporeans will look at the issue objectively and separate the myth from reality.