20160320 Lee Kuan Yew: The (horrible) man and his (bad) ideas

As to be expected, the mainstream media has gone into overdrive to rewrite the history of Lee Kuan Yew, minus warts and all.

But common sense tells us to be wary of such sales pitch: when something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

MSM’s extremely slanted portrayal of Lee needs to be checked before more feeble-minded citizens regurgitate propaganda as facts.

Credit should be given where it is due and we must not conveniently exclude all the horrible things done by Lee as well as his bad ideas. They are part of our history.

Hundreds of millions of tax dollars have been wasted on Lee’s propaganda and more will be wasted if Singaporeans continue to fear speaking up. These tax dollars could have gone to needy Singaporeans.

Lee stepped down as PM 26 years ago. To continue crediting Lee with our ‘miraculous’ growth can only mean one thing: the 2 subsequent PMs’ contributions were insignificant or maybe they were even useless.

So who is the real Lee Kuan Yew? One thing for certain, everyone should take the sycophantic MSM’s propaganda with a lorry load of salt.

Truth be said, Lee was in fact a horrible person who had done many horrible deeds but he never had the guts to own up to any of them. Lee’s bad ideas running a government with minimal transparency and accountability, striking fear into citizens to discourage dissent, bankrupting political adversaries who were threats to him, etc. Lee had done lots of horrible things to perpetuate PAP’s power and service to the people was the last thing on his mind.

Among Lee’s victims were Dr Poh Soo Kai, Lim Chin Siong, Dr Lim Hock Siew, Said Zahari, J B Jeyaretnam, Francis Seow, Chee Soon Juan and thousands more if their family members were included.

Lee’s simplistic idea of governance he should be given total control over the media, civil service and security forces to do his job. In other words, he had wanted to be able to experiment with society according to his whims which was akin to having any Tom, Dick and Harry as PM. After gaining total control through underhanded means, Lee revealed his true colours and quickly established an opaque system with minimal accountability. This is Lee’s true legacy to Singapore and chronic issues will never be resolved so long as such a system of governance is not removed.

Till today, few dare to criticise him openly, even after his death. Although Lee was supposed to be our servant, in reality, many feared him and offered themselves as slaves with greed as the motivating factor.

Most Singaporeans don’t really respect Lee: they only feared him. Any politician with Lee’s influence would have made numerous policy errors over 50 years. But most Singaporeans will not be able to list even a couple. When it comes to PAP grassroots and civil servants, Lee could have done no wrong. The fear of Lee is real. Lee was supposed to be the people’s head servant but in reality, the people feared and were enslaved to him.

If Lee were indeed a great leader, there would have been no need to conceal information which belonged in the public domain.

Singaporeans should be honest with themselves and not fear criticising Lee Kuan Yew (or even PAP). He was a human being with a bloated ego. A spade should not be called anything but.

Lee hid behind PAP-enacted legislations (so do PAP politicians). His media image struck fear in citizens but deep down, without the protection of PAP-enacted laws, Lee Kuan Yew was a coward. Yes, he was a coward and that’s my honest opinion. (If you feared vocalising this thought since years ago, please do yourself a favour and rid this fear once and for all by vocalising your real thoughts about this horrible man.)

When the most powerful man in our country talked about catching a citizen in a cul de sac with knuckle dusters, does it not show what a bully and coward he really was? Even leaders in less developed countries never stooped so low. Lee was one insecure human being who needed to be reassured of his power by issuing threats against citizens.

Lee: “Look, Jeyaretnam can’t win the infighting. I’ll tell you why. WE are in charge. Every government ministry and department is under our control. And in the infighting, he will go down for the count every time… I will make him crawl on his bended knees, and beg for mercy.” No leader in a democratic country has threatened a fellow citizen in such a despicable manner as Lee.

(While Lee was a horrible person, not all PAP members were like him. (On Goh Keng Swee) David Marshall: “Genuinely, no showmanship about it, genuinely humble….he speaks to the high as well as to the low….with the same approach. He had an extraordinary….total freedom from arrogance, from superiority, from any inferiority; he just was….a natural human being. And to me, a perfect human being…..it’s so much part of the air he breathes….to serve his country and his fellow human beings. And never a lie from him, never any malice from him. ..always treating me with courtesy and consideration. Never because I was a political opponent, treated me with ….unpleasant [ness]….never at all.” link)

Lee never wanted to govern Singapore “more effectively in their [our] interests” *. After 50 years, more than 80% of the land belonging to Singaporeans is still under PAP’s control. All the rules on public housing are PAP-created and perpetually tweaked for political mileage. 50,000 HDB units are owned by foreigners and at least half a million foreigners reside in public housing. HDB flats belong to buyers but only in name because the real owner is HDB. PAP then decides where it wants ordinary citizens to live and who should be entitled to public housing regardless of the fact that every working adult is a taxpayer. Every policy is aligned with PAP’s interests, not its citizens’.

Unaffordable public healthcare did not happen by chance but due to PAP’s corporatisation of the public healthcare sector. This allows PAP to squeeze a profit out of every transaction.

Ngiam Tong Dow, ex Perm Sec to Lee, said he had a big fight with Lee over COEs. According to Ngiam, “..the COE scheme meant that we were taxing every man, woman and child in Singapore, from the day of his birth till the day of his death…As COE taxes transportation, nobody can avoid it,”. The confirmation that Lee was serving PAP’s interest came in his reply, “What’s wrong with collecting more money?”.

No leader in a democratic country would even dare entertain the thought of making money off citizens. This was a bad idea: it was Lee’s idea.

Lee’s bad ideas have been unquestioningly implemented (who dares to question anyway) by civil servants till today. PAP’s obsession with profiting from public housing, healthcare, transportation, etc. has resulted in a self-created mess which is now impossible to resolve. Public healthcare and housing will always be unaffordable, regardless of the number of tweaks, and our MRT system will soon experience the mother of all major disruptions.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Every strongman in Asia has been consigned to the dustbin of history with the advancement of democracy. But Singapore is so unique our model of pseudo democracy has managed to survive and even allowed the government to rewrite Lee’s history.

Lee had his own definition of ‘leadership renewal’ – getting rid of all the old guards by 1988 except himself. After stepping down as PM, he could have contributed from behind the scenes, without receiving millions in tax dollars, and allowed younger leaders to learn the ropes. Instead, Lee became Senior Minister and continued to earn obscene amounts of tax dollars up to $4 million annually. Is there leadership renewal when Lee remained as chairman of GIC for 3 decades?

Lee was so indispensable that the title of ‘Minister Mentor’ was created for him to remain in cabinet after Goh had stepped down as PM. Which democratic country has created a new ministerial post for an octogenarian?

The public has been given the impression that Lee could have been earning a much higher salary if he was working in the private sector. However, this can never be proven because academic excellence does not guarantee financial success in any profession or business. If being book smart was the only yardstick to earning a high income, then why have Lee’s 3 children been earning tax dollars, directly or indirectly through stat boards/GLCs, their entire working lives?

Singaporeans should fear no more because fear is dead. (TOC article by Teo Soh Lung) We must remember that Lee spoke with conviction only because of his influence on outcomes.

But when he had no influence on outcomes, he had been proven wrong. Lee’s unsolicited advice: “I have visited (Burma) and I know that there is only one instrument of government, and that is the army…If I were Aung San Suu Kyi, I think I’d rather be behind a fence and be a symbol than after two or three years, be found impotent.” Lee again confirmed his cowardice but it would actually have been better to just shut up to prevent embarrassment to himself and Singapore. How is PM Lee, Lee’s son, to face Aung San Suu Kyi after what his father had said?

While fear was Lee’s favourite weapon, he also had his own fears. He feared robust debates in parliament and went to great lengths to conceal information. Information which should be in the public domain was also concealed to prevent public scrutiny of flawed policies. Lee was afraid and therefore decided it was better not to competed on a level playing field.

To me, Lee was an ignorant human being, full of himself and unable to understand the interdependence of people and things. Although he had ample time to reflect on his horrible deeds before his passing, he still could not bring himself to apologise to fellow Singaporeans he had harmed. He could have provided closure to his victims and their families but, to a horrible person, sorry seemed to be the hardest word.

Singaporeans should give Lee his due credit but we should stop imagining him to be even remotely god-like. Governing a country with no transparency and accountability whenever possible IS a bad idea. One has to be a horrible person to be able to incarcerate political opponents or bankrupting them in order to perpetuate one’s power without offering an apology after decades.

We should learn to be honest with ourselves and not be afraid to critique Lee Kuan Yew, or any other horrible person, and his bad ideas.

* “If I were in authority in Singapore indefinitely without having to ask those who are governed whether they like what is being done, then I would not have the slightest doubt that I could govern much more effectively in their interests.”
Lee Kuan Yew, 1962

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23 Responses to 20160320 Lee Kuan Yew: The (horrible) man and his (bad) ideas

  1. James says:

    The majority have spoken. 70% wish to remain cowards and enjoy living in fear. Even though Singapore has degenerated to become lawless with rampant and blatant bullying by those in power, 70% are unwilling to face reality.

  2. Xmen says:

    Here are some terms LKY used to describe Singaporeans – “adult dogs”, “gullible fools”, and “daft”. The following quotes are some good reads if you have any doubt what LKY stands for.


  3. chempo says:

    I dont know anything about politics and unlike you who problably have got a degree or a masters, I only had basic education. What I know is I grew up in a house with no electricity, no water, no TV, no telephone, no cement on the floor (raw earth) and there was no road leading to out wooden house. Mom had no job, dad was a lorry driver with not full time salary. With 15 years of LKY’s rule our family moved into a nice little concrete apartment with everything – electricity, water, vinyl floorings, roads leading to the apartment, lifts that work…and oh yes, telephony. And we owned it. Jobs were plentiful and without great education I got moved along by the expanding economy and ended up in a management position in a bank. By my 30s I was a proud owner of a landed property. Somebody sure made things easy for me and I’m eternally grateful.

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Have you considered all the horrible things which he did for you to achieve your material success? With your intelligence, could you not have achieved similar success in a different environment?

  4. Tan Yan Ren says:

    I disagree with this article . Lee Kuan Yew MUST be honoured by Singaporeans …for the following reasons.Firstly …Ireally do not care about those who got in his way whilst he was ON HIS MISSION to build Singapore…..Its like in a war and ifv the soldiers get killed especially the mercenaries….THAT IS Part of the whole mISSION…TO ACCOMPLISH AT all cost…SO WHEN HE WAS AT THE BATTLE FOR POWER TO RULE SINGAPORE….SOME HEADS GET ROLLED,,,,SOME JET JAILED FOR THE LONG TERM, SOME LOST THE BATTLE WITH HIM FOR power…POWER!!!So the winner of this whole Boxing matces can be anybody…can even be another Lim yew hock….who sold singapore and his soul…IT can also be another rogue who will rape singapore , the reserves, …and what do WE THE SINGAPOREAns..born AND bred have????…. A LITTLE BASTARD WHO RUINED OUR LIVES!!!!..nw, I APLAUD AND REALLY THANK god..GOD…..even now we have Lee Kuan Yew to win the boxing matches , rue the ring, SELFLESSLY with his selected subordinates,BRING US to WHERE we are TODAY!!!…BLESS YOU Lee Kuan Yew!!!
    NOw for the other scenario….we ave the A, B C or even MR D….who may or may not be as good a leader as Lee kuan yew…this A, B C D or MRD, could have BROUGHT disaster to US…Born and BRED singaporeans…and there you go…WE are SCREWED!!!!….Nothing personal against te persecuted, the losers in Jail for decades…..when you fight in the political ring…the stakes are HIGH!!..and if you lose…THE graciously BOW ….and BEG for Mercy….I have reasons to believe along the way …these guys were given the opportuity to admit or agree NOT to Dabble in politics..BUT the HATRED and PRIDE Prevailed with these guys..so …REMAIN IN JAIL..TILL DEATH….NO MERCY!!!…I agree..because these guys care for themselves and their ego and pride….Without a leader…with an iron FIST and BRAINS and selflessness like Lee Kuan Yew…THERE MAY……MAY NOT BE A SINGAPORE as sucessful as this…I am loyal but not stupidly naive….yes the latter PAP leadership has in my opinion.reneged or neglected BORN and BRED Singaporeans and i will FIGHJT them!!!till death…BUT for NOW..and ever AFTER ..lets HONOUR LEE KUAN YEW…MY opinion…!!!Majulah Singapura!!!!

    • Phillip Ang says:

      A true leader does not control the people through fear but earns their respect. He should be able to stand on his own two feet without resorting to concealing information, controlling the entire civil service to serve only his party and using legal threats to crush dissent. He should never have victimised his own people to perpetuate his power.

  5. Pingback: (In)Famous Quotes From Lee Kuan Yew | Askmelah.com

  6. Bear Haw says:

    *Giggles* and what have you done?

  7. Tan S Y says:

    I commented on your article a few days ago and believe that my write-up was captured and posted on your blog since I did get to read it on your blog for a fleeting moment – I also note that my email addressed is captured and stored in your blog.

    I am aware that blogs are owned by individuals and they have the prerogative to accept or reject comments as they plese, but it is disappointing that you could or would not accept my comments which are contrary to your views and had my response deleted.

    In it I disagreed with you on several points you raised and in turn pointed out that your hatred for LKY so disables you from making fair and rational views of him. LKY made mistakes but no one, even those who hate him to the core, can rightly refuse to acknowledge that he did lots of good for Singapore, and you must surely be one of the beneficaries of some of his policies.

    I can give you the benefit of doubt that my comments were somehow lost in cyberspace and if indeed this was the case and you would agree to post my comments on your blog I would make the effort of drafting it again and sending it to you.

    If not, I can only conclude that while you loudly decry PAP and especially LKY for closing his ears to dissension, your cyberspace behaviour does not seem to differ from what you claimed LKY was.

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Thank you for your interest. I was on holiday from 20 to 31 March.
      LKY erected himself as leader through underhanded means. A true leader does not use fear or propaganda to control the people nor need to victimise anyone.
      You are looking at material aspects of life only. If you are going to compare with less well-off and much more difficult to manage countries, we will never improve. And no, LKY would never have replicated Singapore’s ‘success’ anywhere else.
      Whether millions lined the streets during his funeral is no testimony that he was a great person. Many once believed the world was flat. And Earth was the centre of the universe.
      If LKY was a great person, why can’t decades-old cabinet papers be disclosed? What is it that LKY had done that the government has refused to disclose to the public?
      Since he was human, do civil servants or grassroots members dare to criticise him now? What about the mainstream media? So people still fear LKY after his death. Be honest with yourself – do you dare to critique either LKY or PAP now that LKY is dead?
      From LKY’s speech and actions, he had proven to be a coward. The most powerful person in any country need not challenge a relatively defenceless citizen.
      Of course Lee Hsien Loong did not force anyone to attend LKY’s funeral but what about the tens of millions spent on 24/7 propaganda? Did PAP expect its propaganda to yield little results?
      We recite “justice” in our Pledge but where is the justice for the victims of LKY? Can we simply label them as collateral damage and say let the people now move on as one?
      Hate is a very strong word to use but I don’t hate LKY. Not even for the second language policy which had disadvantaged me.
      What is Singapore today nobody knows except an inner PAP circle. Material information is being concealed and should such material information be leaked, would investors flee> What is the true state of our state finances? Why fear to disclose even citizens statistics but lump them together with PRs? Why did LKY allow MPs who are supposed to be serving citizens not to disclose their business dealings to the public?
      There is too much material information which you and I do not know. When you mentioned “LKY made huge contributions to Singapore to make it what it is today”, it is unsupported by material information.
      With so little transparency, can anyone claim Singapore is successful just because we see an increasing number of gleaming buildings and live in one of the most expensive cities in the world?
      Since you agreed LKY was no god, why is he painted as one in the MSM, ie unerring?
      LKY has already been given excessive credit in the MSM. Alternative media should not behave like MSM.

  8. Xmen says:

    I am disturbed by many comments above. Yes, LKY has done a lot of great things, but he has also done terrible things as a PM. Here are some examples.

    The “Stop at Two” campaign forced many (poor/Malay) women to go for abortions and sterilisations. See the ST interview section at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_Planning_in_Singapore.

    LKY openly discriminated against Malays. A Malay could not become a pilot in his SAF. Even today, the PM position is reserved for the Chinese. His discriminatory policies have suppressed aspirations of local Malay population.

    LKY succeeded in social conditioning of the nation. With the shutdown of Nanyang University 南洋大学 and takeover of all media in Singapore, he has shaped the thoughts of generations of people. Today, people no longer think!

    In my opinion, Singapore would have succeeded without LKY. Of the four Asian Tigers, two have become fully democratic. Singapore is now the least free of the four. The other three Tigers did well without a LKY. So stop giving LKY so much credit that you are basically worshipping him. Even a mediocre investor makes money in a rising stock market!

    • Alvin Ong says:

      For whatever good he might have done, all of that have been negated by the works of his own hands. One step forward, two steps back.

  9. Phillip Ang says:

    I understand where you are coming from but don’t allow such comments to get to you. Most of us have underestimated the damage wreaked by LKY which probably requires an external event …
    Unconditioning needs much more patience.
    A country made up of citizens easily susceptible to propaganda deserves to survive but only as a corporation. PAP is taking us in this direction and 70% has agreed to follow blindly. But all is not lost yet.

  10. William Lee says:

    Sadly, those willing slaves that are enjoying their material needs failed to see what is beyond and in turn, think that the horrible man is GOD. The fact is that, it should be spelt backwards….. Of course, only the selfish evils can align with the devils.

    • Cenk meyout says:

      I am a student and After his death we had to sit through a documentary telling us about how he solely shaped the country and had a compulsory 1 minute silence after the national anthem. Well ,it worked I started to see LKY as a guy we really needed to depend on in order to survive as a country and thought PAP was the only viable option to our success . I was wrong and now know that no human is only capable of doing good things. After reading your blog i now realise the horrible things he has done. Of course we should give this man where credit is due but everyone needs criticism especially if they have done wrong. A leader should gain respect of his people like George Washington not through fear as you have said. I now know I should never accept what people say as truth and should formulate my own conclusions by thinking for once. There is finally some voice of dissent that I have been waiting to hear and I thank you for voicing the opinion that others will never hear in the mainstream media. I love my country and only wish for it to succeed. God bless each and everyone of us.
      P.S what do you think about Lee Wei Ling being treated by the media right now for voicing her opinion on not having the one year death anniversary of LKY?

  11. Jeff Dickey says:

    He was and is the God-King, and woe to anyone who notices too loudly the feet of badly-painted-over clay. We now have a State religion: veneration of the Founding Autarch; woe to any who consider themselves observant Christians, Muslims, or likely any other religion, whose scriptures and founders spoke eloquently and direly against raising a man, ANY man, to the level of God. According to Jewish tradition and scripture, the ancient Hebrews did that, with a calf rather than a man, and it landed them wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Many of us wonder that we should be so lucky.

    The PAP led us for a quarter-century, brilliantly — note that credit goes to the PAP leadership as a whole, not solely to the Leeadership. They then, some say, have spent the following quarter-century looting us, brilliantly, while ensuring that the system in place absolutely protects their ability to continue doing so.

    Or does it?

  12. THE ENDS DO NOT JUSTIFY THE MEANS. I Totally agree with Phillip that LKY was a very evil man

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Please share. I hope Singaporeans will overcome their fear of LKY and the PAP in time to come. Personally I have nothing against PAP. Just feel strongly that PAP should cease bullying fellow citizens. Time to be open and not take citizens for fools. 🙂

  13. :) says:

    I felt like I was cheated all along reading this. I definitely need to read more on history. Thank you for showing me another side of him.

  14. Isaac says:

    I mean, You can’t expect a leader who built up a nation to be soley good, They had to do some really fucked up shit to get the nation to where it is now. Singapore is built on the good, Bad and ugly of LKY. Now Singapore, is still a very young country and has a long way to go, but LKY was able to get it to a very good position today. Though he has left some open scars in Singapore, that is now up to the people and govern,ent to fix

    • Phillip Ang says:

      Din expect him to be a totally good person. That was according to pap history. Whether Singapore is in a good position is really questionable and we can only confirm this once transparency sees daylight. My bet is the govt has been trying to conceal deeply embarrassing information.

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