Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nothing Important Happened Today – An obituary to Lee Kuan Yew

An ironic title for the sad passing of a giant. This title was not chosen as an insult but to reflect a few things in my mind upon reading the news of his death.

“Nothing important happened today” is a phrase familiar to history buffs and X-Files buffs for this is a phrase supposedly written into the diary of George III, reigning English monarch on the day when the USA ratified their Declaration of Independence (Jul 4, 1776), signifying the irony. It was recently debunked with the revelation that the king did not keep a diary, and it was the French monarch, Louis XVI, who wrote something similar (he was referring to his empty-handed return from a hunting trip) that on the day Bastille was stormed (Jul 14, 1789). X-Files employed this ironic title for one of their milestone episodes as well and I believe my point of choosing this title should be obvious by now.

Banner tribute to Lee Kuan Yew by Channel News Asia.

The passing of the founding father of modern Singapore (although in reality Sir Stamford Raffles is considered as founder, Lee is conferred the title for founding a nation as opposed to the former's founding of a Straits Settlement) filled news channels and social media the world over. At Singaporean time 3.18am on Mar 23, 2015 he drew his last breath upon a deteriorating health since the death of his wife in 2010. He was 91 and he could almost see Singapore’s 50th birthday. Almost.

Official announcement from Prime Minister's Office of Singapore of the passing of LKY.

His legacy is overshadowed by criticism of his iron fisted rule, and not everyone agrees to his policies, Singaporeans included. Despite so it is almost universally agreed that his influence is heavy on the transformation of Singapore to what it is today, for better or worse. This is a resource poor country surrounded by potential enemies and still emerges as the envy of nations which could not surpass it despite all the resources at their command. 

Most did not see what went on in the decades after its forced independence. Most did not know the danger it faced in the past. Most still do not understand the vulnerability they face today. Those from neighboring countries who had chose to work and live here would marvel at his contribution because all they need to do is to look back home and wonder how this little red dot succeeded where their larger home countries could not come close to.

I chose this title for another reason as well. The passing of the founding father, who has actively drove the policies for 2 decades and indirectly influenced it for another 2, is a sad and emotional day but the nation continued on as if it was any other day. The show must go on despite the loss of its main character. Because however important he is, the nation cannot stop in its track and must proceed with its life, as if nothing important happened today.

Remembering LEE KUAN YEW
1923 - 2015
#RIPLKY #TributeToLKY #RememberingLeeKuanYew

Banner tribute to Lee Kuan Yew from Facebook page of his son and the incumbent Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong.

Various postings by social media users as shared by Mothership.sg (original image credit from top: unknown and Jeremy Goh).

Come, it's time to go...

A bittersweet image from Ashley Virgilius Leong.

Various social media users posted their own sketches dedicated to LKY. I liked this one from Ong Yi Teck (@friedricebucket) shared by Channel News Asia.

Snapshot of Lee Hsien Loong's Facebook page on the announcement of an orchid dedicated to LKY - Aranda Lee Kuan Yew.

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