Goodbye Lee Kuan Yew. Yesterday afternoon, I signed the condolence book at Tanjong Pagar Community Centre.
The sticker on a locked exit read: 'What future do Singaporeans want?' This is not a new question. One man, Lee Kuan Yew, dominated that question for a long time and although, several years ago, he faded from direct political involvement, his influence remained. His son the Prime Minister has said that Singapore is at an inflexion point. The question remains and deeper uncertainties prevail.
Several decades ago, he said 'Poetry is a luxury we cannot afford.' That was then when he desired to control the narrative and focus the nation on execution of his agenda rather than imagine other choices. The hope is that now people realise times are different and a just, tolerant, progressive future can be built on the foundation he established.
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms, or books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
For a poetic insight into The Man, take a look at the wonderful poetry anthology, A Luxury We Cannot Afford, edited by Joshua Ip and Christine Chia. I have a post on the book here.
For the perspective of a Singaporean journalist, here is Bertha Henson on LKY.
And here are details of LKY's run in with the CIA & his rejection of their $3.3m bribe.