By Carlton Tan
It is over. The 91-year-old former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, passed away peacefully on March 23, 2015 at 3.18am.
As in life, so also in death. Mr Lee will be at the centre of attention for an entire nation and even of the world. Obituaries are being prepared, flowers are being arranged, a grand state funeral is being planned, and condolences are streaming in from state leaders we’ve never even heard of.
And once again, with one final act of defiance, the man who ruled with an iron fist has silenced his critics. No longer can they speculate about his death and no longer can they curse him with it. He is gone now and he has not a care for what his detractors think; though it is not as if he ever did.
Those who love him will mourn his passing and celebrate his life. Those who hate him will celebrate his death and curse the day he was born. Those of us who are indifferent will check Facebook, think of something witty to say, turn up empty and carry on with our lives. But somewhere deep inside, all of us will know that things will never be the same again in Singapore after Lee Kuan Yew.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) had suggested in a special report that the elder statesman’s leadership style has had a strong influence on the current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong. It also suggested that “Lee Hsien Loong’s leadership will be challenged once his father is not around.”
The EIU may be right. Lee Hsien Loong may adopt a different style of leadership now that his father is no longer watching him. And there may be some infighting within the PAP now that the towering figure holding things together is gone. But all that pales in comparison to the rare opportunity that Singaporeans now have to make a break from the past.
This is an extract from an article that was first published on Asian Correspondent.