By Patrick Low
Dear PM Lee,
Very soon you will be stepping down as Singapore’s third Prime Minister. Let me ask you “what kind of legacy would you like to bequeath to our country?”
National Unity I am sure is uppermost in your mind. But have you done enough on this score? If not what else can you do before you leave the stage?
The birth of Singapore was under very tough and divisive conditions. The Left and the Right in their struggle to gain independence from the colonial master suffered painful and blightening experiences in their lives. Many lost their freedom and were incarcerated for years. Though the battle is over peace and reconciliation never did ensue.
Time should heal many things but time alone without statesmanship cannot bring about a real reconciliation among the people and the combatants.
Since more than half a century has elapsed after the epic struggle it behoves us the ordinary sons of the soil to remind you the son of the Founding Father that you still have an unfulfilled task to undertake and complete on behalf of your father what he failed to do.
As a son it is not easy for you to step out of your father’s shadow. But now that he is gone you must try.
Imagine the surprise and the joy you will bring to the nation if you were to say sorry and declare an amnesty for all political exiles including those very old people living on the Thai-Malaysian border who are dying to have their last wish honoured before they leave this temporal world. Instead of trying to prevent diabetes you can heal the long time wounds of so many freedom fighters inflicted during the independence struggle. Say sorry to them and make amends.
In your hands Mr. Lee lies the power to undo the wrongs of your father and his erstwhile comrades. You can reverse the trumped up charge of a Marxist conspiracy which arrested 22 young people back in 1987. Even your cabinet ministers found it difficult to swallow the toxic charges you used to cripple the idealism of young Singaporeans then. 30 years have passed and we are still waiting for the sorry word.
Shame on you!
The recent saga of the will of your father as it relates to 38 Oxley Road and the resulting in a public squabble whose rancour brought not only shame upon your family but also tarnished Singapore’s reputation is something which you need to put right before you step down. So in your hands too lies the power to mend the rift within your own family before the poison spreads to the hearts and minds of unborn generations.
If you put your mind to it you know that you as the head of a sovereign nation have much to gain if you only have the courage to sweep the muck from your office and clear the decks for the next generation. Only then can you lay the groundwork for true national unity.
You have recruited some of the children of former political prisoners into your ranks. Good for you but does it not occur to you the soul wrenching exercise for these children of your former political opponents to put aside the past and step forward to serve the party and the nation.
If you are truly magnanimous, noble and not petty minded you can also step forward and declare an unconditional amnesty for all political exiles whether they be in London, Paris, Melbourne Betong or Boston. In so doing you would go down in Singapore history as a peacemaker and not a nitpicker. National unity for our Motherland will be truly epic and unrivalled.
Singaporeans from the world over will truly rejoice and salute you for your courage and wisdom in taking such a big step forward.
Mr. Lee you know that national unity is not based solely on race colour and religion. It is also a function of social economic and class inequities. In this regard you can exert much greater effort to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. Why not state your goals boldly and clearly and name a Scandinavian country that we can all emulate to while retaining our own uniquely Singaporean character. At the very least there is a vision that we can aspire to.
Your government keeps harping on globalization and pseudo- meritocracy to praise and excuse yourself. Do you not know that these are the very forces which have produced Brexit and Trumpism?
You must be wary that once the political pendulum swings against you noone will be able to put “humpty dumpty” together again.
The 5 factors of lumpen capitalism, class, cronyism, culture and communication have inflicted heavy damage on American society over the last 24 years under Clinton Bush and Obama. They swept a seasoned politico Hilary aside and threw up an extremely unstable maverick disruptor called Donald J Trump. If this can happen in America it can happen to you too. In fact we came quite close to it in 2011 when the the first GRC of Aljunied was snatched from under your very nose and you scored the lowest electoral return for the PAP in decades.
The tipping point Mr. Lee is an unpredictable thing. But know ye that in a media savvy world once the rage erupts the ruling class will have no place to hide. Once seen as a cosy selfish and self serving coterie divorced from the people it will be difficult to regain the trust and the mandate of the people.
Mr. Lee for you there is still time. But not much – 2 to 5 years at most because you have lost your zest and your health is not great and you are weary.
During the remaining time you have at the helm you must do your utmost to bequeath a true cultural revolution to the people.
Man does not live by bread alone and they live and die from multiple causes from cancer, stroke, diabetes to alzheimus.
Your job as PM is not to advise us as the Chief Medical Doctor from SGH. Your job from the Istana is to helm and guide the ship of state through choppy waters to a better promised land.
23 August 2017