Somebody recently said that only sadists, haters and losers could derive satisfaction and pleasure from the Lee family feud or Oxleygate. Really? That is being overly simplistic and sweeping about it. The whole episode is intensely revealing not only about the Lee family but about ourselves. Here’s the one-two-three of it.
One: So, LKY was human after all. Strange as it may seem, it is comforting and satisfying for some to know that the one who for the longest time came across as more deity than man, turned out to be no more than an ordinary human being. In his lifetime, Lee Kuan Yew was feared and revered in equal measure and devoutly touted as a genius who could do no wrong. He had towering intellect and foresight and seemed to have a crystal ball into the future – but when it came to his own family, he was all too fallible in failing miserably to foresee the prospect of the House of Lee being torn asunder upon his death.
Two: Nobody cares about the poor and weak, but when shit happens to the rich, famous and blue-blooded? It is no exaggeration to say that the Lee family is Singapore’s First Family, the closest thing we have to royalty. Lee Kuan Yew used to remind Singaporeans, “When elephants fight, the grass suffers.” We now have a rejoinder to that: “When the First Family fights, the country rumbles and shakes.” Politics in this country tend to be boring and predictable so when something spectacular and scandalous happens within the First Family, the sense of excitement and anticipation is contagious.
Three: Obsession with a non-scripted drama with an unknown ending. Like a soap opera, people are irresistibly drawn to Oxleygate and become inclined to take sides, wittingly or unwittingly. At what point does honour turn into dishonour? Is there a Lady Macbeth? What’s the latest Facebook posting from Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling? What’s the fate of 38 Oxley Road? Will Lee Hsien Yang contest the coming general elections? Will Li Hongyi (son of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Ho Ching) be thrust onto the political stage to uphold the Lee dynasty and thus fulfil the prophesy of Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling? It’s a family drama played out live, and the beauty of it is that it isn’t scripted so nobody knows how it is going to end, not even the characters in the drama.
Something like Oxleygate only comes along once in a lifetime and so we cannot fault people for being drawn to it like bees to honey. Nobody cares when shit happens to the poor and weak but when it strikes the rich, famous, powerful and blue-blooded, everybody wants to have their say and a ringside view.