Of Love and Respect for an Honourable Leader

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Photo credit: The Washington Post

 

A nation almost fell into a crisis on 21 August 2016.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (LHL) was giving the National Day Rally on the podium when he suddenly fell to his right; his face was visibly paler with beads of sweat on his left forehead before he had taken ill. My first thought was, “Was it a stroke?”

The camera quickly cut to the audience; however, the director probably did not anticipate the reaction of the audience to be very telling that something bad was happening to my Prime Minister. A young, Indian girl in her school uniform sat up, covered her mouth with her hand to express shock and fear.

Then the National Day Rally was suspended; for 80 long minutes. That must have been the longest dinner buffet ever served at a public service event. 

When the PM recovered, his wit and humour were still very much intact and the incident proved useful for him to illustrate the importance of succession planning.

As PM LHL continued on delivering the important speech to set the nation’s forecast and vision for the following year, my tired and jaded heart plumped up with pride.

PM Lee has proven that he is indeed, the right man for this job then, and now. I am grateful for a Prime Minister who puts the nation above self. Yes, there are issues and policies that I do not agree with; but that’s a different story.

Have you seen how other leaders are hurting their own people and land?

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I must have been 19 or 20. I was a member of the Young People Action Party (YPAP). I dragged my bestest friend, J to ZOUK, a club that was popular in the early 2000s because PM Lee  and his cabinet will be engaging with the YPAP at the club.

I had brought along a TIME magazine where PM Lee was on the cover. I was such a groupie; choosing to sit at the outer bar area so that I could get a chance to have PM Lee autograph on the magazine cover. He did with a tinge of hesitation and awkwardness; but not without his handsome bodyguards giving me the dirty look before they surrounded him to create a barrier between PM Lee and me…as if my black pen (from a random hotel) would become a weapon.

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I have loved my PM since then. The kind of love that is part-gratitude, part-respect.

I also recognise that he probably has other talents and interests which he had to give up to be in this position of immense stress and responsibilities. Forgive me as I continue to share my alternative perspective and unhappiness on what could have been.

My courage and expectations come from Mr LKY, Mr Goh Chok Tong and you, PM Lee, because you have made it possible for me to be confident and knowledgable.

Thank you, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long for taking care of Singapore and our needs, protecting and guiding Singapore into a better spot.

Please rest up well, Mr Lee. I hope you get some well-deserved break soon.

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Singapore – who is it really for?

Image from Wikipedia (Off NLB)

Do you remember much about the Old National Library?

I remember how I would wander into the Old National Library on weekends, stayed at the Reference area for an entire day and go through old microfilms of old newspapers. Just because.

I would then make my way to the nearby S-11 coffeeshop with its uneven bricked floor for wontan noodles, trying to balance my books while I try to eat and read at the same time. On a good day, I would treat myself to a hot chocolate and muffin from the library cafe.

In 2004, when the library was slated for demolition for road developments, I was utterly heartbroken. Nothing could be done to save the old national library except for the sales of the old bricks that used to form part of the architecture of the library.

Fast forward to 2011, there’s another round of redevelopment. This time, to widen the roads around Lornie Road to ease the constant traffic congestion. Sadly, many historical tombstones would be exhumed and removed due to this redevelopment. Is it worth it to destroy decades of history just to ease traffic congestion?

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I began a love affair with old towns in Malaysia because I no longer have that in Singapore. Photo taken in Penang, Malaysia.

Singapore’s always trying to be better, faster and more efficient. Sadly, it is at the expense of our heritage and history.

Despite the vehement public outcry and petitions, one of the Ministers said something along the lines of (and I am paraphrasing here)…”Do you want your grandchildren to have a better life or retain the old bones of the departed?”.

Hello Mr Minister, we are talking about roads here. Congestion on the roads does not bother me because I don’t drive since Singapore is well-connection via public transportation. It does not value add to my life.

So, my dear Government, before more buildings are destroyed and history erased, please consider what sort of future you would want our future generations to own. A space where there is nothing to remind them of the past OR a space where shiny skyscrapers and widen roads lead to nowhere but a void?

Generations repeat themselves. And we always need a reminder of where our past is from.

Sadly, none of the Ministers of Parliament feel and think the same.