Thursday, September 16, 2010

...LKY, the muttering, ranting and mulling of an old man.....and of course a rebuttal from Tun


Mr Lee: “Thank you. When you are coming to 87, you are not very happy..”

Q: “Not. Well you should be glad that you’ve gotten way past where most of us
will get.”

Mr Lee: “That is my trouble. So, when is the last leaf falling?”

Q: “Do you feel like that, do you feel like the leaves are coming off?”

Mr Lee: “Well, yes. I mean I can feel the gradual decline of energy and
vitality and I mean generally every year when you know you are not on the same
level as last year. But that is life.”

Q: “My mother used to say never get old.”

Mr Lee: “Well, there you will try never to think yourself old. I mean I keep
fit, I swim, I cycle.”

Q: “And yoga, is that right? Meditation?”

Mr Lee: “Yes.”

Q: “Tell me about meditation?”

Mr Lee: “Well, I started it about two, three years ago when Ng Kok Song, the
Chief Investment Officer of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation,
I knew he was doing meditation. His wife had died but he was completely
serene. So, I said, how do you achieve this? He said I meditate everyday and
so did my wife and when she was dying of cancer, she was totally serene because
she meditated everyday and he gave me a video of her in her last few weeks
completely composed completely relaxed and she and him had been meditating for
years. Well, I said to him, you teach me. He is a devout Christian. He was
taught by a man called Laurence Freeman, a Catholic. His guru was John Main a
devout Catholic. When I was in London, Ng Kok Song introduced me to Laurence
Freeman. In fact, he is coming on Saturday to visit Singapore, and we will do a
meditation session. The problem is to keep the monkey mind from running off
into all kinds of thoughts. It is most difficult to stay focused on the
mantra. The discipline is to have a mantra which you keep repeating in your
innermost heart, no need to voice it over and over again throughout the whole
period of meditation. The mantra they recommended was a religious one. Ma Ra
Na Ta, four syllables. Come To Me Oh Lord Jesus. So I said Okay, I am not a
Catholic but I will try. He said you can take any other mantra, Buddhist Om Mi
Tuo Fo, and keep repeating it. To me Ma Ran Na Ta is more soothing. So I used
Ma Ra Na Ta. You must be disciplined. I find it helps me go to sleep after
that. A certain tranquility settles over you. The day’s pressures and worries
are pushed out. Then there’s less problem sleeping. I miss it sometimes when I
am tired, or have gone out to a dinner and had wine. Then I cannot
concentrate. Otherwise I stick to it.”

Q: “So...”

Mr Lee: “.. for a good meditator will do it for half-an-hour. I do it for 20

Q: “So, would you say like your friend who taught you, would you say you are

Mr Lee: “Well, not as serene as he is. He has done it for many years and he is
a devout Catholic. That makes a difference. He believes in Jesus. He believes
in the teachings of the Bible. He has lost his wife, a great calamity. But the
wife was serene. He gave me this video to show how meditation helped her in her
last few months. I do not think I can achieve his level of serenity. But I do
achieve some composure.”

Q: “And do you find that at this time in your life you do find yourself getting
closer to religion of one sort or another?”

Mr Lee: “I am an agnostic. I was brought up in a traditional Chinese family
with ancestor worship. I would go to my grandfather’s grave on All Soul’s Day
which is called “Qingming”. My father would bring me along, lay out food and
candles and burn some paper money and kowtow three times over his tombstone. At
home on specific days outside the kitchen he would put up two candles with my
grandfather’s picture. But as I grew up, I questioned this because I think this
is superstition. You are gone, you burn paper money, how can he collect the
paper money where he is? After my father died, I dropped the practice. My
youngest brother baptised my father as a Christian. He did not have the right
to. He was a doctor and for the last weeks before my father’s life, he took my
father to his house because he was a doctor and was able to keep my father
comforted. I do not know if my father was fully aware when he was converted into

Q: “Converted your father?”

Mr Lee: “Yes.”

Q: “Well this happens when you get close to the end.”

Mr Lee: “Well, but I do not know whether my father agreed. At that time he may
have been beyond making a rational decision. My brother assumed that he agreed
and converted him.”

Q: “But…”

Mr Lee: “I am not converted.”

Q: “But when you reach that stage, you may wonder more than ever what is

Mr Lee: “Well, what is next, I do not know. Nobody has ever come back. The
Muslims say that there are seventy houris, beautiful women up there. But nobody
has come back to confirm this.”

Q: “And you haven’t converted to Islam, knowing that?”

Mr Lee: “Most unlikely. The Buddhist believes in transmigration of the soul.
If you live a good life, the reward is in your next migration, you will be a
good being, not an ugly animal. It is a comforting thought, but my wife and I
do not believe in it. She has been for two years bed-ridden, unable to speak
after a series of strokes. I am not going to convert her. I am not going to
allow anybody to convert her because I know it will be against what she believed
in all her life. How do I comfort myself? Well, I say life is just like
that. You can’t choose how you go unless you are going to take an overdose of
sleeping pills, like sodium amytal. For just over two years, she has been inert
in bed, but still cognitive. She understands when I talk to her, which I do
every night. She keeps awake for me; I tell her about my day’s work, read her
favourite poems.”

Q: ‘And what kind of books do you read to her?”

Mr Lee: “So much of my time is reading things online. The latest book which I
want to read or re-read is Kim. It is a beautiful of description of India as it
was in Kipling’s time. And he had an insight into the Indian mind and it is
still basically that same society that I find when I visit India. “

Q: “When you spoke to Time Magazine a couple of years ago, you said Don Quixote
was your favourite?”

Mr Lee: “Yes, I was just given the book, Don Quixote, a new translation.”

Q: “But people might find that ironic because he was fantasist who did not
realistically choose his projects and you are sort of the opposite?”

Mr Lee: “No, no, you must have something fanciful and a flight of fancy. I had
a colleague Rajaratnam who read Sci-Fi for his leisure.”’

Q: “And you?”:

Mr Lee: “No, I do not believe in Sci-Fi.”

Q: “But you must have something to fantasise.”

Mr Lee: “Well, at the moment, as I said, I would like to read Kim again. Why I
thought of Kim was because I have just been through a list of audio books to
choose for my wife. Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, books she has on her book shelf.
So, I ticked off the ones I think she would find interesting. The one that
caught my eye was Kim. She was into literature, from Alice in Wonderland, to
Adventures with a Looking Glass, to Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Pride and
Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen was her favourite writer
because she wrote elegant and leisurely English prose of the 19th century. The
prose flowed beautifully, described the human condition in a graceful way, and
rolls off the tongue and in the mind. She enjoyed it. Also Chaucer’s
Canterbury Tales. She was an English Literature major.”

Q: “You are naming books on the list, not necessarily books you have already
read, yes?”

Mr Lee: “I would have read some of them.”

Q: “Like a Jane Austen book, or Canterbury Tales?”

Mr Lee: “No, Canterbury Tales, I had to do it for my second year English
Literature course in Raffles College. For a person in the 15th Century, he
wrote very modern stuff. I didn’t find his English all that archaic. I find
those Scottish poets difficult to read. Sometimes I don’t make sense of their
Scottish brogue. My wife makes sense of them. Then Shakespeare’s sonnets.”

Q: “You read those?”

Mr Lee: “I read those sonnets when I did English literature in my freshman’s
year. She read them.”

Q: “When you say she reads them now, you’re the one who reads them, yes?”

Mr Lee: “Yes, I read them to her.”

Q: “But you go to her.”

Mr Lee: “Yes, I read from an Anthology of Poems which she has, and several
other anthologies. So I know her favourite poems. She had flagged them. I read
them to her.”

Q: “She’s in the hospital? You go to the hospital?”

Mr Lee: “No, no, she’s at home. We’ve got a hospital bed and nurses attending
to her. We used to share the same room. Now I’m staying in the next room. I
have to get used to her groans and grunts when she’s uncomfortable from a dry
throat and they pump in a spray moisture called “Biothene” which soothes her
throat, and they suck out phlegm. Because she can’t get up, she can’t breathe
fully. The phlegm accumulates in the chest but you can’t suck it out from the
chest, you’ve got to wait until she coughs and it goes out to her throat. They
suck it out, and she’s relieved. They sit her up and tap her back. It’s very
distressing, but that’s life.”

Q: “Yes, your daughter on Sunday wrote a moving column, movingly about the
situation referring to you.”

Mr Lee: “How did you come to read it?”

Q: “Somebody said you’ve got to read that column, so I read it.”

Mr Lee: “You don’t get the Straits Times.”

Q: “I get it online actually. I certainly do, I follow Singapore online and
she wrote that the whole family suffers of course from this and she wrote the
one who’s been hurting the most and is yet carrying on stoically is my father.”

Mr Lee: “What to do? What else can I do? I can’t break down. Life has got to
go on. I try to busy myself, but from time to time in idle moments, my mind
goes back to the happy days we were up and about together.”

Q: “When you go to visit her, is that the time when your mind goes back?”

Mr Lee: “No, not then. My daughter’s fished out many old photographs for this
piece she wrote and picked out a dozen or two dozen photographs from the digital
copies which somebody had kept at the Singapore Press Holdings. When I look at
them, I thought how lucky I was. I had 61 years of happiness. We’ve got to go
sometime, so I’m not sure who’s going first, whether she or me. So I told her,
I’ve been looking at the marriage vows of the Christians. The best I read was,”
To love, to hold and to cherish, in sickness and in health, for better or for
worse, till death do us part.” I told her I would try and keep you company for
as long as I can. She understood.”

Q: “Yes, it’s been really.”

Mr Lee: “What to do? What can you do in this situation? I can say get rid of
the nurses. Then the maids won’t know how to turn her over and then she gets
pneumonia. That ends the suffering. But human beings being what we are, I do
the best for her and the best is to give her a competent nurse who moves her,
massages her, turns her over, so no bed sores. I’ve got a hospital bed with air
cushions so no bed sores. Well, that’s life. Make her comfortable.”

Q: “And for yourself, you feel the weight of age more than you have in the

Mr Lee: “I’m not sure. I marginally must have. It’s stress. However, I look
at it, I mean, it’s stress. That’s life. But it’s a different kind of stress
from the kind of stress I faced, political stresses. Dire situations for
Singapore, dire situations for myself when we broke off from Malaysia, the
Malays in Singapore could have rioted and gone for me and they suddenly found
themselves back as a minority because the Tunku kicked us out. That’s
different, that’s intense stress and it’s over but this is stress which goes
on. One doctor told me, you may think that when she’s gone you’re relieved but
you’ll be sad when she’s gone because there’s still the human being here,
there’s still somebody you talk to and she knows what you’re saying and you’ll
miss that. Well, I don’t know, I haven’t come to that but I think I’ll probably
will because it’s now two years, May, June, July, August, September, two years
and four months. It’s become a part of my life.”

Q: “She’s how old now?”

Mr Lee: “She’s two-and-a-half years older than me, so she’s coming on to 90.”

Q: “But you did make a reference in an interview with Time magazine to
something that goes beyond reason as you put it. You referred to the real enemy
by Pierre D’Harcourt who talked about people surviving the Nazi, it’s better
that they have something to believe in.”

Mr Lee: “Yes, of course.”

Q: “And you said that the Communists and the deeply religious fought on and
survived. There are some things in the human spirit that are beyond reason.”

Mr Lee: “I believe that to be true. Look, I saw my friend and cabinet
colleague who’s a deeply religious Catholic. He was Finance Minister, a fine
man. In 1983, he had a heart attack. He was in hospital, in ICU, he improved
and was taken out of ICU. Then he had a second heart attack and I knew it was
bad. I went to see him and the priest was giving him the last rites as a
Catholic. Absolutely fearless, he showed no distress, no fear, the family was
around him, his wife and daughters, he had four daughters. With priest
delivering the last rites, he knew he was reaching the end. But his mind was
clear but absolutely calm.”

Q: “Well, I am more like you. We don’t have something to cling to.”

Mr Lee: “That’s our problem.”

Q: “But also the way people see you is supremely reasonable person, reason is
the ultimate.”

Mr Lee: “Well, that’s the way I’ve been working.”

Q: “Well, you did mention to Tom Plate, they think they know me but they only
know the public me?”

Mr Lee: “Yeah, the private view is you have emotions for your close members of
your family. We are a close family, not just my sons and my wife and my parents
but my brothers and my sister. So my youngest brother, a doctor as I told you,
he just sent me an email that my second brother was dying of a bleeding colon,
diverticulitis. And later the third brother now has got prostate cancer and has
spread into his lymph nodes. So I asked what’re the chances of survival. It’s
not gotten to the bones yet, so they’re doing chemotherapy and if you can
prevent it from going into the bones, he’ll be okay for a few more years. If it
does get to the bones, then that’s the end. I don’t think my brother knows.
But I’ll probably go and see him.”

Q: “But you yourself have been fit. You have a stent, you had heart problem
late last year but besides that do you have ailments?”

Mr Lee: “Well, aches and pains of a geriatric person, joints, muscles but all
non-terminal. I go in for a physiotherapy, maintenance once a week, they give
me a rub over because when I cycle, my thighs get sore, knees get a little
painful, and so the hips.”

Q: “These are the signs of age.”

Mr Lee: “Yeah, of course.”

Q: “I’m 64. I’m beginning to feel that and I don’t like it and I don’t want to
admit to myself.”

Mr Lee: “But if you stop exercising, you make it worse. That’s what my doctors
tell me, just carry on. When you have these aches and pains, we’ll give you
physiotherapy. I’ve learnt to use heat pads at home. So after the
physiotherapy, once a week, if I feel my thighs are sore, I just have a heat pad
there. You put in the microwave oven and you tie it around your thighs or your
ankles or your calves. It relieves the pain.”

Q: “So you continue to cycle.”

Mr Lee: “Oh yeah.”

Q: “Treadmill?”

Mr Lee: “No, I don’t do the treadmill. I walk but not always. When I’ve
cycled enough I don’t walk.”

Q: “That’s your primary exercise, swimming?”

Mr Lee: “Yeah, I swim everyday, it’s relaxing.”

Q: “What other secrets, I see you drink hot water?”

Mr Lee: “Yes.”

Q: “Tell me about it.”

Mr Lee: “Well, I used to drink tea but tea is a diuretic, but I didn’t know
that. I used to drink litres of it. In the 1980s, I was having a conference
with Zhou Ziyang who was then Secretary-General of the Communist Party in the
Great Hall of the People. The Chinese came in and poured more tea and hot
water. I was scoffing it down because it kept my throat moistened, my BP was up
because more liquid was in me. Halfway through, I said please stop. I’m dashing
off. I had to relief myself. Then my doctors said don’t you know that tea is a
diuretic? I don’t like coffee, it gives me a sour stomach, so okay, let’s
switch to water.”

Q: “You know you had the hot water when I met you a couple of years ago and
after I told my wife about that, she switched to hot water. She’s not sure why
except that you drink hot water, so she’s decided to.”

Mr Lee: “Well, cold water, this was from my ENT man. If you drink cold water,
you reduce the temperature of your nasal passages and throat and reduce your
resistance to coughs and colds. So I take warm water, body temperature. I
don’t scald myself with boiling hot water. I avoid that. But my daughter puts
blocks of ice into her coffee and drinks it up. She’s all right, she’s only

Q: “Let me ask a question about the outside world a little bit. Singapore is a
great success story even though people criticize this and that. When you look
back, you can be proud of what you’ve done and I assume you are. Are there
things that you regret, things that you wished you could achieve that you

Mr Lee: “Well, first I regret having been turfed out of Malaysia. I think if
the Tunku had kept us together, what we did in Singapore, had Malaysia accepted
a multiracial base for their society, much of what we’ve achieved in Singapore
would be achieved in Malaysia. But not as much because it’s a much broader
base. We would have improved inter-racial relations and an improved holistic
situation. Now we have a very polarized Malaysia, Malays, Chinese and Indians
in separate schools, living separate lives and not really getting on with one
another. You read them. That’s bad for us as close neighbours.”

Q: “So at that time, you found yourself with Singapore and you have transformed
it. And my question would be how do you assess your own satisfaction with what
you’ve achieved? What didn’t work?”

Mr Lee: “Well, the greatest satisfaction I had was my colleagues and I, were of
that generation who were turfed out of Malaysia suffered two years under a
racial policy decided that we will go the other way. We will not as a majority
squeeze the minority because once we’re by ourselves, the Chinese become the
majority. We made quite sure whatever your race, language or religion, you are
an equal citizen and we’ll drum that into the people and I think our Chinese
understand and today we have an integrated society. Our Malays are
English-educated, they’re no longer like the Malays in Malaysia and you can see
there are some still wearing headscarves but very modern looking.”

Q: “That doesn’t sound like a regret to me.”

Mr Lee: “No, no, but the regret is there’s such a narrow base to build this
enormous edifice, so I’ve got to tell the next generation, please do not take
for granted what’s been built. If you forget that this is a small island which
we are built upon and reach a 100 storeys high tower block and may go up to 150
if you are wise. But if you believe that it’s permanent, it will come tumbling
down and you will never get a second chance.”

Q: “I wonder if that is a concern of yours about the next generation. I saw
your discussion with a group of young people before the last election and they
were saying what they want is a lot of these values from the West, an open
political marketplace and even playing field in all of these things and you said
well, if that’s the way you feel, I’m very sad.”

Mr Lee: “Because you play it that way, if you have dissension, if you chose the
easy way to Muslim votes and switch to racial politics, this society is
finished. The easiest way to get majority vote is vote for me, we’re Chinese,
they’re Indians, they’re Malays. Our society will be ripped apart. If you do
not have a cohesive society, you cannot make progress.”

Q: “But is that a concern that the younger generation doesn’t realize as much as
it should?”

Mr Lee: “I believe they have come to believe that this is a natural state of
affairs, and they can take liberties with it. They think you can put it on
auto-pilot. I know that is never so. We have crafted a set of very intricate
rules, no housing blocks shall have more than a percentage of so many Chinese,
so many percent Malays, Indians. All are thoroughly mixed. Willy-nilly, your
neighbours are Indians, Malays, you go to the same shopping malls, you go to the
same schools, the same playing fields, you go up and down the same lifts. We
cannot allow segregation.”

Q: “There are people who think that Singapore may lighten up a little bit when
you go, that the rules will become a little looser and if that happens, that
might be something that’s a concern to you.”

Mr Lee: “No, you can go looser where it’s not race, language and religion
because those are deeply gut issues and it will surface the moment you start
playing on them. It’s inevitable, but on other areas, policies, right or wrong,
disparity of opportunities, rich and poor, well go ahead. But don’t play race,
language, religion. We’ve got here, we’ve become cohesive, keep it that way.
We’ve not used Chinese as a majority language because it will split the
population. We have English as our working language, it’s equal for everybody,
and it’s given us the progress because we’re connected to the world. If you
want to keep your Malay, or your Chinese, or your Tamil, Urdu or whatever, do
that as a second language, not equal to your first language. It’s up to you,
how high a standard you want to achieve.”

Q: “The public view of you is as a very strict, cerebral, unsentimental.
Catherine Lim, “an authoritarian, no-nonsense manner that has little use for

Mr Lee: “She’s a novelist, therefore, she simplifies a person’s character, make
graphic caricature of me. But is anybody that simple or simplistic?”

Q: “Sentiment though, you don’t show that very much in public.”

Mr Lee: “Well, that’s a Chinese ideal. A gentleman in Chinese ideal, the junzi
(君子) is someone who is always composed and possessed of himself and doesn’t lose
his temper and doesn’t lose his tongue. That’s what I try to do, except when I
got turfed out from Malaysia. Then, I just couldn’t help it.”

Q: “One aspect of the way you’ve constructed Singapore is a certain level of
fear perhaps in the population. You described yourself as a street fighter,
knuckle duster and so forth.”

Mr Lee: “Yes.”

Q: “And that produces among some people a level of fear and I want to tell you
what a taxi driver said when I said I was going to interview you. He said,
safer not to ask him anything. If you ask him, somebody will follow you. We’re
not in politics so just let him do the politics.”

Mr Lee: “How old is he?’

Q: “I’m sorry, middle aged, I don’t know.”

Mr Lee: “I go out. I’m no longer the Prime Minister. I don’t have to do the
difficult things. Everybody wants to shake my hands, everybody wants me to
autograph something. Everybody wants to get around me to take a photo. So it’s
a problem.”

Q: “Yes but...”

Mr Lee: “Because I’m no longer in charge, I don’t have to do the hard things.
I’ve laid the foundation and they know that because of that foundation, they’re
enjoying this life.’

Q: “So when you were the one directly in-charge, you had to be tough, you had to
be a fighter.”

Mr Lee: “Yes, of course. I had to fight left-wingers, Communists, pro-Communist
groups who had killer squads. If I didn’t have the guts and the gumption to
take them on, there wouldn’t be the Singapore. They would have taken over and
it would have collapsed. I also had to fight the Malay Ultras when we were in
Malaysia for two years.”

Q: “Well, you don’t have a lot of dissidents in prison but you’re known for
your libel suits which keeps a lot of people at bay.”

Mr Lee: “We are non-corrupt. We lead modest lives, so it’s difficult to malign
us. What’s the easy way to get a leader down? He’s a hypocrite, he is corrupt,
he pretends to be this when in fact he’s that. That’s what they’re trying to do
to me. Well, prove it, if what you say is right, then I don’t deserve this
reputation. Why must you say these things without foundation? I’m taking you
to court, you’ve made these allegations, I’m open to your cross-examination.”

Q: “But that may produce what I was talking about, about a level of fear.”

Mr Lee: “No, you’re fearful of a libel suit? Then don’t issue these defamatory
statements or make them where you have no basis. The Western correspondent,
especially those who hop in and hop out got to find something to show that they
are impartial, that they’re not just taken in by the Singapore growth story.
They say we keep down the opposition, how? Libel suits. Absolute rubbish. We
have opponents in Parliament who have attacked us on policy, no libel suits
against them and even in Parliament they are privileged to make defamatory
allegation and cannot be sued. But they don’t. They know it is not true.”

Q: “Let me ask a last question. Again back to Tom Plate, “I’m not serious all
the time. Everyone needs to have a good laugh now and then to see the funny
side of things and to laugh at himself”.”

Mr Lee: “Yes, of course.”

Q: “How about that?”

Mr Lee: “You have to be that.”

Q: “So what makes you laugh?”

Mr Lee: “Many things, the absurdity of it, many things in life. Sometimes, I
meet witty people, have conversations, they make sharp remarks, I laugh.”

Q: “And when you laugh at yourself as you said?”

Mr Lee: “That’s very frequent. Yeah, I’m reaching 87, trying to keep fit,
presenting a vigorous figure and it’s an effort and is it worth the effort? I
laugh at myself trying to keep a bold front. It’s become my habit. I just
carry on.”

Q: “So it’s the whole broad picture of things that you find funny?”

Mr Lee: “Yes, life as a whole has many abnormalities, of course.”

Q: “Your public life together with your private life, what you’ve done over
things people write about you and Singapore, that overall is something that you
can find funny?”

Mr Lee: “Yes, of course.”

Q: “You made one of the few people who laugh at Singapore.”

Mr Lee: “Let me give you a Chinese proverb “do not judge a man until you’ve
closed his coffin. Do not judge a man.” Close the coffin, then decide. Then
you assess him. I may still do something foolish before the lid is closed on

Q: “So you’re waiting for the final verdict?”

Mr Lee: “No, the final verdict will not be in the obituaries. The final
verdict will be when the PhD students dig out the archives, read my old papers,
assess what my enemies have said, sift the evidence and seek the truth? I’m not
saying that everything I did was right, but everything I did was for an
honourable purpose. I had to do some nasty things, locking fellows up without

Q: “For the greater good?”

Mr Lee: “Well, yes, because otherwise they are running around and causing havoc
playing on Chinese language and culture, and accusing me of destroying Chinese
education. You’ve not been here when the Communists were running around. They
do not believe in the democratic process. They don’t believe in one man, one
vote. They believe in one bullet, one vote. They had killer squads. But they
at the same time had a united front exploiting the democratic game. It gave them
cover. But my business, my job was to make sure that they did not succeed.
Sometimes you just got to lock the leaders up. They are confusing the people.
The reality is that if you allow these people to work up animosity against the
government because it’s keeping down the Chinese language, because we’ve
promoted English, keeping down Chinese culture because you have allowed English
literature, and we suppress our Chinese values and the Chinese language, the
Chinese press, well, you will break up the society. They harp on these things
when they know they are not true. They know that if you actually do in Chinese
language and culture, the Chinese will riot and the society must break up.”

Q: “So leadership is a constant battle?”

Mr Lee: “In a multiracial situation like this, it is. Malaysia took the
different line; Malaysians saw it as a Malay country, all others are lodgers,
“orang tumpangan”, and they the Bumiputras, sons of the soil, run the show. So
the Sultans, the Chief Justice and judges, generals, police commissioner, the
whole hierarchy is Malay. All the big contracts for Malays. Malay is the
language of the schools although it does not get them into modern knowledge. So
the Chinese build and find their own independent schools to teach Chinese, the
Tamils create their own Tamil schools, which do not get them jobs. It’s a most
unhappy situation.”

Mdm Yeong: “I thought that was the last question.”

Q: “This is the last part of the last question. So your career has been a
struggle to keep things going in the right way and you’ve also said that the
best way to keep your health is to keep on working. Are you tired of it by this
point? Do you feel like you want to rest?”

Mr Lee: “No, I don’t. I know if I rest I’ll slide downhill fast. No, my whole
being has been stimulated by the daily challenge. If I suddenly drop it all,
play golf, stroll around, watch the sunset, read novels, that’s downhill. It is
the daily challenge, social contacts, meeting people, people like you, you press
me, I answer, when I don’t…. what have I got tomorrow?”

Mdm Yeong: “You have two more events coming up. One is the Radin Mas

Mr Lee: “Oh yeah. I got it.”

Mdm Yeong: “And then you have other call, courtesy call on the 3rd.”

Mr Lee: “We are social animals. Without that interaction with people, you are
isolated. The worst punishment you can give a person is the isolation ward. You
get hallucinations. Four walls, no books, no nothing. By way of example, Henry
Kissinger wants to speak to me. So I said okay, we’ll speak on Sunday. What
about? We are meeting in Sao Paolo at a J P Morgan International Advisory
Board. He wants to talk to me to check certain facts on China. My mind is kept
alive, I go to China once a year at least. I meet Chinese leaders. So it’s a
constant stimulus as I keep up to date. Supposing I sit back, I don’t think
about China, just watch videos. I am off to Moscow, Kiev and Paris on the 15th
of September. Three days Moscow, three days Kiev, four days Paris. Moscow I am
involved in the Skolkovo Business School which President Medvedev, when he
wasn’t President started. I promised to go if he did not fix it in the
winter. So they fix it for September. I look at the fires, I said wow this is
no good.”

Q: “It’s not going to be freezing if there are fires.”

Mr Lee: “No but our embassy says the skies have cleared. Kiev because the
President has invited me specially and will fly me from Moscow to Kiev and then
fly me on to Paris. Paris I am on the TOTAL Advisory Board together with Joe
Nye and a few others. They want a presentation on what are China’s strengths
and weaknesses. That keeps me alive. It’s just not my impressionistic views of
China but one that has to be backed by facts and figures. So my team works out
the facts and figures, and I check to see if they tally with my impressions.
But it’s a constant stimulus to keep alive, and up-to-date. If I stop it, it’s

Q: “Well, I hope you continue. Thank you very much, I really enjoyed this

. . . . .............................................

My God this old man LKY, in between his muttering and mulling over his 'old age' still felt much pain over being 'turfed' out of Malaysia. Thank God Tengku Abdul Rahman was a very wise man then, otherwise LKY would have caused more havoc with his 'Malaysian Malaysia' battle cry....Bring me to that useful adage often quoted:
" If we have friends like that we do not need enemies "..That is Singapore, sometime, from the Malaysian perspective.LKY do not need to sneer and look down to an overtly friendly neighbour, to feel better...That is super 'kiasu' Singapore style!
.....this is my feeling not Dr M. Dr M is more refined.....

Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad comment:

by Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at 8:28pm
1. Mr Lee Kwan Yew, the Minister Mentor of Singapore is three years my senior. That means he and I practically grew up in the same period of time. That also means that I have been able to watch the progress of Mr Lee, and in fact to interact with him on various occasions.

2. His assertion in his interview with the New York Times that "Race relations (would be) better if Singapore (had) not (been) "turfed out" (of Malaysia) is worth studying. Is it true or is it fantasy?

3. Before Singapore joined the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, there was less racial politics in the Federation of Malaysia. In 1955 the Malays who made up 80 per cent of the citizens gave a large number of their constituencies to the few Chinese and Indian citizens and ensured they won with strong Malay support. As a result the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested.

4. The Tunku then rewarded this willingness of the Chinese and Indian citizens to support the coalition concept by giving them one million unconditional citizenship. This reduced Malay majority to 60 per cent.

5. In the 1959 elections the Alliance of UMNO, MCA and MIC won easily though Kelantan was lost. PAS with only Malays as members was rejected. Racialism even when implied failed.

6. In 1963 Singapore became a part of Malaysia. Despite having promised that the PAP will not participate in Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak politics, Kwan Yew reneged and the PAP tried to displace the MCA in the Alliance by appealing to Chinese sentiments in the Peninsular. Of course the slogan was "Malaysian Malaysia" which implied that the Chinese were not having equal rights with the Malays. If this appeal to Chinese sentiments against the Malays was not racial, I do not know what is racial.

7. But the Peninsular Chinese favoured working with the Malays in UMNO. They totally rejected PAP in 1964.

8. Following the Malaysian Malaysia campaign a few UMNO leaders tried to rouse Singapore Malay sentiments. There were demonstrations in Singapore where before there were none. Kwan Yew accused Jaafar Albar for instigating the Singapore Malays. Although I never went to Singapore, nor met the Malays there, I was labelled a Malay-ultra by Kwan Yew himself.

9. By 1965 racism had taken hold and the Tunku was forced to end Singapore's membership of Malaysia. But the seed of Chinese racialism had been sown, so that even after the PAP left, the "Malaysian Malaysia" war cry was picked up by the DAP, an offspring of the PAP.

10. With the background of Singapore's activities in Malaysia in the short three years of its membership, can we really believe that if it had not been "turfed out" race relations would be better in Malaysia?

11. But proof of what would have happened was shown by the politics leading up to the 1969 Election. The MCA began to criticise the Sino/Malay cooperation especially on so-called special rights and demanded for a Chinese University. UMNO then began to clamour for a greater share of the economy of the country. The UMNO/MCA conflict resulted in the Alliance faring very badly in the 1969 Elections.

12. DAP and Gerakan, a new party largely made up of MCA dissidents made gains. The Alliance were shocked and rattled.

13. Then the Gerakan and DAP held their victory parade near the Malay settlement of Kampung Baru, hurling racist insults at the Malays. The result was the 13th May race riots.

14. Till today the racist slogan "Malaysian Malaysia" is the war-cry of the DAP. Racism in Malaysia is clearly the result of Singapore's membership of the country for just three years. Can we really believe that if Singapore had not been "turfed out" Malaysia would have no racial problem.

15. While Kwan Yew talks about his belief that all ethnic communities should free themselves from the shackles of racial segregation in order to promote fairness and equality among the races, he also said that "once we are by ourselves (out of Malaysia) the Chinese become the majority".

16. Singapore's population is made up of 75 per cent Chinese and they own 95 per cent of the economy. It is therefore not a truly multi-racial country but a Chinese country with minority racial groups who are additionally much poorer.

17. In Singapore dissent is not allowed, People who contest against the PAP would be hauled up in court for libel and if they win elections would not be allowed to take their places in Parliament. Whereas in Malaysia opposition parties invariably win seats in Parliament and even set up State Governments (today five out of the 13 States are ruled by the opposition parties) the PAP in Singapore has to appoint PAP members to represent the opposition.

18. Whether the PAP admits it or not, the party has always been led and dominated by ethnic Chinese and have won elections principally because of Chinese votes. The others are not even icing on the cake.

19. If Singapore is a part of Malaysia the PAP can certainly reproduce the Singapore kind of non-racial politics because together with the Malaysian Chinese, the PAP will ethnically dominate and control Malaysian politics. No dissent would be allowed and certainly no one would dare say anything about who really runs the country.

20. Amnesia is permissible but trying to claim that it is because Singapore had been "turfed out" for the present racist politics in Malaysia is simply not supported by facts of history.

1 comment:

Pearls and Gem said...

With respect to the Ma, Na Ra, Ta, Chairman LKY may have been a more restive soul had it been Subhanallah, Alhamdullailah,Allahaukbar. He has done very well for Singapore. He has not been doing too badly as an old man of 87 either...

He could even have been our substantive Pm, post Tengku had it been so....we Malays are Nature's gentlemen...Winstedt some 100 years ago thought so.

Too gentlemen for our own good.
With the hind sight of a 'retroscope', Malaya would have been 100 % better if after giving '1 million citizenship free' that we have the honesty and strenght to insist on a 'one school system' from then on. But instead we sat on it and now today 16th of Sept 2010, we are still talking about 1Malaysia...there is nothing about ONE MALAYSIA to talk about if elections are just won and lost even when someone like the calbre Tun M suggested the 'boys' share a common football ground at schools!
He got clobbered like hell.!

Yes Tun, the problem is not that we Malays are forgetful...we are too damn soft!