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Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Family's True Colours

A family's true colours are seen when it grieves. Call me stupid but I downloaded every single one of Mrs Lee Kuan Yew's eulogies, and saved them. As I read them, I cried and cried and cried... One cannot help but feel a deep and enduring bond with a couple that has done so much for Singapore, and could have shared in its prosperity through gold-plated taps and marble vestibules... but who choose to bathe with a water scoop (from a tub)... and think twice before buying a cheap hairbrush... and whose children played with odds and ends from a tailor's shop.

It makes me mad that people write awful things about the Lee family. How they are motivated by money, and how they are guilty of nepotism... Why would someone who eschews gold taps want more and more and more money? If I recall correctly, Lee Hsien Loong did not draw a salary for an entire year. Do they live in palaces? Do they have a personal fleet of Rolls Royces? Do their wives appear in public decked out like X'mas trees with baubles that nourish neither mind nor soul? Why would they be guilty of nepotism when they seem to give so much effort but never claim their ascendance? What this family does, I wouldn't want to do. You give so much of yourself and you still have to live like anyone else. There is nothing in it for me.

I'm not sure that the average Singaporean like you and I would be able to withstand the temptation of being at the top of the world and being able to cherry pick off the prosperity of an island miracle. Wouldn't it be so easy to say "My family brought you where you are today, and we deserve our dues." These dues being wealth, wealth and more wealth? Palaces, yachts and diamonds the size of my eyeballs...

But no... Mrs Lee Kuan Yew ensured that her children lived the values that she believed. She taught them to live restrained and sober lives, dedicated to the defence of what is good.

If there was error, perhaps they erred in their enthousiasm to make life good for a people who started out poor, and in these people's joys of being nouveau riche, these people went berserk with branded goods, gold taps and ostentatious consumption... even when they could afford it less than the Lee family could.

It's awful that people are so ungrateful. That they have forgotten that were the story differently written... women may not have equal access to education... grown men may not know how to read and write (let alone graduate from ITE)... we might still be living in 3rd world squalor.

Who to blame then?

If you want dialogue in Singapore, you CAN dialogue. Those who wish to give feedback to the revisions to the Women's Charter can do so. The MCYS website invites feedback. I intend to feedback. I just have to find the time. I even wrote a post telling people not to vote for George Yeo and two others much maligning the poor man. No one has yet come in the night to bundle me up, clap me in jail and torture a confession from me.

It's awful that poisonous words still circulate on the internet about a family that is just like yours and mine, worried about spending too much on a hairbrush... pained at the suffering of a loved one... and grieving at her loss.

But no... what am I writing? The Lee Family is NOT like yours NOR mine. It is a family that has preserved the values from the 1960s through the generations. Singaporeans no longer live frugal and simple lives anymore... and money has become everything. Our cares are replete with Le Creuset pots, Longchamps bags, Louis Vuitton wallets, Nespresso machines and all manner of THINGS.

And when our little country is buffetted by global storms and some degree of over-compensation in policy leads to temporary runaway housing prices... or when our children don't do well in 2nd language... or when bus routes change... we take out our expensive laptops and curse the government on the internet.

Really all we need to do is dialogue. There is no need to fling insults and curses. Because really, when we accuse another of being money-minded, it shows that we are the money-minded ones... because humans tend to project their own motives on others. When we accuse another of being a nepotic, it shows that in their position, we would be... because humans tend to project their own motives on others.

When you point a finger at someone, three fingers point back at you.


Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

another great entry!!

petunialee said...

**blush** gee FRY... thank you!!

Blur Ting said...

Petunia - I so admire you! And here I am, griping about having no dresses to wear and an expanding waist line! :-P

petunialee said...

Ting - Hah? Admire me? What did I do? Besides, I was gonna write about my expanding waist line in a couple of days too.

Blur Ting said...

You write sooo well, and so effortlessly! I so enjoy reading everything and anything you write.

petunialee said...

Oh ok! Thanks! I'm happy that you enjoy it!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats! U've been hi-lited in an aggregator site that I particularly like for its intelligent n eclectic selections, unlike most others which are strictly anti-everything..

petunialee said...

Auntie Lucia - Now... that IS nice indeed!!