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Monday, July 6, 2015

Natural Aristocracy

“You want people to stand up, not scrape and bow. But if you don’t have a certain natural aristocracy in the system, people who are respected because they have earned that and we level everything down to the lowest common denominator, then I think society will lose out … If you end up with anarchy, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be delivered with brilliance.”

PM Lee Hsien Loong
At a dialogue with Fareed Zakaria on  26th June 2015

When PM Lee said "natural aristocracy", the word "aristocracy" is so salient that most people have missed out reading the word "natural". The term "natural aristocracy" was popularised by Thomas Jefferson (past President of the United States whose face is carved into Mt. Rushmore). It simply means that some men are by virtue of talent and strength of character First Among Equals.

How To Tell a Natural Aristocrat
The best illustration of a natural aristocrat is Dr Tan Lai Yong is a Natural Aristocrat, though he would never EVER accept such an accolade.

Many many years ago, I was a consultant for an industry body. I was still a young lady then. We were at a retreat outside Singapore and I was taking minutes in a corner of the room. A man walked in with a shabby briefcase and non-descript clothes. He had grey hair and a humble air. He bore some slight resemblance to the guy who runs the watch shop at Chong Pang wet market. You would not have noticed the man except that when he entered the room, the WHOLE ROOM shut up.

Since it was an industry level intervention, we were dealing ONLY with company CEOs. Every single CEO of their own company present in that room turned and gave him respect. The were ALL CEOs there. They were ALL self-made men. They were ALL entrepreneurs who were well-known in that industry.

THEY turned and gave him silent respect.

It made me wonder, and so I asked around who he was. It turned out that he was my Dad's old golfing partner. This man started out doing door to door sales in HDB estates with a briefcase full of catalogues. He built a multi-million dollar company from those humble beginnings. His company was an industry leader and he was actually a Past President of that industry association. He would still have been its President if he had not insisted to resign.

No wonder he was First Among Equals.

Culture of Respect in a Natural Aristocracy
PM Lee was speaking about Roy Ngerng and Amos Yee... and how these 2 had to be taught a lesson in respect, otherwise society would lose out and you will end up with anarchy.

The paradox in the phrase First Among Equals is that if there is a First then people cannot be equal. If people are equal, then there cannot be a First. Yet somehow, the phrase First Among Equals means something, no? We understand that amongst people who are equals, some are just better people... and these people command our respect by dint of whom they are. These better people do not REQUIRE the respect because they are better. They do not DEMAND such respect by claiming they are First, for in so doing, they will lose the respect of their Equals.

Hence, the culture of respect inherent in a Natural Aristocracy does not focus on the notion of First. It focuses on the notion of Equal. What I mean is that PM Lee and all this country's leaders deserve respect, NOT because they are First, but because they are Equal.

They Have Treated PM Lee Like Scum
Frankly, Amos Yee and Roy Ngerng have NOT given to PM Lee the respect due to even to an Equal (not to mention First). They have treated PM Lee as LESS than their equal. They have treated PM Lee like scum.

And that is wrong.

PM Lee has every right to demand basic human respect due to every human no matter what their station in life. He should not have to take scum treatment lying down.

It is one thing to disagree with country policy. It is one thing to criticise policy and practices. It is another to cover another man with calumny and poisonous insult. If you went to a restaurant and someone came to accuse you of stealing another man's wallet without proof, you would be neither hurt nor insulted? In essence, that was what Roy Ngerng did to PM Lee.

Why should a public servant be expected to take such insults without retaliating? Gee... if you did that to me at a restaurant, be prepared for me to gouge your eyes out and make you eat them with your Gin Tonic.

If you stood at the bus stop and someone accused you of f***ing another woman or even asked you to go f*** your own wife, you would feel respected as an Equal? In essence, that was what Amos Yee did to PM Lee.

Why should any of our politicians need to take such crap lying down just because the Western powers-that-be believe in Free Speech?

So yes! Sock it to 'em LHL! Make these 2 learn some respect! Never mind what the UN says! This is our business within Singapore. We are Singapore and we do things differently and copy no one!

I will write a later post on what I think of Free Speech. Hmmmmph!

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