Over in the tropical paradise Singapore, news went viral on 18 March 2015 that the founding patriarch, Lee Kuan Yew had died. The news was reported in major newspapers, such as CNN and major Chinese newspapers. Pictures of journalists piling up in front of the Singapore General Hospital started circulating all over the media were further confirmation that Lee had died. Having been warded since 5 February for severe pneumonia, the passing of the 91-year-old Lee was no surprise. But news took a turn. The Prime Minister’s Office denied the stories and posted the official news that Lee was in a critical condition, but he was still alive. The efficient police quickly arrested 16-year-old student suspected of posting the fake news.
Fast forward 23 March 2015, the official news that Lee had passed on at 3.18 am was announced. Five days had passed since the “fake news” surfaced. Lee is now officially dead. Whether Lee did die on the 18 March is still a mystery. It might just be technical jargon in the definition of life and death at that time as Lee was already under mechanical ventilation for a month plus. With this official announcement, Lee is really dead. If there is any merit of keeping Lee “alive” until now, it has to be that official death date and time (23 318) sounded more auspicious and prosperous in Cantonese.
In retrospect, prolonging the life of the old patriarch for more than a month under the condition of mechanical ventilation and continued infusion of antibiotics is somewhat demeaning. It is natural that family members do not want Lee to depart. But all man must die, more so when age is not on your side. Allowing him to be in a state of (possibly) pain and discomfort does Lee no justice. More so when Lee had expressly signed an Advanced Medical Directive that he wants a quick death and does not want mechanically aided life support machines propping up his frail body. Lee did not fear life, but he feared an agonising death. What he feared, he now had. Against his expressed wish, Lee had to suffer more than a month of agony, unless he was totally sedated.
Why was his will and the AMD not respected is another mystery. Having a law and not enforcing it in Singapore is not entirely new. In fact, the Law Minister K Shanmugam was reported saying that (regarding not enforcing Section 377A of Penal Code on gay marriages) “We have the law. We say it won’t be enforced. Is it totally clear? We, sometimes in these things, have to accept a bit of messiness. And the way the society is going, we don’t think it’s fair for us to prosecute people who say that they are homosexual.” That was the Minister who is supposed to uphold the law speaking. So there is precedence that the law need not be upheld in Lee’s AMD.
For 50 years, Singapore was ruled with an iron fist under Lee and subsequently under his son Lee Hsien Loong who is still the incumbent Prime Minister. The older Lee had done good for Singapore in the earlier years. But it was not all his effort. He had a good and dedicated team then and people worked hard. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of the present regime run by highly paid “professional” politicians selected by the ruling party (read “When is enough ENOGH). Singapore has changed after the first batch of leaders relinquished their powers to the anointed younger Lee and his father. It remains to be seen how this tiny island will evolve now that the legend is gone.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.