Log 18-9-13 The wisdom of suspending judgement on whether a leader is good or bad
September 18, 2013
Recently many people asked me – what I thought about LKY’s innings as a leader. I told them all, it’s very difficult while he’s still alive to derive at an accurate assessment – I went to add in my considered opinion, there are too many people currently weighing in who know only too well which side of the bread is buttered – hence that could be one reason why they’re rhapsodizing the sum total of his contributions to Singapore – hence whatever we may see and hear now is really only an approximation of the truth. But let us be clear it’s hardly a historically accurate account. As so much of the narrative has been given the white wash treatment.
I went on to tell these people quite plainly, we do not live in an information democracy in Singapore. And this is a fact. Neither is the mere fact that Singapore at this time line outwardly successful proof either that it was all due to sagacity, foresight and wisdom of ONE man alone – as who is to say Singapore would not have evolved into a rounder and better society, especially in the area of producing more mavericks and business titans along with critical thinkers.
Besides so much of the Singapore narrative has been bracketed due to the apparatus of propaganda and there exist so many other unheard, unpublished and untold accounts of those who may have sacrifice just as much as LKY, if not more to make Singapore what it is today – the fact that these narratives are not recount hardly discounts the preponderant role they played in shaping the Singapore today.
Hence I much prefer to defer giving an answer for at least 15 to 20 years after his death and possibly even longer.
When I mentioned this, many were taken aback and asked why I needed to wait so long to form an opinion – I laughed and went on to add maybe it’s because my opinion counts for very little. They did not laugh. And that was when I must have realized, I am in hot soup compelling me to elaborate the rationale for my stance.
I told all of them if the goal is to derive at an account of one man’s contribution to a nation – then it pays to be rigourous about how that historical account was derived at and who does it actually serve. As history especially the variety that is wordsmithed by officialdom is seldom objective and very often it’s closer to fiction, since it elides so many other counter narratives – and if the goal is to get a historically accurate appraisal of LKY’s innings – it would reasonably have to take at least 15 to 20 years (possibly even longer if another Lee is in power). As in my considered opinion that’s roughly the period of time, it takes for the naked truth to bubble it’s way up to the surface of the Singapore collective consciousness – meanwhile we may all have to put up with the toe curling rhapsodies of the likes of Bertha Henson’s Breakfast Network and the nation destroying press perpetual selective reportage, embellishments, exaggerations and what I can only describe in polite terms as the machinery of mass assimilation.
I am so sorry, but that’s just the way I see it – as in my opinion, one has to be really stupid to just buy into a historical depiction of a person without ever asking yourself Cui bono? I mean, you literally have to be five chili dumb to do just that without interrogating whether there might be other narratives out there which are still unheard, unpublished and unread.
So chill out and cool your heels – besides the clock hasn’t even started. So what’s the rush? After all if the man is as good as slice bread, I am sure all seeing eye of history will judge him kindly.
“History is rarely objective and it’s really just a tool to engineer consent – what you consider to be a historical account is really just function of how much information you have access too and which vantage you have been led too by a tour guide to see it all from – now I want to clear about this.
As the idea that history is synonymous with the truth and nothing but the truth is a myth!
As nothing is sacred when the goal to win in politics and hold on to the reins of power – and history is often seen as a strategic tool to serve the state or to further their hidden agenda – even something as mind boggling Byzantine big like WW 2 can be massaged to depict history to favor a select few nations while eliding and the contribution of other nations. So if that sort of industrial scale white washing can go right by – what’s to stop it from mythologizing the role of one man – I give you the facts. You go and decide for yourself.
For example many people in the West still believe that Hitler was defeated solely by the Americans and British and the Soviets just played a side dish role. This I am sure may have something to do with how Hollywood seems to depict how evil was crushed by the forces of good through sappy movies like Saving Private Ryan – not there is nothing wrong with those sort of movies, but lets not confuse it for an accurate depiction of what actually transpired as nothing can be further from the truth.
As today if you travel through the countryside in Germany, especially in Bavaria. You will find that when you wander around these quaint village churches and examine the scroll of the fallen – you will notice, so many German’s boys died in Russia. The ratio to me is about 1,000 to 1 – that’s really just another way of saying, the Russians and not the Americans or the British defeated Hitler.
My point is, it usually takes time for the truth to emerge. Just like how we all know today that there’s nothing really exceptional about the Kennedy’s. They don’t have a super helix that makes them better than other humans – unless of course you consider being able to attract deadly bullets, being a great closet womanizer as some great skill.
The same holds true for virtually every public figure who has in the last century being depicted in a mythologically haloed light – so let us all be patient and wait for those other narratives that may be too afraid to speak out or have been crushed by the weight of time and lie in the murky depths of time like some Rosetta stone – let us all even be wise about it and not go overboard lest we are swept by the mindless euphoria – as one thing to me always be inexorable – the truth and nothing but the equilizing truth will always make it out….of that I can more or less guarantee you all this. So let us all be patient and not jump up and down like spinning tops, least we all make bloody fools of ourselves.
If history has anything to teach us at all – it’s simply this – it usually takes alot time for people to step forward and speak up – I happen to believe, if the goal is to recognize those who once made Singapore what it is today. We would do well to also hear their version of history – that is really my point.”