To my foreign friends out there, I’m not sure how many of you would have heard of the passing of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew this morning.
I’m not very into politics, and I would be lying if I were to say that I am extremely familiar with Singapore’s history (yeah, should have paid more attention in class then), but there’s no denying one thing: the man played a HUGE role in transforming Singapore. We have come a long way from our high mortality and unemployment rates to one of the most prosperous city in the world. And it was all because one man had the guts, the passion and the fire in him to bring about the change.
You may criticise him for his hard tactics and his “dictatorship” (urgh, I hate it when people use this word to describe him), but I think we often overlook the fact that times were pretty horrible then. A simple Google search would tell you that we had our periods of instability, such as the numerous racial riots. And perhaps the most pressing issue: we had NO natural resources. His style, which may seem dated in today’s context, was instrumental in bringing about the change that was needed. Because of that change, I can visit shopping malls with friends, enjoy good food, watch good movies and have a good education. Trivial things aside, we also have some of the lowest crime rates in the world, and I always feel safe when I am walking home from school at night by myself. There is freedom of religion, and nobody is being ostracized, oppressed and killed because of their faith and race (considering the situation going on with ISIS, I do thing this is something we should not take for granted). Sure, we ban guns and chewing gum, which is something that most foreigners don’t understand/find funny, but we are a peaceful nation, and that is one thing that we tend to overlook. I’m not saying we are a country without flaws – our cost of living is fucking high, the stress levels can be insane, the government can be frigid (though they are improving), the MRTs are breaking down more often than they should (still better than other countries though), and the crowds are insane during weekends. Still, I think we should take a step back to appreciate what we have. Our women are free to pursue careers, have a degree and wear clothes that they want – compare this to the situations in the Middle East or India. I think there is a lot to be grateful for, even if we don’t realise it.
Thank you, Mr Lee, for your contribution and for engineering the change that brought Singapore to what it is today.