No one can have the last word, not even Lee Kuan Yew

Posted on 07 February 2011

Lest we forget, Lee’s words are not the last on the subject. They are the first. And so are mine.
By Belmont Lay

Lee Kuan Yew

"Why liddat?" Because I say so"

IN MY opinion, I consider the following things to be very wrong: Incest, paedophilia, line dancing in public and infanticide.

Also considered to be quite wrong is megalomania by way of Saddam Hussein who once required one-half of his cronies to shoot the other half in the face just to seal a pact with him.

Therefore, without wanting to always come off as stating the obvious, I, of course, found what Lee Kuan Yew said last week about Singaporean Malay-Muslims being “distinct and separate” as a community to be fairly acceptable and utterly defensible.

No seriously, I find it as acceptable as, say, getting slizzard when popping bottles in the ice like a blizzard.

Because it sounds like a fair and natural comment to be making if you happen to have been under the influence of a particular state of mind.

Yes, I know a lot of people are up in arms and whingeing about the fact that singling out the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore is insensitive and foolhardy just ahead of the next general elections.

And yes, forthrightness and political correctness are not His Leeness’ strongest points.

But seriously, what are we really challenging here?

Should we take issue with Lee’s statement because it is blunt?

How adamant should we be that his views are not influencing the ruling elite’s policies?

Are we to assess the degree of falsity or truth in his remarks by reviewing the history of the claims he made on the same subject?

And how credulous or sceptical should one be about his observations?

Should we subscribe to it?

As far as I can tell, well, I can’t tell, really. I have been putting my head to these questions for the last seven days and I have yet to derive a succinct answer I can summarise in 600 words.

And isn’t that the whole point of it?

What Lee did, whether he intended to or not, was start a well and proper debate inside our heads and among people with too fat ego-filled heads who can’t seem to concede a point about a pertient issue.

What would otherwise have been an issue that cannot get started as everyone else has been too polite or too distracted to instigate, due to a host of seemingly other better things to do in life, is now on its way.

And that’s well good by me.

I welcome the analyses, rebuttals, hand-waving dismissals, recasting of arguments in perspective and diagnoses of Lee’s neuroses that have sprung up inside and outside the Internet since the news broke about what he said.

I need, as much as you should require them, to help me and you make up our collective minds.

But within the latest discussions, I also found the indefensible and cowardly: To insist that there are topics that are too taboo to talk about because it is potentially divisive, is usually a preference for convenience – to sweep the issues under than to have an honest open discussion publicly.

To participate in an open-ended dialogue that hurts, sucks, gets personal, becomes unmanageable, takes a lot of time, effort, ink and digital ones-and-noughts to convey and/or concede just one point is to possess an iota of temerity.

So here’s the point of today’s missive: To assert what is right or wrong on the basis that I said so is to not use that matter between your ears to judge. It is simply resorting to tribalism, demagogy and stupidity.

And therefore, this rule also applies to Lee or any other fat-headed opinionated person.

You also learn that there are things that can be considered wrong or right and are subjected to critical, as opposed to say, wishful thinking.

So, always remember, Lee doesn’t have the last word. Neither do I. And so can’t you.

And I can’t see how any of these is a bad thing.

Go free inquiry!

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  • hahaha

    The crux of the issue is that Lee has the first word, not because he is smarter or far sighted than any of us, but purely because the words that come out of his fat mouth has immunity in LAW! He can utter absolute libel and defamation and get away with it!

  • Defennder

    Yet another badly written post by Belmont Lay. Seriously what would it take for New Nation editors to realise that the website is better off without him?

    The above comment highlights that the real problem is multiple standards of justice. In many Western liberal democracies, leaders have to watch their words so as not to avoid offending political sensitivities while citizens are free to comment on any issue as they please in any way they like. In Singapore it’s just the reverse.

    Of course I don’t expect Belmont to publicly acknowledge something as apparent as this. New Nation has every reason to retain Belmont if they welcome articles which are trollish in nature and intended to provoke outbursts of disagreement from readers. Last I checked, TOC and TR are way above New Nation’s web traffic ranking. Even NAR is more than a couple thousand places ahead of New Nation.

    No prizes for guessing why. You are free to delete this comment if you so choose to.

    • Belmont Lay

      Huh? What? You kidding me right???

      Defennder said: “In many Western liberal democracies, leaders have to watch their words so as not to avoid offending political sensitivities while citizens are free to comment on any issue as they please in any way they like. In Singapore it’s just the reverse.”

      Eh excuse me, but last I checked, BECAUSE OF THE FACT that there are a lot of leaders in Western liberal democracies who try their best not to make politically incorrect statements, they end up saying politically expedient shit.

      In politicians’ attempts to not say anything that will affect their chances at being elected or reelected, even when they have good reasons to say unpopular things, they appeal to voters’ demagogic tendencies (or stupidity).

      Am I supposed to think that that’s cool?

      If you insist I’m pulling arguments out of my ass, here’s an example for you to chew on: In New York City in 2005, which is arguably the freest city in the entire universe, Mayor Michael Bloomberg overrode Jewish physicians’ warnings that the traditional Jewish ritual of cutting off the foreskins of baby boys by a fifty-seven year-old man followed by sucking off the amputated flap using his mouth is very unhygienic, and rather obviously, dangerous.

      Bloomberg insisted that the health care bureacracy postpone the verdict of warning against this practice, IN LIGHT OF THE FACT that this fifty-seven-year-old circumciser had transmitted genital herpes to several small boys, and two of the boys died as a result.

      And what was Bloomberg’s rationale?

      He said, the crucial thing was to ensure that the free exercise of religion was not being infringed.

      Oh did I mention? 2005 also happened to be election year for the Mayor in New York.

  • terence

    Thanks for being a hardworking critic. and you actually bothered to check the rankings.