Millennials aren’t exactly celebrating his passing.
In 2013, The Real Singapore posted an article written by Jeremy Sia, titled “More Young People are Looking Forward to LKY’s Death”. Sia quoted two people in his article, Edmund Tan, an undergraduate, and Muhammad Fadhil, a media consultant.
Fadhil was quoted as saying that “any state funeral will just be a sham and that more people will be celebrating LKY’s death.” Tan, on the other hand, acknowledged LKY’s contributions, but suggested that our first Prime Minister “ought to be shot.”
The article ends with Sia stating that “citizens will use the appropriate laws to send the old man and his PAP supporters to hell.”
The thing is, is such a sweeping generalisation right?
He did the right thing over what was popular
Yes, in 2015, with the benefit of hindsight, we can criticize the policies and actions of Mr. Lee. And yes, some policies have turned out to be misjudged.
For example, in 1984 the Graduate Mothers Scheme was introduced to encourage university graduates to procreate. The aim was to have a group of “smart” babies by giving female graduates preferential treatment in primary schools and other material benefits. Following a public outcry, the scheme was quietly rolled back in 1985.
But, without considering the circumstances of the times or understanding the underlying motivations, to wish for the death of another is wrong and disrespectful, regardless of whether that another is the first Prime Minister of Singapore.
Like many of my friends, I started Monday with the realisation that we had witnessed the end of an era; the passing of one of the last of the Old Guard. Mr. Lee was a man of conviction, and he did what he believed was right, instead of what was popular.
Sia’s assumption that all young Singaporeans share his view is inaccurate. I did not look forward or hope for LKY’s passing.
Vitriol, hate is spewed at all who suggest differently
When one brave reader dared to post a comment contrary to the view of the author, he was vilified by other netizens with one stating that the brave reader had been brainwashed. When another tried to point out that that the abuse was harsh, another rebutted by hurling even more vulgarities, ending in sexual comments what can be described as verbal bullying.
Tens of thousands of Singaporeans braved the long queues to pay their last respects to LKY at Parliament House. Many were from the older generation but a significant number were students and young people.
The silent majority speaks
Look at the amount of well-wishes pouring in from around the world and the number of homages being paid on social media.
For the silent majority, I have this to say to the vocal minority: You are entitled to your own opinion. But cursing and swearing at a man who has offered nothing but his entire life to the service of others is to spit on history and rub mud over his legacy. If you cannot stand the man for what he has done, at the very least, respect him for what he tried to do.
We, the young people, do solemnly declare that just because we are better educated and discerning, we are not as ignorant or ungrateful as many believe us to be.
I, like some of us millennials, have not been celebrating the death of Lee Kuan Yew. And I dare anyone to prove otherwise.