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National mourning. March 28, 2015

Posted by @Karen_Fu in National Mourning, Singapore.
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Today will be a historic day for people who come to mourn of a fine geostrategist, leader and a very wisely creative nation planner. I am very glad I eventually made it to the wake at the Parliament House.

I also think I should count myself lucky to get a much cooler weather and a much shorter wait. Much shorter than anticipated by many others. I had thought they wouldn’t allow me to go to the Padang because I reached the MRT station only at 7.40pm and it was far from the Padang. I really sprinted. Together with the bunch who came in at the same time, we ran against the final call to the wake.

Finally made it yesterday running after time. I had thought I wasn’t going to make it because it was really a little too late but I decided to try. Reached City Hall at around 7:40pm, brisk walked to the Padang before reaching one of the tents to wait for our turn to head for the Parliament House. The walk was longer running from Raflles City to crossing the roads to reaching the Padang. But the incentive was they allowed us to walk straight into the Parliament House thereafter via security check before being briefly whisked in afterwards. It was worth the time. Waiting time was less than 3.5hours from 7.50pm to 11.10pm. 3 hours and 20 minutes to be exact. Much shorter time than what I was expecting. And it wasnt hot at all. A lot of food was unexpectedly there. The stranger surprise was they actually have food for me when I am still having some food sensitivities. The officer near City Hall MRT station kept telling me to run and it was worth the rush. I heard some one saying it was tougher than BMT (basic military training) and it drew a laugh. If you want to go, and if you really have the heart to go; somehow you will be there even though you may think it was almost impossible to reach on time at all. To tell the truth, I had wanted to give up because the time was too tight. Very glad I decided to give it a go.

While in the waiting tent, the volunteers and the SAF people kept moving around asking if we were hungry. I didnt expect any food at all. But they seemed to be worried that people may get hungry all the time. First, it was the apples, then it was the drinks. Soon after it was pasta, then it was bread, ice cream, crackers, biscuits and all. It came to a point that it became even comical. Even the kids were quite surprised but none of them were greedy to eat up everything. I was looking on in amazement. It showed care and I was told a lot of the food was donated by different organizations or even from individuals-very generous. I am still wondering who gave all the food though. At one point they were giving away one loaf of freshly baked bread to one person. They asked me if I wanted it. I didn’t because I wasn’t hungry. I looked at it and it wasn’t any kind of bread, it was a multigrain with rye flour (I think). It wasn’t cheap either, which made me thought who would give such a generous donation during the wake.

Thankfully it was a cool evening. Imagine if you would head there in the afternoon. I bet there were people being sent to the hospital for heat stroke. Yet thousands are willing to risk the weather to pay their last respects. I have never seen such a national unity before. But I do worry one thing: imagine the area was attacked, and there was a need to have such tents around to save lives, would we have the space? The cramming population is one of the agendas that I cannot agree in a time when terrorism is rampant in the world. Then again, it seemed to be ignored.

When it was our turn to move out of the tents, everyone cheered. We went through the security system very quick. Before we knew it, we were filing into the wake area.

Filed past the late Minister Mentor’s casket at 11:10pm. A sense of anguish came. You wouldn’t feel that much until you reach the feet of the casket. Then you know how much you lost. It is a fleeting moment of a life time that makes you think about life and how life could treat a person; and how some people could be so nice or mean to one another. To me, it is a sense of motivation. I am not a giant, but I can strive to do good in other modest ways. If those were the obstacles he faced and pass, then I should try to pass mine.

Everyone has their own set of problems and monkeys to face. It is only a matter of effort, wit and time to master the art of problem solving and dealing with different factors (or rather characters) in life. The process is the most difficult but we must learn to take up the challenge. For those who resort to small ways to get their goals never actually win and they are never become great people. At least they were never even a good person to start off with.

The week of mourning has been very reflective on a personal level. It rekindled the national issues and history. It opened up insights about life and it reminded me that a making of a nation and indeed anything always involve persistence and discipline with a take of very witty humour. RIP Minister Mentor, I salute thee. -@Karen_Fu

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The Giant who transformed Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (换天的巨人李光耀) Quick reflections 2 March 28, 2015

Posted by @Karen_Fu in human quality, Leadership, Singapore.
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Whilst running for time, I jot some random thoughts.

*Frugality and the social makeup of a country*

Just surfed online for the news to learn that India has just announced they will have a national mourning on the 29th, which is a pleasant surprise to all Singaporeans including me. Leaders of many other countries are sending either their diplomats or turning up in person to pay their respects to the late Lee Kuan Yew. I also came across the facebook pages to read about frugality of the late Lee Kuan Yew. In fact in his time and our forefathers’, they were very thrifty people whose savings outweigh their expenditures. Today, frugality is even scorned at. If you do shop and observe, you would agree with me that pondering twice before buying anything is no longer that much seen as a virtue. But spending right on the dot is. That’s one of the social change here, which I see it as a problem. And you know what I’m thinking? We should worry and quickly make amendments in the mistakes that created a society that is no longer as frugal, as safe, as efficient as in the past. The country is wealthy but we have new set of problems that involves a higher crime rate, materialism, selfishness and rising social economic problems such as gambling addiction. Not to forget a rising problem of extramarital affairs and broken marriages. Tomorrow, many will line up along the streets to wave final farewells to the late #LeeKuanYew, where the gun carriage will go before it reaches it final resting place. As of now, people are still streaming in to pay their last respects. No one this far has garnered this kind of influence far and wide, both nationally and internationally. He was an extremely intelligent strategist whose aptness to change was impressive. His humour was natural with the words were concise and sharp to the point. He was highly creative and original in coming up with ideas to survive in a time where no one wanted us. We were poor, a land of ‘coolies’ and a land where poverty and illiteracy plagued the country. It was a different set of problems. He had the best of people’s whose common goal was to survive in any good possible way they can. The plans for public housing, national defence and foreign investments all came into the scene quick. He had the most frugal ministers who were willing to stay in the country to contribute the lives with low pay. The sacrifice of our founding fathers like Ong Pang Boon, Rajaratnam, Goh Keng Swee, Hon Sui Sen, Barker and all were just some of the most motivated leaders around. People were far more modest, and way more thrifty. Fundamentally, people were just plain nice. It wasn’t competitive but social peace was better in the 70s right through the late 90s.

*Our Lost National Treasures-their sacrifice*

Both our national treasures Teresa Hsu Chih and Founding PM of this country Lee Kuan Yew are gone. The fact they both paid their lives to this country in turn makes the people cherish them despite the differences. The kind of personality that shines through in a very positive note when they strive to make lives better for others. Both of them had humour in their own natural wit and original wisdom, which is usually simple in style, deep in thought, but wide in perspective. The former was a silent giant, the latter a roaring one. Either way, both were very unique people who are our national treasures.

The Founding PM of Singapore, the architect of modern Singapore has passed away on the 23rd March and I have been following the remarks and the commentaries online and offline. While in his lifetime, he had made mistakes, I think the contributions outweigh the mistakes by a heap. No one is perfect and to see what kind of people who made the negative remarks, I’d say they have their opinions we too need to respect. However, I doubt we have another leader like him and for that very matter our future isn’t that secured anymore given the current new set of woes. SG50 will somehow become a mourning event and 2015 a black year for all- at least in Singapore it is. Looking at the passing giant, and the current state of affairs. It makes logical sense to say the moment when former founding prime minister Lee left politics, the place was no longer in the kind of order that we were all used to (notably the public transport). So people cannot say he didn’t contribute. Rather, we should say that we are loosing ground that is set by a very disciplined and intelligent leader. No one’s perfect. The contributions of building a nation outweighs his flaws. For this matter alone, I worry the kind of people we have now.

*Comments on Lee Kuan Yew online on Facebook et cetra*
*The people we have today*

When I skim read some comments during the time he was critically ill, there were some negative remarks of the founding Prime Minister. Personally I don’t think we as human beings should judge. But I do believe life has its ways to handle with the deeds of a person. We have only the need to focus upon what is good and keep the partial views aside. I wrote this on Facebook which I will share here:

苍天功罪分明 #life #thought in #chinese #in The heavens differentiate merits and demerits

有恶报恶 Every evil begets evil

有恩报恩 Every merit begets merit

功德回功德 Positive rewards repays positive rewards

善业报幸福 Charity gives happiness

恶业回凶报 Evil deeds pay bad retributions

Whatever the merits or demerits, let the mandate of the heavens decide. I think we have far more problems to handle in a changing world. The social environment has changed. Economics have changed and we need to find that optimal level to sustain our lives. I think that should be the priority now. No one is perfect. Everyone has got their own way of executing tasks. There are times I do not like the autocratic way and at times I do not condone certain policies that appear to be elitist and often I had this sense it was all materialistic and practical. But to reflect back on what he had done to survive, we cannot deny the facts he put in his life into it. He had to do it and he did it. All that load of nation building, to contrary belief was not easy. Imagine you had nothing but only over two million people with a country that is low in international profile. You need people who are more than able to convince others to invest in us and to grow. You need to be creative and innovative when it comes to policies and diplomatic strategies. If he had failed, he would have to perish with our predecessors and the bunch of us offsprings would not have been born here. Everything was slick and span. His astuteness in situations and his sense of speech was incredibly concise. No one is like the late Lee Kuan Yew- a gifted strategist, a unique charismatic downright go-getter. For someone who came from nowhere, to show unusual guts and humour, he was quite actually quite a madman in his days.

I have been thinking a lot since the 23rd. Watching on the news, reading about the founding PM Lee Kuan Yew. The comments made offline and online made me wonder about the people we have today. The actual people I have come to meet and the people whom I have interacted. Times have changed as well as the kind of people we have. I worry. So what kind of nation are we having now? It is so different from the 70s 80s 90s when times were not as sophisticated. But people then were far more real and kind. The very reason why Singapore has bee so blessed is because if the kind of people we had: honest, hardworking, intelligent, far sighted and very very determined. No country this tiny can even survive and be this respected by big countries. The time when we loose able and good people is the very time this country shall perish. And for this very reason alone, I think we need to be constantly on our toes. Perhaps we need to radically change social atmosphere.

*A man of unique character and a staunch Chinese*

I always believe he was more Chinese than me. Though he may come from an English background family, he was very Chinese. There is nothing off being Chinese. In fact going in the opposite direction to be non Chinese would. He sent all his three children to Chinese medium schools, which are current SAP(Special Assistant Plan) schools that practice bilingualism in English and Mandarin Chinese. His strong will to master the Chinese language and his work to foster strong ties with China shows his belief and direction. He was never wrong in crafting his way out of a problem. His views widely sought after. And though he was aggressive and clobber off his enemies, the one thing I’d admire was he actually let the offsprings of his rivals go. -@karen_fu

The Giant who transformed Singapore Lee Kuan Yew (换天的巨人李光耀). Quick reflections March 28, 2015

Posted by @Karen_Fu in Leadership, life challenges, Singapore.
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The hardest part to build a nation is from scrap. The thing I admire about him and his first generation of ministers was they start from scrap. Actually the smaller the country the harder it is to build a nation ’cause defence is a problem, credibility is another. The problem we are facing now is a different set of problems. The type that we could collapse in a other way if our leaders do not have the kind of qualities like them. That’s another set of issues. The thought if this makes my heart heavy ’cause I think there is no one like him to lead. We have a good set of social problems that stem out from when we had very little of them then. I don’t know if we have the tenacity ’cause the motivation now is very different from last era.

We don’t have anyone like Lee Kuan Yew, and I see that a real problem. The foundations he had set prosper us. But if we were not as wise, as smart with the perspectives and the character he had; I doubt the prosperity will sustain. You need leadership, loyalty, some punches, and a pretty good number of stellar qualities to handle people, tasks, politics with a steely personality that is also easy-going —— Easy on the commoners and the needy, though on the people who would ruin the system to common prosperity. That’s what he was to get where we are today. He had his misgivings but the contributions to the nation far outweigh the misgivings. No ones perfect. And commoners only care about a peaceful and prosperous life that is healthy and sustainable. Commoners do not bother about power and politics. I believe most don’t care about politics.

In any case, I’ve already thrown my SG50 calendar of events into the bin when founding Prime Minister was critically ill. I knew he couldn’t pull through because the love of his life went before him five years ago. There was nothing important to hold on.

I don’t think anyone has the mind to think about the celebrations. I embrace trouble ahead, but I hope my thinking is totally wrong. We do not have any one like Lee Kuan Yew and I doubt there is anyone like him in the near future. If we can have rising social problems like addicted gambling etc with interrupted public transport, we have the right to have real concerns how the post Lee Kuan Yew era would be.

Though I do not like his handling of matters on a staunch domineering force but his contributions in the earlier years were, if not, far more then exemplary. He gathered his team to set up what others do not have the world. Public housing was like no other. An education system that rivals with the best in the world but I would never agree that we are not the intellectual class because we came from the southern parts of China where peasantry was dominant. Afterall, aren’t many successful people themselves come from the so called peasantry class?

I don’t believe in social classes. I may have some belief in genetics but at times even genetics could wrong where smart parents could have retards. Both nature and nurture can only have probabilities. There are not absolutes, only estimates and predictions.

The mind of Lee Kuan yew is unmatched by many and that includes his own children. We must be fair on his achievements and not criticize because we do not agree. I admire his brains, his witty astute sense of words and his strategic use of people like the late Goh Keng Swee, Hon Sui Sen and the likes. Which country in the world, this small, could go this far? And which country in the world this tiny could come up from the dead? This country.

Why?

’cause we had the brains and the guts with the right people. But question is: do we still have them now?

Do we have a future? – when gambling problems are along with rising marital problems. And not to forget petty street crimes and shoplifting to bigger crimes like murder.

Do we have fine minds that do not hold regard to money before the people, the people before self ?

Do we have people who will stand before justice ? Where people do not have to worry about retirement, making ends meet and money to lean and to grow ?

Do we have people to bring the old people who need to pick carton boxes for a living to a comfort level?

I am worried that we might be regressing. We used to have first class transport but now it’s hiccups every now and then. Why?

And how come students are so selfish these days and love to differentiate amongst themselves in terms of academic streams and schools? Why?

I buy thee not the pukes that we seem to see in recent years. We dearly need people who are multiculturally inclined, extremely impartial, and very innovative for the world today is no longer relying on strict fundamentals in a linear fashion. Current affairs in social economics has changed to become a problem that seeks sustainable measures in the goods and services we choose and the policies we embark on to stay alive. It is only with lateral thinking that we can grow and depend on our own to be our own CEOs. If our education is so rightly cool, then the best leaders, in at least most of the industries, should be us. There is no need to hire foreign talent at all.

I long for a Nobel prize from this country, a might that is like Great Britain which is physically small but undeniably huge in influence. Like our demised founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, who came in small, and walk out big where leaders from other countries would even come here to pay respects before him. Don’t say Singapore is easy to manage cos the smaller you are, the less credibility and might to get others to even look at you. You must feel super confident and motivated with a special character that exudes original substance to win hearts. He had it, will we have it too?

Founding PM Lee once said if anything goes wrong, he would get up even if he was in the grave. That is the eagle eye that people are weary and to some hate him for it. I’d say, if there is an impending problem going to sprout, let him come up and save us.

After thinking apart from memorials, I seriously think we should wear mourning (戴孝) for founding PM Lee Kuan Yew. But I think this is a little too late to suggest it.

No longer are the days where a resounding ‘merdeka’ would do. We need someone more original and more impressive cos the new era has set in. – @Karen Fu.

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(Image credit: China.org.cn on Twitter)