From ‘A generation that does not remember: MM’, 9 May 2011, article by Leong Wee Keat in Today online
In his first, albeit indirect, comments about the results of Saturday’s General Election, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said at a community event in Tanglin Halt last night that “2011 has seen a generation that does not remember from whence we came, but that is to be expected. But I do, and those amongst you who are over 50 will remember”.
He also cautioned: “Do not believe that the Singapore flight can be on auto-pilot. We will run into storms, we will run into all kinds of emergencies and we must have good pilots on board.”
…On how the PAP would work with the Workers’ Party which has secured eight seats in Parliament – six elected and two Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) – for the good of Singaporeans, Mr Lee replied, “You believe the Workers’ Party is in Parliament to help the good of Singaporeans, or oppose the PAP?”
Another bewildering transport analogy here; since autopilot systems are generally reliable these days, and if anything, the whole mechanic approach to governance that is the PAP, run by a cadre of automatons groomed by the machinery designed by the chief engineer MM himself, in fact resembles ‘auto-piloting’ more than anything else. It also depends on the plane that you’ve built; a sturdy one welded with ingenuity, robustness and built-in fail-safes would weather any storm even with mediocre pilots, while a flimsy clunker with a manual rudder will flop about in the slightest of gales even with the best pilots money can buy. And I mean a hell lot of money.
MM, of course, fresh from cementing the word ‘repent’ in the consciousness of voters, is the only PAP politician coming out of the elections grimacing at the results like Nosferatu staggering into the break of a new dawn, suggesting that this generation suffers from mass amnesia, forgetting about the very foundations upon which our country was built. Well, it’s just too bad that the PAP hasn’t infused their agenda into the school history textbooks sufficiently to remind us youngsters of MM’s struggles to secure our freedom. Perhaps if they had spiced up the story of our Independence to that of a wild mythical legend of underdog warriors battling evil fire-breathing colonial masters, and parents started telling it as bedtime stories to frighten little children, we would have ‘remembered’ better. So it’s not our fault if we’re educated, have degrees in all the basic disciplines, but are blank slates when it comes to appreciating the Singapore our forefathers, and MM, had wanted it to be. Other than being forgetful, we’re also ignorant, but we’re way past taking issue with an old man chiding us like a parent punishing his child for taking one lick too many off an ice-cream cone and making a sticky mess out of it. Any further lopping of mental faculties and MM would have relegated us to inanimate vegetables, who probably would have been easier to control than wayward youth who vote Opposition any old how.
Of course, good parenting also teaches us to tolerate our elders. So MM, despite your time capsule thoughts and grumblings about how our generation is ruining this country, despite your resistance to the winds of change rocking this plane (auto pilot or no) we call home, we still respect you, because at some critical point in our nation-building in the murky backwaters of Singapore’s history, it’s precisely such staunch ideals which got us through bad times. You may not realise it yet, but times, good or bad, have changed, and whether losing a measly 6 out of 87 seats is for the better or worse, there is only one way to find out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained; a sentiment that even you yourself, in your rugged youth at least, would have appreciated. It’s puzzling though, how you would suggest that the WP is in Parliament to ‘oppose the PAP.’ Why of course they are. Otherwise you wouldn’t have coined them OPPOSITION, would you? Duh. It’s not too late to select a gentler term for the ‘other’ parties though (See below ‘Alternative, not Opposition’, 21 Dec 2001, Today). It’s like encountering a Chihuahua named ‘Spike’; you would be on your guard against any butt-gnashing no matter how tame and scrawny ‘Spike’ appears to be.