More elderly Singaporeans killing themselves

From ‘More seniors in Singapore taking own lives’, 17 Dec 2015, article by Janice Tai, ST

…Last year (2014), 126 seniors aged 60 and above killed themselves. This is a jump of nearly 60 per cent from the 79 seniors who committed suicide in 2000. There were 95 of them in 2010.

While the suicide rate in Singapore has remained at between eight and 10 suicides per 100,000 residents over the past decade, the proportion of the elderly among those who take their lives each year has risen.

In 2000, 23 per cent of suicides here were from among the elderly. By 2010, the group made up 27 per cent, and the number grew to 30 per cent last year.

In less than 20 years, a fifth of Singapore’s population will be at least 65 years of age, making our country a ‘super-aged’ nation. Despite this, our Government still sees the ‘silver’ lining behind the challenge of dealing with millions of old folks, that they could turn a burden into a ‘positive force for social and economic development’. In other words, we will try our darnedest to keep you productive, but nothing much can be done about your psychological well-being. Other than, well, giving you priority queues for everything.

We used to think that longevity and advances in medical technology would make our ‘golden years’ less miserable than they’re supposed to be, but not every senior citizen will spend their twilight years watching their last sunsets on a hill with loved ones by their side. Some will end up rotting in a house with no one noticing until the stench overwhelms your Indian neighbour’s pungent curry. If you’re counting on your children or grandchildren to keep you sane till your dying breath, you better hope they don’t beat you to it and commit suicide themselves too. Yes, those below 10 years included.

Having one of the highest rate of diabetes in the world isn’t helping either. Not only are we ageing faster, we’re getting sicker too. Not every old foggie wants to socialise in the seniors’ corner or have the time for your ‘community activities’, especially if there’s cardboard to be pushed and sold, or if you’re struck with dementia and spend your days indoors trying to figure out how to get out of your pants to take a piss. Our grandfathers used to entertain the family with war stories and tales of famine and survival. When it’s my turn, nobody will give a shit about how I passed my PSLE, or how I met my wife online. The kids will come, give Gramps a hug, and then go stare at their phones for the rest of the visit.

If I were to find myself immobile, physically dependent on a bedpan and have to live with the shame of a helper cleaning up after my foul incontinence, then yes, I’d rather die before being transferred to a retirement village and oblige dancing kindergarten kids with an ugly toothless grin and arthritic clapping. Deplete my bank account to pay for that additional hospital stay and a pill worth more than a ferry ride to seedy Batam for one last fling? Hell no.

The term for killing yourself to spare others the pain of caring for you is ‘altruistic suicide’, which makes the act sound as heroic as sacrificing yourself by taking a grenade in the face for your loved one. The tricky bit is how to end it all painlessly. I can’t possibly roll myself off the top of my block, not to mention pop a hundred painkillers into my mouth without shaking them all onto the floor if I’ve got Parkinson’s. Which may explain why some old folks decide not to wait for the inevitable decline and meet their maker when they still have the strength to climb the stairway (to heaven).

Interestingly, someone speculated a link between opium and elderly suicide in 1975. Or rather, the lack of it. Another theory about why it tended to be Chinese men who took their own lives rather than the Muslims was possibly religion, which makes taking your own life a cardinal sin for the latter. Whatever it is, loneliness, money problems, shitty unfilial kids or just abject futility at the whole purpose of your existence, maybe it’s time our Government reboots their thinking of geriatric care and study how we can age gracefully, and not obsess whether we have enough money to carry us to our graves.

We should look at other less affluent societies where old people celebrate life even without the best nurses or hospitals that money can bring, where they’ll sip wine, laugh, enjoy slow dancing, and go skinny dipping in an icy lake without being hauled up for indecent exposure, where they’ll reminisce on the trivial absurdities of their youth, rather than harp on a lifetime of missed chances and regrets.

 

Calvin Cheng on the killing of terrorists’ children

From ‘Calvin Cheng’s killing children remarks insensitive and inappropriate: MLC Chairman’, 28 Nov 15, article by Raymond Tham, CNA

Recent remarks made by former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng online were “insensitive” and “inappropriate” for a member of the Media Literacy Council (MLC), said the council’s chairman Tan Cheng Han in a statement on Friday (Nov 27).

“I have spoken to Mr Cheng and counselled him that as a member of the Council he will be held to and judged by a higher standard compared to a private citizen,” Professor Tan said.

On Nov 17, Mr Cheng posted a four-lined comment online, which seemingly advocated killing the children of terrorists “in case they grow up to take revenge”. Mr Cheng had been responding to a thread about liberalism and security started by Future-Moves group chief executive Devadas Krishnadas.

After receiving negative feedback, Mr Cheng took to his blog on Nov 24 to elaborate further on his initial comment. According to Mr Cheng, his initial comment was meant to be “provocative and outrageous” to spark deeper thought into a “complex moral issue”.

Mr Cheng also referenced two schools of thoughts regarding the topic: Moral absolutism versus utilitarianism. “Take self-defence. If a child is holding a rifle and is about to shoot at you, do you have the right to kill him?” Mr Cheng wrote.

In 2011, a Young PAP member named Jason Neo was accused of racism for captioning an image of bus of kindergarten kids with the phrase ‘young terrorist trainees‘ and posting it on Facebook. Now the MLC would condemn such discrimination as ‘hate speech’, but when a more renown public figure sparks controversy by suggesting how children of terrorists should be handled for the ‘greater good’, the incident is let off the hook on the grounds of ‘insensitivity’. Cheng, as expected of a man of his character, remains grudgingly apologetic/(unapolegetic?) about the whole affair.

Incidentally, both Jason and Calvin Cheng were from the Young PAP (YPAP), though the latter scooted out of that organisation in a hurry to become NMP once his ‘curiosity’ was sufficiently stoked. Back then, Cheng explained that he was ‘curious’ all the time, and that his YPAP stint wasn’t on a ‘whimsy’ or a fling even though he never collected his membership card, and one wonders if that’s the same reason given for being part of the MLC.

While inciting provocative moral issues like whether you should shoot a child in the face if it’s really a demon spawn from the Children of the Corn appears to be out of scope of the MLC’s mission and core values, they do frown upon commentators with a brazen lack of respect or those who engage in personal attacks.

One saga which casts doubt upon Cheng’s capacity to champion media literacy/etiquette was when he targetted playwright Alfian Bin Saat in a FB post, even threatening to invoke the ISA:

…In countries where Muslims are minorities, ISIS propaganda takes advantage of feelings of insecurities, fabricate lies that they are being oppressed and then thereafter persuade them to commit acts of violence against their alleged oppressors, all under a twisted version of Islam.

That is why in Singapore, we have to be careful as we have similar fault-lines that can be exploited.

People like Alfian Sa’at for example need to be careful of their irresponsible rhetoric, which allege racial discrimination against our Malay-Muslim brethren.

…The Government should watch commentators like Alfian Sa’at closely and if red lines are crossed, the use of the ISA on these domestic agitators should not be ruled out.

And then there’s this rant against the evil forces and ‘traitorous’ individuals that threaten to do Singapore (or rather, him) in, namely Kirsten Han and the folks at TOC.

…These tactics must also be fully condemned, and especially Singaporeans like Kirsten Han and the editors of TOC who would gang up with Western forces to do Singapore in. Kirsten Han especially needs to be stopped as she regularly writes for anti-Singapore publications to run us down, and to suck up to the Western liberals.

According to Cheng, enemies of the state are everywhere, not just kids with machine guns. I’m not sure such ‘right-wing’ rhetoric is becoming of a council member of the MLC. Cheng is currently a director of media company Juice Pte Ltd,  though he seems to be branding himself as a leading expert in Muslim religious affairs and terrorism with a wishlist of who should be rounded up and detained without trial.

Since he’s a fan of moral conundrum, here’s one delicious dilemma for Cheng to ponder upon: If you had young LKY tied up on a railway track and a train full of innocent children hurtling towards him, would you blow up the train given the choice?

By the way, how long is one entitled to call yourself ‘Former NMP’? I’m curious.

901 people arrested for attempted suicide in 2014

From ‘More arrested for attempting suicide’, 18 July 2015, article by Tee Zhuo, ST

More people were arrested for attempting suicide last year, according to latest police figures as of June 8. Last year, 901 people were arrested for trying to kill themselves, compared with 862 in 2013.

The 4.5 per cent increase in arrests, however, may not necessarily be a cause for alarm. Experts said the rise could be due to better intervention by third parties, such as family, friends and the police. Under Section 309 of the Penal Code, those who attempt suicide can be punished with jail for up to a year, or with a fine, or both.

…The number of suicide deaths in 2013 was 422, down from 467 the year before. Statistics for last year have yet to be released.

…While suicide is illegal, those arrested are often referred to professionals. Some are let off with a stern warning, said experts. Statistics from the State Courts show only five cases filed, with at least one charge under Section 309 of the Penal Code, last year. This figure is also the lowest in a steady decline from 16 such cases in 2010.

Lawyer Peter Ong of Templars Law believes the suicide law should be abolished as it does not serve as a deterrent. “Knowing they may be arrested if their attempt fails may push them to complete it,” said Mr Ong.

Like section 377A, the suicide law is an archaic one descended from British colonial rule. According to psychiatrist Chong Siow Ann in an ST article last year, this has roots in Christian theology, whereby St Augustine decreed that killing yourself was a ‘mortal sin’ equivalent to killing God since He made Man in His image. In a 2007 editorial, Dr Chong cites the astonishing statistic that more Singaporeans die committing suicide than from road traffic accidents every year. The rest fail miserably, and either carry on with their unhappy lives with the crutch of antidepressants, counselling, religion, or get arrested if they’re unlucky, a rare few getting charged and put on probation only after 10 unsuccessful attempts.

Which begs the question of what exactly is an ‘attempted suicide’, and how the police differentiates this  from one that is merely attention-seeking behaviour with no real intention to die. A man jumping in front of an MRT train is a clear indication, though he failed so horribly in the attempt that he only complained of ‘back pain’ after falling onto the tracks. Earlier this year, another man was arrested for sitting on a ledge and ‘dangling his legs’. It wasn’t reported if he was threatening to jump or was just there for the view.

Quarrelling couples threaten each other all the time. Antics such as raising one leg over the bedroom window, or holding the kitchen knife against one’s abdomen in the middle of a shouting match may seem more dangerous than someone perching on a ledge all by himself, but these people don’t get sent to the police station. Neither do we arrest those who pop 20 tablets of Panadol thinking it would send them into a blissful eternal sleep when all it does is send them to the hospital, if anything happens at all. One particular patient survived after swallowing 120 tablets.

A published paper explained that 3 conditions needed to be fulfilled before the state presses charges: 1) Repeated attempts 2)Wasted resources 3) When other offences are committed in the process, like injuring another person. In 2006, a man was charged based on the last criteria after falling on and breaking a girl’s leg in his misguided attempt. Both survived, partly because he jumped from the THIRD STOREY of his block.

The suicide law itself may very well be a double-edged sword, on one hand deterring those with half-hearted intent from tempting fate and allowing time for intervention, while pushing others determined enough to complete it.  Since the law is not applied most of the time, it’s probably ineffective in weeding out people who just want to mutilate themselves for sympathy and may not even be diagnosed with depression in the first place, like teens cutting their wrists and uploading their battle scars on Facebook, probably driven by the same reasons behind children their age actually taking their own lives.

Our government may even be AFRAID of repealing it in case it leads to an actual INCREASE in suicide attempts and deaths. So until there are figures that show beyond a shadow of a doubt that decriminalisation works, I doubt they’ll pull the plug on this piece of legislation.

Couple taking wedding photos with a coffin

From ‘Undertaker couple take coffin-themed wedding photos’, 12 July 2015, article by Wong Kim Hoh, Sunday Times.

…Many people will cringe and cower but Ms Jenny Tay, 29, and her fiance Darren Cheng, 30, have opted for a casket as a prop in a series of pictures taken for their wedding in October. Their reason? They are dead serious about their profession and their wedding. Both are in the funeral trade. “Our business is very much a part of our lives,” said Ms Tay, managing director of Direct Funeral Services. “When couples take wedding pictures, many of them think of something significant and meaningful to them – their favourite cafe, the place where they first met.

…Two geomancers contacted told The Sunday Times that the pictures are acceptable because of the couple’s profession. Mr Danny Cheong from Cheong Geomancy Consultancy said: “It’s all right if it’s a new coffin.”

Ms Yvonne Teh from Five Arts Geomancy Consultancy agreed and said: “Many Chinese businessmen consider coffins lucky because the Chinese word for ‘coffin’, guan cai, can also mean official and wealth. In fact, many people keep little coffins as good luck charms.

Geomancer Adelina Pang, however, said that, while the pictures are fine as keepsakes, the couple should not display them at their wedding reception. “It is taboo for many people and will turn them off,” she said.

Till death do us part

Till death do us part

Before the coffin couple decided to up the ante and bury the concept of traditional wedding photoshoots once and for all, our superstitious uncles and aunties already had grave misgivings over ‘black-themed’ weddings. In a tragic newlywed double-death in 2010, there were those who believed that the choice of colour at the wedding ‘sealed their fate’. One should also not drive anywhere near a cemetery on your big day, in case the supernatural powers that be decide to ruin it for you in the most ironic way possible – by sending your salon crashing headlong into a tombstone. That doesn’t stop come couples from taking their wedding shots in a cemetery, though. You can still have your photoshoot at Bukit Brown before it gets bulldozed over.

Bride and gloom

If not something morbidly ‘pantang’, people also tut-tut at photoshoots which were considered ‘too sexy‘. Some of these pre-nuptial erotica, instead of coming off as ‘sensual’, may turn out be a campy, unintentionally comical disaster. Like this groom rowing a wooden raft clad like he just came out of a steaming hot bath ready for sex. I have no idea what the bride is doing. Acting as a sail, perhaps.

While nervous relatives would go ‘CHOOYY!’ at the idea of a bride and groom locked in loving embrace in a coffin, one mustn’t forget that couples already spew the taboo ‘D’ word when they exchange wedding vows during solemnisation.  Death and love is a couplet celebrated in literature and poems since time immemorial. The star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet were doomed from the beginning, and since then, you can’t discuss true romance without mentioning death, like wine and cheese, or steak and potatoes. Married folks talk about ‘growing old together’, and ‘holding hands’ at their deathbeds. This undertaker couple decided to embrace mortality and transform a grisly image into a declaration of, well, their undying love. In 1961, a grieving man literally married his ‘corpse bride’ before her funeral. She died in a fatal accident before what would supposedly be the happiest day of their lives. What else could you describe such an act other than that of a ‘die-hard romantic’?

Not everyone considers the final resting place before you’re burnt to ash inauspicious, though. Some choose to lie in coffins and ‘play dead’ to cleanse themselves of  ‘bad karma’. Others get excited when they see the corpse box and start scribbling down numbers for 4D. When LKY died, the numbers of the licence plate of his hearse were sold out (it was 8898, by the way). There’s no reason why Singaporeans should be uncomfortable with death, given how we like to punt around it. Couples in the same profession take shots of themselves in labs (scientists), libraries (writers), operating theatres (surgeons), or in front of a classroom blackboard (teachers). Why can’t two lovebirds in the funeral business do the same, exuding gothic chic with a coffin?

I wonder what Jenny and Darren’s wedding banquet would be like. A bride in the UK once arrived at her wedding in a coffin, herself in the funeral trade. Maybe they’ll come down the aisle in a hearse, with guests, dressed like they were going to a funeral, tossing joss paper instead of confetti. The wedding favour, instead of a boring keychain, could be a tiny tombstone, engraved with their names. The video montage, instead of a tired story of their lives from infancy to couplehood, an imagined timeline reversal from the point of their sacred union onwards, till a glorious finish, six feet under.

They should choose their guests carefully though; you don’t want that distant uncle with a bypass ending up in a coffin himself after the reception.

Primary school kids too young for KK trip

From ‘Rethink rationale for overseas school  trips’, 8 June 2015, ST Forum

(Ramesh Niedu): IN THE light of news of the ill-fated Mount Kinabalu school trip (“9 S’poreans feared dead in quake”; yesterday), I urge the Ministry of Education to seriously reconsider its rationale for overseas trips for students, particularly those at the primary and secondary levels who are too young to go on such trips, especially a mountaineering one.

Such trips should be only for students at the junior college or tertiary levels, who are older and more safety-conscious. I am a parent with young school-going children, and I experience much anxiety whenever they go on overseas school trips.

If the rationale is that overseas trips contribute to character development, then such trips should be for cultural exchanges, for instance, rather than for physically demanding mountaineering expeditions at dangerous locations. Such trips should also be confined to our neighbouring countries, so as to keep costs low.

It’s not true that the older you are, the more ‘safety-conscious’ you become. Just recently, a 21 year old man fell off a Bali cliff after being hit by a wave while taking photos. Besides, even with the most rigorous of preparatory training, no one, young or old, would be able to fend off the onslaught of a natural disaster.  The writer above recommends ‘cultural exchanges’, which I suppose entails playing ice breakers in the security of a hotel, in the heart of the city next to a police station, in a country where no terrorist would ever think of carrying out a bomb attack. Oh, not to mention in a building that’s fireproof, tsunami and typhoon-proof. Wait, scrap that, let’s just do Skype and Facetime from the air-con comfort of the classroom instead. More cost savings, less risk of being sent hurtling from a mountain towards certain death.

During the bird flu epidemic in 2005, people complained about kids being sent to be community work in a Vietnam orphanage. Others griped about flu vaccines not being given to some kids travelling to China. More recently, a parent questioned why there was no travel advisory for MERS when her son was sent to Medan (More stringent travel advisories needed for overseas school trips, 21 May 2014, ST). To be fair, the Ministry has done a decent job making sure that none of our children got exposed and bring deadly bugs back into the country. But alas, we only remember the nasty trips when shit happens, taking for granted all the many other uneventful ones where kids actually come back in one piece, whether they’re scaling mountains or participating in Maths Olympiads, thanks in part to the care and dedication of their teachers, who may very well be more stressed over their charges than some parents themselves.

Thousands of children have been sent abroad, with parents accusing some ‘exchange’ programs of being unnecessarily extravagant, like Kinderland sending toddlers to Japan during autumn for example. Most come back with nary a scratch, while others who remain school-bound get goddamn Hand Foot Mouth Disease. The KK incident is a tragic anomaly, and no amount of advisories or protection could have saved the kids from this merciless act of God. Or in the case of the Sewol ferry sinking in South Korea, a case of human ‘gross negligence’. That doesn’t mean we should cut back on overseas trips that have the slightest hint of rugged adventure, when even a joyride down a river, or the building of a house, could end up in catastrophe if fate wills it.

I never had the chance to venture to even Sentosa when I was in primary school, and the closest I had to ‘outdoor’ activity was camping in the school’s football field, where the only skill I learnt was how to pee discreetly when no one is looking. If I had to weigh the risk of getting crushed by a boulder, drowning in a sinking vessel or getting sucked into the sky by a tornado vs a once-in-a-lifetime adrenaline-rush experience enduring physical hardship with friends, character-building or not, I would choose the latter. And then make sure I’ve got really good travel insurance.

RIP, young ones.

LKY’s name and image not allowed in commercial merchandise

From ‘New law on Mr Lee Kuan Yew ‘not aimed at artists or creative work”, 31 may 2015, article by Walter Sim, ST

A new law to safeguard the name and image of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew from commercial profit is not aimed at restricting artistic or creative work, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said yesterday.

Such work could include paintings, books, movies, photographs or performances that make use of Mr Lee’s name or image, a ministry spokesman said in response to queries from The Sunday Times.

“Such works may be sold for private gain, but they are different from merchandised products for the mass market. Hence they will not be covered under the proposed law,” the spokesman said.

“The specific intent of the proposed law is to prevent Mr Lee’s image or name from being used in commercial merchandise. Examples are things like chocolate boxes, souvenir coins or medallions and office stationery,” she added.

‘Commercial merchandise’ would also include perishables like a Breadtalk bun in tribute to the man. Though borne out of good intentions with a charity aspect to it, negative reactions from the public swiftly killed the product. Which leads me to wonder, with such strong emotions displayed by Singaporeans in response to any form of exploitation of LKY’s name and image, is there even a need for a half-baked posthumous law where submissions are on a ‘case-by-case’ basis? You would have to set up an entire section within the ministry just to evaluate whether people can put LKY’s face on a manga comic, a doggie bowl, a video game, a lego set or a goddamn key chain.

Then there’s the question of what differentiates ‘commercial merchandise’ from those exempted for ‘artistic’ or ‘creative’ reasons if profit is to be made either way. If the garage that gave away the Alex Yam-designed ‘black ribbon’ car decals had instead sold them at 50 cents each in honour of SG50, would that be breaching the new law? Even if they did distribute the stickers for free, business may have surged after the gesture and earn the wrath of critics scoffing such tribute acts as ‘publicity stunts’ to generate revenue indirectly. If something of a ‘commemorative’ nature like a ‘souvenir coin’ is not allowed under the proposed legislation, what about those planned special edition $10 and $50 notes featuring LKY on them?

I was once in a cafe which showcased a series of LKY’s books as ‘browsing material’, possibly to draw reverent customers who are either too cheapstake to buy the books themselves, or have no idea how libraries work. So it’s hard to tell if someone is genuinely in awe of the man, or using some typical business cunning to reap profits out of his death, even if none of the actual merchandise that they’re selling has anything to do with LKY, or politics for that matter. It’s like a bar owner promoting a ‘Michael Jackson’ night and playing nothing but MJ albums on his stereo on the singer’s death anniversary, without necessarily giving his cocktails and salad entrees cheesy names like ‘Thriller’ or ‘Dill the World’.

There’s also the issue of whether I can only depict the man in a favourable light. If I were a performance artist mimicking our Dear Leader, but instead of all-white shirt and pants I’m dressed in a dragon emperor’s robe, would I be hauled up by the Police for doing injustice to Him even if I’m not earning a single cent from my act? Chances are someone would run up and slap me in the face before the police even get to hunt me down for blasphemy. I bet you won’t see LKY drinking, smoking or swearing in the upcoming movie and musical, though I’m sure in real life he wasn’t immune from such vices. The man eats, shits and breathes like everyone else.  Except that if you do portray him doing any of these things, you’ll likely get crucified on the spot, or worse,  ‘Amos-Yeed’. It would also probably be illegal for you do post memes like these, even if the short and sweet content below speaks volumes about how some people are messing about with our dead leader’s name.

Instead of curbing the unnecessary deification of LKY, this impending law may very well make the man more of an ubermensch than he already is and feed into this hysterical personality cult that he was so dead set against. He was protected by security officers and Gurkhas nearly all his life. Today we propose to shield the man with wishy-washy state laws, because there’s no dead person greater who deserves our veneration, not first President Yusof Ishak, Sir Stamford Raffles, comedian Victor Khoo, nor legendary getai Beng Ah Nan.  Leave Him in peace already.

LKY using chicken feathers to cure hiccups

From ‘Remembering LKY: Daughter Lee Wei Ling’s personal, touching eulogy’, 30 Mar 15, article in sg.yahoo news

…”After Mama died in October 2010, Papa’s health deteriorated rapidly. The past five years have been challenging. But as always, Papa was determined to carry on as normal as possible, as best as he could.

“He developed Parkinson’s disease three years ago which severely limited his mobility. He had great difficulty standing and walking. But he refused to use a wheel chair or even a walking stick. He would walk, aided by his SOs (security officers),” Dr Lee said, in an excerpt made available on the website of the Prime Minister’s office.

“Papa was also plagued by bouts of hiccups that could only be controlled by medication which had adverse side effects. Over and above the frequent hiccups, his ability to swallow both solids and liquids was impaired, a not uncommon problem in old age.

“Papa searched the Internet and tried a wide variety of unorthodox hiccup therapies. For example, he once used rabbit skin and then chicken feathers to induce sneezing, so as to stop the hiccups. Although the sneezing sometimes stopped his hiccups, it did not do so consistently enough. Papa also tried reducing his food intake, because he felt that eating too much could precipitate hiccups, hence he lost a lot of weight, and appeared thin and gaunt.”

To me, the most interesting aspect of a powerhouse like LKY are his frailties, and trust his descendents to bring bits of our late leader’s personal life into the spotlight, snippets which would otherwise be smothered by tale after tale of his many accomplishments. It’s ironic that it’s only after his death do we realise that there were parts of LKY’s life that weren’t devoted to nation-building, that beneath the ironclad exterior we uncover layers of a unique personality and history never made known to perhaps even his closest friends.

It’s unusual, however, that a man of his intellect and stature would resort to things a shaman might use during a ritual to relieve his hiccups. This being the same person who believed in eugenics and that there was a genetic basis for homosexuality i.e a man of science and hard logic. Lee Wei Ling concluded her eulogy by saying that she would not break down, being a tough ‘Hakka woman’. And we believe her. This is a woman with the tenacity to run up and down a 20m corridor 800 times, or do burpees on a plane. She can beat off all 3 of her dad’s SOs with one arm behind her back.

Here are some intimate things you’ll never read about LKY in history textbooks or TV specials, told by the people who love him the most.

1. He struggled with dyslexia, and before the Parkinson’s diagnosis, was suffering from peripheral neuropathy. Despite this, he still spoke more languages, and wrote more books, than you ever will.

2. LKY was given the name ‘Harry’ from birth, and found it a ‘political liability’, according to son Lee Hsien Yang. None of the Lee children or grandchildren have Western names.

3. He had a weakness for sister Monica’s Nonya cooking: rojak, mee siam, gado gado, satay. Occasionally tiramisu or souffle. Hsien Yang mentioned that he had the typical Peranakan sweet tooth for desserts. I always thought the old man was a culinary ascetic, being credited with the quote that one should eat only 3/4 full for longevity. For a man who we now know loved food just as any Singaporean does, he grew up without ever cracking a soft boiled egg.

4. He had his wife fix the elastic band on his shorts rather than buy a new pair. He also washed his own underwear, according to LWL. He didn’t change his jacket for 20 years.

5. When PM Lee was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma, his dad sent him DURIANS.

6. He studied Christian meditation under the guidance of a Benedictine monk. LKY was an agnostic.

7. He once asked an SO to time how long LWL took to swim. He also despatched SOs to accompany Hsien Yang when he was trekking in Pulau Ubin. In other parts of the world, these hires are known as ‘bodyguards’.

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