Lee Wei Ling is an atheist sent by God

From ‘ An atheist sent by God’, 31 March 2013, article by Lee Wei Ling, Think, Sunday Times

I have a patient, R, who has been under my care since 2006. In 2008, she ran into a serious non- medical problem. She worked for someone who ran tuition centres, and her duties included taking children from one tuition centre to another and calling the pupils’ parents.

She was paid only $750 a month, but had to spend her own money to ferry the children by taxi, and she was not reimbursed for the telephone calls made on her own cellphone. She was naive, and her boss exploited her. Strapped for cash, she took money from the fees paid by the parents to pay off loan sharks. She had intended to repay the tuition centre from her future earnings, but before she could do so, her boss found out.

He threatened to report her to the police if she did not reimburse him immediately. Although her parents repaid the money on her behalf, the boss lodged a police report anyway and she was charged.

I asked a senior psychiatrist to see her. After examining her, he agreed that she was in no medical condition to serve out a prison term.

The law firm I approached agreed to help her pro bono. Their representation and the medical reports helped reduce her sentence from a jail term to a fine.

…In this cynical world, there are still people who want to do what is right, even if doing so will not profit them personally, as my psychiatrist friend and the lawyers who defended R pro bono show. This gives me hope that we can develop into a compassionate society no matter what our religion, or whether or not we believe in God.

R praised her saviour as a ‘person sent by God’, which the latter thought was ironic since she did not believe in His existence. If Lee Wei Ling weren’t the daughter of LKY, this would have been a perfect ‘Letters to Heaven’ bedtime story for Christian kids. Although intended as a Easter-themed celebration of the human spirit and compassion without faith intervening, Lee Wei Ling’s account of how she got a patient off the hook is not so much Good Samaritan as it shows the benefit of having powerful connections, or how having a mental illness and good lawyers can help you escape prison time. Pro bono also happens to be a fancy legal term for ‘free of charge’. It is usually administered for ‘the public good’, legal assistance for an ‘indigent stranger’ without expectation of reward. I would imagine it given to say elderly, disadvantaged workers seeking compensation for unfair dismissal at work, or to bloggers getting threatened for commenting on famous politicians’ celebrity daughters.

Dr Lee would deny that her position and influence had anything to do with R having an advantage over anyone else caught in the same situation. Regardless of R’s mental state or financial difficulties, the fact is she STOLE from her company, a crime that warrants a jail term. Lee carefully sidesteps the details; if R was indeed ruled out of a prison sentence on the basis of illness, was there any rehabilitation program mandated in addition to the fine? What illness do you need to suffer from to be spared a jail term? How did this article get past the Sunday Times editor?

Lee concluded with a cloyingly hopeful reminder that there is still some humanity left in us after all, that altruism is alive whether or not you believe in God.  Many people who have committed similar crimes out of desperation have landed in jail because they couldn’t afford expensive lawyers or psychiatrists to declare themselves medically unfit. Nor are they fortunate enough to have ‘atheists sent by God’ among their company. There is also too little information and too much sob-story from Lee’s perspective on R to say if she was truly deserving of the loving, unbiased touch of God. I also question if Lee’s doctor and lawyer friends did it out of genuine compassion, were returning a favour to ‘promote access to justice’, or acted simply because of who she was.

Maybe she should have written a story about volunteering in a tsunami-hit Third World country where the people believe in animal spirits instead of Jesus Christ, and then conclude that belief in a Man-God in a flowing robe and a halo over his head is not a prerequisite for miracles. Incidentally her father would call such disasters ‘Acts of God’, though he has been described as a man ‘agnostic’ in his approach to life.

Postscript: Lee Wei Ling reproduced the same ‘sob-story’ as an Easter special on 20 April 2014 (An atheist’s Easter story, Think, Sunday Times), but with further updates on R’s condition (depression coupled with epilepsy), who’s currently leading a normal life thanks to this ‘person sent from God’. Yes, we all know you did an Egg-cellent job, atheist.

7 Responses

  1. Dear Sir/Madam,

    On behalf of the National Library Board (NLB), we would like to invite you to pledge your blog to the Singapore Memory Project as part of efforts to collect memories that are already manifested in existing online channels.

    The Singapore Memory Project (SMP) is a national initiative to collect, preserve and provide access to Singapore’s knowledge materials. Spearheaded by NLB, the SMP aims to build a national collection of content in diverse formats (including print, audio and video), to preserve them in digital form, and make them available for discovery and research.

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    • How do I know that this isn’t a blogger profiling registry like how the police keep a database of felons?

  2. Later u dio sue

  3. i agree with the points you raised, but i think making restitution is a mitigating factor. try emailing lee wei ling for comments? 😛

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