Friday, March 6, 2015

THE GOD OF NO MERCY (revisited)



A 45-minute documentary on Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore and one of the world's remaining political strongmen. The film was seized by government officials (on orders of the home ministry) when it premiered at a private screening on 17 May 2008. Directed by Seelan Palay.

After viewing this well-researched and passionately produced doco on Singapore's Mr Hyde side, and figured it was high time Malaysians took a good hard look at the unwholesome aspects of Singapore's toy-townish tinsel and glitter image - especially those who express envy when comparing per capita incomes.

While Lee Kuan Yew's 31-year iron-fisted authoritarian rule - which, in truth, never ended since he created an advisory post for himself as "Minister Mentor" to the government - facilitated a prosperous, efficiently managed city-state whose dynamic economic growth far outshines all its Asean counterparts, Singapore's impressive status as a developed nation has been attained at an extremely high cost to other far more important human values.

Values like the ability of its citizens to think and feel and act freely and independently - rather than behaving like well-disciplined ants in a high-rise, multi-tiered, 24/7-monitored colony. Indeed, anyone who has seen The Matrix will easily identify with the predicament of the protagonist Neo after he swallows the Red Pill and begins to see beyond the glossy fa├žade of life in the gigantic discount emporium that represents Singapore's public image.

Seelan Palay exposes the cold-blooded, ruthless cruelty with which Lee Kuan Yew systematically destroyed his challengers, detractors and rivals in order to establish the Lee Dynasty, propped up by an obsequious bureaucracy of well-paid mandarins - while keeping the lower echelons of society eternally chained to a relentless and soulless economic juggernaut.

I'm reminded of an excellent joke I once heard wherein a foreign tourist visits a Chinese temple in Singapore dedicated to two deities, female and male. The tour guide explains that the Chinese strictly adhere to the concept of balance symbolized by the Yin-Yang. Pointing to the female deity statue, the guide says: "That one Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin... and over there the God of No Mercy, Kuan Yew."

It would appear that a very large worm has begun to turn in Singapore and a new generation of civil society activists has arisen who are demanding an end to Singapore's oligarchical plutocracy, modeled after the dystopian society portrayed in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.

Radical change is definitely in the air, on both sides of the Causeway!

[First posted 28 June 2009]

DEVAN NAIR'S LETTER TO LEE KUAN YEW (DATED 8 JULY 1988)