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Bertha HarianBertha Harian


Being Lee Kuan Yew

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew. Beyond obvious gender differences, I don’t have his searing intellect and that ability to cajole, persuade and bully. I don’t even own knuckle-dusters.

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew, because I can’t see myself obsessing over the big picture every day, like how to make Singapore a better place to live in. I think I will go mad if I can’t make small talk.

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew who took studying a language so seriously he hired a tutor even in his old age. I am younger and I prefer to study a language in a less stressful way by watching television serials.

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew who can talk about the internationalization of the Singapore dollar and cleaning up the Singapore River. I don’t understand the former, and I take the latter for granted.

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew who made pragmatic decisions based on changing circumstances, like having casinos in Singapore as an economic piston. Although, like him, I am a non-gambler.

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew who was always so convinced of the rightness of his decision that he swept obstacles out of the way. I am too tentative and I worry about not being “nice’’.

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew who was so devoted to his wife that he would talk to her every night, although she couldn’t speak – no matter where he was. I am also not disciplined enough.

I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew who was so frugal in his habits and lifestyle that he bathed by ladling out water from a jar. I like my hot showers.

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I cannot be like Lee Kuan Yew, although sometimes I wish I can.

Written By

An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

Further reading

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