Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mr Lee, My Father And I

"The first thing you learn as a small country is to act small and humble. You go around telling people, they say you are out of your depth, you don't understand my problems. So we keep our mouth shut unless we are asked." 

I heard these statements in the 7am news.
It rings in my ears and I think, will stay there for a very long time.

Nothing is more than the truth as what was said by  Minister Mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
That's what I've been practising, or put it into practise although occasionally there's slip of the tongue or just had to trash things out.

We are in foreign land, we can only look, see, feel and taste any bitterness that comes along our way.


Pride is very difficult for a normal being to do away with.
Live with ignorance... Yes.
But to live without pride?
Pride travels as far deep as into the jungle: A ______ of lion.


Mr Lee was then speaking at the 20th annual conference of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association on the theme "Climate Change And Legal Practice" at the Marina Sands Convention Centre.

He does not think much will come out from the next round of talks in Cancun, as long as countries like the US, China and India keep to their stand on the issue although it is something that has real consequences many years down the road.
Even as the climate change talks last year weren't a complete failure, no country could commit itself.
No one could commit to reduce a percentage of carbon footprint although all cards are on the table.

The Chinese and the Indians would also not want to commit themselves.
There's more dilly-dallying internationally.
Every country focus on its own internal problems.
Everybody are into a very difficult, messy situation.
The governments in power promise the people a better life…
So the idea of taking tough action now against putting off to the future generation.
The result is - "Let's put it off and talk about it."

That's Mr Lee Kuan Yew...
I live with what he visualise, he did, and ... ALL FOR THE WORLD TO SEE.


I was very, very small when there's a  'barongan'  to welcome his visit to where I was staying then - Not too faraway from Izhar's house, one of the  'Black Dog Bone's'  member.

All I can say is that Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a very, very, very far sighted Prime Minister.
There's just too much father figure in him.

Until today, I see My Father in him.


My Father came to Singapore not out of poverty, but to seek knowledge.
He saw the Dutch that with knowledge they prosper.
Manipulating their knowledge in business, they monopolise trade in Indonesia and later colonise the country.

On My Father's journey to Singapore with his cousin, he saw many Japanese in Batam.
Japanese left their mark in Batam with a place called Nagoya - My Father learn to read, write and speak Japanese.

After the war, he married my Mother, who was 15 then, and still schooling.

She's The Only Girl in the school who's still attending class until 16.

The cousin, who hailed with him together from Kaliwungu, Kendal, adjourned to Johor where he became landlord, making and renting out houses.

When My Father was offered a piece of land in Johor by his cousin, My Father, though tempted, he had to refuse the land.
He priorotise the education of his eight children.
Ironically, as much as He valued education, I am the least schooled among the eight children.


Too far sighted Mr Lee Kuan Yew was then, that he saw all Singaporeans: en-mass.
I lagged behind.
Thank GOD, because of the lagging behind that I ventured out of the study world.


My Husband is also the product of not fitting into the local education system.
The only English-schooled Son in the Chinese educated family, His Malay language added many numbers to His aggregate, although He's an "A" student where schooling is concerned.

When all his Chinese childhood friends went to Australia, UK, US and Canada after their GCE, the only place he could venture out to further his education was, across the Causeway - to Stamford.

His Tailor Father who hailed from Kwantong (GuanDong), China, seemed resigned to fate - Whatever will be, will be.

My Husband could only console himself when he met one of his buddy, directing vehicles, trafficking himself in the middle of the busy Jalan Meldrum, JB, in his smart attire.
The good buddy was supposed to still furthering his study in UK then, but his mind just snapped.
Many years later, he was still stationing himself in the middle of Jalan Meldrum or Jalan Ah Fook, as usual, in his immaculate dressing: clean polo t-shirt, tucked neatly into his pressed slack, leather belt and clean sports shoes.


Did My Father conform to His Father's wish? No.
My Grandfather wanted him to attend to his many acres of land but He chose to venture into a new, alien territory.
He was back to his home-village several times or there's always money to be sent home.
I was with Him when He went back to his village to subdivide his land among his living siblings.

By then, My Grandfather had already passed away but, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is still alive.

Did the current PM, follow his father's way of how Singapore should be run? No.
I remembered when Mr Lee Hsien Loong had just become a PM,
he stressed, "... it's ok to have a bit of rubbish here and a bit there. It's ok for the shrubs to be a bit overgrown or not trimmed..."
That's not exactly his sentence, but that's roughly what's being said.

Is the current PM bring up his children as he was being brought up? Neither.

I do not turn out as what My Father expected his children to be, but yes. I wish My Children to be an observant servant to THE CREATOR and Somebody whom the society can rely on, GOD Willing.

***Thanking My Late Father And Mr Lee Kuan Yew For Their Far Sightedness That My Husband And I Are Together. 

*Life is full of irony. I'm now living not far from where My Father's cousin had wanted My Father to build a house then.

*Before my last visit to My Father's homeland a couple of years ago, I visited My Father's cousin a day before the departure.
He wept claiming how fortunate My Late Father, even after He's no more alive, His Children do return to where Their Father came from.
- Since the 2 of them left home, the cousin had never set foot again back to his hometown.

-10 minutes after I left My Father's cousin's house with his latest photographs to be shown back to his family in Kaliwungu, Kendal, Indonesia, I was called back to the house - he passed away.
Mission accomplished?


***Late posting as there's sudden black-out starting at 6.58pm when I was halfway doing this until 9.46pm when we were out having dinner. The  black-out  stretched 6 miles away.           


Uncle Lee said...

Hi Ummie, wow! I really enjoyed reading your history and interesting background.
I too have always admired LKY. He is a brilliant man and made Singapore what it is today.
Regret read about your father.
You keep well and once again, I enjoyed your this very eloquent posting.
Have a nice day, stay young, Lee.

Bluearmoire said...

Ummie, Interesting n3. No diff now and then. People leave their comfort zone to explore n cuba nasib.
Uncle Lee - Yes our 'Bapak Merdeka' is briliant and so stern (if I may add - 'like a father', after all Singapore is his baby)
Hsien Loong is more friendly but then he's effective. All the more I admired him, with his qualities, when his eldest son was alongside him on his walkabouts just like LKY years ago.

Anonymous said...

Salam Ummie,

I always admire LKY. His is a far sighted man.

Rafiah (proud Singaporea)

Mr. Stupid said...

Great post. I loved reading about the education system in your country. I enjoyed reading about your family and your father.

Have a good day!:)

Ummie said...

Uncle Lee,
Mr LKY transformed S'pore from a swampy island to a world class city state.
What is S'pore without his touch?

Yes I remembered too - bringing around his eldest son - he's a no different father to a no different son.
His approach is more subtle than the senior Lee.

Ummie said...

I'm no different from you - A Proud S'porean.

Mr (not) Stupid,
My Father's struggle for his family leaves a very deep impression on me.

The education system over your place is no different from S'pore right?
Looking forward to your graduation.
Cheers :)

BlancaMcleroy1230 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tpg2Sg said...

Hi Ummie,

I see some show of Yasmin Ahmad in you, Malaysia & Singapore will be a better place if more people are like u & Yasmin.

Tpg2Sg said...

ooh! shadow

Ummie said...


I watch Yasmin's shows towards to end of her life - They leave an impact in me.

Anyway, my children always regard themselves as coming from Indo-China ;p)

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