Rumours are going around that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has died. There are other variations that he is seriously ill or that he is in a state of coma. Twitter has been active over the last 24 hours with these rumours. My Facebook friends have been relatively quiet. I have spoken to several friends and one set of rumours is coming out of the legal fraternity.
Such rumours are not new. In all likelihood, there is no truth in it and the man will be at the NDP tomorrow. But, in the event that it is true that the man has died, I hope that the government doesn’t behave in a vile and vulgar manner by keeping the matter secret whilst the nation celebrates its birthday. I have a lot of reservations about LKY and his style of government. But, the fact remains that he was amongst the first Cabinet of ministers in Singapore that saw the country through two decades (mid-60s to the mid-80s) of rapid development. I am sure that the government can afford to postpone the NDP and inform the people promptly so that an official state of mourning can be observed. We do not need to behave like some third world dictatorship that has difficulty coming to terms with the illness or death of its leader and so postpones the announcement of ill-health or death.
I hope that the culture of opacity fostered by successive PAP governments has not become so systemic that even information about the state of health (or death) of Singapore’s first Prime Minister has to be stifled so that the NDP show can go on.
We just need an official statement. When rumours like these swirl around, it would be good for a statement dismissing these rumours or if they are true, then an acknowledgement. Even if it is a case that he is seriously ill and is receiving treatment, I am sure that Singaporeans deserve to know. It would be vulgar to have a wild party tomorrow if something has indeed happened to the man.
If this rumour is untrue, I have this to say to those that started the rumour: “Shame on you.”