There had been many excerpts from this books – especially the juicy bits – reproduced in The Straits’ Times but I had never felt compelled to read them. However, when the book came out, I was amongst the first to buy the first print, probably with the intention of decorating my shelf with it, along with the other books on Singapore’s politics – LKY memoirs, Wee Kim Wee’s memoir, Men in White etc, all of which I shamefully admit I did not read.
This book sat on my bedside table for a few days, still wrapped in plastic, until one day I decided to take it with me to the toilet and then I was hooked.
The book is a reproduction of a series of interviews, total 80 hrs long, done by seven ST journalists. Each chapter has a summary followed by the actual questions and answers. While the Q&A portion are easy to read, the summary has vocabulary that was unfamiliar and I had to have my iPhone dictionary(ahem!!) turned on at all times while reading. (Perhaps my vocab is really poor!)
My first thought upon completing the first chapters was, wow, so that’s why the government did what they did. I was made very aware of Singapore’s vulnerability, something I take for granted. In fact, I got very defensive and agitated when I received an email from Mom from criticizing the Ministers’ pay during the period I was reading ths book. It’s a tough and unpopular job, and I’m thankful we have capable people running Singapore.
I was amused about Lee’s view on the link between IQ and genes. He believes in Darwin Socialism. As a graduate mother who married my fellow graduate school mate, I want to believe it’s true but then why am i having such a difficult time with my kids’ schooling? I was also amused about his disapproving views on inter-racial marriage. I’m surprised he was truthful about it, instead of trying to be politically correct.
It’s easy and popular to be politically correct but this is not what the book is about. I share his views on Muslims in Singapore (although he had retracted it recently) and his thoughts on religions. I find religions divisive instead of inclusive. Perhaps it’s because i was also ‘reading’ Eckhart Tolle’s book at the same time to come to this conclusion.
It’s heartwarming to hear his pride when he talks about his kids and grandkids. He calls them ‘bright’, especially PM Lee, whom he uses the word ‘gifted’. Reading about his description about his eldest son brings makes father and son more human instead of being just political figures.
This is one of the most enjoyable non-fiction book that I have read. It touches a soft spot in my heart and makes me more patriotic, and to appreciate the people who has made this place so comfortable for all of us. There are many distractors and anti PAP folks amongst my friends and relatives, who gripe about costs and mundane things and blame them on the Gov. Again, perhaps because of Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, I develop a different perspective, one that is more appreciative, and one that is less egoistic. Where once I would have just voted for an opposition for the sake of having an opposition, I have now changed. But then again, I don’t think I have a chance to vote this year.