23 March 2015

The Apotheosis of Lee Kuan Yew

The Apotheosis of Washington, 1865
"Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up."
-- Lee Kuan Yew, 1988 NDRS

As the authority and competence of the People's Action Party wanes, historians are starting to point out that Singapore has no proper history, only a hagiography.

While the authoritarian leader eschewed a personality cult, it did not stop generations of Singaporeans speaking of him in hushed, deferential, even reverential tones. Neither did it stop him from making a nation in his image, from adopting the rhetoric of the enlightened despot. Leaders like him do not pass on; they apotheosize.

Lee Kuan Yew is dead. We commemorate his passing not by declaring his divinity and author of all that is good in Singapore, nor by painting him as a folk-devil responsible for all the woes of Singapore. We are guided here by a firm sense of proportion, empiricism, and grounded theory that puts the man in his proper place.

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