Daddy Issues

There is a local Singapore joke that states that we are a very Christian country – we were run by the Father, the Son and the Holy Goh. This is a reference to our first Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, his son and our current Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong and the Holy Goh is our second Prime Minister, Mr. Goh Chok Tong.

This joke was most relevant in the period between 2004 and 2011, when our current Prime Minister ruled alongside his father as the “Minister Mentor,” and his immediate successor as “Senior Minister.” The “Holy Trinity” of Singapore politics seemed to work until the 2011 election when a public that had been facing rising costs started to question why our government’s job creating abilities seemed limited to the top. The Father has since died and the Holy Goh announced his retirement from politics. With these two events, one might say that the appropriate Christian analogy to describe our political scene can be seen through Netflix series – Lucifer, which shows that the Devil was merely the first being to have “Daddy Issues.”

I’m not suggesting that our Prime Minister is “devil like” in his behavior but like the character of Lucifer from Netflix, he’s struggled to deal with his father’s legacy. While one has to credit the first Mr. Lee for doing many things right, he made one key mistake, which was to allow himself to be turned into God. Instead of fading away after his retirement in 1991, the elder Mr. Lee plonked himself into the cabinet of his successor, Mr. Goh Chok Tong as senior minister and more worryingly in the cabinet of his son, as “Minister-Mentor,” which sent the clear message to the world that ministers in Singapore needed to b mentored. The late Mr. Lee used to make it a point to say, “I’m no longer in charge,” which the rest of us understood to mean, that he was very much in charge.

The inability to let go, has unfortunately remained beyond the grave. Although it’s been five years since the elder Mr. Lee passed on, the living Mr. Lee has failed to live beyond his father’s legacy. Policies and tactics that worked well in the 1960s are repeated with the hope that they will have the same results. One only has to look at the continuation of defamation suites and attempts to silence bloggers with libel laws.

Unfortunately, Mr. Lee’s inability to let go, even from beyond the grave has set a sad example for the rest of the nation’s leaders. Somehow, everyone in a position of power felt that they only had value of they never let go.

In many ways’ leadership is similar to parenting. A good leader needs to know when to be there and when not be there. Like a parent, a leader needs to prepare his or her people to be able to function and even thrive without them.

It’s like with children, you look after them by feeding and clothing them but you also need to train them to survive and eventually you have to let them succeed or fail on their own merits. As I often find myself saying to my kid – “What happens to you if I drop dead?” She says I should drop cursing myself but being aware of my own mortality focuses my mind on the fact that I have a responsibility to the kid to ensure that she has the ability to live and even thrive when I’m not around.

My former boss, Mr. PN Balji, founding editor of the Today Newspaper took great pride in the fact that the paper turned a profit after his tenure as CEO. His argument was that he had seen the paper through its stage of development and positioned it in a place where it could operate at a profit.

I think of bosses in the SME sector who have the habit of reminding employees that they would be “nothing” without the boss. Employers are as a rule of thumb inclined to use the tactic of “without me you would be ….”as a means of getting employees to do more for the same.

However, if one looks at the situation from a parental point of view, reminding someone that they’d be nothing without you is a failure of leadership. It implies that you failed in your ultimate duty as leader to train your people to the point where they could survive without you.

I think of my own parenting experiences and my ultimate line with my kid is “what happens to you if I drop dead?” Her usual reply is that I’m not allowed to curse myself. However, I find that reminding myself of my mortality helps reminding me that I have a duty to my kid to ensure that she can survive and thrive without me.

Lee Kuan Yew did many things right. However, he failed in this crucial respect. He kept telling Singaporeans that they needed him and leaders trained in his current mold to survive and prosper. When a parent says that this type of thing to a grown-up child, it’s a sign of failed parenting. Likewise when a leader of a nation says that, it’s a sign of failed leadership.

 

Tang Li

*Although I’ve been based mainly in Singapore for nearly two decades, I’ve had the privilege of being able meet people who have crossed borders and cultures. I’ve befriended ministers and ambassadors and worked on projects involving a former head of state. Yet, at the same time, I’ve had the privilege of befriending migrant labourers and former convicts. All of them have a story to tell. All of them add to the fabric of life. I hope to express the stories that inspire us to create life as it should be

 

 

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16 Responses to “Daddy Issues”

  • Halimah Totally USELESS:

    Nepotism and Cronyism, 2 words says it all.
    Just look around and if you were to throw a stone, you’ll probably hit someone related to the FamiLEE.

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  • Reality:

    Reality is this is going to be a tough world.
    The world is much more complex now.
    It called for a new kind of leadership..one that lead in time of Chaos and uncertainty. Old SOP will not work, especially a blotted Civil service with rigid rules followers.
    The old leadership will not work anymore…even our education system will need drastic changes to produce a new generation with new skill sets for a new world.

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  • PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN.GE2024:

    Dear TangLi,
    You said “Lee Kuan Yew did many things right. However, he failed in this crucial respect. He kept telling Singaporeans that they needed him and leaders trained in his current mold to survive and prosper.”
    ==========================================
    Our great leeder Mr LKY did no wrong.

    Mr LKY is right to train leader “in his current mold” suing everyone who criticize PAP.

    Just look at Demoncratic ROC Taiwan, the ruling Demoncratic Progressive Party (DPP) now copy all our great leader Mr LKY policies, including shutting down news media that are critical of DPP.
    關中天拚總統路 綠營執政後翻臉?亞洲民主燈塔熄燈?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCZ8jFMDz-A

    ROC Taiwan very democratic eh ? hahahahahahahaha

    Demoncratic Progressive Party (DPP) President tsai ing wen party also does not allowed dissenting voices…. hahahahaha democratic hahahahaha

    Hello, where are all the Ang Mo Tua Kee Pro Democracy supporters like Oxygen, Roy, Teo Soh Lung, Big mouth Dr Chee ?

    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Lazy Singaporeans must be Cheaper, Better, Faster

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  • xoxo:

    the buddhist teaching of * LETTING GO* applies here as it is relevant to a person’s life.

    Not being able to LET GO has had cause THE LEEder$ to remain ever so arrogant,unforgiving and uncompassionate.

    Worse still,THEY GET STUCKED IN THEIR STUPID WAY$ INHERITED from the LEEgacy of OLD LEE and worsen by more greed and arrogance.

    LKY had his good points but those may not be relevant today?
    We must learn to LET GO AND BE FREE…

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  • SG Sotong:

    Survey say Singaporeans prefer Joe Biden than Trump to be US President? How stupid Singaporeans are, New York Post news proof evidence of Biden and his son Hunter billion dollars corruption with Ukraine and China. Read social media, do not read main stream. PAP LHL and GCT regime for forty over years not helping Singaporeans. Please Singaporeans, when are you waking up?

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  • TUMASIK Patriot:

    Since when does a Dynasty ever let go…they will be Hanging on to it or Die being Hanged by it…but in all probability the people would have died by then of whatever Dynastic Deseases created

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  • Tracey Ching:

    You states that lky did many things right? Are you sure? Lky did not do many things right. If he did, he would have won Nobel peace prize! Stupid 61.2% electorate are mainly unquestioning and unthinking sycophants. Hope that your daughter can write better than you.

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  • Two Lampars on His Shoulders:

    Whatever lky did right all become undone in one ‘fell swoop’
    That is for allowing an incompetent successor to take over just because it is his son. For this we know how much he cares for his people. May the birds “shit” on his monument.

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  • Harder Truths:

    Alamak – another TKL.

    We are doomed.

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  • opposition dude:

    When you have been in power for decades you NEVER want to let it go, it’s just human nature. Why would you just let it go after spending so much blood, sweat, tears, time and effort to build it all up? It’s the same if you spent years building up your own company, do you think you would just want to let it go just like that?

    So of course even though he would never be PM anymore he STILL had to be around to make sure everything was done correctly. Even when he couldn’t stand on his own and had to have people help him do so he still remained in parliament up to his last breath. Here you see a weak man not ever wanting to let go because he couldn’t trust anyone, not even his own son, to just retire.

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  • MarBowling:

    The Mother of all OPPORTUNISTS had Created a LEEgacy for himself and his FamiLEE since he squatted on the Imperial Throne in 1959 until he finally kicked the bucket on 23 March 2015. In one swoop, his DSon has slowly and gradually destroyed HIS LEEGACY!

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  • snake charming useless boots:

    Goh ah.. yur family engaged in financial “sophistry” didnt the “peanut”education within home education gives indepth accountability a lesson on due diligence. this is like a peanut turned into karma visiting twice. the legacy does not belong to the one warming seat still history recognised the one and only dictator, your soil soiled.

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  • oxygen:

    @ PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN.GE2024:

    OI OI OI, my a*sehole is a lot smarter than your desiccated coconut where I am sure there is a lot of space to let between your ears.

    PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN.GE2024: Hello, where are all the Ang Mo Tua Kee Pro Democracy supporters like Oxygen, Roy, Teo Soh Lung, Big mouth Dr Chee ?

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  • PAP CLOSE DOWN:

    Don’t be blasphemous. Don’t compare like that.

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  • PAP CLOSE DOWN:

    Actually it’s good that you compared Singapore to Taiwan. Taiwan is like a mirror reflection of Singapore right?

    I actually like you very much. Because your white wash, half truths or even myths, fallacies and outright lies do set people thinking. Should sumbit your posts for general paper students and political science undergrads.

    Keep it up! TRE won’t be the same without you!

    PAP.GUARANTEE.WIN.GE2024:
    Dear TangLi,
    You said “Lee Kuan Yew did many things right. However, he failed in this crucial respect. He kept telling Singaporeans that they needed him and leaders trained in his current mold to survive and prosper.”
    ==========================================
    Our great leeder Mr LKY did no wrong.

    Mr LKY is right to train leader “in his current mold” suing everyone who criticize PAP.

    Just look at Demoncratic ROC Taiwan, the ruling Demoncratic Progressive Party (DPP) now copy all our great leader Mr LKY policies, including shutting down news media that are critical of DPP.
    關中天拚總統路 綠營執政後翻臉?亞洲民主燈塔熄燈?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCZ8jFMDz-A

    ROC Taiwan very democratic eh ? hahahahahahahaha

    Demoncratic Progressive Party (DPP) President tsai ing wen party also does not allowed dissenting voices…. hahahahaha democratic hahahahaha

    Hello, where are all the Ang Mo Tua Kee Pro Democracy supporters like Oxygen, Roy, Teo Soh Lung, Big mouth Dr Chee ?

    Majullah $PAP$ $PAP$ Huat$ Huat$ Huat$
    Lazy Singaporeans must be Cheaper, Better, Faster

    GD Star Rating
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  • AristoCATs - Best ?:

    LKY on LHL – “I mean, he has a very comprehensive mind… .”
    Tom Plate’s Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew
    -
    WilliamSafire : “Would your son be deputy prime minister if he were not your son?”

    LKY: “If he were not my son, he would be the prime minister.
    He came up faster than any of the others, but I told him it would do him no good.”

    -
    LiShengWu -
    “.. if there’s one person in the world you’re going to overestimate,
    it’s your own child.
    And so this is not an inhuman error. “

    -
    Remember the Ballot Box !

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