It’s May (Day)…

Gosh, it’s already 3rd May. The past five weeks passed so quickly that I can’t even really remember much of what happened.

I came back from my Japan hols in on 22nd March, a day after Mr LKY had passed away. The week that followed was surreal. Thereafter, was busy catching up with work and I even went on a short work trip to Hong Kong two weeks ago. Then the next thing I knew, May Day had come and gone.

So many times over the past few weeks I’d wanted so badly to blog. I’d click open the page on my iPad, but dozed off. Heck, I didn’t even have time to finish sorting out the photos from my Japan trip.

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Soon, I hope *fingers crossed*

And surprise, surprise, I’d received a handful of email from readers! All of them who had written to me were reading my blog from before, yea, that old blogspot blog that I’d since locked away. So sweet of them to remember!

And nooooo… I haven’t abandoned this blog! I was just busy.

But there was one comment on MY MAKGEOLLI POST that caused an eye-rolling moment though. I’d replied tonight, so you go read both his comment and my reply. Hope that’d be the last I hear of him.

 

Now as most of you would probably know by now, I work for the Labour Movement, so Labour Day (May Day) is a big deal to us. Even if the workers don’t go on strikes on May Day, it IS still an important occasion for us.

Click HERE to read the 10 things you probably didn’t know (but should, hehe!) about Singapore’s Labour Movement.

An interesting piece as it explores the more serious issues like how Mr LKY started his political career as an unionist, how his close ties with the workers and unions helped shape his political values and hence, policymaking, to the more light-hearted curiosities like why union members refer to one another as ‘brothers‘ and ‘sisters‘.

Hehe, even PM Lee was referred to as a ‘Brother‘!

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Talking about May Day, I really really really love this series of #MaysofMayDay done up by COMMUNITY.

I’ve no idea who’s behind this Instagram profile, since there’s just a Youtube channel on its bio. The Youtube channel also gave nothing away about who they are, what they do.

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And this one’s my absolute fave! Not that the glass ceiling situation is THAT bad here, but I love the construct of the image and the copy’s just brilliant!

Oh, did I mention I’ve a long-incurable love affair with shoes? Hee!

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Anyway, back to Labour Movement and May Day.

What usually happens on May Day for Singapore’s Labour Movement is that we will have a May Day Rally in the morning of 1st Day, where the Prime Minister will be guest-of-honor. This is to reflect the symbiotic relationship of the ruling party (PAP) and NTUC.

Since it’s SG50 this year, the May Day Rally’s done on a much bigger scale. The Star Vista saw a superb turnout of some 5,000 union peeps and guests on Friday morning!

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Quite an amazing sight!

It’s also my first May Day Rally, so I also didn’t know what to expect. I was initially bewildered why all the attendees were supposed to wear the NTUC polo tees, which come in a variety of colours.

But on Friday morning, seated in the hall, I knew why. It was to create a sense of unity and togetherness.

And more importantly, we’re all for one, regardless of what industries we’re in, what jobs we do, what collars we are, on this day, all of us workers come together as one, to celebrate the special meaning May Day has for us.

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PM Lee and his wife, Ho Ching, DPMs Tharman and Teo Chee Hean, as well as the other ministers and MPs like Mr Goh Chok Tong, and Mr Tan Chuan Jin all attended the Rally in the NTUC polo tees. Nice!

PM Lee and our outgoing labour chief were both wearing red.

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Bwahwahwah, me tooooo!

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But more importantly were the messages. SG Lim took time to highlight the contribution of ordinary workers in various industries over the pas 50 years to make an extraordinary nation out of Singapore. He thanked them for their hard work towards nation-building.

SG Lim also stressed on the need for the Singaporean workforce to continue to upgrade so that we can continue to face up to future challenges. I think he’s right; we have nothing, no natural resources except for our people. If without skills, we can only compete on price. I shudder to think of the day if we all become cheap labour. So in order to attract investments and all that jazz, we’d better buck up and be sure that today we start learning tomorrow’s skills, so that we’ll be FutureReady.

Be it to up-skill, re-skill or second-skill, we’d better get ourselves some skills that would be relevant to the future.

The third thing that SG Lim touched on was on tripartism, and how it is critical that we keep the well-oiled engine going. For the future will not be easier, so we cannot let our guard down. All three partners have to work well together, in fact, they should work even more closely together as there will be more challenges in the future.

You can read more HERE.

 

As for PM Lee, he spent some time talking about his father and how his political beginnings were with the unions. PM Lee reminded us that it’s our first May Day without Mr Lee.

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As PM Lee was talking about his father’s work with the unions, he became emotional at one point and had to hold back tears. We could all hear how his voice became shaky and he had to stop himself so that he would not break down. It was so heartbreaking to watch, and oh my…. all sorts of feels…

Like SG, PM Lee reiterated on the relevance and importance of TRIPARTISM.

He also renewed the ruling party’s commitment that they would always have the workers’ interests at heart, and they would always be a supportive partner to the Labour Movement of Singapore.

This Government will always be on the side of workers. This was Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s promise right from the start, and this…

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, 1 May 2015

 

What about PM Lee’s messages?

Other than stressing on the need to carry on Mr LKY’s legacy of partnering NTUC to support the Labour Movement to improve the workers’ life, he also spent time to share his worry about leadership renewal.

Hehe, this led to MAJORRRR speculation that the general election should be coming. In fact, some people even went so far as to call PM Lee’s rally speech the first election speech!

Hee, news site, Mothership, so excited they’d published an article on 8 ‘ELECTION IS COMING’ QUOTES FROM PM DURING THE RALLY.

Ex-ST journalist and now an online writer with a rather impressive and vocal following, Bertha Henson also shared HER TAKE ON PM LEE’s RALLY SPEECH. Interesting read, so go read!

 

And oh, I was talking about how union peeps address one another as brothers and sisters earlier on, ya? BERTHA and ALVINOLOGY also touched on this in their posts.

 

Omona! It’s already 5AM! I’d better go sleeeeeep! I’d just leave you with the May Day video that NIGHT OWL CINEMATICS had produced to thank the workers for their contribution to the nation through the years.

Image Credits: vulcanpost.com

Not Ready to Say Goodbye

I’ve just come back from a 12-day Japan trip since Tuesday.

Since I’ve been back, it’s been a mad week. Lots going on at work, and am sure you’ve heard about MR LEE KUAN YEW’s PASSING early Monday morning, 23rd March 2015 at 3:18AM, to be exact.

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It was been a strange week. Guess it’s unusual times for all of us here in Singapore. I’ve always loved our Founding Father, and his brand of tough love is such a special thing. So I already knew I’d be sad when he’s gone. But I really didn’t expect to be THIS sad, to be THIS affected.

Guess as strong and fierce his love is, our love back for this Iron Man is no trivial force either.

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I said it’s a strange week coz everything seems to be at stand-sill. Everyone’s watching and reading all things LKY. Really, everywhere I go, I see people glued to their cellphones checking THE CROWD QUEUING TO GO INTO PARLIAMENT HOUSE TO PAY THEIR LAST RESPECTS, reading some LKY articles or watching some LKY vids.

The outpouring of grief and strong show of love as hundreds of thousands of people queued for hours and hours just to file past his coffin to say Thank You and Goodbye.

And yet more hundreds of thousands visited the tribute centres all over the island to pay their last respects for the man who has been described as the founding father and founding prime minister of Singapore.

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Yes, over a million (and still counting!) people had flocked to give our very own Iron Man a very special send-off. Who would have guessed that the silent majority would be this expressive?

It was as though we’re regretting all the times we didn’t say Thank You, and all the times we didn’t show him our love. But all our near-desperate measure of spending endless hours queuing just to file past his cold, dead body for a few seconds had the feeling of us doing too little too late for a man who had given us so so so much.

He had left us with a legacy, and his legacy is everywhere we look. It’s in the homes we live in, it’s in the water when we turn on the tap, it’s in the trees that line our streets, it’s in our efficient public transport network, it’s in our schools, in our systems and policies. One only has to look around to see his life work.

 

And his final gift to us?

Local online influencer who is sometimes critical, Mr Brown, has put up a beautiful site with at times breathtaking and at other times, heartbreaking photos. Click HERE to see.

Looks like even PM Lee has seen these photos!

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I read HERE that over 450,000 people had queued for hours and hours, day and night, over a four-day period to pay their last respects at the Parliament House. Another 1.1 million turned up at the various tribute sites all over the island.

I’d imagine no one really expected this overwhelming outpouring of grief. HERE’s a superb piece on why we cry.

And how does the the Great Singapore Queue of people waiting to pay their last respects at Parliament House look like?

 

Even the celebs went queuing. Like Caldecott Hill Queen Zoe Tay and company. And yea, STEFANIE SUN too.

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She was reportedly amongst one of the first ones in the queue on the first day at Parliament House. Click HERE to read.

 

Believe more ministers and MPs will be sharing their thoughts later, but so far there are two that I’ve come across and particularly liked.

One’s from Minister for Foreign Affairs, Minister for Law and MP for Nee Soon GRC, Mr Shanmugan. His story is similar to many of ours, or it’s what I call the Singapore Dream. How many of our families have attained a better quality of life in just one generation, thanks to Mr Lee and his team’s policies. Education to level the playing field, the emphasis on meritocracy and transparency that allow us all to have a better chance at success.

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Minister for Manpower and MP for Marine Parade GRC, Mr Tan Chuan Jin, also put up a touching note. There’s one point in his note that GEORGE YEO had already spoken of. In fact, he had even left this message on ‘Look all around you‘ in one of the condolence books he’d signed for Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

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Click HERE to read Minister Tan Chuan Jin’s note.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s life work is really all around us, ain’t it? Even if we didn’t have the opportunity to have any personal interaction with him, our lives are still invariably and deeply affected by him, by his decisions.

HERE’s a superb read on his legacy and how we do not need any museums or monuments to remind ourselves of him.

He is all around us.

 

This whole week has been an endless fever of reading and more reading on all things LKY. I think I probably read more about this man and his life in this week than I did in my entire life. But hey, I ain’t complaining. Even now, I’m still hungrily and ferociously wolfing down all the material I come across about this complex and brilliant man.

And know what? To know him is to love him.

 

Sometimes I get frustrated with how the Western media pick on us and all. But mostly, I’m happy that Mr Lee didn’t care, never did, about offending ’em from countries way bigger and way more powerful than ours. He always put them in their place.

Here, a piece of my mind on this subject. And oh, do read the article on Legacy and the Myth of Trade-offs by CALVIN CHENG below, ya?

 

(Western) critics call Singapore an autocracy, but lots of people never felt more free than when we lived here. Don’t take my word for it, read this or better yet, come live here.

 

Here’s another good read that even PM Lee thought his father would approve.

 

What’s interesting about this man is that despite people trying to put him into pigeonholes, classifying him leftish vs rightist, socialist vs capitalist, conservative vs liberal, etc etc etc, he’s actually none of these.

He had once said,

“I was never a prisoner of any theory. What guided me were reason and reality. The acid test I applied to every theory or scheme was: Would it work? The acid test is in performance, not promises. It is not from weakness that one commands respect. As long as the leaders take care of their people, they will obey the leaders.”

Tony Blair has also flown in all the way from the UK to attend the funeral and in HIS INTERVIEW WITH CHANNELNEWSASIA, he also pretty much confirmed that Mr Lee Kuan Yew didn’t exactly subscribe to a certain ideology. He preferred to look at the situation or problem at hand and explore how best to solve it without being bound to any political ideology.

There’s also this post by a certain Wai Ming that I absolutely love and that you absolutely have to read. He’s managed to pen a piece on such a complex subject in such a simple way.

 

Ohhhh…. forgot to say that this blog post ain’t a tribute or whatever. I ain’t ready to say goodbye, and I haven’t yet collected my thoughts enough to write anything remotely coherent. So I just want to share some reading that I’ve enjoyed this past week.

If only it is really like what this person has said, that there is no need to bid farewell.

 

What about this piece? THE MOST BRILLIANT POLITICIAN YOU NEVER KNEW

James Fallows would probably count as one of those who have a bone to pick with Singapore and our brand of freedom and democracy. Over the years, some less than favourable articles have been penned by this man. He too had written a piece after Mr Lee’s passing. He’d described our founding father as THE LEADER WHO LASTED.

Read that? I thought it was, a little surprisingly, not too scalding a piece.

 

Remember I’d mentioned about ex-ST editor BERTHA HENSON? Aka the Troublemaker, she too had published a few posts the past week. She shared HER TRUSTY REPORTER’s NOTES ON THE MAN.

She even wrote something on and for PM Lee too, FOR THE PM, THE FATHER’s SON.

 

Digital lifestyle site Vulcan Post also published quite a few pieces on Lee Kuan Yew. There’s one on THE EIGHT LESSONS YOU CAN LEARN FROM LEE KUAN YEW, and another intriguing piece on LEE KUAN YEW, THE GANGSTER, the GARDENER AND THE UNIONIST AT HEART.

Lifestyle blogger Flora too touched a little on how Mr Lee started his political career representing workers and trade unions HERE.

 

And oh, NTUC This Week has also published a Special Edition, Remembering Lee Kuan Yew. It’s very rich in contents!

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If you can’t get a copy at the Fairprice outlets, you can also download a digital copy HERE.

 

Gonna leave you with a tribute vid that shows the softer side of the man with a big heart.