Apart from taking readers through how Singapore was governed in his three-decade long political career in his new book ‘Governing: A Singapore Perspective’, ex-Senior Minister S Jayakumar also shared an intimate anecdote of the “special impact” Lee Kuan Yew and Kwa Geok Choo’s relationship had on his own marriage.
Mr Lee, Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, is renowned around the world for having been a masterful politician as well as a caring and devoted husband to his wife, Mdm Kwa. The pair’s close relationship was dubbed “couple goals” by those in Singapore and beyond.
Prof Jayakumar revealed that he is among those who are inspired by the Lees’ love story in his new book. In one anecdote, he shared how Mr Lee once turned up to a Cabinet meeting with a band-aid on his head.
Prof Jayakumar asked Mr Lee what happened and found out that Mr Lee had hit his head on a lectern when he momentarily dozed off while reading poems to his wife, who was suffering the effects of a second stroke at the time.
Revealing that he, too, began to read books and interesting news articles to his wife nightly, Prof Jayakumar wrote: “I was very touched. That account has had a special impact on me personally, especially after my wife Lalitha developed disabilities as a result of Parkinson’s disease (in 2014).”
In his book, which is dedicated to his wife Lalitha Rajahram, Prof Jayakumar also writes about his other encounters with the late Mr Lee.
In one anecdote, he recalled how Mr and Mrs Lee urged him to read the National Day Message in Tamil even though he was not proficient in the language.
He also recounted how he and Mr Lee had a major disagreement over how Singapore-Philippines relations were handled following the case involving Filipina domestic worker Flor Contemplacion who was sentenced to death in 1995 for murder.
Prof Jayakumar also shared an episode in which Mr Lee’s confidence in Singapore’s legal arguments over the Pedra Branca territorial dispute was nearly shaken by Malaysia’s foreign counsel.
Prof Jayakumar has intimate knowledge on the Pedra Branca dispute as he continued to consult with Singapore’s Foreign Affairs ministry on this matter, water agreements with Malaysia and other issues, even after his retirement from politics.
‘Governing: A Singapore Perspective’ is available at leading bookstores at S$35 (inclusive of GST). It can also be purchased from www.stbooks.sg while an Amazon Kindle e-book is available at the price of S$22.90.