By: Wong Wee Nam
Role of the newspaper in escalating the siblings’ dispute
Over the past many days, many people have been excited by the exchanges between Dr Lee Wei Ling and the State-controlled newspaper, The Straits Times. For once someone big enough has come out to confirm their long-held belief that the newspaper practices censorship.
Dr Lee had written an article protesting the heavy hero-worshiping and excessive adulation in commemorating the first anniversary of Lee Kuan Yew’s death. This, according to her, is something her father did not like or would approve. The editors decided it required some editing.
She accused them of censoring and limiting her freedom of speech and decided she would not want her edited article published in the newspaper. Instead she posted it herself on her own Facebook. She also said she would no longer write to the Straits Times.
This obviously upset the editors and they became defensive. The original plot was buried and subplots quickly followed. They told her that her writings were rambling and incoherent that made editing tedious. “It’s like sailing through a fog”.
One even accused her of plagiarizing. With all these low blows, one should not expect the dispute to be settled amicably and in the end the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had to clarify himself.
No need for dispute to escalate disproportionately
It is natural that when a saga involves powerful people, ordinary people will be glued to it like a TV soap-opera, keenly waiting for the next episode to see how it will end.
To me it is an unnecessary dispute and need not have escalated to such proportion.
Dr Lee Wei Ling merely wanted people not to go overboard in hero-worshiping her father. He would cringe at such behavior, she said. The Straits Times, for reasons best known to themselves, decided to give a lot of excuses not to publish her article and thus started the furore.
She is the only person who should know her father best. For the last few years of his life, she had been staying with him and he must have poured out all his wishes to her. Naturally as his closest confidante and a filial daughter, she would want to make sure the wishes are fulfilled. The main point is not to turn her father into a cult figure.
She told us he even reminded her of the poetry Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley. (The gist of the poem is that all things are impermanent. All good work, empires and statues will crumbled and destroyed by the ravages of time and the power of history. So monuments and memorials are useless).
Lee Kuan Yew would have wanted history to see him as he was
From this, I can only agree with Dr Lee that the late Mr Lee want history to see him as he was, warts and all. He didn’t want an embellished image.
The newspaper could have done better by inviting her to discuss how best the article could be written with the original message unchanged, instead of making attacks on her writing. There is a lack of sensitivity on their part.
One must not forget that Dr Lee Wei Ling is, at this point of time, probably undergoing some kind of anniversary grief reaction. Seeing the widespread memorial events organized to commemorate the first anniversary of her father’s death, particularly against the departed’s wishes, can evoke emotions in a loved one. There can be no doubt about her strong emotional ties with her father.
All parties should try and resolve this issue.
This article is republished from Dr Wong Wee Nam’s Facebook.
What's ST's role in aggravating Lee Wei Ling's grief on her father's first death anniversary?
By: Wong Wee Nam