Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Harder Truth




The Quiet Aftermath

 

This morning, as I made my way to work,  there was an air of stillness about me.  Everyone I met, at the bus-stop, in the bus, along the streets were quite quiet and simply trying to go about their usual day, but without uttering a word.  A nation grieved yesterday at the final farewell of its founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew.  So much tears were shed as the cortege journeyed through the streets of Singapore, lined with thousands of people.  Today, I feel an air of emptimess and lingering sadness.  The nation moves on, never forgetting a legacy left behind by an extraordinary leader.

 

Everyone had been discussing his passing throughout the week of national mourning.  I have got friends and colleagues who queued for hours in the sun, just to bid their final farewell in person where the body was lying in state at the Parliament house. My entire Facebook timeline was plastered with newsfeeds about the man and the legacy he had  left behind.  However, all this while, I kept quite silent because I approached the entire issue with ambivalence.  I needed time to step back and recalibrate my thoughts about the man, having lived through an era when my own family was impacted by  some of his more autocratic policies. 

 

My Father’s Past

 

I thought it was time to come clean and write this blog post about how I truly felt, without disrespect to my own father.

 

In 1978, I saw Dad handcuffed and led into our home by a team of officers from the Internal Security Department.  I was 8 years old.  And the entire episode unfolded before me like an extremely bad B-grade movie that did not seem to have a proper beginning or an ending.  The sketchy storyline went like this for an 8 year old.  Dad was involved in “political discussions” with a group of lawyers who took a pro-Communist stand.  He had to be punished for having an opinion that was not aligned to our government’s stand.  He then spent months incarcerated behind that famous big blue gate at Thomson road which was where my Dad and his bunch of friends were detained under the Internal Security Act.

 

I remembered the months that ensued were a flurry of activities, where my Mum was trying to hysterically make sense of what had happened.  I was the fire-cracker in the family and I went through a phase of childhood rebellion attempting to re-enact Guy Fawke’s Day with my marbles at any government officials that I had come across during those months.  I was trying to “protect” Mom.   I remembered Mom attempting to keep the family together, so she marched up to Dad’s boss at that time, the late Mr Khoo Teck Puat and said, “Bock Chuan had worked for you with such selfless commitment and treated you like his other father.  The most compassionate thing you can do as his boss, is to keep that job for him, and wait for his release from political detention.  Meanwhile, please continue to transfer his salary into his bank account so that his family can get by.”  Mr Khoo did just that, and I would be eternally grateful to him for that.

 

Meanwhile, Mom and I struggled by without Dad.  Mom suffered from hallucinations and I was subjected to the cruel talk amongst schoolmates who pointed their fingers at me while whispering, “Her father is in jail you know? So terrible.”  The cruelest thing that had happened for me then was having thoughtless journalists camp out at our gates to take statements from Mum and I.  

 

One day, there was a live telecast of Mr Lee Kuan Yew on TV getting a public confession from the political detainees including Dad. A journalist visited Mum and I and made us sit next to the TV.  I could not remember much of that apart from waking up the next day with a picture of myself in my pyjamas, and a quote from an 8 year old me saying, “Daddy was very naughty.”  Looking back, that was probably the beginning of my training as a Communications and PR professional.  I never trusted the media ever since, and I hated the establishment even more for turning my family’s life into a circus.  I grew up bearing that anger in my heart.

 

Growing Up

 

However, living through the last 4 decades where I saw how Singapore had evolved to what it has become today, where there are roofs over our heads, we feel safe when we walk the streets and  our children have a  good head-start in life with sound education, and the medical bills of our ageing population is heavily subsidized,  I realized that Mr Lee had to do what he had to do at that time for the good of our nation.  Sure, some of his policies were unpopular and my family was a victim of it, but as a child of Singapore having lived through the economic growth  and political stability of the 70s through to today when I see my parents enjoying the benefits of the Pioneer Generation package, I cannot help but have to admit that the man had truly done a great job.  

 

 

Doing What He Had To Do

 

Even he admitted, “I stand by my record. I did some sharp things to get things right – too harsh – but a lot was at stake. But at the end of the day, what have I got? Just a successful Singapore.”  For a nation that went from survival instincts to protecting its economic and political security, this man would do anything for it.  As he had declared, ‘Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac...Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try.”   Sure,  some of his decisions were tough, but my Dad would have made the same decisions if he was in the shoes of Mr Lee.  Ultimately, when he gave his entire life for nation building, he was in it for the nation and its people, not himself.  He said, “"I have never been over-concerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind ... you will go where the wind is blowing. And that's not what I am in this for."

 

All Forgiven

 

I asked Mom if Dad had tuned to the TV channels to watch the crowd lining up to pay their last respects as the body was lying in state at Parliament House. To my surprise, she answered, “ Yes he did, and he even cried. I think after all these years, all is forgiven and forgotten and Dad has seen the good that the man had done for Singapore.”

 

That was all I needed to hear, so that it gave me that go-ahead to write this blogpost.  

 

When I saw Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong giving his eulogy to the “Papa” that he loved so dearly, I was reminded that our late founding Prime Minister, was someone else’s father too. So yes, I spent much of my younger years hating the man, but as I grew up, my emotions grew up with me.  I am still my father's daughter and I love and respect him for having boldly taken a stand no matter the risks involved, standing by what he had believed in then.  However, I am also my nation's daughter and I respect Mr Lee for also having boldly taken a stand, no matter how many had felt about him then. He too, stood by what he had believed in.

 

Without any disrespect to my father, and with every respect to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew,  I am eternally grateful for his efforts in turning this country into a safe haven for my family and I.

 

About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from www.singaporemaven.com.  She is passionate about Muay Thai and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

 

186 comments:

  1. Thank you Joanna for your courage to write this blog. I choked with tears when I read the part your mom said your dad cried. Yes, all is forgiven and over. We love Singapore and thankful for the healing taken place during this time of mourning.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by my blogpost. It was part of my healing process and closure to write this:)

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  2. Joanna. Thank you so much for sharing your most intimate feelings and thoughts with us. This was really beautiful.

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    1. Thank you for reading my post. It's extra special for me when I know I have touched others with my experiences.

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    2. Wa, Joanna. I salute you. I have much to learn from your magnanimity. It's very hard to forgive considering what you have gone through. But you did. My best regards

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    3. Wa, Joanna. I salute you. I have much to learn from your magnanimity. It's very hard to forgive considering what you have gone through. But you did. My best regards

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  3. Dear Joanne,

    thank you for sharing, I hope the angry souls out there could read what you have just wrote. You spell out what is in my mind although I never went through the 60s and 70s. Likewise, I think Mr. Lee did what he had to, and stand by it, it is something we, today, have no guts to do.. I am most grateful to you and your family, for forgiving our nation father and grief for his passing.

    Thank you.
    Sammi

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    1. Sorry, Joanne...

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    2. Thank you Sam. I am so glad you enjoyed the post.

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    3. V magnanimous indeed. So much said of lky, its not him alone & those helping have also been rewarded handsomely. Its a passing of a generation & life stil gota go on. One day wil b us going. Wat to do tat's life.

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  4. Wow! Loved this.
    It's very touching and super inspiring.
    Thank you.

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    1. Thank you so much. It was part of my healing process:)

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  5. Thanks very much for sharing. I'm very sorry that you and your family went through such a rough time. I can't imagine how it was like. It's always easy to keep one's head down and follow the crowd. For that I admire people like your father (and LKY) who have the courage to stand by their convictions - not for personal gain but for national glory. Take care!

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  6. Thank you Joanna for your personal story. I admire you and your family for putting aside past hurts to forgive. I am proud to be a fellow Singaporean to your family. Juliana

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  7. Joanne, thank you for sharing this story! So glad that your family and the nation have moved on since.

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  8. thank you, i matured a little more reading this , im sure it felt great to let go and look at the great future where we can all enjoy!
    I'm sure ur father having a temper like Mr LKY would know how it was to be LKY
    I always said I will never understand how much LKY put in as I'm not at that level of playing field as him and I can only appreciate wat he has done, perhaps someone like ur father would be at that level and understand LKY and his thoughts.

    It was a beautiful article and I enjoyed every moment reading it. :)
    Thank you

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    1. You are so kind Edwyn. glad you enjoyed the post.

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    2. I'm humbled by ur generosity

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  9. Thank you for taking the first steps in healing. I believe others amongst us have a need for this same process too.

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  10. Thank you Joanna, it wasn't easy to go through what you went through and then forgive.. Tough decisions then.. and like to express thanks to your parents too. Pioneer Generation rocks

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    1. Thanks..yes tough decisions that needed to be made then.

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  11. I can imagine it must have been very tough growing up in that circumstances with all that animosity.
    Thank you for being objective.
    Thank you for having a big heart, enough to forgive the man who hurt your family. Thank you for being able to see beyond that hurt, for being able to see the greater good that Mr Lee has done to bring Singapore to where we are today.
    May God bless you and your family.

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    1. Thank you Esther for reading my post and thanks for your kind words.

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  12. Thank you for sharing this post, and allowing us to see it from your perspective. :')

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    1. Thanks Shine, the gratitude is mine. Sharing it with all of you helped my family and I have some closure.

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  13. Thanks Joanne... For this wonderful article. .. I am glad your dad has made peace with himself... Mr Lee has done what any parent would do for their children. ...the Best... only that his children included Singapore....

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  16. Your parents including you have such big hearts! To err is human, to forgive is divine:) May God bless you and family always!

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  17. I agree with you; he did what he had to during the era of uncertainty. It is regretful that you have to go through a difficult childhood but I am thankful that you and your family have become the bigger person to forgo the past, seeing how he has transformed singapore. Thank you. I hope more singaporeans, many who are anti for no concrete rationales, would see the greater good he forged.

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  18. Thanks for enjoying the read. I had no regrets about the past. Living in a country that's safe and full of opportunities made it all worthwhile.

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  19. Hey, nice blog post. IMHO his good far out weighs what others may perceive as bad. Anyways, nice refreshing read from an alternate PoV. Cheers

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  20. What a big heart. To quote Rev Desmond Tutu's book entitled "No Future without Forgiveness" is encapsulated in your story. Your parents are wonderfully kind and forgiving, and that's probably why you are too. I am hopeful for Singapore.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. It's really touched my heart.

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  21. Thank you for sharing. You have great parents who know, and are willing to forgive.
    The pain and anguish you went through as a child are real.. letting go and moving forward requires guts and more importantly love, love for self.
    May you find inner peace as your parents little girl and the daughter of our nation.

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  22. Hi Joanna! It must've taken courage to write this post, and even more to forgive. I'm sorry that your family had to go through such trying times, but I'm glad you pulled through. Thank you for sharing this story.

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    1. Very kind of you Qing. So glad you enjoyed reading my post.

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  23. Thank you for sharing. I hope Mr Lee Leng Kok has a chance to read it, as at today, he still hatres our founding father very much. Hope he can follow your father forget and forgive.

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    1. I think it's only when we can look back at things with unbiased perspective and approach the past with a balanced heart and head, then we can truly move forward to genuinely continue the legacy left by an exceptional man.

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  24. The passage of time is priceless; it also heal all wounds. Thanks for sharing and glad you and your family found closure. *hugs*

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  25. Nicely written, nicely shared. Hard for a little child to go through what you had to. This is the reality of life. We stand up for what we believe in, and sometimes there is a price to pay. So happy for you that you have reconciled the conflict that so often threatens to do continuing harm...good wishes..

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  26. Thank you Joanna for this post. It must had been difficult reconciling both perspectives of the story especially since you too suffered during the nation building process. Hats off to you for your immense courage in writing every single word in this article.

    Your fellow citizen,
    Reuel.

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    1. Thank you Reuel. It was difficult but I needed to approach it with a balanced view. So glad you enjoyed the read.

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  27. Thank you for this. I think forgiving the unforgivable takes true courage. Perhaps even greater courage than building an economy.

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  28. Rebecca Spykerman30 March 2015 at 09:16

    Hi Joanna, reading this was simply beautiful. "as I grew up, my emotions grew up with me." This one did it for me. This wasn't just about honest sharing, it was authentic, compassionate and insightful. It is an inspiration to see you rise above your darkness, heal your wounds and turn your pain into gold - that I believe will ripple out. I am sure that this week is providing an opportunity for many people in similar situations where they've experienced being a consequence of LKY's vision and I hope that people will see that your story offers a different insight to a different way of responding to what was - that anger, bitterness and resentment isn't the only option. Well done sweetheart, just inspiring :)

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    1. Thank you for warming my heart with your kind words Rebecca.

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  29. I teared. This sharing matters much to me, even though I did not lived the horrible times that you n your family were subjected to.

    Like many ordinary citizen children, I was brought up in the education system that gave us all a chance to step up our families' socio-economic circumstances. The same system also immersed us much in a single party's version of history.

    As I grow up, I read/realised to my horror of the darker side of our past. It was heart breaking like a child who found out that the father/grandfather he grew up to respect n idolize is actually a despicable person.

    It was a struggle in the last week on how to react/feel towards his demise. I am glad that I paid my tribute and now I am thankful that you shed light that provided my closure.

    May we all move ahead to acknowledge the past and surge forward to the future.
    Majulah Singapura!

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  30. The writer skipped the more important issue. So was her father a real communist? If yes, i am glad that the right side won, and lee stopped your father from harming himself and singapore. If no, then your father is owed a debt

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    1. He's absolutely not a communist. While he may have political opinions that are left off centre, my Dad was intelligent enough to discern the strengths and weaknesses of each political ideology.

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    2. Your article has gone viral. To show respect to your dad, this crucial point should be in the main article and not hidden inside hundreds of comments.

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    3. It's ok. People who know my father, know my father for the intelligent man that he is.. Don't need to prove a point. I think the purpose of the post is to put it past us and help our younger generation who hadn't been through uncertainties in our nations past history, to embrace the meaning of what true leadership is all about.

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    4. I got a feeling that Lee got it right. I was initially skeptical that there will be a marxist plot in singapore at that age and time. But my doubts were intensified when i read teo soh lung's valiant defense of communism. She is a detainee alike your father. Her article "http://therealsingapore.com/content/does-it-matter-if-lim-chin-siong-was-communist" made me question if she is a communist. She said "For more than half a century, Singaporeans have been told that communists were dangerous people and that they indulged in violence. The government conveniently omit to tell us that it was the communists who fought and died for Malaya during World War II.” Is that white washing communism? Although she spoken at lengths, I did not see her addressing the issue of whether she is or she is not a communist in her article. It was reported in several sources that the ideas that these detainees held were pro-communist. Although it is debatable that having such ideas may not be sufficient to label one as a communist, but surely in substance they are bona fide communists.


      If your father is really a communist, i am glad that Lee has put him behind bars, so that he cannot harm our society and himself. In fact, i think Lee is benevolent to simply detain him. In some countries, that would have carried a death penalty. Ronald Tan has spoken at lengths about the evils of communism "http://therealsingapore.com/content/yes-it-does-matter-if-lim-chin-siong-was-communist". I do not know what "left off the centre political opinions" your father has, but if they are remotely close to communism, then i think he deserved it. If he was an intelligent man, he would not have associated himself with these pro-communist people that would harm our society and themselves.

      Mao promised the Chinese people freedom. Lenin promised “bread, land and peace”. But as soon as they took power, their promises turned out to be empty rhetoric and whoever who opposed them were butchered or sent to to the gulag. Acts of Communist atrocities have been documented by those who lived them, such as George Orwell, Jung Chung, Ion Mihai Pacepa and Alexander Solzhenitsyn. There is no such thing as a peaceful communist, because the flesh and blood of communism, as with other radical leftist movements, is the rejection, unmaking and the eradication of existing society and order, which is why communists often impose reigns of terror and sweep away any semblance of the old order as soon as they assume power.

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    5. What Teo Soh Lung or others have said, isn't my problem. Like I said before, my father has left off center views, that doesn't make him a communist. An ideology is an ideology for being such because idealistidally, no one can every pursue a pure form of that ideology. But that's another topic of political discussion which I will not get into, because the intent of my blogpost is to move on from the episode in the past.

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  31. Let the healing begin......there are still wounds that are hurting after 50 odd years...let the reconciliation begin by letting the exiles come home.

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  32. One of the more balance and unbiased articles that I have read over the past week. Thanks for sharing your personal story with us and I am sure it will serve as a healing process for others too.

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  33. I believe your forgiveness is sincere, and for that, I think you and your parents have really big hearts. But, do you sincerely believe your father was innocent? If you do, how could you condone the injustice of locking him up without trial? Just because the perpetrator did that in good faith by taking a stand for his beliefs? Isn't any faith that causes, not by accident, an innocent person to be locked up without trial a heinous faith after all? Doesn't it deserve contempt instead of condoning? Forgiving the culprit may be fine, especially if it is done by the victim. But, isn't condoning the very crime an act of crime itself, even if it is done by the victim?

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    1. Are you assuming things too much?

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    2. I agree Myo! I find it STRANGE that she can forgive someone who treated her dad unfairly when LKY has never even apologised or admitted his mistake! Sounds like she's just drinking the kool aid to me. Doesn't make sense, unless she's a door mat.

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  34. I think I am your father's comtemporary as my daughter is same age as you. Like many others I have found closure from reading your article especially with reference to your parents forgiveness. I was branded a quiter by GCT who naturally dared not call us dissidents. Thank you to you and your family for showing such great grace

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    1. No, much thanks to you Eng Lim, it's your generation that thought us much.

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    2. I may be away from Surfers Paradise Gold Coast for 3 weeks from 15/4/15. Would you and family like to house sit anytime during this period? If I am able to hire a motorhome, you can also use my car.

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    3. Thanks for the offer Eng but am afraid our schedules are extremely packed at the moment. Thanks for the kind thoughts.

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  35. Thank you for this post. Especially the sentence, "Sure, some of his decisions were tough, but my Dad would have made the same decisions if he was in the shoes of Mr Lee."
    It doesn't matter what political idea they believes in, or what way did they use to achieve what they wanted. All they have in mind was for a better Singapore.

    With your dad forgiveness, I am sure Mr Lee would be glad that the tough decision he made was understood. And I hope not only Singaporeans understand this, but let the whole world know...

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  36. We all know that nobody is perfect. The decisions he made and the policies implemented at that time had wins and losses. Some policies affected some of us but as he said, "It is for the good of Singapore."

    At times, I felt critical of his party but I know, I am not wearing his shoes. His shoes were bigger than all of us - his responsibilities so much to bear. At the end of the day, good or bad men, we will face the Maker, for every man will give account of his deeds to God one day.

    Moving passed these, I looked at what he has done for Singapore and there is so much he had contributed. His generation like my grandfather had worked hard to make Singapore what it is today. Who can deny without their perseverance, we won’t be where we are today.

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  37. The truth will set you (us) free. A moving episode.

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    1. Blessed are those who forgives. May God bless you Joanne and your family.

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  38. You are right.....to forgive but not forget....he did what he had to do so the nation can survive....it was tough....you cannot do what he did in 50 years without making some tough decisions

    Some media painted him as a "dictator", I think the writer needs to go back and Google what "being a dictator means"...lky dictated but he was not a dictator. ....he dictated cos he had to lead a team to build a nation...
    Would his tactics work in 2015...probably not...but it worked 50 years ago...
    .god bless lky and may he rest in peace....

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  39. Dear Joanne, thank you for sharing. A very touching post. I enjoy reading it.
    Linda

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  40. Hi Joanna,

    I'm very thankful for having read this, as someone who admires this great man, yet has often wondered about his impact on those he persecuted. I'm so very glad that your father was able to make his peace with Mr Lee. God bless you and your family!

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  41. Thank you for your sharing. Will link this article to my blog (kaffein-nated.blogspot.com).

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  42. Thank you for sharing this. "Ask what you can do for your country". If anything at all, last week's event got me thinking about my patriotism and what I can do more to make this a better country and home. Mr Lee's unwavering dedication and love for Singapore is inspiring. I hope all Singaporeans can think about how they can contribute to make this a better society for the next fifty years, especially the younger generation.

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  43. Thank you very much for this post. You have personally suffered much and yet you have forgiven and see the point. Alas, too many others are chasing after wind.

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    1. There was nothing to forgive actually. What had happened, had to happen.

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  44. Thank you for sharing this Joanna. I have always wondered how it was like for those on the "other" side of this story. Thank you for shedding light by sharing your personal story and giving us all perspective. Your courage is very admirable. I wish you and your family all the best. Cheers!

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  45. Hi. Thank you for sharing. I hope you can share your father's thoughts. Not what you or your mom think he feels. Has he really forgiven the man?

    I am not magnanimous. Although I acknowledge that lky has done much good for singapore, I wonder if the harsh and ruthless treatment of his political enemies necessary?

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    1. Adriana, my father communicates by the way he responses to us. His years tells it all. He has suffered a stroke and is incapacitated but is mentally very lucid so he knows exactly what's going on. So yes, he has put it behind him.

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  46. Joanna, your dad is a hero in my eyes, a person who cared deeply enough about this country to seek better ways of being, to speak out against what he saw as wrong. He did this in spite of great risk. Thank you for beautifully and soulfully articulating your journey to forgiveness. May you and your dad be blessed with comfort and peace and lots of light as you both journey on.

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    1. Thank you for your heartwarming words Theresa

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  47. You do your father, family and Singapore proud. Thank you for choosing to share your journey.

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  48. Thank you Joanna, for sharing. And thank you and your father for forgiving. I think I need not say more as others had already said what I would want to say. I just wish other innocent victims would let it go too. We can't turn back the clock and set things right. In fact given the situation back then, there weren't much choices. You had said it best: "Sure, some of his decisions were tough, but my Dad would have made the same decisions if he was in the shoes of Mr Lee. Ultimately, when he gave his entire life for nation building, he was in it for the nation and its people, not himself."
    We can't change the past, but we can decide how we want to live on. Anger and hatred will not bring you peace and happiness.
    Thank you and may life be more blissful for you and your family now... All the best.

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    1. I wish you the same. Thank you for reading my post.

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  49. Just wanna say huge respect to your dad for his generous ability to let the past be the past, and to have moved on and be at peace with it. I wish him a healthy life in his old age.

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    1. My sincere apology, just saw from one of your previous replies that your dad had a stroke and is incapictated. I hope he is as comfortable as he can be.

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  50. " ...but my Dad would have made the same decisions if he was in the shoes of Mr Lee. Ultimately, when he gave his entire life for nation building, he was in it for the nation and its people, not himself."

    I experience forgiveness and love. Forgiveness for the man who caused pain and hurt during your childhood. And love for what he devoted his life to created for the Nation. Thank you for inspiring and open a space for letting me (us) in your healing.

    Infinite love & gratitude,
    Jonathan Chua

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, the gratitude is mine. I am glad the post has touched many about the story of letting things go and putting the past behind

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  51. Just would like to say, that it is only people like your family and the late LKY who can judge whether or not his actions then were right.

    The rest of us were bystanders and were not actively involved.

    I thank your dad, family and his others friends who were jailed for their sacrifice for the nation, in their own form, they had their personal freedom taken away in order for Singapore to be where it is today.

    Thank you.

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  52. Joana, thank you for having such balanced views given your circumstances. I know of people who curse the PAP to kingdom come just because they received a parking summons, which they never mention that they deserved.
    There is nothing wrong with the views of your dad back then. He simply had a different view of things. It would only have been unforgiveable had he resorted to violence as a means to his ends.

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    1. You don't know how much this comment means to me. Thank you.

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  53. Dear Joanna,
    Bitterness will kill you, forgiveness will breathe life back into you. Walking living over being walking dead. I share your passion in martial arts and together with your crazy angmo hubby, both will keep you sane. Let us all know when you will debut in your 1st MMA match. We shall cheer you on. Take care.
    Eugene

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  54. If I were to be in your father's shoes or yours for that matter, I would probably have felt a lot of bitterness and anger over the years. But to be able to ultimately forgive is to experience inner peace, comfort and healing. Thanks Joanna for your sharing and best wishes and good health to you and your family.

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  55. Dear Joanna,

    Thank you very much for sharing your story with us. Although I'm deeply grateful for Mr Lee, I'm also terribly sorry for what happened to you and your family. If we are to believe that Mr Lee sacrificed for the good of the country, then families like yours should be remembered for their sacrifices as well. Thanks again and good luck.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Andrew. glad you enjoyed the post.

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  56. Thank you for sharing! I am sure your parents are very proud of you.

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  57. Thank you for the article. All this years I have been reading his books and watching most of his speeches on Yoitube, Somehow I have come to terms to the fact that the man had to do what he had to do. All of us are the benefectors from his strong dedication to the cointry.

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  58. Joanna, magnanimous.

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  59. great article! definitely gave me another point of view of how life was back then. given that i was born in the 90's, its very hard for me to imagine how life was back then too. im happy that you and your family has moved on and being so magnanimous!

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    1. What a fab comment Nicholas, the article is written for people like you so you will understand some of the struggles we went through to support this nation. If it has touched you, I think what my family and I went through was not for nothing, thank you for the time.

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  60. Dear Joanna, Tris here - I had to delete my comment as Facebook - for some reason - has decided to use my profile picture as the thumbnail for your blog, and the more the blogpost goes viral (as it well should), the more my face and my wife's face gets all over the Internet. My comments about the catharsis your blog post shared still remain true however :)

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    1. Hahahaha! Omg! That's so funny. Thank you for letting me know:)

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  61. Thank you very much for your sharing your thoughts. I have enjoyed reading your post. Your objective and positive thinking despite your difficult situation has touched my heart very much. You have great parents and their strength can be seen in you, too. May your dreams come true.

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  62. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  63. Thank you Joanna. Thank you Uncle & Auntie (your parents) . Take care.

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  64. Great piece of blog here. Have posted it up on BlogTakes for Malaysians on this side of planet earth to enjoy.

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  65. Joanna, it takes great courage and a big heart to do such a thing. You and your dad deserves a big applause. Forgiveness also sets us free. Like Nelson Mandela said:

    As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison.

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  66. I commend you for your courage to face the past squarely and share your experience with everyone. God bless you and your family and all those who were hurt in the process of our nation building!

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  67. In your case, your dad seemed to have been communist back then, so okay maybe your dad really did do something wrong. But there were INNOCENT people who were jailed by Lee too - i don't think your case and your story applies to them. I can see YOU forgiving Lee, but not the innocent ones.

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    1. My dad had left of center opinions but he's definitely not communist, in any case, it doesn't matter what the label is...it's all behind us now..and we move forward, that's what matters.

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    2. In that case, you think that your dad deserved to be imprisoned for having 'left of centre' opinions, just for the good of the nation? Seriously? I admire your humanity to forgive, but I do question how you can admire the man who did wrong to your dad - no matter how much good he did afterward. I don't even know your dad but I feel it's just wrong to do this to a human being - no matter what the excuses are. And yes they are excuses - nothing justifies imprisoning anyone or taking away their freedom or human rights. I can understand you forgiving him just to give yourself closure to the wound and move on, but you seem to REALLY believe he was justified in throwing your dad in prison. I can't understand that I'm afraid.

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  68. This is a much needed testimony to bring to surface the dark side of our history. Thank you for being so courageous to share such intimate details of your family in the media. A very rare and legitimate insight into Operation Coldstore. I have been watching interviews and reading articles on dissidents who have left Singapore (that of course includes "From Singapore with Love"). Everything about it was clouded with emotions - anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment, grief, instilled 'fear', etc. I long for a researcher who could put this part of history into nonpartisan perspective.

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  69. This is just a touching post. My best wishes for you and your family. Your father loved Singapore too, as LKY did.

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. He actually did:)

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  70. Joanna, you had every right to hold on to your anger, resentment and pain. Not many people had walked in your shoes and could claim to fully emphathise with your experience. Your growung up years could have been very different if your daddy had not been not imprisoned. However, you decided to do the better, you decided to
    forgive...And that's the highest calling. Kudos to you, your mom and your dad ...

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    1. Thank you Corinne. Actually there was nothing to forgive. What had happened, just had to happen. My family was stronger for it. Thanks for your interest in my post.

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  71. Hi Jo, Thank you very much for sharing this very inspiring story. Cheers, Alrick

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  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  73. Hi Joanna, as I bow in gratitude and respect to LKY, I will also bow in inadequate gratitude and respect to your dad and your family as well as to many other oppositions who have suffered so much under his tough policies; for all they did is believing and acting selflessly for the sake of the progress for Singapore. Thank you for your dad's and your family's magnanimity, and thank you for sharing this. It means a lot to me.

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    1. Gratitude should be mine Raphael. Thank you for taking the time to read my post and for understanding my family's difficult past.

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  74. Thank you for sharing. It's probably considered hopelessly naive, but I think that noone should ever hurt an 8-year old girl (or boy). They are our future.

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  75. Courage and vulnerability, a potent concoction. Heartfelt writing. I hope this brought you closure, as you had intended. I grieved in a different way, and shared my thoughts here: http://goo.gl/SKkOPK. Majulah Singapura!

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  76. This article was very interesting to me as it is close to my heart. Would you still support the detention of persons without trial, in the same way your father has been detained?

    I know many people who have been detained without trial in Singapore. They are campaigning for the abolishment of the ISA. Perhaps they do so because have not forgiven or forgotten. But I support this campaign and my reason is this - If you fell into a manhole and injured yourself because someone left it open, it may be well and good to forgive the person who left it open, or even deliberately opened it so that you will fall it. But as someone who has experienced the pain of having fallen into a manhole, I would rather not sit by and leave it open and let others fall in.

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    1. For all intents and purpose, when society can be subjected to the vulnerabilities of that time, for example, in this era that would be terrorism, then yes, detention without trial is important.

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  77. Hi Joanna, thanks for sharing. Reading this is a mind opening experience for me. Thanks again and I wish all is well for you and your family.

    Lay Tin

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  78. Hi Joanna, thank you for sharing your personal history. Reading it made me wonder if I could just as mature or forgiving as you are if I were to be placed in your shoes. I hope, in time, to grow into a beautiful person such as you.

    I wish you and family well.

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  79. Dear Joanna,
    A big thumb up to you for sharing with us. I am wondering if you are interested in the Malaysia MMA scene especially Johor? I can provide you with the latest news and tournament if you don't mind. I love MMA too. Contact me at joyce@tpgr.com

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  80. Thank you Joanne for your honesty and your sincere desire to seek, understand and forgive. That's a gift that many have not found. Your sharing will facilitate that. I pray you will continue to seek and find with much love and joy. Pax!

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  81. I am reminded of my younger days, hearing similar stories from my folks as people they knew landed up in situation not unlike your father's. Growing up, I recalled feeling very indignant about it yet also filled with a certain trepidation for the gov. which i'm glad to say is long gone. Thank you Joanna for your honesty and openness to share your story. It needs to be heard.

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  82. While Mr LKY's contribution to Singapore is extraordinary and immeasurable, the unfortunate thing about politics as you correctly pointed out, is that it can be dirty and cruel. For that, I admire and respect your dad for having the heart and passion to want to do good for Singapore. I'm sure he will as successful if given a chance to. And for you to step out of darkness and forgive the person who is responsible for your childhood sufferings speak volume of your courage and honorable character. Best wishes ahead for you and your family; you guys are great and deserve every bit of respect out there!

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  83. I sat here, not knowing how to respond when I read what you wrote.. and in my head the words " growing up" just kept ringing. 2 simple words, yet filled with such power and maturity. I've learnt something from you today and I thank you for imparting this simple yet essential truth. You're a gem

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    1. You have no idea how much your words mean to me, thank you.

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  84. I read this post and I think you are a strong person. And even stronger when you are able to pen it down the way you did. May God always give you and family strength.

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  85. Ultimately, when he gave his entire life for nation building, he was in it for the nation and its people, not himself. He said, “"I have never been over-concerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind ... you will go where the wind is blowing. And that's not what I am in this for." Like this one.. thanks

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  86. Thank you for sharing this, I am glad your family has healed and moved forward. Mr Lee did what he believed was best for Singapore. I believed GOD placed him there to look after his children and to create a safe haven for us.

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  87. Thank you for sharing - and if there is one inspiration story (or more accurately a real life event) on forgiveness, yours is one. The hurt is real, but grace is found when the soul finds peace in an eternal source. May you, your parents and family be blessed in the same as our nation has also be blessed throughout this journey of difficult years of nation - building, by men and women convicted by the same cause like your Dad and the late Mr Lee.

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