I didn’t want to blog anything about the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. It was not that I did not respect him, it was precisely because I respected him that I wasn’t sure what was befitting to say.
Until a chain of events happened over breakfast yesterday morning. I decided keep them in my journal, because of the important lessons I hope my children will learn and a reminder to myself on my duty as a parent at a time like this.
We were out for breakfast at a nearby coffee shop which was next to a community tribute site. On the next table was a family with a teenage girl, who had just came from the community tribute. The family was just having casual family conversations, when the teenage girl made a remark, “Wah, that was the closest I have gotten to LKY! To an ENLARGED photo of him.”
Immediately, her parents told her not to talk like that. It was disrespectful. The young ones may think her parents over-reacted, but I think her parents did right. I’m sure the teenager meant no disrespect, but some comments are not appropriate at a solemn time like this. Imagine if the parents have not stopped her, and the girl had gone on to social media and posted the same thing, complete with a selfie at the community tribute. We all know what that would lead to. It struck me that, at times like this, how important it is for us parents to teach our children the importance of proper speech and decorum.
Lesson #1 on Respect: Be sensitive
After breakfast, we walked over to the community tribute to see the messages that people have left for Mr Lee Kuan Yew. There was a family with a girl in her early twenties there. The girl, reading some of the comments, told her parents, “Sure or not? Say until so great… *about to engage in some political debate*” She was immediately cut off by her parents to stop.
We have all been there, debating over the less glamorous things Mr Lee Kuan Yew had done. That was during General Elections 2011. At that time, such debates were appropriate. But to start a debate right after his passing on? At a community tribute? That is highly inappropriate and disrespectful.
Lesson #2 on respect: Speak appropriately at the right time and place.
I was thinking this is a problem faced by parents of older children. What I didn’t expect was for my own 4 year old to commit a Boo-Boo.
My 4 year old has been pretty curious about Mr Lee Kuan Yew. After all, his usual cartoons on OKTO have been overrode by documentaries of this man. Like almost every other parent out there, my hubby has been using the opportunity to tell him about all the great contributions of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and how we should not take what we have for granted.
So as we were passing by the MRT station on the way home, my 4 year-old saw the digital billboard displaying a “Remembering Lee Kuan Yew” poster and asked to take a photo with it. I didn’t see anything wrong with it, I thought it was a good thing! We have progressed from, “What happened to my cartoons on OKTO?? Why no cartoon?? *whine whine whine*” to “Can I take a photo with Lee Kuan Yew?” So we said okay, you can take a photo.
He ran over to the photo and went, “CHEESE!” complete with a V sign. Immediately, both hubby and I went, “NO!!!” Hubby quickly told him to just stand straight and stop the cheese.
Lesson #3 on respect: Show proper decorum
It is the least we could do to show respect for a man who has given up his life to build up what we have today.
Thank you Mr Lee Kuan Yew for all you have done for Singapore and the people. I hope that my children will be upright and respectful citizens of this country that you have painstakingly built up and never forget your contributions.