One of my electives back in Learning Fest was Chinese philosophy… and I vividly remember one phrase from the course, which the teacher said was in the school’s 正心园 – the quote was 修身，齐家，治国 平天下. What that meant was that first, you have to cultivate your moral self (hey PPT) then manage your household, before you can go on to cure/ heal the country and conquer the world. It’s probably a Confucian idea, but regardless of whether you approve of Confucianism, I think that it’s something that the late LKY followed.
Alas, what we see today among the familee is rather shocking. The situation would have been much funnier and more entertaining if (1) this isn’t happening in Singapore (2) the accused isn’t the prime minister (3) basically, if the stakes weren’t so high. Let’s face it – it’s an open secret that Singapore’s official press is ridiculously strict and restricting. But perhaps it is all part of an overarching reason to benefit the society? (Let me just qualify that I’m not really a conservative person, or a blind follower. If I was the latter, I wouldn’t even bother with this post.) Like, perhaps it’s so that there will be national ‘harmony’ (or rather, as long as it can last until the Internet takes over the world), peace and security, and like, a fluffed-up-clean-and-beautiful impression of Singapore on the global stage. (Ok, I’m not very sure about the last one since censorship and bad press doesn’t bode well for us on the international front either.
But anyway, this is an example of how 齐家 is not met and you try to 治国平天下. It’s entertaining yet uncomfortable watching this drama unfold. What happened to ‘never air your dirty laundry in public’? As a Facebook user commented, perhaps it is time for some clean linen.
I suppose the PM is in a tight spot now, with his currently-conflicting roles as a son, a brother, and the ruler of the country. It must have been a hard journey stepping out of his father’s shadows, proving his capabilities, only to be met with such accusations and comments from his sister.
It’s one thing to be ‘entertained’ by internet trolls and youngsters ‘defaming’ him and then getting sued for that, but it’s a different matter when the defamation is done by a family member – are you going to sue her? if you do, are you going to make the family a mess in public? if you don’t, is that double standards at play? Then again, she used a word that’s harsher than many other accusations yet rather subjective: dishonourable. In a Confucian society, that is the trademark of a bad leader, a bad son, a bad person even. The word has such strong negative connotations that it’s honestly jaw-dropping to hear/read about it.
The PR team is going to have a field day, while netizens just watch the show.
Frankly though, what happened to
(1) family conversations (unless family relations have been detached and terrible for a while now since the parents’ death? What happened to Sunday lunches?)
(2) self-editing before posting anything online (oh and this includes, re-reading and checking your basic grammar – dude, did you not graduate from the UK/US? Sorry to say this, but you were a President’s Scholar with a doctorate from an elite university yet primary school children probably have better grammar than you do)
(3) being aware that something posted online can never be recalled? (hey, even pre-college kids know how to do some Internet-purge and know better than to post weird comments online, out of fear that their future interviewers stalk them online – and this is why this is saved in the doc instead of WordPress)
(4) don’t you have some lawyer friends who can help you proof-read your works before you publish them? (So that y’know, you don’t get sued? Even Xiaxue knows how to do that. Unless you have faith in your bro that he won’t sue his sister for defamation)
Okay but even though I say all these jokinglee, I do hope that things won’t get uglier. More entertaining, yes, but not uglier. The people getting dragged into this mess are increasingly powerful.
And y’know what? I’m sure most parents wouldn’t want their very powerful children to fight in public, as much as they wouldn’t want to be hero-worshipped. You can protect your father’s name and wishes, but please realise that how your father is remembered in the future – i.e. his name and reputation – is closely tied to the legacy and reputation of your brother, his son, as well.
DAMAGE CONTROL PLEASE. MORE POPCORN PLEASE.