“And even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up.”
Personally, I don't know whether the recent public feud between his children is what the late LKY had in mind when he made that death-defying declaration in 1990?
In any event, nothing could have prepared LKY and his wife for the recent events that have unfolded between his sons and daughter in the post-LKY age of government.
It is ironic, to say the least, that the 6-page letter written by LHY and LWL is entitled "What happened to Lee Kuan Yew's values?"
"I have no regrets. I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There's nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life."
If there is any value that LKY holds dear in his heart, it has to be these two; first, the devotion of his wife as a nurturing mother to their children, and second, his unshakeable dedication to building up Singapore to be what she is today, that is, clean, meritocratic and open.
Everything that LKY and his team did, notwithstanding the human flaws of his authoritarian leadership, was to build a democratic society based on justice and equality so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for the nation.
LKY's legacy and values are inseparable, and their ultimate goal is a united people of different backgrounds living in peace and harmony under one trusted, respected and competent leadership.
Now that the private feud is made public, and with serious allegations of misuse of power, underhanded tactics, dishonesty, misrepresentation, nepotism, and hinting to a natural aristocracy, this goal of peace and harmony as one united nation is not only under threat, it also risks destroying everything that LKY and his team have painstakingly built up over the decades since independence.
Even from the grave, his hard-fought legacy threatens to unravel in the hands of his groomed successor and genetic offspring.
The second irony is that the cause of this most unfortunate family saga has to do with the house that they have all grown up in. It is said that a house (or nation) divided will not stand.
And the bitter contest between the siblings is over the demolition or the preservation of LKY's Oxley house, or between preventing hero worship and allegedly leveraging on the house for political capital.
Well, the house may still be standing today for whatever reasons against LKY's expressed wishes in his Will, but the foundation upon which she stands on like sacrifice, trust, hope, love, decorum and unity is fast sinking when the siblings' feud (and allegations) went public.
It is said that if there is a Will, there is a tale, and this tale has boiled over to a rivalry that has stunned the nation.
The timing of it is mischievous - the Facebook post was sent out in the wee hours of the morning (when LHL is on holiday). The content is disturbingly incriminating - the feeling of a big brother omnipresence and the desire to leave the country of one's birth under its oppressive elements.
And the split seems irreconcilable - "we do not trust Hsien Loong as a brother or a leader. We have lost confidence in him."
If you put them all together, you get the feeling that our PM has a lot to explain and give an account of when he returns from his holiday this weekend.
It would indeed be an uphill climb for him to rebut each and everyone of the serious allegation that his siblings have levelled against him, against his leadership and against his character, credibility and contribution to the nation.
It is thus no more a family affair behind closed doors. It is now an open-house inspection of an issue of public-concern for all who once unite under one red-and-white flag.
Mind you, these allegations are not from an opposition leader, a foreign press, or a NCMP. They are from his own brother and sister, who are themselves distinguished members of society.
What's more disconcerting is that they hint to an SOS-like call for help as if they are at the end of their rope with keeping the lid on the family and political affair.
And the third and final irony is in the words of LKY when he was asked with reference to threat of a rising populist form of government after the 2011 election. "But do you feel sad sometimes, looking at what lies ahead for Singapore?"
He replied, "To tell you the truth, I am resigned to what will happen. There is no need to be sad. It depends upon the generation that is growing up now, what they will do. Do they share the values of their parents' generation?"
I guess he's right. Each generation will have to confront the unique challenges of their age.
It is undeniable that the 1st generation after Independence led a fear-driven, authoritarian govt in an era of uncertainty with provable progress.
GCT however led a consensus driven, consultative govt in an era of continuity and redress for structural and democratic rigidities of the past.
And now LHL led an open-style driven, reconciliative govt in an era of opportunity and success.
Alas, of the many challenges that LHL's cabinet faces, never in his late father's wildest dream that it would be one from within his own family. Move aside Hong Lim square, it is now Oxley road that shook her foundation.
For the moment, regardless of who's right or wrong, this third irony is the most painful and bitter of them all.
It is thus a sad day for the political leadership of the country. Even sadder for the social stability of the nation. And the saddest to wonder what have the people up there been hiding from the hoi polloi, that is, the common folks who are the majority below trying to make ends meet.
Let me end with how LKY answered an interviewer's question when asked whether PAP can envisage a sharing of power in a two-party system where one-third is to the opposition and two-thirds to the ruling party.
He said, "Do you think that is possible? If you have three children, can you persuade two of them to vote for the PAP and one for the opposition?"
Well, looking at the way things have unravelled between the three children, nothing is impossible anymore. Cheerz.