Thursday, April 7, 2016


By Mansor Puteh

There is a photo of Lee Kuan Yew shouting or screaming MERDEKA in 1957 when he receives Tunku Abdul Rahman who just landed at the airport in Singapore from London where Tunku had secured independence for the country from Britain, which I found to be interesting.

This photo which I had not seen before is found in a coffee table book on Kuan Yew published by the Straits Times of Singapore I saw when I transited at Changi Airport in November, 2013 when I was on my way to Porto in Lisbon via Amsterdam in Holland.

It shows how happy Kuan Yew was greeting Tunku upon his return from London where he had secured Merdeka or Independence for Tanah Melayu or Malaya which was going to be on 31 August, 1957.

Tunku and his small retinue of political leaders of all races, from the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and Malayan Indian Congress (MIC) decided not to fly to the Sungai Besi Airport but the one in Singapore from where they would drive to Melaka where Tunku was to formally announce to the people of the country’s impending Independence.

Tanah Melayu or Malaya achieved Independence in 1957 as planned and on 16 September, 1963, the Federation of Malaysia was formed which included Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak.

But unfortunately, Singapore could not stay long in the Federation of Malaysia and had to be sacked from it, causing Kuan Yew to be sad and crying on television when he made the announcement in 1965.

Dr Mahathir Mohammad said Kuan Yew wanted to be a leader of a larger country, Malaysia, but Tunku thwarted his grand ambitions.

So can we say Kuan Yew was a successful political leader? No. Maybe not.

He is a leader of such a small country, which is still totally dependent on the charity of Malaysia for providing it with cheap natural or raw water from Malaysia that is still sold at basement price of two sen for 1,000 or 2,000 gallons.

Unfortunately, the currency used for the payment of the water is defunct, being the British cents; so legally can Singapore pay for the water at the old rate?

And Malaysia was also kind enough to provide with cheap sand to allow Singapore to expand its maritime borders, until the sale was stopped; so Singapore now has to import more expensive sand from Myanmar.

And there is also cheating when Kuan Yew brought in Zionist agents acting as their military advisors but claming that they are ‘Mexicans’, which he exposed in his autobiography.

But much earlier, the island was stolen from Johor when Stamford Raffles cunningly lied to Raja Hussain Shah a.k.a. Tengku Long or Raja Long, by installing him the first Sultan of Singapore at the Padang or Field but for the excuse that the British were allowed to establish a mere Trading Post.

But later the British claimed the whole island by swarming it with Chinese and Indian coolies to marginalize the majority Melayu, who they did not care to import from the neighboring Melayu states so much so that by the late Nineteenth Century, the Melayu had become a minority race. .

Now the population of the Melayu in Singapore is fourteen percent and the country makes sure it remains that way; so if there is a diminishing percentage of the Chinese, they make sure to bring in more Chinese from Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and China and everywhere to fix the fourteen percent Melayu population in the country.

If this is not done, then surely by now Singapore would have more Melayu than Chinese now.

In many ways, Kuan Yew had failed; he failed to get what he had set out to do…which was to govern Malaysia

Of course one can see a lot of things happening in Singapore now and especially the high-rise buildings and other skyscrapers and other entertainment centers and not forgetting the casinos and so on.

But are all these that Kuan Yew had wanted for Singapore to have? What else did he want for it that he could not get, until he died and knowing also how his successors, Goh Chok Tong and now his son, Hsien Loong?

Unfortunately, Kuan Yew did not mention about this in his autobiography or any of the interviews he had given to the newspapers in his country or abroad when he was alive to describe his personal feelings on his successes and failures.

And I have read his autobiography, ‘No man is an island’ and did not see statements attributing to these matters.

In fact, he had also neglected to mention the time when he was lawyer for Utusan Melayu on Cecil Street and also the Shaw Brothers’ Malay Film Production studios at 8 Jalan Ampas in Singapore when he acted as the counsel for the Melayu artistes, whose experience he had managed to use to promote himself as a potential political leader of Singapore.

Without this experience in dealing with the union and direct engagement with Utusan Melayu then he would not be able to be what he would later become.

Yet, there was no real desire for Singapore to even consider the former Utusan building as a heritage building of the country; and unfortunately, it was demolished soon afterwards to make way for a row of new shop houses.

I had tried to visit the former Utusan headquarters using my GPS but it did not register the old address and the vehicle I took passed by it along the same Cecil Street which is still there.

But I got someone to use the GPS to take us to go to the former Shaw Brothers’ film studios at 8 Jalan Ampas to see some of the old studio and office buildings still standing with an information plague which looks like it is a recognition for its past achievement.

It was also the second time I visited the studios, with the first one I made in 1963 when the studios were churning out many interesting films that were watched by many from all the major races in the country.

And these two places were also where Kuan Yew used to come then for his business as a lawyer…

(Note: I was touched when Aziz Sattar said he had met with Kuan Yew to plead with him to get a screening for ‘Keluarga Si Comat’ to be screened in Singapore with Kuan Yew watching the film and remarking, ‘Not bad!’

This film got a date at the cinemas in Singapore because of him, who still had a soft spot for Aziz Sattar and his friends who he must have known since the old Jalan Ampas studios days. 

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