Leadership, longevity and ‘letting go’

From left to right: Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo, Mao Zedong, Mahathir Mohammed, and Lee Kuan Yew

From left to right: Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo, Mao Zedong, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and Lee Kuan Yew

After Chiang Kai-shek’s death in Taiwan, after many years of dictatorial rule, his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, opened up the political arena. And for the first time after that, the KMT lost, resulting in the multi-party vibrant democracy Taiwan enjoys today. And for that, Chiang junior is remembered. While his father, although strongly critiqued by many in Taiwan for his brutal ways, died early enough to not extend the wrath too far, and so is still respected, really, as the man who stood for the Republic of China, at a time of fallout with the PRC.

Mao Zedong of the PRC was also luckily short-lived, comparatively. Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, just across the causeway and taken to be LKY’s ‘counterpart’, also retired much earlier than Lee, not just from Premiership, but also gracefully from all political appointments. He may receive brickbats, but compared to Lee, he was able and willing to “let go”. Today he stands tall as a critic of the current BN govt, and his daughter a vocal liberal.

I would have admired and respected Lee Kuan Yew much more if he had been more like these other leaders. As you can see, I am not asking for perfection. I am just vouching for gentlemanliness, courtesy and a soulful spirit.

Albert Tay 


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