Even modern cyber-savy parents freak out when their kids send sms'es instead of talking to them face to face. But what do you do with an offspring, adult-size, who sends you an email when she needs a new toothbrush? One mother's response: "I am telepathic. I just got a toothbrush for you. But one day, the commisariat will not be around." Mrs Lee Kuan Yew has been bedridden since 12 May 2008, result of a massive stroke. Some people will just have to grow up, even if she's already in her 50's.
Another daughter recalls how Mrs Lee broke protocol momentarily by abandoning her place of honour next to Mr Mahathir's wife to be near to her own mother for a few words, as latter's hearing problems inhibited conversation. Although Ms Tan Siok Choo wrote that she, and her mom, will always cherish Mrs Lee's kindness, it was the "continuing animus" against her father that prompted her to write to the Straits Times.
In deference to the surviving kin of the late Goh Keng Swee, Ms Tan had waited until after the customary 100 days of mourning before responding to what she calls "Mr Lee's unwarranted attack on my father," the late Tan Siew Sin. In the eulogy to Goh on 23 May 2010, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had said:
"After we had joined Malaysia, we discovered we had been ambushed. He (Goh Keng Swee) stood up for our rights and fought to protect Singapore's interests against the Federal Finance Ministry, whose Finance Minister was his cousin, Tan Siew Sin, who was out to spite Singapore."
Refuting the suggestion, Ms Tan used her father's own words in a Parliamentry speech of 1 June 1965 to demonstrate the true side of the story, "I would like to make clear that we in the Central Government, whatever our differences with the Singapore Government might be, have no quarrel with the people of Singapore. Not only do we wish them well, but also we want them to progress as they should progress, bearing in mind some of the great qualities which they possess in so marked a degree."
Much as Ms Tan is sad that Lee still harbours ill will against a man who has been dead for 22 years, we are sadder still in that kind, encouraging words for Singaporeans had to come from across the Causeway. Back home, we are lambasted with all sorts of pejoratives (literal and metaphorical) and relegated to third class citizen status while $10 million is splurged to welcome foreigners of all shapes, colours and smells. Ms Tan's filial piety is worthy of emulation, and living testimony that she is not the product of a dysfunctional family.