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Sunday, May 08, 2005 

Mourning to the Morning

We all know that former President Wee Kim Wee passed away. Well, unless you're not Singaporean, or if you had your head shoved into a mudhole for the past week.

The news broke on the labour day holiday itself, and I think many people gasped in shock, or perhaps heaved a sigh when the news of Wee Kim Wee's demise spread to them. Indeed many people recount their past encounters with him with fond memories, often aggrandizing him by displaying him as a caring leader full of humility and love for the common folk, and in the process almost elevating him to the level of some benevolent saint, i.e. Mother Teresa. The media, along with countless amounts of layman, made him out to be a selfless, kind man. Perhaps he was indeed that amazing, judging by the countless words of praise showered by the people at his wake.

I, for one, didn't feel much for him. This does not indicate a lack of respect or honour, neither does it imply that I am another apathetic young Singaporean Gen-Y-er. If, indeed, if it was MM Lee Kuan Yew who passed away, I would definitely have felt at least a little sad, even though such a piece of news would still fail to elicit any really strong feelings within me. The main reason was the fact that I was way too young to know of the works of such a man. In fact, I only knew of his man's existence on the very day of his demise.

Now now, acknowledging the many wonderful works this man has done for the country is one thing, but the idea of a mass wake open to the public is one I often view with contempt. You know they always say, President dies, the world stops for a day to mourn, we normal layman die, life goes on as usual.

The late President Wee Kim Wee must have done a great lot for society I am sure, and must be revered and loved by many who has personally witnessed his humility and benevolence, but I am dead certain many others must have exceeded him in terms of effort spent in doing good. In fact, some people dedicate their ENTIRE lives to doing good, for example social workers, who despise the lack of financial prospects and shy away from public scrutiny to do good. No media exposure, no big-hype tribute to such a special breed of people. If these people toil day and night, scrimping and saving so as to survive on their meagre paycheck, and do not gain even a little public praise, why should the President, who does barely as much as these sacrificial people, get such a big hype commemoration ceremony? Plain unfair I tell you. Granted, many of these people who dedicate their lives to the cause of making a positive impact on the world are not the ra-ra kind of people, and would rather stay behind the scenes, shying from any media attention, and that is the choice they make. Still, sometimes I lament the unfairness of this society in not giving merit to where it is really due.

Sometimes I look at these people in authority, and I wonder if they really deserve the kind of flattery they deserve. The late president probably deserved his, but when I think about the royal family in the UK, I can't help but cringe in disgust. Those people are BORN into the royal family, and all their lives, just because of mere biological coincidences, get to enjoy a life of luxury, while the layman of the country slog and toil away day and night to make ends meet. These people did not work to deserve their place in the royal family, their position of power was ust handed to them like that, as the legacy goes, but no one personally went up to them and said that they deserved their place they're holding. So that doesn't make them SUPERIOR, that just makes them LUCKIER. Sometimes I see those smug faces of the princes and I can't help but feel disgusted.

Done with the digressing, now back to the main point.

I remember the day after the Pope died, my friend asked me whether I was feeling sad, but my frank answer was that I didn't feel much at all. Neither did Raymond, even though he is a pretty staunch Christian. Sure, this man touched the world with his great works of love and his forgiving heart, but I think millions of people who share similar attributes do exist. And besides, he hasn't done anything that has really revolutionised my life, so naturally I was rather nonchalant about it. A friend who happened to be nearby, commented that I was a bastard when he heard I don't really feel sad for the late Pope. Which of course made me want to throw a punch to his face.

Likewise, as much as I think the late President is to be held is full honour and respect, I have to say that I am now still nonchalant about his death. I think giving him the honour that is due is the best I can offer. But I am not going to offer fake "I'm going to miss him" or "I'll forever remember him dearly" statements. Any faint sense of loss within my heart was gone the next morning.

That friend of mine can call me a bastard all he likes.

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