Proof that Mr Lee Kuan Yew Did not Covet Money ...
With the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, little known facts are starting to emerge about the man. Fiercely private, Mr Lee had kept much of his personal life private.
One of the biggest shock for many Singaporeans is to learn how spartan a life Singapore’s founding Prime Minister lived. Despite earning a decent salary, Mr Lee did not live lavishly.
Mr Lee’s bedroom was simple with a single bed as the main piece of furniture. On it was a thin towel blanket and a small bolster. Even the computer which he used was old and the screen flickered as e-mails arrived. The rest of the old two-storey house was equally spartan. The downstairs bathroom, for instance, still held a hamdankong (Cantonese for barrel or tub used for making salted eggs), a large clay urn filled with water for bathing, old-school style, complete with a plastic scoop.
Its mosaic tiles, some a little chipped, had been popular in the 1970s. The chairs in the house were mismatched, giving off an eclectic feel.
An ancient exercise bike stood in one corner, gathering dust. It was nothing to look at - a bicycle mounted on a stand, but I learnt that Mr Lee had exercised on it for decades, well into his 70s, until he fell off one day. Although the model had been replaced by a more modern one, the trusty old bike still retained its place in the 100-year-old home.
Between 1960 and 2011, Singapore's per capita gross domestic product surged more than 100-fold. But the Lees' modest home remained largely unchanged in that time and had become dwarfed by the multi-million dollar, multi-storey bungalows that sprang up around it.
When one looks at the life Mr Lee Kuan Yew lived, one cannot but help wonder about the many wild and unfounded accusations his detractors had leveled at him. One of which was that the Lee family was filled with greed and that every policy they and the ruling government made was designed to milk Singaporeans of their hard-earned money. If Mr Lee indeed focused on enriching himself, where then did the alleged theft of money go? As far as I (and rational Singaporeans) can see, Mr Lee did not covet money. His simple life is testimony to that.