Maruah essay contest winners reflect on Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy

SINGAPORE: The human rights non-governmental organization Maruah just unveiled the winners of their thought-provoking essay contest targeted at young Singaporeans, encouraging them to delve into their vision of a Singapore post-Lee Kuan Yew (LKY).

Eight years since the demise of the iconic leader, his footprint remains significant across Singaporean society.

Notable instances, including the debates surrounding the leasing of colonial bungalows to Government officials, the arrest of a minister over corruption suspicions, and the resignations of several Members of Parliament both from the People’s Action Party and the opposition, underscore LKY’s emphasis on impeccable integrity in politics.

Furthermore, the Elected Presidency, a brainchild of LKY, continues to be a participatory system deeply rooted in Singaporean governance.

As the world advances, the enduring influence of LKY’s policies warrants reflection, especially among younger Singaporeans.

This contest set out to tap into these insights, culminating in four standout essays from Lam Yu Han, Luke Lee, Desiree Leong, and Wesley Ng.

  • Lam Yu Han, 23, serving in the National Service, expressed gratitude for the stability and prosperity LKY ushered in but voiced concerns over the restricted freedom of expression.
  • Luke Lee, 22, also a National Serviceman, wrote on his journey from only knowing the laudable side of LKY to understanding some of the more contentious aspects of his governance. He hopes for a society where varied opinions are welcomed without apprehension.
  • Desiree Leong, affiliated with the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, opined on the imperative of understanding and reconciling with the past to chart a harmonious path forward for Singapore.
  • Wesley Ng, a Political Science and South East Asian Studies undergrad at NUS, emphasized the importance of preserving the unifying aspects of LKY’s legacy while advocating for a more inclusive governance that places trust in the citizenry’s discernment.

On LKY’s centennial birthday anniversary, Maruah announced the winners, lauding these essays as representing just a fraction of the myriad views young Singaporeans hold regarding LKY’s indelible legacy and their vision for the nation’s future.

The organization remains hopeful that the broader Singaporean community will persist in having enriched dialogues about the kind of nation they aspire to shape in the coming years.

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