His son has called for further reflection on how best to remember the late “papa and yeye”, whose demise boosted champagne sales in some quarters, saying that any decision must “stand the test of time”. The deceased, when not connected to an artificial ventilator, had refused to allow statues of himself and rarely lent his name to institutions, despite dominating politics for half a century.
Still, some have managed to work around his expressed wishes, the most notable being the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Before things get carried away, the boot-lickers should realise there is a fine line between hero worship and sick humour. Imprinting his image on Singapore’s currency will bring back horrible memories of the banana notes when Singapore was Syonan-to (昭南島 Shōnan-tō). And that quip of Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, at the Bandung Conference in 1955, “Lee is like a banana – yellow of skin, white underneath.”
The late Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (Tamil: லக்ஷமன் கதிர்காமர், Sinhalese: ලක්ශමන් කදිර්ගාමර් ) had a fine and refined sense of humour. At an after-dinner speech to congratulate the Sri Lankan cricket team in London, shortly before he was assassinated by a LTTE sniper in Colombo, he recounted the story of how the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin had once wanted to change the name of his country to “Idi”.
Amin instructed his foreign minister to canvas world opinion and return in two weeks. When he did not do so, he was summoned before the megalomaniac to explain.