Lesson Learnt by Singapore through its first Prime Minister

| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(December 07, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) This morning, I received an email from a Sri Lankan engineer working in Singapore, regarding a write up by Singapore Ceylon Association – on the book “My lifelong challenge” – by Lee Kuan Yew.
Politics and Judiciary are required to be separated due to one being Belief driven in its true form and the other being driven by conscious application of Intellectual Discrimination. One does not need to know rights and wrongs when one believes. Every action based on belief would be right for that environment bound by that belief.
It is reported that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has said in that book (page 60/61) ‘Following my experiences as a student in London and Cambridge, I believed firmly that knowing one’s mother tongue was a must. It gives one the sense of belonging to a culture, and increases self-confidence and self-respect. Hence, we decided that we must teach each student two languages – English and the mother tongue. However, implementing the policy was most difficult.’
I asked myself why this happened in London and Cambridge? I asked also why it did not happen to Sri Lankan Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike who also had an English education but is being blamed for ‘Sinhala Only Policy’ in Sri Lanka? Through the eye of my experience I interpret as follows: the belief in Mother happens when we are not able to express ourselves as equals in a foreign environment. As I often say ‘Mothers are Feelers and Fathers are Thinkers’. I myself connected more deeply to such Mother Values – values that were felt more and expressed less – here in Australia. Those who study and/or work largely for benefits are not likely to feel ownership in the institution and therefore belief in the People of that environment. Eventually, the way I believe I am Australian – Mr. Lee Kuan Yew also would have believed he was English – had he continued to live in England. That ability to believe is carried beyond time and place borders. As per my assessment – Sri Lankan Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike was lacking in that ability to believe but Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was true to his gurus.
Language to my mind, is the outer form through which common culture is shared. Like the family name – it is a common ‘form’. This on its own is just majority / brawn power that affects the physical outcomes at that time and place. The real power is in the root of a culture. It is at this root that we are able to naturally influence each other and feel empowered by each other. Discriminative thinking through common laws and measures – leads us to this root. If we choose not to use this vertical discriminative path of the intellect – we need to move laterally and find equal and opposite matches to identify ‘facts’ that help us register the full picture of an experience. Seeing only parts of a picture is misleading. When our mind is filled with the whole picture – we start believing in the whole – without needing to go through discriminative thinking. Towards this, the mind needs to be still.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike is reported to have wanted to replace English with Sinhalese as the official language – the language of Public Service. At the root of Public Service – were beliefs of many cultures – including the cultures of the British, the Romans and the Dutch, in addition to local cultural laws of various ethnicities. To the extent these beliefs were respected and facilitated – Ceylon would have become Global – even if the language was not English. If Sinhalese could pray in Sinhalese to Lord Buddha or to Jesus Christ – and Tamils to Rama, Krishna and Jesus Christ, then both groups can pray to the English Ancestors in law. The fact that Sri Lankans use these laws even today, is confirmation of the value of Colonial Governance. That is the verdict of the People of Sri Lanka. That verdict is condemning the Government of Sri Lanka’s attachment to pre-British times – each time they practice the English Law – including in Western countries.
At the physical level, one may ‘defend’ to neutralize an action that one believes to be unjust. Any more than that would effectively be ‘attack’. Sri Lankan Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike was a Oxford educated Barrister. To act only to defend any attack on his people’s practiced local culture – would have produced the appropriate ‘standard’ / law needed by the people. That is the law of equal and opposite producing the whole that becomes the example for the next generation. Any more would have damaged his own investment in English education. This in turn would have blocked the support of others who believed in the English Law, including the Police of his times. Belief works naturally without us being conscious of its influence. We often know the connection after the effects have happened. In contrast to SWRD, Singapore’s First Prime Minister Kuan Yew, has shown respect for his English gurus, whilst at the same time giving recognition to local beliefs and the languages used to express them. It is like in email communications. If something is lawful in print – it is lawful in electronic form. It cannot become unlawful just because it is sent by email. Likewise, it did not matter whether we used Sinhalese, Tamil or English – to learn and appreciate the subject matter. What mattered was the core value of the subject itself. Language is only a medium. English is like email and Sinhalese is like ordinary post delivered through a postman on bicycle. One is global and the other is local.
In terms of law, SWRD would have connected to the core values of British Law, through his British gurus. By going ‘Sinhala Only’ SWRD damaged that investment in the British and therefore the minds of the Ceylonese Police who practiced those laws. Hence SWRD did not have the protection of the system of Law, despite his own investment in that law. One who wanted ‘Sinhala Only’ ought to have specialized in local laws of his clan and used locals as bodyguards to protect him.
Sri Lanka Guardian of 05 December, published a report headed – ‘Man beheads wife’. It is about an Indian Tamil living in India beheading his wife as punishment for extra-marital affair and then surrendering to Police to punish himself. In this instance, Raja, the husband, took the law into his hands and at the same time showed respect for the common law of his environment. He believed and that belief made him a ‘free-man’. Had there been active education using the common laws of marriage – civil and cultural – custodians of power would have acted to discipline Raja’s wife or Raja’s wife would have given up one culture to live in another, thus preventing this tragedy. Likewise, if SWRD’s system had educated the Police and the monk who killed SWRD, that tragedy would have been prevented.
Politics and Judiciary are required to be separated due to one being Belief driven in its true form and the other being driven by conscious application of Intellectual Discrimination. One does not need to know rights and wrongs when one believes. Every action based on belief would be right for that environment bound by that belief. If SWRD had not been driven by language / form – but by the core values of his culture, he would have been protected by his intuition or would have died a hero upholding ‘Sinhala Only’. All those who shout ‘Sinhala Only’, whilst benefiting from multicultural global investments by others, would likewise damage their abilities to protect themselves. It is NOT about protecting the body. It is about protecting our Belief which makes us Free.
Intellectual activities help us invest in those beyond our physical environments. To the extent of our genuine investment close to the roots of an issue, we are naturally supported by other genuine investors close to those roots. This is the way of Natural Justice. Most Sri Lankans with formal Higher Education do invest in other cultures – especially Western cultures. If these do not go deep down to the roots – they would not merge with our family and social activities. If they do go down to the roots – workplace and society becomes our family. Once this happens, we would share our local values also with others – including the English.
To the extent Sri Lanka uses global resources – its government needs to facilitate the global language to be used by global investors.
It is reported about Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s book ‘Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Company, said: “This book comes at an important time for Singapore, which continues to rigorously examine its language policies as it sets a course for its next stage of development. It also comes at an important time for the rest of the world — as other countries confront their own choices as they overhaul their educational systems to take advantage of a globally connected world..”
Singapore’s first Prime Minister did not promote any particular religion or language. People were facilitated to promote them as per their own beliefs. Sri Lanka’s Political leaders actively promote particular religion Buddhism and particular language Sinhalese. Singaporeans who follow their leader would have less conflict between their mind and heart / thoughts and belief – than Sri Lankans due to lack of facilities to protect the ‘sovereignty’ of true believers in cultures other than those of the Political leaders.
Those who believe more than they ‘think’ as per hearsay – would enjoy inner peace. Even one believer has strong influence towards Peace in an environment, irrespective of her/his religion or language. Belief is the real value – and not the form and color in which it is expressed. Facilitating as a priority – for each ethnicity to develop belief through its own culture – would strengthen Peace and Harmony in Sri Lanka.


Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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