So what keeps Lee Kuan Yew from having a good night's sleep, that this self professed agnostic has to resort to reciting a Christian mantra for peace of mind? The Straits Times extract of the New York Times. September 10 interview enlightens us: Younger people worry him, with their demands for more political openness and a free exchange of ideas. “They have come to believe that this is a natural state of affairs, and they can take liberties with it,” he said derisively of the new generation of voters. "The kind of open political combat they demand would inevitably open the door to race-based politics," he insisted, "and our society will be ripped apart.”
When Seth Mydans told him of a taxi driver's remark about the interview, "Safer not to ask him anything. If you ask him, somebody will follow you," Lee, in typical lawyer mode, challenged, "How old is he?" Like it matters, whether how Chiam See Tong's "O" Level grades compared to Mah Bow Tan's, as latter was roundly ejected in a rare straight electoral fight. It appears the combative Lee still lives in his world of fighting left-wingers, communists and Malay-ultras. Mydan's reminder of the libel suits "which keep a lot of people at bay" put him in the defensive, "No, you're fearful of a libel suit?" Softening, Lee volunteered, "Because I'm no longer in charge, I don't have to do the hard things."
We are told that at the end of each day, he sits by the bedside of Kwa Geok Choo, 89, unable to move or speak for 2 years and 4 months, and "tell her about my day’s work, read her favorite poems". For once mindful of his own mortality, he shared, “I’m not sure who’s going first, whether she or me.”
The last time he talked publicly about the great beyond was for the Time cover story of 12 December 2005. "I've seen my closest friend Hon Sui Sen on his deathbed; he has had a heart attack and was fighting for his life, the doctors were there, the priest was there, but there was no fear in his eyes. He and his wife were devout Catholics. They were both convinced they would meet again in the hereafter. I believe a man or a woman who has a deep faith in God has an enormous strength facing crises, an advantage in life."
Except when a youth is cut down in the prime of life, sometimes death gets a bad press. Sally Field, playing the role of Forrest Gump's dying mother, explains her willingness to depart quite elegantly, "It's just my time. Death is just a part of life. Something we're all destined to do."
Unlike Macbeth, when she's done her truly best with what God gave her, she can sleep peacefully into the night,
"Sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast."