Tom Plate wrote his book "Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew" with material from two interviews on 27 and 28 July 2009. It purports to be an honest and full account of "the Lee Kuan Yew I know", but the skimpy volume of 211 pages obviously left out substantial chunks to leave credibility floundering like the Titanic with a big gap at her side. And despite the ballyhoo Plate makes of Lee pulling him aside during a break in the inteviews to whisper, "Tom, the book will have to have critical and negative stuff in it," the true story will just have to wait. Plate himself admits this on page 207, "He took out a few things out, not wanting to embarass Singapore". Or his legacy.
Everbody is dying to know who were the 3 ministers who resigned within 6 months of working with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong "because they didn't like his style" (answer is not in the book). We are told Lee helped him out. In turn, according to Lee, Goh "appointed my son deputy who helped him succeed." Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. This is how Lee summarised it all, "Goh's success means I have succeeded, not that he has succeeded only. His success reflects creditably on me. He has decided to help my son succeed because that will reflect favorably on him. We have evolved a system, a virtual cycle." Plate may joke about "taking the gosh-awful picture [of Mao] down in Tiananmen", but he dares not "dredge up the well-known Singapore jibe that the triumphant triad is sometimes labeled as 'the Father, the Son and the Holy Goh'."
But let Plate tell his own joke:
"I have this joke-theory, Minister Mentor. It's about people who retire. Did you know that there's a high correlation between retirement and death? Also, that there is a high correlation between playing golf too much and death? Golf is a killer."
Plate says "Minister Mentor" is not his all-time favorite title for a serious official position. He actually asked of Lee, "Will you greatly dispute me if I do not characterize you thusly, 'fun-loving' and 'light-hearted'?" Plate thinks the "Nanny State" apellation for Singapore is too un-masculine. With Darwinian emphasis on discipline and hard work, looking over all by "LKY, the ultimate godfather", the reflection reminds him of "Father Knows Best", the old American TV show.
Plate is no David Frost interviewing Richard Nixon. Would he have dared asked of Nixon (the apology to the American people), "And I think that unless you say it, you're going to be haunted for the rest of your life."? You gotta be joking.