The big news is that Lee Kuan Yew has pledged a personal donation of S$10 million to set up a Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism to promote the learning of the mother tongue and English for preschoolers. This comes on the heels of Goh Chok Tong's speech at the Credit Suisse Philantropists Forum on 7 April 2011, when Goh made mention of the US$100 million from the family of the late Ng Teng Fong for setting up a fund for needy patients at a new hospital in Singapore. The Singapore government has an incentive for 2.5 times tax deduction for donations to Institutions of a Public Character.
It piques one's curiosity to ponder how generous is the gesture. Clues come from the contributions of his three children. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the highest compensated politician in the whole wide world, is donating $100,000. Second son Lee Hsien Yang, who used to pick up $4 million in a good year at Singtel, which he left mysteriously for a $1 million a year appointment as business consultant at Fraser and Neave (he is now chairman), is donating $50,000. Daughter Lee Wei Lin, who took over after the then-Director of the Singapore National Neuroscience Institute Dr Simon Shorvon was booted out (the British General Medical Council and British High Courts sided with Shorvon in his dispute with the Singapore Medical Council), is also donating $50,000. Except for Dr Lee, the paltry sum is probably only a fraction of their 13th month bonus. She had once said of her father's psyche: "The word charity did not sit well with him". At a time when Singaporeans gained a reputation both at home and abroad for their eagerness to open their wallets to anyone in need (Nepalese twins, Yishun siblings, Huang Na kidnapping), daughter Lee blamed the press for its "propensity" to sensationalise stories that helped bring out "the gullibility of Singaporeans".
With the aforesaid in mind, so how much is the $10 million pledge worth? If he had intended to put Scrooge to shame, that could be 25 percent of his liquid assets. If he was a real skinflint, it could be 1 percent, which means he has at least $1,000 million in loose change. Even if the out-of-character largess was only 10 percent of his bank balance, it would imply that all those years of public service have earned him at least $100 million. Something must be wrong with the mathematics here.
BTW, don't buy the book "My Lifelong Challenge: Singapore's Bilingual Journey" thinking it will solve all your problems in acquiring a second language. This is what the author writes: "My big mistake... in the midst of our messy, massive exercise to revamp the education system, I realised I had been wrong in my premise (that anyone intelligent will be able to master languages)". Not everyone gets paid handsomely for making mistakes.