Students sitting for the A levels must be having sleepness nights, tossing and turning in bed, wondering if their answers submitted will satisfy the examiners' expectations.
Compared with the transcript of a CNBC interview with Lee Hsien Loong in 2009, it was obvious the answers fell short of the latest queries directed to him. Maybe it's the new normal in action, maybe things haven't changed a wee bit.
Asked whether cancer had "humbled" him, Lee said, "I think I try to be myself and that's the best way and people will accept us as we are." Notice the use of the royal "we" and not "me", since the life threatening event had affected him personally and not, touch wood, the nation at large. And he can tell segue on to tell the questioner, "It's not our role to be lords and masters and I think that's quite fundamental, which every elected politician must remember in a democracy." The corollary of that statement must be, since full democracy is not yet in place, lords and masters will continue to reign.
And the world knows too well what goes on in our city state, best illustrated by the mainstream media blackout about the prestigious LI Freedom Award 2011. Surely the old man will rather be accorded with that prize instead of the Ford Theater thingy. Sharing honours with the likes of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma's democracy leader) and Vaclav Havel (former president of the Czech Republic) is just not the same as standing on the same stage as Julie Andrews.
Asked if there was an unfair image of Singapore portrayed in the West, Lee's response was puzzling, "It's like looking at the tail of the elephant and thinking 'that's the animal'." Now, what does that mean, coming from a guy who also said, "You have to depend on people who will be productive, be skilled, be imaginative"? Just focus on the tail and ignore the elephant in the room? Theres' a Chinese saying to the effect that if one draws a cartoon, it's not necessary to sketch in the intestines. One doesn't need a wild imagination to see through the fog of deception.