LKY's legacy goes beyond Singapore's shores

I am surprised to read that the notion of demolishing such a monument as Mr Lee Kuan Yew's home is being considered.

The disagreement surfaced between Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who is Mr Lee's elder son and Singapore's Prime Minister, and his other family members.

No one has the right to intervene in the private affairs of ordinary families.

However, the issue may not be a purely private affair if it is related to the legacy of a world leader who enhanced the lives of millions of people, and continues to do so either directly or indirectly, in and out of Singapore.

I came to know Mr Lee's policies and the people of Singapore when I was a young professor of surgery at the National University of Singapore in the late 1990s.

I was, and remain, impressed by the genius of Singapore's health system and how it is engineered to give cost-effective, high-quality service. It is the envy of many countries.

If such a system could be implemented worldwide, it would save the lives of billions of people and prevent millions of families from becoming bankrupt due to rising health care costs and the failure of their governments' health policies.

Lifting a small country with little material resources from the Third to First World in 50 years, and creating state-of-the-art health, education and financial sectors, is no mean feat.

Many countries have "cut and pasted" Mr Lee's strategies to improve the lives of their own people.

The simple fact is that Mr Lee's legacy cannot belong to his family, the Singapore Government or even the Singapore state alone.

Rather, it belongs to the world and to generations to come.

Keeping Mr Lee's home as a museum for Singapore citizens and foreign visitors is a step towards inspiring and directing future leaders - both in and out of Singapore - to think and learn from his policies for the betterment of generations to come.

Reida El Oakley (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2017, with the headline 'LKY's legacy goes beyond Singapore's shores'. Print Edition | Subscribe