Way back in October 2006, I posted an entry entitled “Lessons from Beyond the Grave- What 2 Singaporeans teach us”.
This was in two instalments.
Part One was the tragic tale of a certain Mr.Tan Jee Suan who was so poor and financially distressed that he felt that the only way out of his monetary troubles was to end his life in front of an MRT train. His parting gift to his children was $10. This was all that he had and it was for them to buy chicken rice.
In the one and half years since then, do we still have our Mr. Tan’s in our midst?
Part two was about Singapore’s first Chief Minister Mr.Marshall. I was very moved by what he said about "Noblesse oblige" in public service during an interview he gave to Dharmendra Yadav entitled “Meeting David Marshall In 1994”.
Noblesse olige literally means nobility is an obligation. It is defined as:
1. Benevolent, honorable behavior considered to be the responsibility of persons of high birth or rank.
2. the obligation of those of high rank to be honorable and generous (often used ironically)
Thanks again to Mr. Yadav. Without his publishing this conversation into the public domain, we would never have known what Marshall felt about Singapore’s move away from idealism etc.
Marshall is an idealist and humanist that I greatly admire. What was said in 1994 is just as relevant to us today.
As expected the Straits Times just glossed over the feature on Marshall on this his 100th birthday. I did not expect them to mention any of the points brought out in that 1994 interview and I did not get it!
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan