"We all use language to communicate, to express ourselves, to get our ideas across, and to connect with the person to whom we are speaking. When a relationship is working, the act of communicating seems to flow relatively effortlessly. When a relationship is deteriorating, the act of communicating can be as frustrating as climbing a hill of sand."
- Chip Rose, attorney and mediator -
I have, with much sadness, followed closely the on-going feud between Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong and his siblings Lee Hsien Yang and Dr Lee Wei Ling.
While Workers Party Chief Low Thia Khiang and his fellow members of Parliament are of the view that the best way to settle the dispute is for PM Lee to sue his siblings for the serious allegations (“Dispute should be resolved in court: WP Chief’), I fully support PM Lee’s view that it would not do any good to sue his own siblings for they are still his own flesh and blood (Suing siblings cannot be my preferred choice, says PM Lee”; Monday 3rd July 2017, The Strait Times)
It is troubling that because of this unsettled feud, the whole Lee family is paraded on the world – and for all the wrong reasons.
When it comes to getting money, often, sadly, there is no such as family. Many families get caught into this unfortunate predicament, and that’s the harsh reality. Certainly, those with special needs have to get better protection as their conditions can be taken advantage of and be deprived of a fair share when properties are sold.
While social media is useful is raising awareness of social problems, it can also be unhelpful in some ways.
If one looks at the many problems that arise in relationships, you would be able to find a common pattern – many people just don’t know how to communicate or at least communicate in an effective manner.
American psychologist, philosopher and author William James once said: “Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship or deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
As with any relationship, every happy successful partnership begins and ends with the same ingredient – the willingness to negotiate. Unfortunately, as human beings, we have the tendency of not wanting to submit. We do not want to admit that we are wrong as it can be seen as “losing face.”
Bear in mind that bitterness only eats inside of us and will eventually destroy us. One problem that should not be ignored is physical illness. When you’re bitter, you’re causing your body stress, and sustained stress can make you sick. In addition, bitterness robs you of your chance to be happy.
I have always admired Dr Lee Wei Ling as she has been an extraordinary caregiver to her father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. She was always there for him – often 24/7. Caregiving is extremely taxing and entails huge sacrifices. Perhaps this arduous journey could have taken a toll on her with her being bent on protecting her dad and his wishes. Dr Lee should have been given an award by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Family and Development for her remarkable caregiving responsibilities. It is not too late to do so.
Now that both PM Lee and his siblings have made their views public, let us put an end to the squabbling and begin the healing process. Top-notch family therapists and counsellors could help with reconciliation efforts.
For all intents and purposes, let’s remember that it takes years to build trust and just seconds to destroy it. This applies to marriage, while studying, nation-building , at the workplace and in the community.
With the Lunar New Year 7 months away, I am sure all Singaporeans would love to see the Lees reunite for the reunion dinner on the eve of this beautiful spring festival.
RAYMOND ANTHONY FERNANDO
Footnote: I had earlier submitted a shorter version of this article to the Forum Editor of The Strait Times, but he chose not to publish it. In fact, of late all my letters to the Forum Page of the ST have been rejected.