THE blog “Singapore Life & Times” (singaporelifetimes.blogspot.com) has this to say about last week’s passing of former Second Deputy Prime Minister S Rajaratnam: “He was absent at the launch of a book on 40 years of the Singapore Foreign Service due to ill-health. Of all people, he should have been present, having created the Foreign Service when none existed.”
Whatever the achievements the late Mr Rajaratnam has been lauded for in the media, blogs in Singapore have been forthcoming in sharing nuggets about the elder statesman. Somewhat sentimentally, blogger Aberwyn says on learning that it was Mr Rajaratnam who wrote the Pledge: “The recital of the National Pledge will never be the same anymore. As a kid, I recited it in school just because I have to. Now I could feel the passion and conviction infused in those simple words.”
But blogs being blogs, not everyone has something nice to say. Blogger akikonomu (akikonomu.blogspot.com) wrote: “‘One united people, regardless of race, language or religion’, but silent on the issue of sex and gender, class and political belief, this man is no thinker and no humanist.”
Again, blogs being blogs, a healthy discussion has sprung up on the same blog post, with some disagreeing with the writer. Rench00 writes: “On the contrary, I think Rajaratnam is a great man. It takes great courage and passion to dare to think of a pledge that says regardless of race language and religion in a time of raging racial and religious conflicts.”
Some bloggers couldn’t find as many words to convey their sadness, like bobafett81 (bobafett81.livejournal.com), in whose post titled “The day MM Lee Kuan Yew cried”, you’ll find only screenshots of television coverage of the memorial service accompanied by one line of text.
The blogger’s gravatar (the little picture/graphic a blogger uses to represent his or her online identity) has also been replaced with a photo of the national flag flying at half-mast.
Blogger Babi-Inc (babi-inc.blogspot.com) wrote a note of thanks to Mr Rajaratnam for the National Pledge, and then asked: “How could Singapore not make Singaporean tertiary students recite the pledge and sing the National Anthem every morning anymore? No wonder we are bo chap …”
Blogger Me Myself admits: “Actually last night was the first or second time I’ve heard of him. hahahaa. Think he was some law minister last time, which is why he got to draft the Pledge. The ironic thing is that he was born in Sri Lanka and studied in England. He came to Singapore when Singapore was still under colonial rule …”
On a similar note, blogger egg toast says, in verse:
It’s only right to watch it on TV, at least
if one can’t be there personally.
It was only recently that I knew the
Pledge was penned by Mr S Rajaratnam.
I’m ashamed to even mention that.
To think I’m a Singaporean.
Readers who want to read more about Mr Rajaratnam and his legacy can take a look at the National Library’s blog, High Browse Online (dl.nlb.gov.sg/highbrowseonline), which has an entry on his passing, and lists several books the public might be interested in borrowing from its branches.
For me, it is interesting to note that one of Mr Rajaratnam’s achievements in the nation’s struggle for independence was in his role as associate editor of the newspaper, The Singapore Standard.
Noting that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s eulogy on Saturday made reference to this, the blog “Mr Wang Bakes Good Karma” (commentarysingapore.blogspot.com) highlights this portion of the eulogy:
“When the strike started, The Singapore Standard reported it extensively. This forced the British-owned The Straits Times to do the same. Raja wrote editorials attacking the colonial government with wit, punch and vigour. Without The Singapore Standard, The Straits Times could have downplayed the strike.”
Hail, alternative media. Hail, Sinnathambi Rajaratnam.
Mr Miyagi aka Benjamin Lee has been entertaining blog readers for over a year at miyagi.sg