In their press statement yesterday (Mar 16), Singapore’s Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said that they will be imposing penalties for anyone who do not accord the deceased dictator Lee Kuan Yew’s name with dignity and respect. When queried by media reporters over what are the penalties, MCCY said the government would “review a need for legislation in the future”.

MCCY laid out three “broad guidelines” over the usage of Lee Kuan Yew’s name and image:

1) The name or image or likeness of Mr Lee Kuan Yew may be used for purposes of identifying with the nation, including on works of art or publications or items for charitable purposes, in accordance with law.The name or image or likeness of Mr Lee Kuan Yew may be used for purposes of identifying with the nation, including on works of art or publications or items for charitable purposes, in accordance with law.

2) The name or image or likeness of Mr Lee Kuan Yew should be accorded dignity and respect.

3) The name or image or likeness of Mr Lee Kuan Yew should not be used for commercial exploitation or be assumed or taken to indicate any kind of official endorsement of products or services.

Currently, only members of monarchies are accorded honorific protections. Thailand, Malaysia and Brunei are the few countries with government legislation protecting the names and images of their kings. With the new “guidelines”, it appears Lee Kuan Yew has been posthumously ascended to be the first king of Singapore despite calling itself a Republic democracy.

There are no existing laws protecting the past Presidents of Singapore and there is no need to as no one has ever used their names or images for commercialization or even insulted them. For Lee Kuan Yew, it is a different story as criticisms of his crimes were largely oppressed in the past. Victims of Lee Kuan Yew’s oppression have been voicing out their dissent against the former dictator. The Singapore government is hoping to charge these dissenters in an attempt to whitewash Lee Kuan Yew’s crimes.

In July last year, the Singapore government jailed a 16-year-old boy for more than 50 days for criticizing Lee Kuan Yew’s authoritarian governance in a Youtube video. As Lee Kuan Yew’s death anniversary (Mar 23) draws closer, the Singapore government has been putting in effort on propaganda to put Singapore into another week of mourning period, with memorials and commemoration events put forth by the government-controlled People’s Association.

Lee Kuan Yew was a traitor during World War 2, abetting the Japanese invaders as a translator. He later rose to power by abusing the country’s Internal Security Act laws, jailing his fellow political colleagues and ruled the country with an iron fist with him being the only Prime Minister for 31 years (1959-1990). His son, Lee Hsien Loong, is now the current Singapore Prime Minister who has been in office for 12 years and draw the highest salaries (S$2.2 million) for a politician in the world.