Whatever his strong point, the former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew is not known to be a person who is judicious with his words. There is a Chinese saying aptly fitting him: His mouth never chooses kind words (口不择言). He thinks he is more sagacious than the famous Chinese sage Confucius. But the narcissistic Lee Kuan Yew's booboos in his utterances have become his trademark.
It is hard to believe that the US embassy cable, leaked by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, reporting the former Minister Mentor characterising Islam as a "venomous religion" during a 2008 meeting with visiting US senator Hilary Clinton is not authentic. The US diplomat reporting it was obviously present at the meeting and it was a first-hand report of the proceedings. Unless we believe that the US diplomat was an irresponsible officer who had an ulterior motive in misreporting the offending words used by the former Minister Mentor, there could be no dispute as to the accuracy of the report. Anyway, senator Hilary Clinton would have noticed it if she thought it was misreported.
Could the fact that it was not recorded in the Foreign Affairs Ministry notes of the meeting be conclusive proof that the offending words were not used by the former Minister Mentor? There could be many plausible explanations for the omission of the offending words from the record. Could it be the prescient discretion of a conscientious officer who could forsee a political furore over this offending term in the future? So we have now to decide the probability between the US embassy version of the meeting where the offending words "venomous religion" were used and the former Minister Mentor's version in which he vehemently denied ever using such offensive words.
To refresh the memory of Singaporeans, perhaps it should be remembered that our former Minister Mentor is not immune to making booboos from time to time. His famous "flash in the pan" in describing the black American candidate Mr Barack Obama when he contended the American presidential election in 2008 was Lee's biggest gaffe. Lee Kuan Yew was rooting for the white American candidate Mr John McCain and considered the election of a black American President to be apocalyptic. He had to eat his words and humbled himself when he met President Barack Obama in2009. President Obama showed that he was a figure of magnanimity.
Another of his booboos occurred in 2009 in which he made deleterious comments in the National Geographic magazine portraying Singaporeans as less hard-driving and hard-striving so that it became necessary for the Singapore Government to bring in Chinese immigrants as a counter-measure. Needless to say Singaporeans were infuriated by his disparaging comments which showed up his political insensitivity.
His next gaffe was his disparaging comments on the Singapore Malays/Muslims in his much-hyped book "Lee Kuan Yew : Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going". He commented that other communities have easier integration than Muslims because they tend to be "distinct and separate". This caused an uproar in the Malay/Muslim community with the Association of Malay Professionals (AMP) making a scathing attack on the Minister Mentor. There was concern that this Malay anger had affected Malay support of the PAP in the Aljunied GRC which was won by the Workers' Party in the May 2011 General Election.
Finally, should the former Minister Mentor find himself having nothing better to do than delivering his so-called pearls of wisdom to gullible audiences, there is a pretty comical suggestion that he could busy himself by becoming a stand-up comedian to entertain the kids. They will be extremely delighted and will regard him as their idol.