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Jun 8, History of the Botanic Gardens, Singapore's first Unesco site. Well, for one thing, while Tom Plate's book was based on 2 days' worth of interviews and came up to slightly over pages, Hard Truths was based on interviews held over 16 sittings from Dec to Oct Hard Truths clocks in at close to pages and allows for a much more detailed exploration of LKY's views on a wide range of topics, from Singapore's vulnerability, and race and religion, to his family, homosexuality and even whether he believes in feng shui!
And whereas Plate to my annoyance tried hard to inject his own personality and spin into Conversations with LKY, Hard Truths is entirely about the man. The only hint of the personalities of the Straits Times team behind Hard Truths comes through from the introductory paragraphs preceding each chapter, where the journalists must about their responses to LKY.
I'm always impressed whenever I hear LKY speak, whether he's giving a speech or is at a dialogue session. His grasp of the issues, the clarity of thought, his "tell it as it is" approach.
You may not always agree with him, but you can see where he's coming from and at the very least, you respect how his actions are guided by a set of considered and consistent principles.
Which in LKY's case, as he reiterates throughout the interview, is his "abiding concern for Singapore".
When I read Conversations with LKY, the thing that struck me and really stuck in my mind was LKY's assessment of the quality of the US Secretaries of State over the years, and how the Secretaries in recent years lack the deep understanding of Asia and their inability to appreciate how developments in the region fit into a cultural and historical context that has been shaped over the centuries. For Hard Truths, the first thing that really struck me was LKY's defence of high ministerial salaries.
That it is fair to expect people to step up to serve not for the money, but for the honour of serving one's country.
But you can only get people to make this sacrifice of their personal space and time for one term. If you want your Cabinet to stay for 2, 3, 4 terms, this isn't sustainable.
The second thing that stuck with me was LKY's account of his relationship with his wife, how they met, how he got her into Cambridge, and how he would read to her nightly after she became bedridden and lost her ability to speak after several strokes.