It’s a sad week as we mourn the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew – the man who dedicated his life to build this nation of ours, a visionary leader with the tenacity to make difficult decisions so as to better our lives. Let’s celebrate his life and the wonderful achievements he has made…his legacy will live in our hearts forever.
It’s nothing short of a miracle on how he has transformed a tiny sleepy island lacking in natural resources to the first world nation we are beneficiaries of. After having travelled to many countries, it has strengthen my appreciation of what our country offers such as
– equal opportunity that transcends across gender, race or religion. Ours is a meritocratic society
– low corruption and crime rates
– portable drinking water straight from the tap (further strengthen by NEWwater and desalination)
– an effective and efficient civil service
– an excellent transportation & healthcare system
– affordable public housing
– a garden city
All in all, a really attractive place to live and work (if only we can build a forcefield dome to house Singapore like our Gardens by the Bay and aircon the whole country would be….PERFECT!)
Examining how Mr Lee transformed our nation, we can perhaps draw some parallels to our own personal financial planning.
1. It takes vision and tenacity
– He saw that in order for S’pore to survive, it needed a hinterland like Malaysia but when that option failed, he did not succumb to defeat and went ahead to forge a nation that will be relevant to the world and one that will better the lives of it’s people. He loved us as a people.
– similarly, as the head of the household, I believe you strive in the workplace so as to better the lives of your family. You love them dearly I know but do look forward and anticipate the financial needs of your family such as child education, your retirement and protecting your income being your most valuable asset. Your family’s future well being truly depends on the financial decisions you make today. I understand that making financial commitments is not easy as with most of life’s important decisions…but with your family’s interest at heart, you know deep down that it’s the right thing to do.
“Doing something costs something. Doing nothing costs something. And, quite often, doing nothing costs a lot more!” – Ben Feldman
2. He did not procrastinate and made hard decisions
– He had great urgency to transform Singapore into a first world nation in just one generation…that’s remarkable! If he procrastinated or made populist decisions, I don’t think we’ll see the Singapore we know today. Some of the decisions that impacted us were instituting national service, forming HDB for public housing, creating CPF for our retirement, our ever evolving education system etc. While some still bemoan some of these things he instituted, I must say that he knew better on what was in our best interest as a people and as a nation.
– similarly, our circumstances can change in a heartbeat. Things like our health is never certain. Should we take a chance and not insure ourselves adequately or have a “tomorrow will take care of itself” mentality? I believe that will be detrimental to your family.
Challenges are best anticipated well ahead of time and tackled head on. Challenges don’t get overcome by sweeping them under a carpet.
3. Singapore is a city in constant transformation and improvement
– when we progressed from a developing to a developed nation, Mr Lee did not sit on his laurels, bask in self glory and coast along. By doing so would have been a fatal mistake. Instead, he strived to improve Singapore continually to keep Singapore relevant to the world.
– similarly, as you move through different stages in life – from being single, to marriage, to being a parent and caregiver to your ageing parents, your financial needs will evolve and change. Have you reviewed your family’s financial needs as you enter each life stage to ensure that you equipped your family with the necessary financial tools to overcome the challenges life may bring?
4. Continuity and Creating a legacy
– when Mr Lee was at ‘the top of his game’, he chose to step down for the sake of leadership renewal and continuity and handed the reins to Mr Goh Chok Tong, and thereafter to PM Lee Hsien Loong. Meantime, he served as an advisor and mentor.
That I feel took great foresight, selflessness and humility. Most leaders would have held on to leadership and power for life if they could….and when they couldn’t lead anymore, a vacuum (and possibly chaos) will be left behind.
“Do you know anyone who has a lease on life? It isn’t a question of if; it’s a question of when.” – Ben Feldman
– like all mortals, the day will come when we have to leave this earth. For some, they will live to a ripe old age, for others, it might come a tad bit early. What matters is how we live our lives and the lives of people whom we touch daily. Plan well today so that you and your family’s future will be secure. How would you like to be remembered by your loved ones?