BBC’s Sharanjit: Watching my country mourn from afar

Singapore | Asia Samachar | 30 Mar 2015


BBC's Sharanjit interviewing Singapore second prime minister Goh Chok Tong -- BBC PHOTO
BBC’s Sharanjit interviewing Singapore second prime minister Goh Chok Tong — BBC PHOTO

Watching the reaction to Lee Kuan Yew’s death from overseas has been a surreal and difficult experience, writes a Singaporean who works as a journalist with the BBC.

“As a Singaporean journalist with the BBC, it’s been a privilege to cover many stories about my country over the years. But here was probably its biggest story, garnering the most global attention, that I was missing entirely as I spend two weeks working in London,” writes Sharanjit Leyl.

In an article published on Mar 29, the day of Lee’s funeral, she described one conundrum within her family itself, possibly one that is panning out in many other families as well.

“My extended family, many of whom have emigrated to the US and Canada, spent days debating his legacy on our family group on WhatsApp. If he was having that impact on them, years after they left their country, imagine what sort of influence his death still wielded on many millions more.

“It’s hard to put in words the effect he had. For many, including myself, it was a love-hate relationship,” she pens in the article entitled Lee Kuan Yew: Watching my country mourn from afar.

Sharanjit, 42, began her broadcasting career at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1997. At BBC, she anchors Asia Business Report and Newsday from the BBC’s Singapore studio, according to information on the BBC website.

For the full story, go here.


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website:]




Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: ‘Carry on forging racial harmony’ – ST  (Asia Samachar, 30 Mar 2015)

Sikhs brave rain to bid final farewell to Lee Kuan Yew (Asia Samachar, 29 Mar 2015)

Asia Samachar pays respect to Singapore’s LKY (Asia Samachar, 26 Mar 2015)

Sikhs pay tribute to Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew (Asia Samachar, 25 Mar 2015)

Working for LKY a ‘wild dream come true’ – DAVINDER (Asia Samachar, 24 Mar 2015)



Malminderjit youngest ever to head SICCI (Asia Samachar, 26 Feb 2015)

Singapore’s Harmony on Wheels launched (Asia Samachar, 18 Feb 2015)

Singapore’s Sikh Centre ceiling collapses (Asia Samachar, 7 Feb 2015)

50 Singapore Sikhs for SG50 (Asia Samachar, 1 Feb 2015)


  1. Beautiful article. LKY was an amazing leader who had direction and he had a core group of people working with him who made sure Singapore succeed. Don’t forget, there was also generation of immigrants who had seen hardship and were prepared to work hard. What I could never understand, why was he so ruthless when someone had different opinion. Right to the end of his life, that compassion was missing. I guess its the fear of losing power. It will be interesting to see how history will judge this great leader. Most Singaporeans love him.

  2. It will never be easy to capture the vast footprint of Lee Kuan Yew in one article. BBC’s Sharanjit Leyl wrote a somewhat balanced piece on the Singapore leader.

    There are enough pieces out there highlighting all the good about the Singapore’s first prime minister. Here are four other articles that will contrast those heaps of praises.

    “Singaporeans generally seek the truth, with the old man we prefer to forget, lest a spotlight on him illuminates our own complicity,” writes Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh in his piece entitled ‘Lee Kuan Yew: Singapore’s Mercurial Father’, one of the four pieces I’ve listed below.

    “We blindly accept creation myths, the most egregious being that the British had left Mr Lee a ‘fishing village’ rather than a thriving trading port, by the 1950s already one of Asia’s richest cities.” Now, this line made me ponder. There is some truth here, one buried by years of officialdom, obscured by countless official narrations.
    In The Curse of Lee Kuan Yew, ran by which promises readers a new magazine’s sharp profiles, Ben Judah noted how ‘leaders of the major Western democracies are falling over each other to eulogize the fallen Singaporean leader’. He argued that Lee had become a ‘myth, a global idea—an intellectual cult built around the idea that not all autocrats are bad.’

    It seems Lee was a big hit in the Eastern Europe. But this is one story that had a bad ending, so argued the author.

    “And yet since the early 2000s the cult of Lee Kuan Yew has been an unmitigated disaster in Eastern Europe, where the example set by Singapore’s unapologetic autocrat has helped to rehabilitate and legitimize authoritarianism,” he writes.

    Another interesting perspective to ponder upon.

    Finally, to connect across the causeway, KiniBiz founder editor P Gunasegaram dusted and refreshed two earlier articles, comparing and contrasting Lee and Malaysia’s own strong man and former prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

    He listed five similarities, and five differences, between the two regional leaders. He found both to be racist. On how they differ, the list starts with this: Mahathir fostered corruption and patronage, Lee crushed it. Things could have been very different for Malaysia if it had followed suit the leader from the tiny red dot at its southern tip.

    The five articles:

    1. The Curse of Lee Kuan Yew (Politico)

    The leader eulogized by Obama as a ‘giant of history’ is being used to re-legitimize tyranny.

    2. Lee Kuan Yew leaves a legacy of authoritarian pragmatism (The Guardian)

    3. Comparing Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir by P. Gunasegaram (KiniBiz)

    4. Lee Kuan Yew: Singapore’s Mercurial Father by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh (

    5. BBC’s Sharanjit: Watching my country mourn from afar