Lee Kuan Yew 16.9.23 – 23.3.15

March 23, 2015

Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew has died.

Lee Kuan Yew, the statesman who transformed Singapore from a small port city into a wealthy global hub, has died at the age of 91.

Mr Lee served as the city-state’s prime minister for 31 years, and continued to work in government until 2011.

Highly respected as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity, Mr Lee was also criticised for his iron grip on power.

Under him freedom of speech was tightly restricted and political opponents were targeted by the courts. . .

A charismatic and unapologetic figure, Mr Lee co-founded the People’s Action Party, which has governed Singapore since 1959, and was its first prime minister.

The Cambridge-educated lawyer led Singapore through merger with, and then separation from, Malaysia – something that he described as a “moment of anguish”.

Speaking at a press conference after the split in 1965, he pledged to build a meritocratic, multi-racial nation.

But tiny Singapore – with no natural resources – needed a new economic model.

“We knew that if we were just like our neighbours, we would die,” Mr Lee told the New York Times in 2007.

“Because we’ve got nothing to offer against what they have to offer. So we had to produce something which is different and better than what they have.”

Tight controls

Through investment in schooling, Mr Lee set about creating a highly-educated work force fluent in English.

He reached out to foreign investors to turn Singapore into a manufacturing hub, introducing incentives to attract foreign firms.

The city-state grew wealthy and later developed into a major financial centre. But building a nation came with tight controls – and one of Mr Lee’s legacies was a clampdown on the press.

These restrictions remain today. . .

The investment in education and welcome to foreign investment both paid big dividends.

His methods can be questioned but there is no doubt that he transformed Singapore, taking it from a poor island with few resources to an economic powerhouse.

Leonard Nimoy 26.3.31 – 27.2.15

February 28, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Mr Spok in Star Trek has died.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83. . .

His artistic pursuits — poetry, photography and music in addition to acting — ranged far beyond the United Federation of Planets, but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”). . .

From Word as Image:


Feedback sought on earthquake memorial

February 18, 2015

The public is invited to give feedback on the six designs shortlisted for the  Canterbury Earthquake Memorial:

The Memorial will honour the victims of Canterbury’s earthquakes and acknowledge the suffering of all those who lived through them as well as the heroism of those who participated in the rescue and recovery operations.

More than 330 submissions were received from 37 countries after designs were sought by the Government, Christchurch City Council and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

The six short-listed were selected last year and have since been adapted following consultation with stakeholders, including those who lost loved ones and those who suffered serious injuries, and in order to ensure they met design criteria.

“I think each of the designs is outstanding and reflects the Canterbury experience in a different way. Every one of them could be a fitting memorial for what we lost and what we have been through as a city,” says Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Nicky Wagner.

“The public now has a chance to have its say on which design best reflects that shared loss and experience.”

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says this is an important step towards having a memorial space that will mean so much to so many people, here and around the world.

“Allowing the public to have a say in how we commemorate what we have lost, while capturing a sense of hope for the future, will make a real difference.”

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Tā Mark Solomon says: “It is very important for the region, our city and our communities to have an appropriate place to honour and reflect on the events of the earthquakes. I believe as a community we will achieve this.”

The short-listed designs can be viewed at www.ccdu.govt.nz/ideas-to-remember and feedback can be given on the website until 15 March. . .

Celia Lashlie has died

February 17, 2015

The world has lost a good woman:

Author and social commentator Celia Lashlie has died after a short battle with cancer.

Her family confirmed this morning that she died last night at 11.40pm in Wellington. She was 61. . .

Lashlie started her career in social work within the prison service in 1985, becoming the first woman to work as an officer in a New Zealand male prison.

Her final role within Corrections was as manager of Christchurch Women’s Prison, a position she left in September 1999.

She was a Nelson manager for Specialist Education Services and was controversially sacked in 2001 for speaking out about a 5-year-old destined for prison, but was later vindicated after a government inquiry.

She then worked for a number of Nelson schools, including Nelson College, where she developed the Good Man project working with male students.

Her work with teenage boys had been extensive and her talks on raising teenage boys, as well as on social justice issues, had meant an extensive speaking circuit in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the United States, her family said.

She wrote the book He’ll be Okay: Growing Gorgeous Boys Into Good Men, based on her work in 2004 on the Good Man project.

That project focused on her research from discussions with pupils in 25 boys’ schools throughout the country.

At the time of her diagnosis, Lashlie was about to begin writing an updated edition of the book to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

She has also written two other books: The Journey to Prison: Who Goes and Why, and The Power of Mothers: Releasing Our Children.

She was the mother of two adult children and ‘Nana’ to five grandchildren.

Her family has asked for privacy but her daughter, Beks, has set up a Givealittle page on behalf of her friends and family who will continue Lashlie’s work, in accordance with Lashlie’s last wishes. . .

She left a final message on her website yesterday:

When We walk to the Edge of All the Light… (16 February 2015)

“The seductive nature of the modern world allows us as human beings to believe we are in charge. In today’s world we think we are in charge. Technological advances and intellectual knowledge we continue to acclaim, leaves us with the sense that we are in control and that there is enough time to achieve what it is we want to achieve.

We become complacent about the need to take care of ourselves… always something more to do. Some of this is driven by our desire to save the world, others driven by the desire we have to reach the many goals we have set ourselves – many of them superficial.

The simple reality is that we are not in charge and that moment of realisation comes to us when we learn of the fragility of the human spirit. For some, that lesson comes unexpectedly and hard.

Late last year I slowly became unwell. The stress of the lifestyle I was living, the demands I made of myself, the demands other people made of me and expected to meet became too great and as 2014 closed I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer that had spread to my liver. No treatment, no cure, only palliative care. I’d waited too long to look after myself and my body broke.

To say that it was and is a shock is a major understatement. and as I look at the amazing family and group of friends I’m surrounded with as I now travel a different journey warms my heart. At the same time, there are feelings of trepidation about what lies ahead.

I’m now focused on the moments of magic that are appearing in front of me: The laughter of my grandchildren; a smile of a friend attempting to walk this journey with me and the pure beauty and strength of my adult children as they battle their anger, grief and sadness at what is happening to their beloved mother.

It’s time to leave the work to others now.

My wish is that others will learn to stop before I did, to take into account the limitations of their physical bodies and to take the time to listen to the yearnings of their soul. It is in the taking care of ourselves we learn the ability to take care of others.

“When we walk to the edge of all the light you have and take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe that one of two things will happen :

There will be something solid for you to stand on, or, you will be taught to fly.”

“Faith” by Patrick Overton – “The Leaning Tree”

She spoke at a fundraiser I attended in Wanaka a few years ago. The capacity crowd listened in rapt attention to her inspirational and challenging talk.

One of her messages was the importance of turning boys into good men, a very important one when too many boys have few, if any, good men in their lives to guide and provide positive role models for them.


Demis Roussos 15.6.46 – 25.1.15

January 27, 2015

Greek singer Demis Roussos has died:

The star’s daughter confirmed he passed away at the Hygeia Hospital in Athens, Greece over the weekend after battling an undisclosed illness.

Roussos, real name Artemios Ventouris Roussos, was born and raised in Egypt before his parents relocated to Greece.

He launched his career when he joined progressive rock group Aphrodite’s Child in 1967 before enjoying a hugely successful solo career through the 1970s. . .

Jeremy Lloyd 22.7.30 – 22.12.14

December 24, 2014

We recognise the names and faces of those who star in popular shows but rarely think about or even know the names of those who write them.

Phrases like good moaning and  listen very carefully, I shall say this only once are part of the popular lexicon.

But only today, on the news of his death did I know the name Jeremy Lloyd, who created ‘Allo ‘Allo . Nor did I know he was the writer behind Are You Being Served too.

Suffer the little children

December 18, 2014

Evil is the only word to describe people who target innocent children:

Pakistan has begun three days of mourning for the 132 children and nine school staff massacred by the Taliban in the country’s deadliest ever terror attack.

The 141 people were killed when insurgents stormed an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar and systematically went from room to room, shooting children during an eight-hour killing spree.

The attack, claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as revenge for a major military offensive in the region, sparked worldwide condemnation and led the Pakistani government and military to reaffirm their determination to defeat a group that has killed thousands since 2007.

Teenage survivor Shahrukh Khan, who ducked below his desk with classmates when four gunmen burst into their room, described how he played dead after being shot in both legs, stuffing his tie into his mouth to stifle his screams.

“I saw a pair of big black boots coming towards me, this guy was probably hunting for students hiding beneath the benches,” the 16-year-old said from the trauma ward of the city’s Lady Reading Hospital.

“The man with big boots kept on looking for students and pumping bullets into their bodies. I lay as still as I could and closed my eyes, waiting to get shot again,” he said.

“My body was shivering. I saw death so close and I will never forget the black boots approaching me – I felt as though it was death that was approaching me.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced three days of national mourning and described the attack as a “national tragedy unleashed by savages”. . .

In the past children might have been hurt or injured as a result of war but this targeting of them is a relatively new and sickening development.

Nothing justifies the wanton slaughter of innocent children.


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