The Poor Messenger

The Chong Ching Massacre

Lying is a deception tool. It is not a form of evil or mischief, like it was told in the story of Pinocchio. Sometimes it may save our life. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1942 and 1945, the Japanese carried out Sook Ching from 18 February to 4 March 1942, which was the deliberate massacre of Chinese men aged 18 to 50 in Singapore. Unofficial figures put it at 50,000 dead.

One of the survivors of this atrocity was Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore. As a young man, he was singled out to be taken to one of the killing sites. Sensing that he was in trouble, he asked if he could return to the collection center to retrieve his “other important things”. Luckily, he was allowed to and he never came back.

Out of his various experiences and observations, he realized that although the Japanese were hated by everyone but everyone knew their power to do harm and so everyone adjusted. People who accepted the Japanese as their new masters prospered, whereas those who did not lost money and status.

Shooting the Messenger

Shooting the messenger” or “killing the messenger” is a metaphoric phrase we sometimes hear in corporations, used to describe the act of lashing out at the (blameless) bearer of bad news.


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