Tag Archives: lky

A closure to the mourning

Beautiful eulogies, on most parts, were said.

Tears fell when we were reminded of the humane side of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He was a leader of the country but he was also a father and a grandfather. As many said, there would always be a gap in our lives. It was our loss but he was finally united with Mrs Lee. We should find solace in this knowledge.

We could never thank him enough. I was very touched when X uttered ‘thank you’ alongside with Ms Cassandra Chew. At this tender age, he knew what mattered to us.

It had been a long time since we recited our pledge or sang the national anthem. I did not understand their true meanings till now.

We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.

我们是新加坡公民,
誓愿不分种族、言语、宗教,
团结一致,
建设公正平等的民主社会,
并为实现国家之幸福、繁荣与进步,
共同努力。

It was the very first time I said the pledge with conviction and tears.

Even with Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s departure, he taught us the most important lesson in National Education. It was far more powerful than any of the NE exhibition, NE tours that we had been on as students.

Gratitude and appreciation had been much said.

We lost a great man but we received an important lesson and reminder. We should always treasure Singapore, regardless of the good and bad that came with it.

Z had seen the outpouring of grief, both from us and the TV. He asked a genuine question. One which Mr H had thought was rude but one which, as an afterthought, was asked in the right spirit. His question was, “Why are we so sad that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has died? We have another Prime Minister.”

He did not mean it as a malicious question. We explained we grieved because he had done so much for Singapore. From Z’s perspective, he was more concerned about Mr Lee Hsien Loong. He believed that our current Prime Minister would do as well as our founding Prime Minister. You could tell that this boy had thought a lot because at night, he told us, “Mummy, I want to make a card for Mr Lee Hsien Loong. He has lost his father so he must be very sad. I will draw his family and him in the card. When I finish the card, can you help me to pass to him? What is his company’s name? Where is his office?”

Children were indeed more progressive and forward thinking. They had moved on, more concerned about the future and we should look to doing our part for the future too.

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Uniquely Singapore – Like clockwork

When I used to work with regional counterparts, I recalled some commented that Singaporeans were overbearing to work with. We had pressing deadlines, we were particular about details and we were insistent on results, and never failed to request for contingency plans. When the news broke earlier in the week, I had been affected to the extent of going to work with swollen eyes. My friends and I were sharing our grief through whatsapp but we still went to work.

We still had our reports to write, emails to clear and deadlines to meet. It was a major event for Singaporeans but everything still moved like clockwork.
What was more impressive was how the organizing team stepped up to extend the hours for the public to pay respects to Mr Lee, how they improved the process on the ground, how they had created a priority queue, how orderly Singaporeans had been and how kind the businesses in the area had been too.

When we went to the Parliament House, no matter how long hours the team had worked, they were always warm and polite. For once, for a rarity, there were few keyboard warriors. It was a welcomed change. There was no one stomping people. Everyone was helpful, kind and thoughtful. We always had a good heart but we had been poor at showing that. We had no excuses for the poor show of compassion, be it due to hectic schedules or stress. I hoped this could be the start of a caring society.

Paying our respects 

Last night, we managed to pay our respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House.   

I was immensely thankful that our family of four had the opportunity to do so. In view of the long queue, we had initially decided against bringing X. He was only 2. When the news reported of the 8-hour queue, it was impossible to bring Z. I would fare pretty well by myself but with Z, I had to worry about his loo needs. Meals and rest could be easily settled. I even asked if he could don a diaper!

We were very lucky that a friend was in the queue and helped us check about the priority queue. One moment we were home, the other moment we were flying out of the door.

Z mustered a simple note in our haste

My note which was written by the river 

I was glad to bow in front of his portrait and to utter a quick thank you. It had to be quick because there were so many more people waiting to walk past his wake. 

I was really glad that our family of four had the chance to be part of this historic and significant moment, and to be able to show our gratitude in this small way. On a greater magnitude, I hoped we would be able to teach our sons to follow his ways, to be contributing Singaporeans and to start this wave ourselves too.  

他们是国家的栋梁,是我们未来的主人翁。他们会从您的身上学习坚决的态度,勤奋和胆识过人。今晚非常特殊,将永远是人生最重要的一堂课。

Legendary tales

The documentaries, the special editions contained amazing tales of the late Mr Lee. We mostly knew what he did domestically but did not know he took the international stage with ease. He was also a very loving husband.

//edited.

This was published before I completed. I dozed off intermittently and lost my train of thoughts.

What I wanted to say was a man with so much responsibilities, so much work, so much to do for the country and still could find time to appreciate his life partner was indeed amazing.

His discipline, his way of life encompassed so many details. As they shared more and more of his stories during the time before I was borned, my awe for Mr Lee ballooned.

I would love to retell his tales to my boys when they grew up.

Much to learn about Mr Lee

“Mummy, can I bring a flower for this man?” Z asked. I quizzed what inspired him to suggest this.

His response was sweet. If this man had done so much and we had to thank him, we ought to give him flowers.

“What did you learn in school about Mr Lee today?”

“He was a very fierce man. He did not allow people to chew gum. He did many things for Singapore.”

It was true. While he did not always have popular policies, what he did was always good for Singapore. The start of the mourning period changed the regular programming and Z had a crash course on Singapore history, the Singapore story which I was so well acquainted with and memorized for the O level examinations. 

He learned how we were a British colony, how we were occupied by Japanese forces, how Mr Lee Kuan Yew had tried to fight for our independence and how much hope he had pinned for Malaysia to protect us. Z learned about the need and importance for every Singaporean man to be a soldier and protect Singapore, and why he should take on his national service with pride in future. He learned why flats were built because every Singaporean should have a home and a place that they wanted to defend. He learned why we were a garden city because concrete towers would overrun the landscape. He learned how difficult it was to clean up the Singapore river. He learned what corruption was and how Mr Lee stamped it out.

He also learned that hard work was the root to success, and dreams could not turn into reality without discipline. He learned that bilingualism was essential and we could not feign to not know our mother tongue.

We had many more lessons to learn. Indeed, the Singapore way was your way, your influence and may your spirit always be our guiding principle in life.

A great man of our times

All men would leave the world one day.

But one man had created and bettered the lives of many.

Growing up in the 1980s, my parents never failed to tell me stories about this great man who changed the lives of Singaporeans. When I majored in history during Secondary School, he released his memoir. I relived history from his eyes and saw the pain in his eyes in the video which our history teacher showed us regarding the separation. We were part of the federation, and suddenly we were not.

We were lucky. We enjoyed the peace, security and prosperity. We could never imagine what lives were like when we first separated from Malaysia. We could not imagine the panic and anxiety people had felt.

We had to thank our lucky stars that a man with great foresight had preempted the needs and threats, and had structured favorable terms & conditions for the country. He was a brilliant man.

Most of us might have never met him in person, but he had touched our lives. Our education, our infrastructure, our economy and our system were fruits of his labor. The system might not be perfect but if meritocracy was not the way to go, how would we get better and better? We were expected to be good, but we needed to be outstanding.

I woke up in the morning to news of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing. I only had to look around, I saw the modern hospitals, the gleaming cars on the road, the public buses, the safe haven where I knew my kids would grow up in and the opportunities created for so many Singaporeans, I knew we all had the same man to thank, to thank him for giving us today’s Singapore – a place which we called home.

The heart was heavy, the tears kept falling and the mood was somber even as people headed to work.

We had lived in the same lifetime as a great man. It was our honour.