23 March 2015 • 3.18am
I got the news at 6 when my Singaporean friend who’s living in the UK paid tribute to Mr Lee on social media. Perhaps reality hadn’t quite sunk in or that his demise wasn’t unexpected as his condition deteriorated while he was in hospital.
I headed to the gym as per normal. The moment I entered the facility, I was greeted by a sombre atmosphere and this sad instrumental music playing on the radio. I had my eyes glued on the TV screen that was broadcasting the news channel – everything was about Mr Lee.
When the Prime Minister addressed the nation live on TV shortly after, he was fighting back his tears in front of the camera and for a few moments, he was deeply choked with emotions that left him speechless. I felt really sad because it wasn’t just about Singapore losing its founding father, the nation losing a legendary figure or the world losing a visionary leader, it was a man losing his father. And for the rest of the family, it was about losing a brother, a grandfather, a loved one.
A few men in the gym started laughing and rejoicing which I felt was totally uncalled for.
I was a typical Gen-Y kid who grew up with the mindset (under some influence of the older generations and politically-extreme friends) that our government had not done enough for Singapore so we should always vote for the opposition parties in elections ‘just to teach the ruling party a lesson’. Looking back, have we all taken things for granted that everything we have here in Singapore was built in a day and not through someone with great foresight and ambition that had turned Singapore from an unknown little island with no natural resources to a developed first world country with a strong economy and political stability that many other countries have yet to be on par with.
I was in a travel intensive job some years back, jet-setting from South-East Asia to East Asia to Middle East. Expanded my horizons as I experienced different cultures and ways of life. Each time I was away from home, I would realise how much I miss home. The funny thing was, every time my plane touched down at Changi Airport, I felt exhilarated. “I’m finally home!”, I’d exclaim excitedly in my heart. The feeling of familiarity and the sense of belonging were strong.
I’m proud to call Singapore my home. Life and travel experiences taught me not to take things for granted. Whatever we have today – strong economy, high employment rate, high literary rate, world class medical facilities, quality education, modern infrastructure, extensive public transport network, political stability, low crime rate – are the fruits of labour of a wise and far-sighted man and his government. However, people only tend to notice the downsides of having to cope with inflation, increasing ERP charges & COEs, increasing transport fees (and MRT trains that always break down during peak hours), traffic jams at expressways, expensive housing, a meritocratic education system and probably more. I’m no different. I complain as much as any other Singaporean does. But the reason why anyone can complain is because we all have a good life. We have seen the best, own the best, spoke of the best and thought of the best so when things start declining and plummet below our expectations, we complain. It’s just human nature, isn’t it.
I respected Mr Lee. He might not have made decisions that everyone saw eye to eye with but he went all the way and did what he felt was right for the country regardless of what other people said. His courage, his persistence and his resilience were values that were truly admirable. He deserved a pat on the shoulder for making Singapore what it is today. It’s definitely a blessing to be born and raised here.
Thank you Mr Lee Kuan Yew for all that you had done for Singapore. I’m very proud to be a Singaporean, to be able to grow with the nation and to ride all waves together with the people of Singapore. I believe your legacy will live on. You will forever be missed.
#ThankYouLeeKuanYew #ThankYouLKY #RememberingLKY #TributetoLKY