Having been warded at Singapore General Hospital since 5th February, Mr Lee’s condition deteriorated over the months and it was with great sadness when we heard of his passing on 23rd March and when we mourned through the week. Singapore will continue to mourn and grieve for weeks and months to come.
Just like many, we sincerely hoped and fervently prayed that our founding father would still be around to join us in the parade and celebrations come August 9th 2015 for SG50. Understandable surely, for Mr Lee has been the strongest man many of us know; he had survived the Japanese Occupation, he has been the pillar of support for our country even before independence, and ever-present at all our National Day Parades be it at Padang, the old National Stadium, or the Marina Bay floating platform.
His contributions to Singapore can be witnessed by everyone; We don’t need a monument for Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Just look around us…Singapore is his monument. What Mr Lee has done for this country and the people of Singapore will go down in history books, and it is important that we keep his memory alive through educating our future generations. He fought for our independence, and set out to built a safe and prosperous home for us…today we are proud of our Singaporean passports, the security in our country, our clean streets and our thriving economy. These are just some of the many reasons we Singaporeans are glad to call this little red dot our home, tangible and intangible gifts Mr Lee have gifted to us. We have come a long way from a third world country to a first class nation and the outpour of emotions this past week show we all recognise that without him, it would not have been possible.
“Memory is the Gratitude of the Heart”.
All of us will remember Mr Lee for what he stood and fought for to build Singapore, for which we are all thankful for. Many have given their tributes, and many have done little things that go a long way to keeping Mr Lee’s memory alive, and spreading the notion of unity and inclusiveness in our country, something that our founding father always championed for, pre and post-independence. If anything the past week has shown us, it is that each and every Singaporean, and also non-Singaporeans, want to do something to show how grateful Singapore is to Mr Lee, to show how much Singapore loves him. It may be too late to repay him, but it is never too late to honour him. We wanted to do our part, and in our own way, show our love and respect for this great man.
On Saturday 28th March, one day before the state funeral, we went down to the Supreme Court to meet our fellow Singaporeans and give them each a Black Ribbon remembrance sticker. Across from the parliament, we saw many men in uniform serving the country and helping to maintain order. We were doing our “national service” too. We encouraged everyone to put on this sticker on Sunday, the day of Mr Lee’s funeral. 5,000 stickers were printed and distributed. We reached out to give a warm pat on the shoulder to our fellow Singaporeans who were downcast and looked inconsolable. They would look up and meet our eyes, and mouth “Thank you”, “谢谢” and also “gam xia“.
Over half a day, we met with thousands of Singaporeans, only a tiny fraction of the almost half a million who braved all weather conditions up to 10 hours to visit the parliament during Mr Lee’s last ever week in Parliament. Each person had their own memory of Mr Lee, all of them grateful of what he did for the country. The faces would overlap one another but all of them together represented the true and living legacy of our nation’s founding father – the People of Singapore.
From the beginning, Shiok! shared Mr Lee’s vision of a Singapore that is harmonious and based on fundamental values, regardless of race or religion. We are not the only ones who have been inspired by him, and as one, we hope to bring together the community by championing the kampung spirit, to discover what is the Singapore identity and to be proud to make and call Singapore our home. As he relentlessly strived to do what is right by him, all of us must strive to do what is right by us, to support the less fortunate and less privileged in our community and to bring out the best in Singaporeans. Join us in building a brighter future for Singapore. We are sure that will be what he wants to see, so that his legacy can live on in our hearts and in our minds.
Across the country today, with the Black Knights in the sky, 21-gun salute at the Padang, world leaders with our MPs past and present seated respectfully in NUS UCC, eulogies given by Mr Lee’s 2 sons and others too, Singaporeans lined up on the streets singing “We are Singapore, We are Singapore~”, waving the national flags and last farewell to Mr Lee, we mourn together. We grieve for the loss of Singapore’s greatest leader, the founding father of Modern Singapore. But in the midst of mourning, let us also respectfully cheer for what Mr Lee has accomplished. We can celebrate how he and his team built a nation, how they brought Singapore to the forefront of international affairs, how he has instilled in us a sense of home when there weren’t even enough roofs over our heads before. We can cheer today for Mr Lee, cheer for the unwavering and indomitable fighter, “LEE KUAN YEW! LEE KUAN YEW”. We can celebrate Singapore’s achievements, and cheer on for our country’s continued prosperity and progress.
Thank you Mr Lee, may you rest in peace.