Once I met Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Marina Barrage

About 1,500 families gathering at Marina Barrage for a SG50 picnic organised by Families for Life during the Jubilee Weekend.
About 1,500 families gathering at Marina Barrage for a SG50 picnic organised by Families for Life during the Jubilee Weekend.PHOTO: FAMILIES FOR LIFE

My family and I have enjoyed countless hours of fun at the very Marina Barrage that Lee Wei Ling's Papa, Lee Kuan Yew, dreamed of. 

On one of those trips to the Barrage, my three daughters, my husband and I had the privilege of seeing her beloved Papa.

It was about four years ago, on a quiet weekday afternoon during the school holidays, and he must have taken that opportunity to visit the Barrage to soak in its sights and sounds. 

He was dressed in a light pink shirt and cream-coloured trousers, looking very happy as the buggy passed by families just like ours, mums and dads with young children in tow. We didn't dare approach the buggy but just like the other excited children (and parents!), waved frantically to him while calling out "Hello Mr Lee!". He acknowledged every one of us by happily waving back.

As he approached the end of the Barrage, Mr Lee met two groups of university students who had gone there in their convocation gowns to take the requisite graduation photos.

How thrilled they must have been to see the founding father of Singapore, the man who had a vision for Singapore, who dreamed about building the very Barrage they were standing on, alight from his buggy and pose with them for a few pictures! He took the time to exchange pleasantries with these graduates and shook their hands.   

We stood afar and envied the lucky group of fresh graduates. What a fitting start to their foray into the world! To be standing next to a man without whom their education would not have been possible. To start their careers after having been wished well by the first Prime Minister of their country. I know the memory of this experience will be indelibly etched in the minds of these students for years and years to come.

The nation wept together for the passing of Dr Lee's Papa. My family sent him off in the pouring rain as the gun carriage made its final journey past City Hall. Everywhere triggered a memory of him. The raintrees flanking the East Coast Parkway, the riot of colours from the bougainvillea along that same expressway, little things here and there that became a reality after your Papa sowed the seeds of a dream.

I am grateful to Mr Lee for dreaming big dreams for Singapore. Every Singaporean owes what we enjoy today from the vision he had for our fledgling nation. My children can continue to build upon their hopes and aspirations for their future to fulfil dreams of their own.  We prayed as a family last night before going to bed that we will work hard and contribute to the continued success in Singapore, even if in small ways.

There is a hope and a dream for our future. Because her Papa believed in this country, fought hard for it, and never gave up on it even when the challenges seemed insurmountable.  We will strive to do the same.