SINGAPORE - Candlelight tributes lit up the Singapore sky on Wednesday (March 23) evening as Singaporeans paid tribute to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on his first death anniversary.
On the steps of the former City Hall, opposite the Padang, lit electric candles formed an image of a ribbon, bordered by flowers and mini-figurines of the late Mr Lee.
The commemorative event was organised by Silent No More, a network of People's Action Party supporters. Volunteers handed out electric candles to passers-by, and encouraged them to pen messages on the candles. The candles were then placed at the top of a ribbon.
Over at Tanjong Pagar community club, there were candles as well, and flowers, but no tears. Instead, the 600 residents who gathered together did so with a sense of gratitude and an eye on the future.
Perhaps it was fitting, then, that two young students were among the six speakers at the remembrance ceremony on Wednesday night.
Inspired by the hard work of Mr Lee and other forefathers, Zhangde Primary pupil Saleem said he would like to be part of the Smart Nation drive one day, and use technology to improve people's lives.
"I was born with all the latest tech around me.... If we continue to leverage on advanced technology, we can build on what our forefathers have left us," the 12-year-old said in Malay.
Pinnacle @Duxton resident Vera Ang, 11, said she dreamed of a day where Singapore would be covered by an invisible net that could "filter out the bad acts of terrorists".
"That way, the country that Mr Lee worked so hard to build can be kept safe," she said.
She also said that she enjoyed hanging out on the sky garden of her Housing Board block.
In her speech, Senior Minister of State Indranee Rajah, who is also an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, told Vera that she would put a telescope there later this year, so that residents can "reach for the stars" and honour Mr Lee.
Ms Indranee also presented an artillery shell casing from the 21-gun salute fired during Mr Lee's funeral last year, to Mr Leong Chun Loong, longtime grassroots leader for the GRC.
Mr William Teo, who led nine members from the Stirling Neighbourhood Committee to the Wednesday's ceremony at the centre, said he did so as it was the "least we could do for the man who gave up his life for this country".
Composer and singer Dick Lee, a Tanjong Pagar resident of 20 years, also sang a rendition of his National Day classic Home at the ceremony.
Mr Lee began his political career in Tanjong Pagar, winning the seat in the Legislative Assembly election in 1955 as a 31-year-old. He served as an MP for 60 years, until 2015 - the longest period for any MP here.
Madam Tan Sheau Yann, 45, who works in a bank, was at the City Hall event with her husband and sister.
"I wrote 'I miss you and thank you Mr Lee' on the candle. We came here as we wanted to remember him," she said.
"There are many events today but we decided to come for this as it was where we were one year ago. We had queued at the Padang for hours to say goodbye to Mr Lee."
Her sister, 39-year-old art director Tan Hui San, added: "We really saw unity in Singaporeans last year. The wait was long and it was hot but everyone was helping each other."
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Mr Lee's most enduring ideas and why they remain relevant today were highlighted by speakers at a panel discussion, held by the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
Former senior minister of state Zainul Abidin Rasheed recounted how he was nearly killed during the 1964 racial riots on the way home from school.
"I saw with my own eyes people being maimed," said Mr Zainul, who escaped a group of Chinese attackers in Lavender Street, only to witness Malays attacking Chinese in Geylang Serai a few hours later.
The experience made him deeply appreciate Mr Lee's determination that Singapore would be a multiracial state.
Multiracialism is a work in progress, but it remains the cornerstone of Singapore's existence and of its future. This is an idea of Mr Lee that has endured, said Mr Zainul.
Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee said the drive from Changi Airport to downtown Singapore along Nicoll Highway, tree-lined and with shrubs growing abundantly along the road divider, is a visible legacy of Mr Lee.
His drive to make Singapore a clean and green city made Singapore stand out from other less-developed countries. "Was Mr Lee a natural gardener? Did he have time to smell the flowers? He certainly did, and he made time to look at so many details," she said, citing the species of creepers on overhead bridges as an example.