leekuanyew

30 members, 3 generations, one family, one purpose

More than 30 members of the Chua family, spanning three generations, turned up at Bukit Merah yesterday to hold up a banner they had printed in honour of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

They started gathering in Bukit Merah at about 8.30am, more than four hours before the funeral procession was due to pass through, on its way from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre.

"Behind this road is Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, where a lot of homes were burnt down during a big fire that was a dark moment in the history of Singapore," said Mr Patrick Chua, 47, who works in the oil and gas industry.

He was referring to the 1961 fire that razed a squatter settlement, costing 16,000 their homes.

Mr Lee, Singapore's first Prime Minister, salvaged many lives with his public housing initiative, added Mr Chua.

The clan, waiting with their banner, stood stoically for hours in the pouring rain to pay their respects. Among them was Mr Chua's nephew Sng Yin Jun, a 12-year-old from Tao Nan School.

Yin Jun said he would salute Mr Lee when the cortege passed. "We have to respect our founding father, and coming here is a form of respect," said the Primary 6 pupil.

His grand aunt, Madam Tan Siyu Lian, 67, said it was important to teach the younger generation to be grateful to Mr Lee, and to always remember him. "Because of him, we all have roofs over our heads and our children all have good jobs," she said in Mandarin.

The idea of the banner, thanking Mr Lee for leaving them a living legacy, came about during a family chat, when 15 second-generation members spoke about their experiences visiting Parliament House, where Mr Lee's body was lying in state, over the last few days. On Friday, it was a mad rush to find a printer to deliver at such short notice.

Said Mr Chua: "We will keep this banner and display it every National Day, starting at my cousin's house this year."

marilee@sph.com.sg