Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

500 Singaporeans attend memorial service for Mr Lee Kuan Yew in London

The Singapore High Commission in London has never seen so many visitors at its Belgravia building as Saturday morning, when about 500 Singaporeans turned up for a memorial service for founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

 Many could not enter the building and had to stand outside the door. The High Commissioner Ms Foo Chi Hsia and six other Singaporeans living in the United Kingdom paid tribute to Mr Lee.

 One of them, Ms Azra Moiz, 52, who runs her own consultancy and training company in London, spoke fondly of having discovered a black and white photo last year of her family and her with Mr Lee and his family taken at Mount Faber.

 The date on the back of the photo, which she found in her family album, was August 9, 1964 - a year before Singapore's independence.

"My father's office at Market Street was around the corner from Mr Lee's office in Malacca Street. They used to pass each other every day. When my father saw Mr Lee at Mount Faber with his family one evening, he asked for a picture together," said Ms Moiz, who brought along the photo.

 "It was very impromptu. They were probably there on a family outing."

 High Commissioner Ms Foo said she believes "there is a bit of Mr Lee's DNA in all of us" and encouraged Singaporeans to continue nurturing those qualities, like staying inclusive and multi-racial, practise life-long learning, engage with each other and the world; remain grounded, and adopt a can-do spirit.

More than 1,400 people have signed the condolence book at the High Commission since Monday. They include UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, Lord Mayor of the City of London Alderman Alan Yarrow, Shadow Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Chair of the UK-Singapore All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) John Spellar, and Member of Parliament and member of the APPG Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth also wrote condolence letters to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam, while British Prime Minister David Cameron penned a condolence letter to PM Lee.

 The Saturday memorial service at the Singapore High Commission preceded a charity walk at London's famed Hyde Park. The Singapore UK Association and the UK Singapore Students' Council had organised the walk, SG50 March for Charity, in aid of the Community Chest in Singapore.

 Since Mr Lee's passing, the number of people who registered had surged from 250 to more than 700, with more than S$200,000 raised. That amount included a matching donation from the State and corporate donations.

 Mr Bernard Sin, 47, a Singaporean based in Geneva, took an early morning flight to London with his wife and 16-year-old son to join in for the 5km walk through Hyde Park.

 Mr Lee's passing has made the charity walk more poignant, said Mr Sin, a senior vice president in a precious metal trading company. "There was more reason to come," he said.  

Singapore student bodies across Britain also held their own memorial services. The Edinburgh University Singapore Society held a candlelight vigil in Edinburgh's George Square Garden on March 25, with about 50 Singaporean students attending.

 The Cambridge University Malaysian and Singapore Students Association will have a memorial service on Sunday afternoon, and a screening of the state funeral.

 Mr Lee was an alumnus of Cambridge, where he did his law degree.

dawntan@sph.com.sg