Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Archbishop Goh: Mr Lee Kuan Yew did what he thought was best for the country

SINGAPORE - The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a man of convictions who cared for the country as if it was his own family, said the Catholic Church's Archbishop William Goh at a mass for Singapore's founding Prime Minister this afternoon.

Mr Lee followed his conscience and "did what he thought was best for the country".

But the Archbishop said there are many people who do not agree with certain policies Mr Lee had introduced.

These include family planning policies such as the "Stop At Two" programme and the legalisation of abortion, the legalisation of casinos and his eugenics theory, which supports the idea that educated Singaporeans produce brighter children.

The Catholic Church had arranged for a special memorial mass for the late Mr Lee who died on Monday morning at the age of 91. During the mass, they prayed for his soul and for his family. Worshippers also penned about 1,000 condolence messages and notes in his memory.

Addressing a crowd of 5,000 Catholics, including 40 priests, at St Joseph's Church on Victoria Street, the Archbishop said the 1987 Marxist conspiracy was a "dark period" in the Church's history.

In May and June that year, 22 people - many of whom included people with links to the Catholic Church, were arrested under the Internal Security Act. They were accused of planning to overthrow the Government under the cover of the Catholic Church.

"We can disagree with him but the point remains... If he had been harsh with his political opponents, I gathered (this was) because this man would do everything to protect the existence of Singapore and the people..." said the Archbishop during his homily.

Archbishop Goh later told the press that many people were "wounded and hurt" by the 1987 incident.

But there are also many different interpretations of the events such that "we may never find out the full facts".

"I think it is important for us to move on and to forgive, and most of all to continue to build the country. There's no point to go back to the past, trying to lick our wounds because it will not help in nation building...And as Christians all the more we should forgive and forget..." he said.

Mr Lee, he said, did not oppose religion and in fact promoted it.

What Mr Lee did not tolerate were people who used religion for political purposes.

"When you start mixing religion with politics, you have crossed the line. Either you get involved in politics or you get involved in religion but not under the guise of religion," he said.

"And he cannot tolerate fundamentalists when a religion tries to impose a faith and values on others."