Bedok residents remember Lee Kuan Yew's advice to 'follow that rainbow' through painting; others honour him through art

Bedok residents and grassroots volunteers pose in front with the final collage of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, made to mark the first anniversary of his passing, at Upper Changi Road on March 20, 2016.
Bedok residents and grassroots volunteers pose in front with the final collage of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, made to mark the first anniversary of his passing, at Upper Changi Road on March 20, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
Bedok residents and grassroots volunteers piece together a collage of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, made to mark the first anniversary of his passing, at Upper Changi Road on March 20, 2016.
Bedok residents and grassroots volunteers piece together a collage of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, made to mark the first anniversary of his passing, at Upper Changi Road on March 20, 2016. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
 Dr Lee Suan Yew stands in front of the art installation made up of 4877 Singapore flag erasers featuring the portrait of his brother, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, on March 20, 2016.
Dr Lee Suan Yew stands in front of the art installation made up of 4877 Singapore flag erasers featuring the portrait of his brother, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, on March 20, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
 Dr Lee Suan Yew looks at the art installation made up of 4877 Singapore flag erasers featuring the portrait of his brother, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, on March 20, 2016.
Dr Lee Suan Yew looks at the art installation made up of 4877 Singapore flag erasers featuring the portrait of his brother, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, on March 20, 2016.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - In a speech 20 years ago, then-Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew urged young Singaporeans to seize the opportunities out there and not navel gaze.

"There is a glorious rainbow that beckons those with a spirit of adventure," he said. "To the young and not-too-old I say, look at the horizon, find that rainbow, go ride it."

As the first anniversary of Mr Lee's death on March 23 approaches, a group of Bedok residents of all ages and races gathered on Sunday (March 20) to paint several pieces of art - using each of the seven colours of the rainbow.

They then put the pieces together to form a big painting of Mr Lee - to commemorate his urging citizens to "follow that rainbow" and chart their own future.

Theirs was among the many remembrance events across the island on Sunday where hundreds of residents got together to mark his contributions to the country.

Manpower Minister and East Coast GRC MP Lim Swee Say joined the Bedok residents and said in a Facebook post: "We all miss you, Mr Lee. The more we miss you, the more we will stay united, ride the rainbow to create a SG100 that you and all of us will be proud of."

In the afternoon, Mr Lee's younger brother, Dr Lee Suan Yew, 82, put the finishing touches to a unique art installation that formed the silhouette of Mr Lee's face with 4,877 rectangular erasers bearing the Singapore flag, a popular childhood toy in the 80s and 90s.

The work was unveiled at the former National Youth Council building at Somerset Road.

The building was renamed The Red Box about a week ago, after the wine-coloured briefcase Mr Lee used throughout his working life.

The concept for the art work was mooted by Mr Raghrib Ken Hamid, 34, who owns a business selling old school local snacks and toys.

He said: "The inspiration to use the Singapore flag erasers to create an art installation of Mr Lee Kuan Yew came from the fond childhood memories of the eraser wrestling game we used to play."

More than 100 volunteers with the Youth Corps Singapore helped put the erasers together to form the image, which took six weeks from start to end. The public will be able to view the art piece outside the building till Sunday.

Dr Lee, who was at The Red Box with son Shaun and daughter Shermay, said he found it "very touching to know that the youth in Singapore are admiring Lee Kuan Yew for what he has done", even though they did not live through times like the fight for independence and merger with Malaysia.

Republic Polytechnic student Sheila Manokaran, 21, who was among those who helped put up the erasers, said the piece was a fitting way to remember Mr Lee, a year on.

"It's also my way of honouring and remembering him," she said.

On Sunday morning, 1,500 people from nine community organisations and self-help groups also gathered at Stamford Green next to Singapore Management University's Lee Kong Chian School of Business for a special remembrance event.

Joining them were Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and several Cabinet ministers and MPs.

At the event, four young Singaporeans from the Malay, Indian, Eurasian and Chinese communities each paid tribute to Mr Lee as they reflected on his policies.

Nanyang Technological University undergraduate R Daminisree said Mr Lee's firm belief in equal opportunities for all meant her generation had access to education.

"I am not denied opportunities because of the colour of my skin, the faith I choose, or the language that I proudly call my own," she said.

"Mr Lee's foresight in institutionalising multiculturalism has led to a diverse and cohesive social fabric that is uniquely Singapore."

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing also spoke, and urged Singaporeans to keep Mr Lee's legacy of a multicultural, multiracial, and multi-ethnic society intact and not take it for granted.

"If we take a step back and reflect on the current state of affairs in Singapore, I would argue that it is most unnatural," he said.

"It goes against what many people believe to be the human instinct to group together with people of the same skin colour, same religion, and who speak the same tongue."

He also noted that Mr Lee set himself the goal of building a diverse society as he wanted a Singapore that gave opportunities to everyone, not just a specific group of people.

This goal is a "constant work in progress" that requires the effort of all Singaporeans, he added.

He added: "Today, we are closer than we were yesterday. With your commitment and conviction, tomorrow, we will be even closer."