Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Ethnic, religious groups pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's role in building harmony

Singapore's main ethnic and religious communities yesterday paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, with many highlighting his role in creating a harmonious multiracial and multi-religious society.

"Without the wisdom and far-sightedness of this chief architect of modern Singapore, Singaporeans would not be able to experience the peace and prosperity that they are enjoying today," said Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations president Chua Thian Poh.

Malay/Muslim self-help group Mendaki recounted Mr Lee's foresight in mooting its formation in 1982 to tackle the problem of Malay underachievement in education openly and sensitively, and in ensuring financial support for the organisation.

"Our progress is made possible due to Mr Lee's vision and genuine concern for the community," Mendaki chief executive Tuminah Sapawi said in a statement.

The Association of Muslim Professionals also issued a statement, saying Mr Lee's passing will leave a gap in the political arena, "but more than that, in the hearts of Singaporeans".

The Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) said Mr Lee's foresight had allowed self-help groups like Sinda to uplift countless individuals over the years and contribute to the overall progress of Singapore.

Eurasian Association president Benett Theseira said of Mr Lee: "He was a pragmatic person who was able to understand the challenges that minority groups faced and the value that their diversity could bring to Singapore. He led us to pledge ourselves as one united people, regardless of race, language or religion."

Religious groups also issued condolence messages for Mr Lee, with Singapore Buddhist Federation president Seck Kwang Phing saying that the community "fondly remembers his tireless effort in promoting and ensuring religious harmony and equal treatment to all religions, regardless of the size of congregation of each religion".

Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Church said: "As a nation, we have him to thank for everything we are proud to call Singapore."

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said Mr Lee will always be remembered for his support for the formation of Muis and the Mosque Building Fund.

"Mr Lee's leadership contributed to the growth of our economy, progress in the field of education, and peace, stability and harmony. The Singaporean Muslim community, too, has grown and prospered in tandem with Singapore," it said.

Added the Young Sikh Association: "Despite being a minority within a minority, the Sikh community is an integral part of Singapore society simply because Mr Lee took great pains to ensure that all Singaporeans, regardless of race, language or religion, are equal partners in Singapore's growth and success."

zakirh@sph.com.sg