leekuanyew

Happy to learn three languages

Sree Harin Baskaran may be only 12, but he is bilingual and on the way to becoming trilingual. He knows English and his mother tongue Tamil, and started picking up Chinese earlier this year.

That he is able to study three languages is something the first-year student at National University of Singapore High School of Mathematics and Science is thankful to Mr Lee Kuan Yew for.

"He's the reason I can have a good education and he also encouraged bilingualism," Sree Harin said.

He was among the throngs who braved the downpour along Clementi Road yesterday to bid Mr Lee a final farewell.

He picked Chinese as a third language because "China has the largestpopulation in the world and I want to be able to interact with the people in Chinese".

"I wasn't able to go to Parliament House (for the lying in state), so this is the least I could do for Mr Lee," said Sree Harin, who started waiting by the road with his family at 10.45am, holding mini-flags that he waved as Mr Lee's cortege passed by three hours later.

Sounding wise beyond his years, he added: "Waiting three hours was nothing compared to being able to pay my last respects to Singapore's first Prime Minister."

MELISSA LIN