Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's politeness stood out

Former Singapore Airlines stewardess Sharon Chong has fond memories of her brief encounter serving the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew on a flight to Bali, Indonesia.

It was 1977 and Ms Chong had been specially selected to be part of the crew flying with Mr Lee, who was then Singapore's Prime Minister.

Mr Lee was travelling on government business with then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee and a delegation of doctors, reporters and security crew.

Ms Chong's interaction with Mr Lee on the Boeing 737 flight was brief as Mr Lee had been deep in conversation with Dr Goh, she said.

But what struck her about the late statesman was his politeness towards the airplane crew - like when she served him his lunch.

"He stopped his conversation, looked up and thanked me sincerely after I laid the food before him.

"His acknowledgement meant a lot to me because I was very nervous and 'blur'... I was fresh out of National Junior College and just 19," said the retired air stewardess.

Ms Chong was among the thousands who parked themselves along Commonwealth Avenue yesterday as the cortege carrying the late Mr Lee travelled through the west of Singapore.

She said: "It was important for me to go out into the streets to say goodbye to Mr Lee. I want him to know I'm grateful to him.

"We're the silent, sleeping ones who have kept quiet all these years. We are awakened now that he has passed on. We feel ashamed that we have not done much for the nation and never bothered with his contributions until now."

MELODY ZACCHEUS