Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Singaporeans in London pay respects to founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew

More than 100 Singaporeans showed up at the Singapore High Commission in London on Monday afternoon to leave tributes for their founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.

Mostly students and young professionals living in Britain, some of them arrived alone while others came as a group.

The High Commission had opened a condolence book at its premises in Belgravia. Anyone wishing to sign it can do so between 9am and 10.30am, and 3pm and 5pm from Tuesday to Friday.

Ms Mala Henderson, 50, an aid worker, waited patiently with her British husband for an hour before they both got to sign the book.

The Singaporean who has lived in Britain for 28 years, welled up when speaking about Mr Lee.

"The likes of us who live overseas appreciate him more because when I go to countries like Haiti and Israel for aid work, my passport commands so much respect," she said. "And the only reason is because of Lee Kuan Yew."

Madam Tan Siew Huay was visiting her daughter in London, but found time to drop by the high commission with her husband.

The 74-year-old part-time culinary instructor has witnessed Singapore's transformation from a Third World country to a First World nation.

"We used to live in attap houses. Now, there are flats, MRT, and everyone has jobs," she said in Mandarin.

Dr Chan Xin Hui Supanee, 29, an infectious diseases doctor based in Oxford, shares the sentiment.

"As a child of the 80s, I benefited very much from Singapore's education system. And my family had the benefit of incredible social mobility in just two generations," she said. "Such opportunities would not have been possible without the Singapore that Lee Kuan Yew was a big part of."

There are plans for a commemorative event in London, said High Commissioner Foo Chi Hsia.

The Singapore UK Association and the UK Singapore Students' Council are discussing how to get the community to remember and pay tribute to Mr Lee at an SG50 March for Charity this Saturday in London's Hyde Park, which is in aid of the Community Chest.

dawntan@sph.com.sg