Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Singaporeans in Malaysia pay last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

A mostly Singaporean crowd of about 100 gathered at the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur for the live telecast of the state funeral of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, instead of staying home to watch the procession that was broadcast live across Malaysia.

Several people were unable to hold back their tears, especially during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's eulogy of Singapore's "guiding light".

"Fifty years ago, we were abandoned just like that and without him, we wouldn't be where we are today," a tearful Adelene Bek, 42, told The Straits Times.

She recalled how she was fearful in 1990 when the senior Lee stepped down as prime minister but was reassured when she realised he had handpicked capable leaders to continue his work. "He was always a thousand steps ahead," she said.

Despite having lived abroad since 2003 and marrying a Malaysian, Madam Bek wanted her son to have a Singapore passport so that he can return there one day.

Mr Mukul Bhargava, who is from New Delhi, was also at the Singapore High Commission to pay his respects, even though he had only received his Singapore citizenship one and a half years ago.

"There is no Singapore without Lee Kuan Yew," he said.

The 46-year-old works in the oil and gas industry in Kuala Lumpur where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

Mr Bhargava recalled how highly regarded Mr Lee was back in India.

"A lot of practices in Indian administration are adopted from Singapore. I have no doubts about Singapore continuing the speed of its progress. It has good leadership in place," he said.

The High Commission had to scramble to arrange more seats on Sunday as it was prepared for a turnout of only 70 people, expecting many Singaporeans to watch the funeral procession at home or to return to Singapore to pay their last respects to Mr Lee.

Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Vanu Gopala Menon, said more than 2,000 people had signed the condolence book in the past week, including many Malaysians "who took the trouble to come and sign."

"Many were crying and I asked 'why?'. Many met him or heard him speak and felt he touched their lives,'' said Mr Menon.

"We will always cherish his memory but we must build upon his legacy to make Singapore a better place."

shannont@sph.com.sg