Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Singaporeans 'know importance of what Mr Lee Kuan Yew stood for'

Queues to pay last respects reflect the regard people have for him: Khaw

The crowds that have formed over the last two days to pay their final respects to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew are a reflection of the regard people have for the man and what he stood for, People's Action Party (PAP) chairman Khaw Boon Wan said last night.

He told more than 300 party activists at an event to pay tribute to Mr Lee that the outpouring of emotions exceeded the authorities' expectations.

This led to an extension of visiting times at Parliament House to 24 hours.

"And now even with 24 hours, we are afraid that we will not be able to fully fulfil the wishes of Singaporeans," he said at the event in the party's New Upper Changi Road headquarters, which began with a minute of silence in remembrance of Mr Lee.

"But we will do our best."

That so many would queue for up to eight hours to say their final goodbyes to Mr Lee showed that Singaporeans knew the importance of what he stood for.

Mr Khaw said this included good, honest government; and an ability to speak the hard truths when required.

"A key ingredient of sound politics is honest, able people," Mr Khaw said to the activists, who are from his PAP Sembawang branch.

"Please come forward because if you are not willing to come forward, then the vacuum will be filled by opportunists, or worse, by smart people for selfish reasons."

Another key ingredient is a society that supports candidates who demonstrate these values, and which is willing to swallow the bitter pill if necessary, he said.

"The people, the masses, must themselves also embrace sound politics and support it," said Mr Khaw.

"They must be able to discern what is a sweet tongue, empty promises, populist measures, against the honest truth - what Comrade Lee Kuan Yew always called the hard truth - and support that party, support those candidates."

While Mr Lee had successfully built up Singapore's reserves, an irresponsible Government can still "wipe them clean" in a term or two in office, he said.

And should Singapore have to start from scratch, like it did 50 years ago, it would be virtually impossible to succeed again.

Citing Myanmar as an example, Mr Khaw said they had realised the way forward: to start with labour-intensive industries, and work their way upwards.

"It is a huge country, with all sorts of natural resources: minerals, natural gas, oil. Whatever you say, they have it," he said. "And 60 million people: they can start afresh, they know."

But Singapore has neither natural resources nor a domestic market the size of Myanmar, he said.

He also gave an example of Mr Lee's far-sighted vision: he had dreamt about a modern Marina Bay when it was just a "dirty, smelly, Singapore river flowing into the sea".

"What do we see of Marina Bay today? A beautiful skyline, absolutely world class," he said.

"The marvellous thing is, it's not even finished yet - the plan that he has left us, in our Ministry (of National Development), was many times bigger than what you see today. As the Americans say, 'You ain't seen nothing yet'. It will be truly wonderful."

At the end of Mr Khaw's speech, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Alex Yam led activists in a rallying cry of "Majulah PAP! Majulah Singapura!"

yanliang@sph.com.sg


ST 20150327 PETERONG 1182351m

LEGACY FOR THE YOUNG

"One thing that I was very encouraged by was to see children filing past the casket, and they were brought there by either their parents or their teachers.

"And I've read so many stories of parents who deliberately brought their young children, who probably wouldn't know who Mr Lee was.

"Last night, when I was at the Botanic Gardens tribute site, I saw a little card written by a young Singaporean. He must be very young, I think he's probably in kindergarten. It read: 'Dear Mr Lee, thank you for my house because every night I sleep peacefully in my bed.'

"So I think that as young children come through and as we continue to impress upon young Singaporeans the enormity of what Mr Lee has contributed to all of us, I think that will go a long way in making sure that our young Singaporeans know and remember that the values that Mr Lee stood for are the values that can carry us for a long, long time to come."

- Head of Civil Service Peter Ong, who took part in a 30-minute vigil by the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew's body yesterday, on whether future generations will remember Mr Lee's contributions


COLOUR DOESN'T MATTER

"White? Black? What's in a colour? Just wear your heart on your sleeve. I for one believe that even as we mourn and grieve, we are also celebrating his life and our Singapore. It's something really remarkable, isn't it?

"So whether it's the gorgeous hues of sunset at Marina Bay, a red and white tribute of a significant line in our pledge on my personal page profile shot or a black and white profile shot... we are of one heart.

"Regardless of race, language or religion. Or colour.

"A man came up to me yesterday apologising repeatedly that he was in a brightly coloured shirt. 'I had to rush over after work and was worried I couldn't make it in time.'

"Uncle, what matters is that you cared enough to come. Doesn't matter the colour. Thank you."

- Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, weighing in on the debate over whether one should wear black or white on Sunday to mark Mr Lee's funeral, in a Facebook post yesterday


CROWDS FOR MR LEE

"From the casket leaving Istana, across Bras Basah, to North Bridge Road to Parliament House - the outpouring of emotion has been exceptional.

"People from all walks of life - the disabled, men on crutches, some with one leg, the elderly on canes and wheelchairs, ladies (young and old) sobbing inconsolably, strangers hugging one another, young students and volunteers offering drinks to the people, restaurants offering free bottled water and snacks to those in the queues.

Some queued for eight hours but that wasn't going to stop them from saying goodbye to Mr Lee.

I spent (Wednesday) around Parliament, speaking with and thanking our people who had come to pay their respect to Mr Lee.

"Around 1.30am, outside Parliament, I was still being approached by large numbers of people offering their condolences. Many shared their impressions and encounters with Mr Lee. Their emotions were obvious. One lady told me that she works in the UK. She didn't come back for relatives passing away. But she came back for Mr Lee. Many stories of people making special effort to come and pay the respect to Mr Lee."

- Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, on the people from all walks of life queueing up outside Parliament House for hours to say their final goodbyes to the late Mr Lee