Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Singaporeans, locals and diplomats in Manila sign condolence book for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore's flag was flown at half-mast and staff at Singapore's mission in the Philippines wore black armbands to mark the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Dozens of Singaporeans, diplomats, businessmen and bankers made their way to the embassy to sign a condolence book inside a small room furnished with just a table, a chair, flowers in two vases, and a portrait of Mr Lee.

"It's a very sad day for all of us, for all Singaporeans. He was a great statesman, father, who made us so proud, who brought us from where we were to where we are now. Because of him, we are very proud to be Singaporeans," said Ms Sylvia Tay, the Singaporean wife of Belgium's Ambassador to the Philippines Roland van Remoortele.

Ms Tay was among the first to sign the condolence book.

"People will remember him as somebody who is very focused, who has never been swayed by whatever influences that are around him," she said.

Mr Rolf Gerber, chairman of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce, was in the Philippines for a meeting and dropped by at the embassy.

He said Singapore will carry on Mr Lee's "will to make Singapore even more prosperous".

"The Singapore he leaves today is so different from 50 years ago, and it is only this man who achieved that. That's the legacy of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, whom we will dearly miss," said Mr Gerber.

Filipino industrialist Washington Sycip, a close friend of the Lee family and Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, also came to offer his condolences.

He said Mr Lee's "loss is not only to Singapore but to all of us who admired what he was able to do, with Asian values".

"Like him, I was firmly convinced that Western democracy for a poor nation doesn't work, and he proved it in such a remarkable way, as no other country has had the benefit of his wisdom," said Mr Sycip.

Singapore Philippine Association head Peter Tay said Mr Lee's "transformative role and leadership in making Singapore the innovation capital that we all know today is immeasurable".

"Mr Lee's presence will be clearly missed," said Mr Tay.

The embassy's condolence book will be open for signing from 9am to 5pm for the rest of the week.

rdancel@sph.com.sg