Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Special assemblies at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's former schools

Schools that Mr Lee Kuan Yew once attended mourned his death with special assemblies yesterday.

In the school halls of Raffles Institution (RI) and Telok Kurau Primary School, Mr Lee's alma maters, the principals shared their thoughts on Singapore's first Prime Minister.

Telok Kurau Primary's principal, Ms Charis Wong, credited Mr Lee for Singapore's transformation into a global city in decades. Addressing hundreds of pupils, she added: "He was a loving husband to his wife and a loving father too."

Since yesterday, the pupils have been penning condolence messages on heart-shaped cards.

They also folded flowers, which will be collected into bouquets.

These will be presented by staff and student representatives when they pay their last respects at Parliament House later this week.

Library resources and reading materials on Mr Lee will be used as part of lessons this week.

"Our pupils have always known Mr Lee as one of our alumni and are proud to be in a school where Mr Lee was once a student," Ms Wong said.

Mr Lee enrolled in the school in 1930. It still keeps an old class attendance book with the words "Lee Harry" in its heritage room.

Mr Lee was not only a statesman. Policies he mooted made an impact on Ms Wong's life.

Choking back tears, she said: "I didn't grow up in a well-to-do family, but Singapore's system of meritocracy gave me opportunities and brought me to where I am today."

At RI, which Mr Lee attended from 1936 to 1940, students remembered him as a man of conviction, who always had the country's best interests at heart.

Rafflesian Arif Jabbar, 15, said: "Not all his policies were popular, but whatever he did, he believed (in it). He had the best intentions for Singapore at heart.

"It's his determination that I will remember him for."

Said RI principal Chan Poh Meng: "He dedicated his life to building a cohesive society where Singaporeans can pursue justice, peace, progress and equality.

"He was a leader and among the core group of founding fathers who were pivotal in charting the course of our nation's history.

"His passing is a deep loss to all of us."

All schools flew the national flag at half-mast across the island yesterday.

They also observed a minute's silence for Mr Lee.

kashc@sph.com.sg