Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Ye Ye showed me I could make a difference, says Mr Lee Kuan Yew's grandson Li Hongyi in eulogy

SINGAPORE - His grandfather showed him he could make a difference and do it "with your head held high", said Mr Lee Kuan Yew's grandson Li Hongyi in a moving eulogy on Singapore's founding father.

During his five-minute tribute at a private funeral service at Mandai Crematorium on Sunday, Mr Li, who is the second son of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, fought back tears as he spoke of how his grandfather had inspired him.

Mr Li, 28, had to pause for several seconds before his mother Ho Ching went up to him and passed him a piece of tissue, and placed a comforting hand on his back.

Mr Li said: "Ye Ye showed me that you could make a difference in this world. Not just that you could make a difference, but that you could do it with your head held high. You didn't have to lie, cheat, or steal. You didn't have to flatter, charm or cajole."

He spoke of his pride when he accompanied his grandfather to a ceremony in the United States, where Mr Lee was receiving an award and also gave a speech.

"Hearing him speak and watching the entire room listen made me feel so proud because his charisma came not from showmanship but from pure substance," Mr Li said.

He said that his straight-talking grandfather would share his honest opinions, and would never "echo empty slogans or narrow-minded ideologies".

Mr Li also shared details about Sunday lunches with his grandparents, and how the first and only gift he had received from the older Mr Lee was a camera. Mr Li has since printed a book on the photographs he took using the camera.

"When Ye Ye gave me that camera years ago, he wrote me a note. It was a simple note without any flowery language or cheap sentiment. He simply told me that he hoped I made good use of it. I hope I have."

He said that while people admired his grandfather for his brilliant mind, his ability to lead and rally people together, what made him a great man was "the person he chose to be".

He described the late Mr Lee as a man "of character, clarity, and conviction".

He said: "We should remember him less as a man who gave us great gifts, and more as a man who showed us the kind of people we could be."

jalmsab@sph.com.sg