Vivian unveils bust of Lee Kuan Yew in Barcelona

Singapore's honorary consul-general in Barcelona, Dr Josep Manuel Basanez, and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with the bust of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew in Barcelona.
Singapore's honorary consul-general in Barcelona, Dr Josep Manuel Basanez, and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan with the bust of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew in Barcelona.PHOTO: FACEBOOK PAGE OF VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN

A monument of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew was unveiled in Spain by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Sunday.

The bust of Mr Lee, who died in March this year, is in Cap Roig Gardens in Barcelona.

Dr Balakrishnan, writing about it in a Facebook post yesterday, said Mr Lee and his late wife had visited the gardens 10 years ago on his 82nd birthday.

They "spent a long time admiring the spectacular landscape and plants", he wrote. "It is thus fitting that perhaps the first monument of him in Europe is in the heart of the gardens on a cliff overlooking the turquoise Mediterranean Sea."

Mr Lee met government officials and business leaders during the 2005 trip to Spain.

Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore may not have the majestic landscapes and temperate climate of Spain's Catalonia region, but almost everything it now possesses is the result of human vision and a "disciplined and hardworking population". "Thanks to Mr Lee, Singapore is today recognised and celebrated so far from home," he said.

Dr Balakrishnan is in Spain on a four-day working trip that ends tomorrow. Besides meeting Spain's Foreign Minister Margallo y Marfil, he will attend the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, as Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative.

The bust of Mr Lee was commissioned by Singapore's honorary consul-general in Barcelona Josep Manuel Basanez, who asked Catalan artist Jose Luis Porras to sculpt it.

Dr Basanez, who has held the honorary post since 2003, told The Straits Times that it was the "personality of Mr Lee (that) made me accept the position."

"Mr Lee felt great affection for Spain. He constantly helped to establish good relations between Singapore and Spain," he said. "We wanted his memorial to be in the countryside and in a place he had personally visited - in this case, with his wife."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said earlier this year that his father was careful not to let a personality cult grow around him, which is why there are few busts, portraits or statues of him in Singapore.

There are only two other busts of Mr Lee in public - one at Parliament House and the other in the Singapore University of Technology and Design. The latest one in Spain is the first outside of Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 17, 2015, with the headline 'Vivian unveils bust of Lee Kuan Yew in Barcelona'. Print Edition | Subscribe