Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean led some 5,000 overseas Singaporeans in paying tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore Day event in Shanghai on Saturday afternoon.
Describing the event as a "bittersweet" reunion, Mr Teo said: "We would not be gathered here today, as Singaporeans, if not for Mr Lee and our pioneers. Even with his passing, Mr Lee brought Singaporeans together - in Singapore and also overseas."
He noted how more than 5,400 Singaporeans in 36 cities across the world had held moving and heartfelt memorials for the founding father of Singapore, who died on Mar 23 at age 91.
In his speech, Mr Teo said Mr Lee believed Singapore had to be connected to the world to thrive as an independent state, which led to a concerted push for the internationalisation of Singaporean enterprises.
He also credited Mr Lee for his commitment to bilingualism and biculturalism and efforts in fostering Singapore-China ties that helped Singaporeans and companies to venture overseas confidently.
"The fact that we now have around 20,000 Singaporeans working and studying in China is testament to this," said Mr Teo.
Changes were made after Mr Lee's death to the Singapore Day event, which has been held yearly since 2007 in New York, Melbourne, Shanghai and London to connect overseas Singaporeans,
Organisers set up an exhibition with photo montages featuring key moments of Mr Lee's life and achievements and also a "Remembering Lee Kuan Yew" tent for Singaporeans to remember and pen tribute messages to him, said a spokesman for the Overseas Singaporean Unit, the lead agency for the event.
A special tribute segment was also added to the programme, with Mr Teo leading Singaporeans in a minute of silence for Mr Lee.
Mr Ian Lee, 34, a project manager working in Shanghai for the past six years, welcomed the opportunity to offer tribute messages to Mr Lee.
"He was a good leader whose hard work and wise decisions helped transform Singapore into a country that others try to copy. I believe his legacy will live on for a long time," he told The Straits Times.
Ms Grace Fu, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, also shared stories about the late leader and how he helped build a harmonious multi-racial society with Singaporean children aged five to 12 at a tent run by the Ministry of Education.
"As Singaporeans, it is important to pass on the values of our founding fathers to our children and future generations," she said.
On Saturday morning, Mr Teo met with Shanghai Party Secretary Han Zheng and also visited the Republic of Singapore Navy's RSS Resolution.
The landing ship tank is making a port call in Shanghai as part of a midshipman sea training deployment, which runs from March 6 to April 20 and involves 99 trainees. It has also made port calls in Brunei and Japan.