Across Singapore, young and old turn out to remember Lee Kuan Yew

Pre-school children visit Mr Lee's remembrance site at Istana Park on March 23, 2016.
Pre-school children visit Mr Lee's remembrance site at Istana Park on March 23, 2016.ST PHOTO: NG KENG GENE

SINGAPORE - From pre-schoolers clutching flowers to retirees holding cherished memories, members of the public turned out at remembrance events across the island to commemorate the first death anniversary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

About 30 pupils and teachers from Pat's Schoolhouse Prinsep visited the memorial site at Istana Park on Wednesday (March 23) morning, where they laid sunflowers and had an impromptu lesson on Singapore's founding Prime Minister.

Teachers, such as Ms Mayce Wu from Pat's Schoolhouse, went through with the children the panels that were set up, emphasising values that Mr Lee held on firmly to such as social cohesion, racial harmony and resilience.

Ms Wu explained that remembering Mr Lee was a good opportunity to impart moral education to her students.

During the lesson, the children were overheard saying that Mr Lee "took care of the country" and "he's a good leader".

When asked what she knew about Mr Lee, six-year-old Emma Chan told The Straits Times: "My mother taught me that he used to be a Prime Minister. She showed me pictures of him on her phone."

Six-year old Emma Chan (fifth from left) with her classmates from Pat's Schoolhouse at Istana Park. ST PHOTO: NG KENG GENE

At the same site, part-time bus cleaner Toh Hock Kee emotionally recounted how he still keeps pictures of Mr Lee at home from newspaper cuttings, adding that "looking at them brings me to tears".

The 65-year-old came all the way from his home in Jurong East to pay his respect to Mr Lee.

Mr Toh Hock Kee at the Istana Park remembrance site. ST PHOTO: NG KENG GENE

He said in Mandarin: "Mr Lee was a man of many values. I used to be very poor. I stayed in a kampung in Ulu Pandan, and I remember Mr Lee coming to make his rounds during elections on the back of trucks.

"It really is amazing how the promises he made during campaigns really came true. As a bus driver myself in the past, I watched the infrastructure of Singapore develop, like the roads and buildings."


Retiree Anthony Low, 63, and his wife Ms Teng Yam Choo, 60, a housewife, travelled from Clementi to view the panels detailing Mr Lee's legacy.

On seeing a picture of the Bukit Ho Swee fire of 1961, Mr Low recalled how he used to stay in the area, moving to Queenstown just a month before the incident.

He said: "I am grateful for the safe housing that Mr Lee built for us. I came today just to remember him and his contributions to the country. He gave us a safe country and dared to make difficult decisions that helped us to progress."

Ms Teng added: "I am most grateful for the racial harmony Mr Lee promoted. A lot of the conflicts in the world now are based on racial issues. The peace we have in Singapore makes me appreciate our multiracial society even more."

Retiree Anthony Low (left) with his wife Ms Teng Yam Choo at Istana Park. ST PHOTO: NG KENG GENE

Over at Telok Kurau Primary, the school Mr Lee attended from 1930 to 1935, pupils and teachers gathered for a special assembly.

The ceremony comprised three segments: a poetry recital of As We Move On, reflections by pupils on his legacy and a slideshow featuring Mr Lee's iconic quotes.

A Telok Kulau Primary student reaching a speech on Mr Lee. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL MAK

Pupils expressed their admiration for Mr Lee's attitude towards learning.

Jin Minhe, 11, pointed out that "the reason why Mr Lee was successful was because he was a lifelong learner".

The international student, who moved to Singapore from Shanghai in 2014, was also inspired by the sacrifices that Singapore's pioneers made for the country and was deeply affected by Mr Lee's death last year.

Tharita Surendran, 11, said that Mr Lee's "dedication and determination in making Singapore succeed will always resonate with me". She also recounted the close ties Mr Lee had with the community, describing him as a person who "really takes Singapore as a family to him".

Yee Jia Rong, 11, reflected on Mr Lee's unwavering determination, saying: "He wanted us to be strong and free and he believed we could do it and never looked down on us."