Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Dr Tan Cheng Bock pays tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew as 'true son of the soil'

SINGAPORE - Former Member of Parliament Tan Cheng Bock has paid tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, hailing him as "a true son of the soil" who was driven by his love for Singapore.

"I will always remember him as the greatest person I have ever met and worked with," he wrote in a Facebook post on early Saturday, after paying his last respects to Mr Lee at the tribute site at Tanjong Pagar Community Club.

In his post, Dr Tan wrote about his encounters with Mr Lee who interviewed him to be a candidate for the 1980 General Election.

"I left the interview suspecting he was not impressed with me. Moreover, my academic records and CV were colourless. I was only a village doctor with a rebellious streak," he wrote. "But one striking thing he said was 'we are not looking for yes men'."


Mr Lee also used to call MPs for lunch, during which he shared his experience with his younger colleagues and discussed political issues of the day, he recalled.

Dr Tan, formerly MP for Ayer Rajah, also wrote about meeting Mr Lee at a dinner in 2006.

"I was retiring that year as MP and chose to close my tenure with my favourite song 'My Way'. I changed the lyrics of the song with reference to MP's role," he said. "After I sang, LKY looked at me and broke into a smile. We then shook hands. To me, it was a good feeling to end my stint as MP for Ayer Rajah."

In 2011, Dr Tan stood in the elected presidential election and narrowly lost to former Cabinet minister Tony Tan Keng Yam by 7,382 votes, or 0.35 percentage points.

In his Facebook post, he disclosed how the late Mr Lee "wasn't happy" with misunderstanding on the ground about his intentions for creating in 1991 an elected presidency with custodial powers over the nation's reserves and key appointments.

It was one of the issues the late Mr Lee had raised during his lunch meetings with MPs, which he sometimes used as fact-finding sessions, especially when he wanted to confirm the ground's feedback on controversial issues, said Dr Tan.

"At that time, many thought that he was doing this for himself. He was visibly disturbed. 'I am doing this for Singapore , I don't want to be President'," he wrote.

Another controversial issue raised by Mr Lee during the lunch meetings, according to Dr Tan, was the controversy over property bought by the Lee family at a discounted price in 1995.

"The first question he shot at me was 'Cheng Bock, am l a crook?' I told him if he was a crook l would not have served him in the first place. LKY embodied the virtues of integrity and incorruptibility, without which Singapore could never have succeeded," he wrote.

"Indeed, he was truly a man who lived for our nation. Every political step taken by him, however difficult to understand then, he meant it for the good of Singapore. LKY loved his country, and it is only right for him to receive the highest honour and genuine affection shown by Singaporeans this week."

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