SINGAPORE - Mr Lee Kuan Yew's penchant for morning walks inspired about 600 participants to gather at Dhoby Ghaut Green before sunrise on Wednesday (March 23), kicking off a poignant day marking the first death anniversary of Singapore's founding Prime Minister.
They were part of Walk The Talk: A Walk For LKY, a 2.8km brisk walk organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI).
Education centre owner Jean Ho, 50, who arrived with her husband at 6.30am, described the event as "a meaningful way for us to remember our dear Mr Lee's legacy".
"He embodies the fighting spirit of our forefathers, and he taught us the importance of having a harmonious society," she said.
"Living together in peace with people of other races is something we cannot take for granted, and is one of the things I am grateful to the late Mr Lee for."
Decked in pink T-shirts, participants also walked along Oxley Road, near the late Mr Lee's residence.
SCCCI president Thomas Chua said: "Mr Lee worked very hard to ensure the survival and prosperity of our country. Despite how busy he was, he always valued having a healthy lifestyle and is known to have taken morning walks daily."
Across Singapore, individuals and community groups held events from tree-planting ceremonies to an academic forum to mark this day last year when Mr Lee died at age 91.
Organisers said these activities are meant to celebrate his life as a reminder to Singaporeans of what it took for modern Singapore to be built, and what it will take to ensure the country's success.
Pupils at Telok Kurau Primary, the school Mr Lee attended from 1930 to 1935, paid tribute to him with a special assembly on Wednesday morning.
Slides of his famous quotes were shown to students, who also had the chance to share their hopes to carry on his legacy of nation-building and racial harmony.
At Jurong Lake Park, more than 350 residents from the Jurong, Yuhua and Bukit Batok constituencies joined Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in planting 53 mempat trees. These will eventually be part of the new Jurong Lake Gardens.
The campaign to plant trees was started by Mr Lee himself in 1963, when he planted a mempat tree in Farrer Circus. Over the years, he planted more than 60 trees all over the island, leading to the "greening" of Singapore that is renowned the world over.
Carrying a watering pot in his hand, Shuqun Primary student Cedric Cheng, 12, said: "Mr Lee Kuan Yew had the vision of Singapore being a clean and green city. I am proud to be able to continue his legacy through this tree-planting activity."
Mr Tharman said: "He was, as NParks always said, our chief gardener. He would send a large number of proposals to them, some unworkable but most workable. Whenever I see the red bougainvillea on the overheard bridge, my heart moves up a tick... That was Lee Kuan Yew."