Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Stories from March 24 edition of ST

Singapore mourns: Thousands pay tribute to founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore entered the post-Lee Kuan Yew era yesterday, with the passing of founding father Lee Kuan Yew, 91.

It was a day that had been widely anticipated, not least since Mr Lee himself had often spoken of the need for leadership succession and had pushed it relentlessly, giving up his own job as Prime Minister in 1990 after 31 years and while still robust at 67.

Yet, when the time finally came - he died at 3.18am yesterday at the Singapore General Hospital where he had been hospitalised since Feb 5 with severe pneumonia - there was a palpable sense of loss in the country, from the halls of the Istana to the streets of Tanjong Pagar.


Editorial: Keeping Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy alive

Lee Kuan Yew was many things to Singaporeans: father figure, visionary, social disciplinarian and sage.

He was the man who played the decisive role in the creation of Singapore as the people know it today. "One day, this will be a metropolis. Never fear!" he once declared. The people believed in him, gave him and the nation's other founding fathers their support, and together they built modern Singapore.


His body rests near the Istana lawns he loved

It was a fitting resting place for the body of Singapore's founding Prime Minister.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's casket was laid out in a simple room on the ground floor of Sri Temasek, the official residence of the Prime Minister in the Istana grounds.


Best way to honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew? 'Keep Singapore united and successful'

Singapore's current generation of leaders urged Singaporeans to honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew by keeping the country united, and successful.

Building on what Mr Lee and his team put in place - especially upholding the values of multiracialism, meritocracy, incorruptibility and bold policymaking - would be the best way to keep his legacy alive, they said.


Let us honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew's spirit and life's work, says PM Lee Hsien Loong

"The first of our founding fathers is no more. He inspired us, gave us courage, kept us together and brought us here.

"He fought for independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won't see another man like him.


The day Singaporeans set aside differences to say 'thank you' to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

They came dressed in black, some clutching white roses, carnations and lilies.

There were mothers who had just picked up their sons and daughters from school, civil servants with their elderly parents and lone executives who had taken an hour off their busy work schedules.


13,000 messages left for Mr Lee Kuan Yew by mourners at Istana

It was 5am, and security supervisor S. N. Pillai, 50, was two hours from the end of his shift when his sister called him, distressed.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew has died, she said, crying. Mr Pillai turned on the radio and received confirmation that the former Prime Minister had passed away at 3.18am. After finishing work just after dawn, Mr Pillai rushed down by bus from his workplace at the Thai Embassy, to the gates of the Istana, where he was one of the very first to arrive by 7.30am.


Tearful residents pay respects to their MP, Mr Lee Kuan Yew

As a young man, Mr Seow Cheong Choon had little faith in Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

"When we were kicked out of Malaysia, he said he would give us all a house. Not just one or two people, but the thousands living in attap houses.

"I was angry with his promises of false hope. Who could believe him? Singapore was chaotic, muddy, full of gangsters," recounted Mr Seow. Now 80, he has lived almost all his life in the Tiong Bahru ward, in Tanjong Pagar GRC, that Mr Lee represented for 60 years.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew was architect of our modern Republic, says President Tan

Singapore was Mr Lee Kuan Yew's passion, and he continued to serve the country until the last days of his life, wrote President Tony Tan Keng Yam in a condolence letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

"Few have demonstrated such complete commitment to a cause greater than themselves," said Dr Tan, writing on behalf of the people of Singapore.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew gave us a country we can be proud of, says ESM Goh

When Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong heard that Mr Lee Kuan Yew, 91, had died yesterday, tears welled up in his eyes.

Less than two hours later, he paid tribute to the man whom he described on his Facebook page as his "leader, mentor, inspiration, the man I looked up to most".


Singaporeans mourn Mr Lee Kuan Yew in uniquely Singaporean style

MRS P. Pusparani had not slept well since Saturday. That was the day she rushed down to the Singapore General Hospital on hearing that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was critically ill.

This was why she was awake in the wee hours of the morning yesterday. Just after 4am, she learnt that Mr Lee had died shortly before, at 3.18 am. She was distraught. Tears gushed.


Special assemblies at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's former schools

Schools that Mr Lee Kuan Yew once attended mourned his death with special assemblies yesterday.

In the school halls of Raffles Institution (RI) and Telok Kurau Primary School, Mr Lee's alma maters, the principals shared their thoughts on Singapore's first Prime Minister.


NTUC hails Mr Lee Kuan Yew as a dear brother and true fighter for workers

Mr ZLee Kuan Yew was a "dear brother" and "true fighter" for workers, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) said in its tribute to Singapore's first Prime Minister yesterday.

Mr Lee's lasting legacy as Prime Minister was his championing of the strong spirit of tripartism, or the three-way partnership of the Government, unions and employers, it added.


Opposition pays tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the man who 'sacrificed much for us all'

Political party rivalry took a back seat yesterday as the Workers' Party sent its condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the death of his father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

In a letter to PM Lee and his family, WP chief Low Thia Khiang said: "His passing marks the end of an era in Singapore's history. His contributions to Singapore will be remembered for generations to come."


Ethnic, religious groups pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's role in building harmony

Singapore's main ethnic and religious communities yesterday paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, with many highlighting his role in creating a harmonious multiracial and multi-religious society.

"Without the wisdom and far-sightedness of this chief architect of modern Singapore, Singaporeans would not be able to experience the peace and prosperity that they are enjoying today," said Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations president Chua Thian Poh.


Economic prospects 'still look bright', say business leaders

While the Singapore skyline has lost some of its shine in the wake of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death, the country's economic prospects still look bright, noted business leaders and analysts yesterday.

Many companies, including CapitaLand, DBS Bank and UBS, have turned off their building signage as a mark of respect during the national period of mourning.


Long lines for ST Lee Kuan Yew special noon edition

Distance was no obstacle for 76-year-old Gurden Singh, who wanted a copy of the 24-page The Straits Times Special Edition on the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

The retiree travelled from Ang Mo Kio to Dhoby Ghaut and City Hall yesterday in search of the 90-cent tabloid-size special.


18 places for public to pay their respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Eighteen community sites are being set up for the public to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The first six are ready. The other 12 will be ready tomorrow. The sites will be open from 10am to 8pm until March 29. Residents can also visit the sites for a live telecast of the State Funeral on March 29.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Mourning period

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has declared a seven-day period of national mourning, from yesterday to Sunday, to mark the death of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

On March 25, Mr Lee's body will be transferred from Sri Temasek to Parliament House, where it will lie in state until Saturday for the public to pay their last respects. They can do so from 10am to 8pm daily during that time.


Tributes pour in from corporate world for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Tributes to Mr Lee Kuan Yew poured in from the business community yesterday as corporate leaders reflected on the elder statesman's contribution in developing the nation into an international business hub. Mr Lee engineered many of Singapore's crowning achievements on the global stage, including the development of Changi Airport, which would not have existed without him, the airport said in a statement yesterday.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew was 'Lion among leaders' and 'inspiration' to Asians

From Washington to Canberra, the world mourned the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, described as one of "the greatest leaders" of our times, a "lion among leaders" and an "inspiration" to Asians.

"Lee Kuan Yew was a legendary figure in Asia, widely respected for his strong leadership and statesmanship," United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said in a statement, leading the reaction of world leaders.


Grief and gratitude as Asia's leaders laud Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

Asia's dominant powers reacted with sorrow at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death, praising his achievements and global vision, while at least one foreign state legislature passed a condolence resolution to mourn his passing.

An outpouring of grief and gratitude flowed in China, with President Xi Jinping calling Mr Lee an "old friend of the Chinese people".


Mr Lee Kuan Yew crafted a modern island republic as his legacy, says Malaysian PM Najib

Malaysians reacted with grief at the passing of the man who led their closest neighbour for more than three decades, with Prime Minister Najib Razak saying the founding father of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew crafted a modern island republic as his legacy.

Relations between the two neighbours were often testy as Mr Lee clashed with his Malaysian counterparts such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, who spearheaded Malaysia's independence movement, and especially Tun Mahathir Mohamad, who led Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 in fierce competition with Singapore.


US presidents past and present laud Mr Lee Kuan Yew's friendship and advice

Rarely has the passing of a leader of a small nation far away made such a splash here. But in a testament to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's extraordinary standing in the United States, news of his death was greeted by an outpouring of tributes from American leaders past and present.

President Barack Obama led the way, hailing Mr Lee as a "giant of history" and a statesman who influenced his administra- tion's pivot to Asia.


Deep sorrow for loss of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Indonesia's close friend: President Joko Widodo

South-east Asia's dominant nation mourned the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, a co-founder of Asean whose good ties with Indonesia's second President, Mr Suharto, set the stage for a bilateral relationship that helped stabilise the region.

Leaders across the Indonesian archipelago and from other Asean nations paid tribute to the man they called the founding father of Singapore and credited him with playing a crucial role in realising and shaping the regional grouping that started with five members and which doubled to 10.


In Mr Lee Kuan Yew's later years, the world turned to him as seer and sage

Perhaps this article should begin with Henry Kissinger, the guru of realpolitik who was secretary of state to United States president Richard Nixon and shared a long association with Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Perhaps with the words of another lifelong friend of Mr Lee's, former German chancellor Helmut Schmidt, or Britain's Margaret Thatcher. Maybe even India's Sonia Gandhi, whose famous mother-in-law, the late Indira Gandhi, had a sometimes testy association with Singapore's founding father.

But that would be all too predictable.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew was embodiment of new Asian dynamism

Lee Kuan Yew, the founder and patriarch of modern Singapore who has died at the age of 91, was one of post-war Asia's most revered and controversial politicians and one of its last remaining independence leaders.

His greatest achievement was to promote the concept of good governance in South-east Asia, a region long plagued by corrupt, inefficient governments.


Global media on Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy

When historians chronicle Asia's modern resurgence, they will focus on the rise of the region's biggest economies: China, Japan, India. But if there's such a thing as "Asian capitalism", its spark, smartest proponent and most controversial symbol was the founder of the region's smallest country: Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew.

Few would dispute that what Lee achieved in his city-state was an economic miracle. This success, together with his clarity of purpose and outsized personality, influenced the course of Asia's giants.


First among equals: Mr Lee Kuan Yew led a tiny island nation from Third World to First

The midnight call from Mr S. Rajaratnam startled Mr Othman Wok. It was Aug 7, 1965.

"'We go to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow,' he said," Mr Othman recalls. "I asked him why. 'Have they arrested PM?' I said."

Mr Rajaratnam did not explain.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Trusted friend and political comrade

My friendship with Lee Kuan Yew began in 1952. He agreed to represent postal workers pro bono in their strike negotiations with the colonial government. One day, he arrived at the offices of the Malay daily, Utusan Melayu, where I was chief reporter, to provide updates about concessions he had secured on behalf of the workers.

What struck me was his willingness to fight for them, most of whom were Malays and Indians. This is a good man, I remember thinking to myself. His multiracial outlook coincided with mine.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: A life devoted entirely to Singapore

When Singapore split from Malaysia, one major matrimonial asset required more than a little time to divvy up: their joint Malaysia-Singapore Airlines.

The day finally came seven years later in 1972, when Singapore Airlines (SIA) was ready to take to the skies.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew had taken a personal interest in the process. But when he spoke to the Singapore Air Transport Workers' Union on the eve of SIA's formation, there was no nationalistic cheerleading.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: He was receptive to new inputs

Mr Lee Kuan Yew had strong views but, at the same time, he did not have a closed mind. I led a delegation to India in early 1993, which turned out to be a critical visit in the history of bilateral relations. India had run out of money and embarked on their own opening up and policies to reform.

Our visit helped pave the way for closer cultural and economic ties between Singapore and India, helping to spark what then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong later called "a mild India fever" among Singapore businessmen.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: A leader who was ruthless in demanding honesty

To call Lee Kuan Yew my friend would not be quite right. More accurately, we were colleagues. I don't think he had many friends, because he was so focused on doing what was good for the nation, and that would require him sometimes to act against his friends. If he was too friendly with anyone, that could colour his decision, so he was very careful.

Many leaders of countries are honest. India's Jawaharlal Nehru was honest. Julius Nyerere in Nigeria was honest. Manmohan Singh is honest. But that's not enough. You must be prepared to demand honesty and be ruthless with your relatives and friends if they are not. Otherwise you can't get the honest culture established.


Did Mr Lee Kuan Yew create a Singapore in his own image?

Lee Kuan Yew was a chain-smoker until 1957, puffing away two packs a day. Then he lost his voice in the middle of campaigning for a City Council election and could not thank voters. He quit cold turkey, suffering withdrawal symptoms for a fortnight.

By the 1960s, he was allergic to tobacco smoke. So smoking was banned in his office and the Cabinet room.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Problem solver, master persuader

Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a worrier. But he was a problem solver too - not just of problems today, he anticipated problems to come.

That's why the Housing Board, and the rest of Singapore under his leadership, was continuously looking at problems and solutions, and continuously sharpening our skills.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: When you needed him, he was there

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had a habit of tugging his shirt sleeves near his shoulders whenever he was engrossed in a conversation. So did Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

This was one of the matter-of-fact observations the elder Mr Lee made when he was asked if father and son had similar traits. Tugging his own sleeve, he said: "I did not know how much like me he was until I watched him on television one day."


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Father gave advice but let us decide for ourselves

Mr Lee Hsien Yang was the son who chose not to follow his father's footsteps into politics.

He did things his way and carved a career in the corporate world.

Not that his parents did not try to influence his choices along the way.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: My father was a workaholic

My parents and I were in hospital waiting for my father to have a stent put in, but none of us said a word.

It was not because of an unspoken tension over the state of his health - we were all too busy working.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Devoted husband and caring father

Lee Kuan Yew was a man with few close friends. Those who knew him best and saw his tender, caring side came mainly from his tight family circle.

But others who interacted with him caught glimpses of the private man away from his public persona as Singapore's hard-driving, straight-talking first prime minister.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew's wife's death left a void in his life

For a week after his wife died, Mr Lee Kuan Yew fussed over her photographs on the wall of the living room at their Oxley Road home.

He placed pictures of their favourite moments together at the foot of his bed and by the treadmill which he used every day. A few days later, he would move them around again.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: My wonderful Big Brother

Without my Big Brother, I would not have done well enough in school to become a doctor. As a teenager, I was more interested in watching boxing and wrestling matches on Saturday evenings. Schoolwork seemed dull in comparison.

But one day in 1950 when I was 17, Big Brother sat me down and asked what my plans were for my future. "Do you want to become a doctor or a lawyer?" he asked.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Brother used his wits to help family

One of my mother's favourite stories of LKY was about the time she taught him his ABCs.

In those days, colourful alphabet toys were not available, so my mother made her own by cutting out letters from The Straits Times' headlines.

She said she showed the alphabet to LKY only once and when she shuffled the letters, my brother - who was just a few years old - managed to put all the letters back in the right order.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Special CNY visit to Uncle Harry's

I have visited Uncle Harry every Chinese New Year for as long as I can remember.

But it was my visit in 2010 that I will never forget.


Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Tender side that not many see

When my wife Patricia was diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer in July 2003, I saw a side of Mr Lee Kuan Yew that not many see.

Two weeks after the diagnosis, Patricia told me she was going to write a letter to Mr Lee, who was then Senior Minister. It had nothing to do with my job, she said, but my job was to deliver it.


Mr Lee Kuan Yew: The original big-idea leader

I have done several books on Lee Kuan Yew but there was one which never saw the light of day. It was tentatively titled Lee Kuan Yew: What Keeps Him Awake At Night.

I had wanted to do it after one discussion with him in early 2002 when he spoke forcefully about the threat of global terrorism after the September 2001 attacks on the United States. He saw the impending war between the West and Al-Qaeda in almost apocalyptic Cold War terms and was especially concerned about how it would affect Muslim countries in our region.


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