Remembering Lee Kuan Yew: Stories from March 30 edition of ST

A grateful nation says: 'Thank you, Mr Lee!'

In the end, it all boiled down to four simple words: "Thank you, Mr Lee."

After nearly 2-1/2 hours of heartfelt eulogies at a moving state funeral service at the University Cultural Centre (UCC), those four words summed up the thoughts of the 10 speakers, at times personal, poetic or profound.

The more than 100,000 people who stood drenched in pouring rain all along the 15.4km route for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's hour-long final journey through Singapore, from Parliament House to Kent Ridge, called out his name perhaps because it seemed the best way to say: "Thank you, Mr Lee." READ MORE HERE

Early birds get plum kerbside spots

Heartlanders came from all corners of Singapore yesterday to line the streets of Bukit Merah and Queensway to bid a final farewell to the man they may not have met personally but whose policies had a direct impact on them and their families.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew led a team that, many said, helped provide a roof over their heads, built schools to educate their children, and grew the economy to create jobs.

So Ms Yew Poh Yock, 58, and her sister, Ms Yew Poh Har, 54, came as early as 6am to get a plum kerbside spot to wait for the cortege to pass at around 1pm. The older Ms Yew, who lives in Commonwealth Drive, said in Mandarin: "I was expecting a huge crowd and did not want to be too late." READ MORE HERE

Emotions run high in Clementi

On this short stretch of Clementi Road, after Commonwealth Avenue West and towards Dover Road, it was fitting that many who defied the downpour for a final goodbye to Mr Lee Kuan Yew spoke of his push to make education a cornerstone of nation-building.

A short distance away is the National University of Singapore (NUS). Even closer is Singapore Polytechnic's Dover Road campus which Mr Lee officially opened in 1979.

Mr Sim Lye Hock, a 58-year- old facility officer who waited for Mr Lee's funeral procession with his wife and daughter, said: "I could go to school because he pushed for it. If not for him, I don't know where I'd be now." READ MORE HERE

The life may have ebbed away, but the light will continue to show the way

Shortly after midnight on Saturday, streaks of lightning lit up the night sky over central and eastern Singapore as the heavens blazed forth.

As dawn broke, a misty haze hung over the city after days of clear skies. Business in the coffee shops seemed thinner as Singaporeans, normally eager to stumble to the nearest convenient outlet for their Sunday breakfast, seemed to tarry.

It was as though they were reluctant to meet this day when Mr Lee Kuan Yew, lionised leader of the Lion City, would pass into history. READ MORE HERE

Foreign dignitaries attend Mr Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral

Leaders from 23 countries attended the state funeral of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew yesterday, in a testament to the deep regard many had for his achievements and his insights.

Gathered at the University Cultural Centre were heads of state or government from the other Asean countries and close partners.

They were Malaysia's Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laos' Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Myanmar's President Thein Sein, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Philippine Senate president Franklin Drilon represented President Benigno Aquino. READ MORE HERE

Tanjong Pagar keeps faith with its MP Lee Kuan Yew till the end

In 1959, an 11-year-old Peter Gan peered out of the second-floor window of his house in Neil Road at jubilant crowds below.

They were carrying a man named Lee Kuan Yew on their shoulders in electoral victory back to the People's Action Party headquarters at 140 Neil Road.

On that heady Election Day of 1959, Lee Kuan Yew had not just been returned as MP for Tanjong Pagar, but had also become Prime Minister of Singapore. READ MORE HERE

SIA pilots gather to salute Mr Lee Kuan Yew

About 200 pilots stood in the pelting rain yesterday and saluted Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in a touching send-off for the man who once had a fractious relationship with their union.

Dressed in dark blue jackets with peak caps, the pilots of Singapore Airlines (SIA), Silkair and SIA Cargo were led by Captain Tan Peng Koon, honorary secretary of the Airline Pilots Association Singapore, or Alpa-S.

Alpa-S had clashed with Mr Lee in the past as they drew his ire over wage disputes with SIA. READ MORE HERE

Muslim groups wait at 'meaningful' spot

They were some of the first to arrive at Shenton Way at around 8am, and stood outside the Singapore Conference Hall for more than four hours to wait to witness Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey.

About 100 officials, staff and residents of welfare homes under Muslim voluntary welfare organisation Jamiyah braved the rain under dark green umbrellas.

"Even the sky is crying," said Mr Osman Sapawi, 39, a resident at one of the homes, who said he was glad to have the chance to say farewell to Mr Lee. READ MORE HERE

Unionists, bank staff say goodbyes

With their families in tow, about 1,000 unionists lined the street outside the labour movement's headquarters in One Marina Boulevard yesterday, to pay homage one last time to the man whose career began by representing labour unions.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey through Singapore's financial district was remarkable as young and old put aside their umbrellas and, in pouring rain, bowed as the cortege passed by.

"Thank you, Mr Lee, for looking after workers," a lone shout rang out from the crowd. READ MORE HERE

Constituents bid farewell to their MP

In the eyes of Madam Goh Boon Keow, 73, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was always her Member of Parliament.

The long-time resident of Tanjong Pagar moved out of the area in 1992, but, every year, she would dutifully attend the constituency's National Day dinner just to see him and hear him speak.

At these dinners, residents always started eating without waiting for Mr Lee, who would slip in during the second or third course, said Madam Goh, adding: "He had no airs about him." READ MORE HERE

Honouring his Pinnacle achievement

For businessman Laurence Ooi, 59, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the reason he moved to Tanjong Pagar.

Mr Ooi moved from Jurong West five years ago, buying a unit in the iconic public housing development, The Pinnacle@Duxton.

The 50-storey complex has won design awards, and made headlines in January when a five-room unit sold for more than $1 million. READ MORE HERE

He was my own special father and more: Mr Lee Hsien Yang

My father was born when Singapore was part of the British Empire, the Straits Settlements flag fluttered over Government House, and the people of Singapore sang "God Save the King". Papa was given the name Harry at birth. He grew up to feel that that did not fit in and reflect who he was as a son of Singapore.

When Papa was 10, his youngest brother Suan Yew was born. Papa persuaded his father and his mother that it was not a good thing to give Suan Yew a Western name. And so at 10 years old, he had prevailed in the household. Decades later, when Papa entered politics, he found the name Harry to be a political liability. It was from politics that he found it, but in truth two decades before that, he had felt that this was not right for him.

When Loong, Ling and I were born, Papa gave us only Chinese names. As Papa did not have a good command of Chinese and came from a Peranakan household, he sought the help of the court interpreter, Mr Wong Chong Min, in the choice of names. For their eldest son, Papa and Mama chose the name Hsien Loong. It meant "illustrious dragon". It was an appropriate and auspicious choice for a boy, especially one born in the Year of the Dragon. READ MORE HERE

Honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew by making Singapore a great city: PM Lee Hsien Loong

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday called on Singaporeans to continue Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life's work by making this island nation a great metropolis that reflects the ideals of their founding prime minister.

In a 40-minute eulogy, delivered in English, Mandarin and Malay, he spoke of the late Mr Lee's commitment to multiracialism, equality, meritocracy, integrity and rule of law; celebrated his ferocious fighting spirit and described his decades-long effort to prepare Singapore to continue beyond him.

Not only had he systematically identified and groomed a team of successors, but he also continued writing books into his 90s so that a new generation could learn from his experience, and understand what their security, prosperity and future depended on. "His biggest worry was that younger Singaporeans would lose the instinct for what made Singapore tick," PM Lee said. READ MORE HERE

At PM Lee Hsien Loong's constituency, tears and a standing ovation

Ms Siva Pillai, 41, stationed herself along Jalan Bukit Merah to catch a glimpse of the gun carriage bearing Mr Lee Kuan Yew's casket as it passed by at 1.20pm.

Then, barely an hour later, she was at the community tribute centre about 15km away in Ang Mo Kio watching Mr Lee's funeral service being screened live.

Ms Pillai's long hair and black clothes were still damp from the pouring rain. READ MORE HERE

Rain brings back memories of 1968 National Day Parade

The skies opened up and the deluge came, but thousands of people lining the streets around the Padang to say one last goodbye to Mr Lee Kuan Yew stayed put.

Getting soaked to the skin despite having ponchos and umbrellas, they waited up to five hours to catch a glimpse of the state funeral procession going past.

For Mr Philip Cheng, 63, and Mr David Hong, 58, there was a sense of deja vu. READ MORE HERE

Mr Lee Kuan Yew 'gave our families the life we have today'

She is wearing a home-made black ribbon on her chest. She has been standing in the rain for three hours, waiting for the man who was Singapore's Prime Minister for much of her youth.

Ms Mary Koh, 42, is comfortably middle class now, but from where we stand on Jalan Bukit Merah, through the rain, we can see the Redhill Estate block where she spent all her early years, in a three-room flat shared with five siblings and her parents. Her father was a driver; her mother, a housewife.

The former financial analyst and now full-time housewife is here to thank Mr Lee for her education in schools such as Nanyang Technological University. READ MORE HERE

National grief: Why such an outpouring?

The guestbook spoke volumes: the entry from the young girl who thanked Mr Lee Kuan Yew for giving her safe streets at night and "the luxury of deciding what and where to study"; the scrawl of the Indian gentleman beside her expressing gratitude for this "great country".

Invocations of "Allah" and "God", declarations like "I love you", as well as Malay phrases and Chinese characters peppered other entries on the facing page.

Standing at the East Coast and Joo Chiat Community Tribute Centre yesterday afternoon, I who make my living from words was at a loss for them. Finally I wrote, simply: "My condolences to you, PM Lee Hsien Loong and family, on the loss of your father and our first Prime Minister." READ MORE HERE

Happy to learn three languages

Sree Harin Baskaran may be only 12, but he is bilingual and on the way to becoming trilingual. He knows English and his mother tongue Tamil, and started picking up Chinese earlier this year.

That he is able to study three languages is something the first-year student at National University of Singapore High School of Mathematics and Science is thankful to Mr Lee Kuan Yew for.

"He's the reason I can have a good education and he also encouraged bilingualism," Sree Harin said. READ MORE HERE

Singaporeans do us proud with kind, caring deeds

It is the place that has witnessed it all in the last few days, from snaking queues of tens of thousands of people, to yesterday's 21-gun salute in honour of the nation's first Prime Minister.

As Singapore mourned the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Padang was also the place where Singaporeans showed the best of themselves.

As Mr Lee lay in state at Parliament House from last Wednesday to Saturday, more than 450,000 people turned up to pay their respects. Never mind the queues of up to 10 hours through the Padang, or the scorching sun. Not a complaint was heard. READ MORE HERE

All over Singapore, a minute of silence for a lifetime of dedication

From MRT stations to bus interchanges, homes and community centres, Singaporeans acted as one yesterday evening, when they observed a minute of silence to honour the country's founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

A siren sounding across the island linked those who were not watching Mr Lee's state funeral service to the 2,200 gathered at the University Cultural Centre, where it was taking place.

Others followed the live broadcast on television and online. READ MORE HERE

All over Singapore, a minute of silence for a lifetime of dedication

From MRT stations to bus interchanges, homes and community centres, Singaporeans acted as one yesterday evening, when they observed a minute of silence to honour the country's founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

A siren sounding across the island linked those who were not watching Mr Lee's state funeral service to the 2,200 gathered at the University Cultural Centre, where it was taking place.

Others followed the live broadcast on television and online. READ MORE HERE

Softer side of Mr Lee Kuan Yew unveiled

A softer side of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew emerged yesterday from the eulogies of those who had worked closely with him.

They spoke of Singapore's founding Prime Minister not just as a scrupulously honest leader and a tough taskmaster, but also as a mentor, a teacher, a friend - and a hero.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam recalled the "roar" of the crowd at the National Day Parade two years ago when the audience burst into a loud cheer upon seeing Mr Lee make his entrance. READ MORE HERE

A coming of age for 'good life kids'

An hour before Mr Lee Kuan Yew's body left Parliament House, the hipster cafes of Tanjong Pagar were busy with the usual young crowd, though the flowing tops and short-sleeved shirts were in more sombre shades than usual.

Later, I recognised some of those same 20-somethings nearby as we stood in the rain at the junction of Cantonment Road and Neil Road, waiting for the arrival of a man most of us had never met.

Our generation are the lucky ones. We are the "good life kids", as our elders remind us in dialects that the late Mr Lee did not quite manage to eradicate. READ MORE HERE

Crowds line streets to witness start of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey

The scene of unprecedented crowds for the lying in state, Parliament House still saw scores turn up yesterday to witness the start of the end of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey.

By about 10am, more than 200 people - young, old, Singaporeans, expatriates, tourists - were lining the streets outside Parliament House. Some had turned up as early as five hours before the funeral procession was due to start, to pay their final respects.

A light drizzle, followed by heavy rain and strong winds, did little to dampen their spirits. READ MORE HERE

Pa was always there for us and taught us lessons in life: PM Lee Hsien Loong at private farewell

So much has been said about Pa's public life in the past few days. His public life is something we share with all of Singapore, with the world.

But we were privileged to know him as a father, a grandfather, an elder brother, a friend, a strict but compassionate boss, the head of the family.

Actually, Pa was the head of two families. As the eldest son, from a young age he was effectively head of his household, helping his mother - Mak - to bring up his younger brothers and sister. He remained close to them all his life. To my uncles and aunts, he was always "Kor", never "Harry". READ MORE HERE

In this final hour, Papa is with family: PM Lee Hsien Loong at private farewell

First, the Singapore flag draping the coffin was removed, folded ceremoniously, and handed over to the elder son.

Then the coffin lid was lifted, revealing an open casket.

Inside, the body of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister who died last Monday aged 91, lay in repose. READ MORE HERE

30 members, 3 generations, one family, one purpose

More than 30 members of the Chua family, spanning three generations, turned up at Bukit Merah yesterday to hold up a banner they had printed in honour of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

They started gathering in Bukit Merah at about 8.30am, more than four hours before the funeral procession was due to pass through, on its way from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre.

"Behind this road is Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, where a lot of homes were burnt down during a big fire that was a dark moment in the history of Singapore," said Mr Patrick Chua, 47, who works in the oil and gas industry. READ MORE HERE

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's politeness stood out

Former Singapore Airlines stewardess Sharon Chong has fond memories of her brief encounter serving the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew on a flight to Bali, Indonesia.

It was 1977 and Ms Chong had been specially selected to be part of the crew flying with Mr Lee, who was then Singapore's Prime Minister.

Mr Lee was travelling on government business with then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee and a delegation of doctors, reporters and security crew. READ MORE HERE

A very Singaporean send-off for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Whether it was to secure a good spot to view the funeral procession, or make the crowds that lined the roads along Commonwealth Avenue West feel more comfortable, planning was needed.

Private school teacher Alice Ng made a mental note of a spot along Commonwealth Avenue West as soon as she got confirmation of the procession route.

It was on the divider under a stretch of the overhead MRT track between Buona Vista and Dover MRT stations. READ MORE HERE

Thank you, Mr Lee. Goodbye, Mr Lee


"The light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished.

We have lost our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who lived and breathed Singapore all his life. READ MORE HERE

Dedicated leader not afraid to implement unpopular policies: Ong Pang Boon

The first time I heard of Mr Lee Kuan Yew was during the 1952 postal workers' strike, when I was a student at the University of Malaya.

At the time, the English and Chinese papers reported widely on how this legal adviser representing the unions argued successfully against the colonial government for the unions' and workers' welfare.

Like many other young people, I was deeply impressed by this brilliant lawyer. READ MORE HERE

Restaurant gives 100kg of flowers to crowds for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral procession

Yellow jasmine petals - thousands of them - made a striking tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, thrown on the road as his cortege passed along a stretch of Jalan Bukit Merah.

The brilliant-coloured petals covered about 30m of the 3.5km road.

They were handed out for free to crowds lining the road near Indian restaurant Brinda's, located at Block 162, Bukit Merah Central. Restaurant staff gave out about 100kg of the fresh flowers, specially flown in from India. READ MORE HERE

'Unite with a new spirit' in post-LKY era

I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to yesterday's funeral service for Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. I know myself to be a rather sentimental person, so I went expecting to shed tears at some point.

All of the eulogies were heartfelt and some very touching, especially those by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his brother Hsien Yang and former senior minister of state Sidek Saniff.

But my eyes welled up only right at the end of the ceremony, when all the speeches had been delivered and the audience stood up to sing the national anthem. READ MORE HERE

Ye Ye showed us what we could be: Li Hongyi

Some years ago when I was preparing to go to university, Ye Ye gave me a camera. This was the first and only time he ever gave me a present. Over the next few years, I got deeply into photography and took thousands of photos of my time in college. After I graduated, I got a book printed with my favourite ones. I presented it to him as a thank you for his gift and hopefully to show him I had done something good with it.

Ye Ye was more than a grandfather to me. He was an inspiration. As a child, I looked up to him and wanted to grow up to be the kind of man he was. Even now, I still do.

We would have lunch with Ye Ye and Nai Nai every Sunday at their house. We always ate simple things: mee rebus, nasi lemak, popiah. He was never one concerned with luxury or lavishness. The idea that he would care about how fancy his food was or what brand his clothes were was laughable. His mind was always on more important things. He would have discussions with our parents while my cousins and I would sit by the side and listen. I would always feel a bit silly after listening. He made me realise how petty all my little concerns were and how there were so many bigger problems in the world. He made me want to do something more with my life. READ MORE HERE

Grandpa was our man of tomorrow: Li Shengwu

When the grandchildren were very little, Ye Ye would take us on walks to feed the fish at the Istana. We would perch on the edge of the pond, the ripples of our breadcrumbs breaking the mirrored surface of the water. He liked to have the grandchildren nearby as he pedalled his exercise bike on the green grass.

Sunday lunch with Ye Ye was an institution for our family. His voice and his hearty laugh would carry to the children's table, talking about matters of state, recounting meetings with foreign leaders whose names we neither recognised nor remembered.

In a city of continual renewal, my grandparents' house never changed. Always the same white walls, the same wooden furniture, the same high windows letting in sunlight. READ MORE HERE

On behalf of young S'poreans everywhere, thank you

I did not know Mr Lee Kuan Yew personally for most of my life. We met while I was on two assignments as a journalist - documenting his life at home and collecting photographs for a picture book for his 90th birthday.

I met him up close six times, for meetings and interviews, from July 2011. Most were large, formal meetings at the Istana. Naturally, I was on my best behaviour.

I didn't dare to say a word to him until my editor made me lead one of the interviews. He thought Mr Lee would enjoy the interaction with a younger Singaporean. READ MORE HERE

Because he never wavered, we didn't falter. Because he fought, we took courage and fought with him: PM Lee Hsien Loong

This has been a dark week for Singapore. The light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished. We have lost our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who lived and breathed Singapore all his life. He and his team led our pioneer generation to create this island nation, Singapore.

Mr Lee did not set out to be a politician, let alone a statesman, as a boy. In fact, his grandfather wanted him to become an English gentleman! But events left an indelible mark on him. He had been a British subject in colonial Singapore. He had survived hardship, danger and fear in the Japanese Occupation. These drove him to fight for independence.

In one of his radio talks on the Battle for Merger many years ago in 1961, Mr Lee said: "My colleagues and I are of that generation of young men who went through the Second World War and the Japanese Occupation and emerged determined that no one - neither the Japanese nor the British - had the right to push and kick us around." READ MORE HERE

The guns boom, the skies weep

A heavy downpour rained down - as even the heavens seemed to weep - as the funeral cortege of Mr Lee Kuan Yew wound past the historic Padang. It was here that on June 3, 1959, after sweeping the polls at general elections for the first fully elected Legislative Assembly, Mr Lee and his colleagues held a victory rally. To the tens of thousands gathered there, and who had placed their faith in the People's Action Party, he said: "Once in a long while in the story of a people, there comes a great moment of change. Tonight is such a moment in our lives... We begin a new chapter in the history of Singapore." The Padang and City Hall were also where Mr Lee read out the proclamation of merger with Malaya in 1963, and where he proclaimed Singapore's independence two years later. Singapore's first National Day Parade was also held here, and the 1968 NDP at the Padang had also been drenched by a downpour.

As the cortege made its final journey, cannon on the Padang fired a 21-gun salute in honour of Mr Lee.

In the background is the Old Parliament House, the scene of so many fiery speeches from Mr Lee, first as an opposition assemblyman, then as Prime Minister and Senior Minister. READ MORE HERE

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