Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Eulogies for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

State Funeral Eulogies

'Because he never wavered, we didn't falter. Because he fought, we took courage and fought with him.'
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's eulogy at the University Cultural Centre
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

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."

Mr Lee championed independence for Singapore through Merger with Malaya, to form a new Federation of Malaysia. He worked tirelessly to bring this about, and succeeded. Unfortunately the merger did not last and before long we were expelled from Malaysia. Separation was his greatest "moment of anguish", but it also proved to be the turning point in Singapore's fortunes.

From the ashes of Separation he built a nation. The easiest thing to do would have been to appeal to Chinese voters alone. After all, Singapore had had to leave Malaysia because we were majority Chinese. Instead, Mr Lee went for the nobler dream of a multiracial, multi-religious nation. Singapore would not be based on race, language or religion, but on fundamental values - multi-racialism, equality, meritocracy, integrity, and rule of law. Mr Lee declared: "This is not a country that belongs to any single community; it belongs to all of us."

He checked would-be racial chauvinists, and assured the minorities that their place here was secure. He insisted on keeping our mother tongues, even as English became our common working language. He encouraged each group to maintain its culture, faith and language, while gradually enlarging the common space shared by all. Together with Mr S. Rajaratnam, he enshrined these ideals in the National Pledge.

He kept us safe in a dangerous and tumultuous world. With Dr Goh Keng Swee, he built the SAF from just two infantry battalions and one little wooden ship, into a well-trained, well-equipped, well-respected fighting force.

He introduced national service, and personally persuaded parents to entrust their sons to the SAF. He succeeded, first because he led by example. His two sons did NS just like every Singaporean son. In fact my brother and I signed up as regulars on SAF scholarships. Secondly, people trusted Mr Lee, and believed in the Singapore cause. And today we sleep peacefully at night, confident that we are well protected.

Mr Lee gave us courage to face an uncertain future. He was a straight talker, and never shied away from hard truths, either to himself or to Singaporeans. His ministers would sometimes urge him to soften the tone of his draft speeches - even I would sometimes do that - to sound less unyielding to human frailties. And often he took in their amendments, but he would preserve his core message. "I always tried to be correct," he said, "not politically correct."

He was a powerful speaker: moving, inspiring, persuasive, in English and Malay - and by dint of a lifelong hard slog - in Mandarin and even Hokkien. MediaCorp has been broadcasting his old speeches on TV this week, reminding us that his was the original Singapore Roar: passionate, formidable and indomitable.

Above all, Lee Kuan Yew was a fighter. In crises, when all seemed hopeless, he was ferocious, endlessly resourceful, firm in his resolve, and steadfast in advancing his cause.

Thus he saw us through many battles: the Battle for Merger against the communists, which most people thought the non-communists would lose; the fight when we were in Malaysia against the communalists, when his own life was in danger; Separation, which cast us out into a hazardous world; and then the withdrawal of the British military forces from Singapore, which threatened the livelihoods of 150,000 people.

Because he never wavered, we didn't falter. Because he fought, we took courage and fought with him, and prevailed. Thus, Mr Lee took Singapore and took us all from Third World to the First.

In many countries, anti-colonial fighters and heroes would win independence and assume power, but then fail, fail at nation-building because the challenges of bringing a society together, growing an economy, patiently improving peoples' lives are very different from the challenges of fighting for independence, mobilising crowds, getting people excited, overthrowing a regime. But Mr Lee and his team succeeded at nation building.

Just weeks after Separation, he boldly declared that "10 years from now, this will be a metropolis. Never fear!" And indeed he made it happen. He instilled discipline and order - ensuring that in Singapore, every problem gets fixed. He educated our young. He transformed labour relations from strikes and confrontation to tripartism and cooperation. He campaigned to upgrade skills and raise productivity, calling it a marathon with no finish line.

He enabled his economic team - Goh Keng Swee, Hon Sui Sen, Lim Kim San - to design and carry out their plans to attract investments, grow the economy, and create prosperity and jobs. As he said, "I settled the political conditions so that tough policies could be executed."

However, Mr Lee was clear that while "the development of the economy is very important, equally important is the development of the nature of our society". So he built an inclusive society where everyone enjoyed the fruits of progress.

Education became the foundation for good jobs and better lives. HDB new towns sprung up one after another to house our people - Queenstown, Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, to be followed by many more. We had roofs over our heads and we became a nation of home owners. With Mr Devan Nair in the NTUC, he transformed the union movement into a positive force, cooperating with employers and the Government to improve the lot of workers.

Mr Lee cared for the people whom he served, the people of Singapore. When Sars struck in 2003, he worried about taxi drivers, whose livelihoods were affected because tourists had dried up, and he pressed us hard to find ways to help them.

Mr Lee also cared for the people who served him. One evening just a few years ago he rang me up. One of my mother's WSOs (woman security officers) was having difficulty conceiving a child, and he wanted to help her. He asked me whether I knew how to help her to adopt a child. So Mr Lee was concerned for people not just in the abstract, but personally and individually.

Internationally, Mr Lee raised Singapore's standing in the world. Mr Lee was not just a perceptive observer of world affairs, but a statesman who articulated Singapore's international interests and enlarged our strategic space. At crucial turning points, from the British withdrawal "East of Suez" to the Vietnam War to the rise of China, his views and counsel influenced thinking and decisions in many capitals.

In the process, he built up a wide network of friends, in and out of power. He knew every Chinese leader from Mao Zedong and every US president from Lyndon Johnson. He established close rapport with President Suharto of Indonesia, one of our most important relationships. Others included Deng Xiaoping, Margaret Thatcher, Helmut Schmidt, George Shultz, as well as President Bill Clinton and Henry Kissinger, who we are honoured to have here this afternoon. They all valued his candour and insight.

As Mrs Thatcher said: "(Mr Lee) had a way of penetrating the fog of propaganda and expressing with unique clarity the issues of our times and the way to tackle them. He was never wrong." Hence, despite being so small, Singapore's voice is heard, and we enjoy far more influence on the international stage than we have any reason to expect.

Mr Lee did not blaze this path alone. He was the outstanding leader of an exceptional team - a team which included Goh Keng Swee, S. Rajaratnam, Othman Wok, Hon Sui Sen, Lim Kim San, Toh Chin Chye, Ong Pang Boon, Devan Nair, and quite a number more. They were his comrades, and he never forgot them. So it is very good that Mr Ong Pang Boon is here today to speak about Mr Lee later on. Thank you Mr Ong.

Mr Lee received many accolades and awards in his long life but he wore them lightly. When Mr Lee received the Freedom of the City of London in 1982, he said: "I feel like a conductor at a concert bowing to applause, but unable to turn around and invite the accomplished musicians in his orchestra to rise and receive the ovation for the music they have produced. For running a government is not unlike running an orchestra, and no Prime Minister ever achieves much without an able team of players."

Because he worked with a strong team and not alone, because people knew that he cared for them and not for himself, and because he had faith that Singaporeans would work with him to achieve great things, Mr Lee won the trust and confidence of Singaporeans. The pioneer generation, who had lived through the crucial years, had a deep bond with him. I once met a lady who owned a fried rice restaurant. She told me: "Tell Lee Kuan Yew I will always support him. I was born in 1948, and I am 48 years old (this was 1996). I know what he has done for me and Singapore." She and her generation knew that "gen zhe Li Guangyao zou bu hui si de" - if you follow Lee Kuan Yew, you will survive.

Mr Lee imbued Singapore with his personal traits. He built Singapore to be clean and corruption-free. His home was spartan. His habits were frugal. He wore the same jacket for years, and patched up the worn bits instead of buying new ones. He imparted these values to the Government. Even when old and frail on his 90th birthday, when he came to Parliament and MPs celebrated his birthday, he reminded them that Singapore must remain clean and incorruptible, and that MPs and Ministers had to set the example.

He pursued ideas with tremendous, infectious energy. He said of himself: "I put myself down as determined, consistent, persistent. I set out to do something, I keep on chasing it until it succeeds. That's all." This was how he seized opportunities, seeing and realising possibilities that many others missed.

So it was he who pushed to move the airport from Paya Lebar to Changi. It was he who rejected the then conventional wisdom that multi-national corporations (MNCs) were rapacious and exploitative, and he wooed foreign investments from MNCs personally to bring us advanced technology, to bring us overseas markets to create for us good jobs.

He was not afraid to change his mind when a policy was no longer relevant. When he saw that our birth rates were falling below replacement more than 30 years ago, he scrapped the "Stop at Two" policy and started encouraging couples to have more children.

Having upheld a conservative approach to supervising our financial sector for many years, he eventually decided to rethink and liberalise, in a controlled way. This was how Singapore's financial centre took off in a new wave of growth, to become what it is today. He was always clear what strategy to follow, but never so fixed to an old strategy as to be blind to the need to change course when the world changed.

Nothing exemplifies this better than water security, which was a lifelong obsession of his. He entrenched the PUB's two Water Agreements with Johor in the Separation Agreement, he personally managed all aspects of our water talks with Malaysia. He launched water-saving campaigns, he built reservoirs, and turned most of the island into water catchment to collect the rain, to process, to use.

He cleaned up the Singapore River and Kallang Basin. He dreamed of the Marina Barrage long before it became feasible, and persevered for decades until, finally, technology caught up and it became feasible and it became a reality and he lived to see it become a reality. When PUB invented Newater, and when desalination became viable, he backed the new technologies enthusiastically. The result today is Singapore has moved towards self-sufficiency in water, become a leader in water technologies, and turned a vulnerability into a strength.

So perhaps it's appropriate that today for his state funeral the heavens opened and cried for him.

Greening Singapore was another of his passions. On travels, when he came across trees or plants that might grow well here, he would collect saplings and seeds and hand carry them back home. He used the Istana grounds as a nursery, and would personally check on the health of the trees, not just in general but individual, particular trees. If they had names he would know their names. He knew the names or the scientific names. Singapore's Prime Minister was also the chief gardener of the City in a Garden.

He had a relentless drive to improve and continued to learn well into old age. At 70, to write his memoirs, he started learning how to use a computer. Every so often he would call me for help, and I would give him a phone consultation, talking him through the steps to save a file, or find a document which had vanished on his hard drive. And if he could not find me, he would consult my wife.

He made a ceaseless effort to learn Mandarin over decades. He listened to tapes of his teacher talking, conversing with him, every day, in the morning while shaving at home, in the evening while exercising at Sri Temasek. He kept up his Mandarin classes all his life. Indeed, his last appointment on Feb 4, before he was taken gravely ill early the next morning, was with his Mandarin tutor.

He inspired us all to give of our best.

He was constantly thinking about Singapore. At one National Day Rally in 1988 he declared "even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up". And he meant that. Indeed, even after he left the Cabinet, he would still occasionally raise with me issues which he felt strongly about.

During the Budget Debate two years ago, almost exactly two years ago, MPs hotly debated the cost of living, public transport and so many other matters then preoccupying Singaporeans. Mr Lee felt that we had lost sight of the fundamentals that underpinned our survival. He e-mailed me. He sent me a draft speech. He told me that he wanted to speak in the Chamber, to remind Singaporeans of these unchanging hard truths. But I persuaded him to leave the task to me and my ministers. And he took my advice.

His biggest worry was that younger Singaporeans would lose the instinct for what made Singapore tick. This was why he continued writing books into his 90s - Bilingualism, Hard Truths, One Man's View Of The World - and at least one more guided by him still in the process of being written on the history of PAP. Why did he do this? So that a new generation of Singaporeans could learn from his experience, and understand what their security, prosperity, and future depended on.

One of Mr Lee's greatest legacies was preparing Singapore to continue beyond him. He believed that a leader's toughest job was ensuring succession. He systematically identified and groomed a team of successors. He made way for Mr Goh Chok Tong to become prime minister, but stayed on in Mr Goh's Cabinet to help the new team succeed. He provided stability and experience and quietly helped to build up Mr Goh's authority. He knew how to guide without being obtrusive, to be watchful while letting the new team develop its own style, its own authority. He described himself as a "mascot", but everyone knew how special this mascot was, and how lucky we were to have such a mascot.

It was likewise when I took over. Mr Goh became Senior Minister and Mr Lee became Minister Mentor, a title he felt reflected his new role, not in command, but advice not to be taken lightly. Increasingly he left the policy issues to us, but he would share with us his reading of world affairs, and his advice on major problems which he saw over the horizon. Some other prime ministers told me that they could not imagine what it was like to have two former PMs in my Cabinet. But I told them it worked, both for me and for Singapore.

For all his public duties, Mr Lee also had his own family. My mother was a big part of his life. They were a deeply loving couple. She was his loyal spouse and confidante - going with him everywhere, fussing over him, helping with his speeches, and keeping home and hearth warm. They were a perfect team and wonderful parents. When my mother died, he was bereft. He felt the devastating loss of a life partner, who, as he said, had helped him become what he was.

My father left the upbringing of the children largely to my mother. But he was the head of the family and cared deeply about us, both when we were small, and long after we had grown up. He was not demonstrative, much less was he touchy-feely, so not new age but he loved us deeply.

After my first wife Ming Yang died, my parents suggested that I tried meditation. They gave me some books to read, mindfulness, tranquillity meditation. I read the books but I did not make much progress. I think my father had tried meditation too, also not too successfully. His teacher told me later that when he told Mr Lee to relax, still his mind and let go he replied: "But what will happen to Singapore if I let go?"

When I had lymphoma, he suggested that I try meditation more seriously. He thought it would help me to fight the cancer. He found me a teacher and spoke to him personally and with a good teacher to guide me, I made better progress.

In his old age, after my mother died, my father started meditating again, and this time with help from Ng Kok Song, whom he knew from GIC. Kok Song brought a friend to see my father, a Benedictine monk who did Christian meditation. My father was not a Christian, but he was happy to learn from the Benedictine monk. He even called me to suggest that I meet the monk, which I did. He probably felt I needed to resume meditation too.

And to give you some context, this was a few months after the 2011 General Election. I was nearing 60 by then, and he was, by then, nearly 90. But to him I was still his son to be worried over, and to me he was still a father to love and appreciate, just like when I was small. So this morning, before the ceremonies began at Parliament House, we had a few minutes. I sat by him and meditated.

Of course, growing up as my father's son could not but mean being exposed to politics very early. I remember as a little boy, knowing that his constituency was Tanjong Pagar. I was proud of him becoming legal adviser to so many trade unions, and I was excited by the hubbub at Oxley Road whenever elections happened, and our home became the election office.

I remember when we were preparing to join Malaysia in the early 1960s, going along with my father on constituency visits - the "fang wen" tours he made to every corner of Singapore.

For him, it was backbreaking work, week after week, every weekend rallying the people's support for a supremely important decision about Singapore's future. For me, these were not just Sunday outings, but also an early political education.

I remember election night in 1963, the crucial general election when the PAP defeated the pro-communist Barisan Sosialis. My mother sent me to bed early, but I lay awake to listen to the election results until the PAP had won enough seats to form the Government again. And then I think fell asleep.

I remember the day he told me, while we were playing golf at the Istana, that should anything happen to him, he wanted me to look after my mother and my younger brother and sister.

I remember the night the children slept on the floor in my parents' bedroom at Temasek House in Kuala Lumpur, because the house was full of ministers who had come up from Singapore. Every so often my father would get up from the bed to make a note about something, before lying down to rest again. That was 7 August, 1965, two days before Separation.

Growing up with my father, living through those years with him, made me what I am.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Singapore's independence. We all hoped that Mr Lee would be present with us on August 9 to celebrate this milestone. More than anybody else, it was he who fought for multiracialism, which ultimately led to our independence as a sovereign republic. It was he who united our people, built a nation, and made the 50th anniversary worth celebrating. Sadly, it is not to be.

But we can feel proud and happy that Mr Lee lived to see his life's work come to fruition. At last year's National Day Parade, when Mr Lee appeared and waved, the crowd and he appeared on the big screen on the floating platform, the crowd gave him the most deafening cheer of the whole parade. Last November, the People's Action Party celebrated its diamond anniversary at the Victoria Concert Hall, where Mr Lee had founded the party 60 years ago. Party members were so happy to see that Mr Lee could be there, they gave him an arousing, emotional standing ovation. Those of us who were there will never forget it.

St Paul's Cathedral in London was built by Sir Christopher Wren. He was the architect of the cathedral, and he is buried in the cathedral which was his masterpiece., There is a Latin epitaph on his grave and it reads: si monumentum requiris, circumspice (If you seek his monument, look around you). Mr Lee Kuan Yew built Singapore. To those who seek Mr Lee Kuan Yew's monument, Singaporeans can reply proudly: "Look around you."

I said the light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished. But that is not quite so. For Mr Lee's principles and ideals continue to invigorate this Government and guide our people. His life will inspire Singaporeans, and others, for generations to come.

Mr Lee once said that "we intend to see that (Singapore) will be here a thousand years from now. And that is your duty and mine". Mr Lee has done his duty, and more. It remains our duty to continue his life's work, to carry the torch forward and keep the flame burning bright.

Over the past month, the outpouring of good wishes, prayers and support from Singaporeans as Mr Lee lay ill has been overwhelming, and even more so since he passed away on Monday.

People of all races from all walks of life, young and old, here and abroad, have mourned him. Hundreds of thousands queued patiently for hours in the hot sun and through the night to pay respects to him at the Parliament House.

I visited the queue on the Padang. Many Singaporeans, not so few non-Singaporeans who came out of deep respect and a sense of compulsion that here was a man they wanted to do honour to. Many more wrote heartfelt messages and took part in tribute ceremonies at community sites all over the island. Thousands of overseas Singaporeans gathered in our embassies and consulates to remember Mr Lee. And later in this funeral service, all of us in this hall, across our island and in far-flung and later in this funeral service all of us in this hall, across our island, and in far-flung lands will observe a minute a silence, say the National Pledge and sing Majulah Singapura together.

We have all lost a father. We grieve as one people, one nation. But in our grief, we've displayed the best of Singapore.

Ordinary people going to great lengths to distribute refreshments and umbrellas to the crowd and help one another in the queue late into the night. Citizen soldiers, Home Team officers, cleaners, all working tirelessly round the clock. Our shared sorrow has brought us together and made us stronger and more resolute.

We come together not only to mourn, we come together also to rejoice in Mr Lee Kuan Yew's long and full life and what he has achieved with us, his people in Singapore. We come together to pledge ourselves to continue building this exceptional country.

Let us shape this island nation into one of the great cities in the world reflecting the ideals he stood for, realising the dreams he inspired and worthy of the people who have made Singapore our home and nation.

Thank you, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. May you rest in peace.

“Every National Day, we looked forward to seeing Mr Lee. I remember vividly our National Day Parade two years ago. There had been some uncertainty about Mr Lee’s health. While I was waiting to enter the Floating Platform to officiate the Parade, suddenly I heard a huge cheer, a roar — the biggest that day. My staff informed me that Mr Lee had just made his entrance to take his seat. That roar captured the feelings of a nation, of all of us, towards Mr Lee. It rang with respect, affection, friendship and deep emotional attachment.

“It is not something that can be easily put into words. But I know that all Singaporeans, in their hearts, understand what I am talking about.”

“After I stepped down as Prime Minister, we continued to lunch regularly. Our conversations never drifted far from his life’s work. We shared many common concerns, including the emerging trend of income stratification and social fragmentation. He worried about almost every aspect of Singapore. He never ceased sharing and I kept on learning.

“Once in a while, he showed his soft side. We talked about our families and health. After Mrs Lee’s death, I glimpsed how lonely and sad he was. Sadly, we had to discontinue our lunches in 2013 because of his health. Sadly, his physical health declined. Sadly, Mr Lee is gone.”

Dedicated leader not afraid to implement unpopular policies
Excerpt from the eulogy by MR Ong Pang Boon, 86, Cabinet minister from 1959 to 1984, who led the ministries of Home Affairs, Education, Labour and the Environment
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

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.

So when the People's Action Party decided to contest the 1955 election, I did not hesitate to support the PAP as a volunteer, and was assigned to be Mr Lee's election agent.

But after the election, my employer posted me to Kuala Lumpur, and I thought that was the end of my political involvement.

In 1956, Mr Lee was en route to Cameron Highlands for a holiday with his wife and elder son, and arranged to see me at the Kuala Lumpur Station Hotel.

To my surprise, he asked me to join the PAP as its organising secretary.

I was determined to join the battle for independence from colonial rule, and accepted his offer without a second thought and joined the march for change. I have never regretted that decision.

As the PAP's organising secretary, I had to work closely with Secretary-General Comrade Lee and other Exco members. This gave me a better understanding of Mr Lee.

He was a consummate and farsighted politician, maximising every opportunity to advance his political advantage and the PAP's interests.

Although English-educated, he understood that power rested with the pro-communist students from Chinese schools and the trade unions.

Hence, he was always worried that the PAP could be hijacked by the pro-communists.

We fought with the pro-communists several times in the early years. But we won because Mr Lee had the strong support of like-minded comrades like Dr Toh Chin Chye, Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr S. Rajaratnam.

In 1959, the PAP won the general election on the back of the Chinese-educated voters of Singapore. I joined the first PAP Cabinet, with Mr Lee as Singapore's first Prime Minister.

He was a dedicated Prime Minister with broad perspectives. During Cabinet meetings, there would sometimes be differing views on certain issues but, after active discussion, he was able to accept alternative views and ideas.

I served in the Cabinet until 1984.

What struck me most about Mr Lee was his complete passion for Singapore. He spent every moment thinking of how he could improve Singapore and Singaporeans' lives.

Once he decided that a certain policy was in the interest of his beloved Singapore, he would implement it, even if it meant making himself unpopular.

He was an idealist at heart: Dhanabalan
By Lin Yanqin, TODAY, 30 Mar 2015

He held a reputation for being a “complete political pragmatist”, but Mr Lee Kuan Yew was an idealist “in a very deep sense”, said former Cabinet Minister S Dhanabalan.

Mr Lee, he said, was obsessed with not only what would work in Singapore, but what the feel and timbre of society should be, as illustrated by his approach to the language policy.

In a population comprising 75 per cent Chinese, the easiest way to ensure electoral support would have been to champion Chinese language and Chinese chauvinism. Instead, Mr Lee was convinced that for Singapore to be distinct, the Republic had to be multi-lingual with English as the main language of administration and commerce. At the same time, each racial group had to maintain its cultural identity with their mother tongues as a second language,

“To convert Chinese schools into national type schools and to push for Mandarin against Chinese dialects were the acts of an idealist not the acts of a pragmatist,” said Mr Dhanabalan, who was one of several former Cabinet Minister who delivered eulogies at Mr Lee’s state funeral service yesterday. Mr Dhanabalan, who was elected in 1976, held several portfolios as a minister including Foreign Affairs and National Development before he resigned in 1992.

Mr Lee is also sometimes seen as a hardhearted man, but certain decisions he made did not come easy to him, said Mr Dhanabalan. “On the few occasions he discussed privately with me the decision to act against someone, I know that he agonised over the decision,” he said. “He was convinced that a softhearted approach would undermine the ethos he wanted to embed deeply in public service.”

Mr Dhanabalan, who had resigned over disagreements with Mr Lee on the use of Internal Security Act in the 1987 “Marxist conspiracy” arrests, also said it was a myth that Mr Lee brooked no opposition.

“That was not my experience. He argued tirelessly to get Cabinet to accept his views not because it was the PM’s view but because of the strength of his arguments. I think he felt he had failed were he not able to convince his Cabinet colleagues,” he said.

He pointed out that when Mr Lee spoke as Prime Minister, he repeatedly sent drafts of his speeches to colleagues for their views. “The idea that he expected his team to follow him like a herd of sheep without question completely misrepresents the man and his values,” Mr Dhanabalan said.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew a fatherly character, says Sidek Saniff in eulogy
By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 29 Mar 2015

SINGAPORE - Former Senior Minister of State Sidek Saniff shared stories of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's frugal habits in his eulogy to Singapore's first Prime Minister on Sunday.

A Member of Parliament since 1976, Mr Sidek was Senior Minister of State for Education when he stepped down in 2001.

He was surprised when Mr Lee asked him to stand as a candidate in the 1976 General Election, he revealed, as he had expressed differing views from the Government on education just a few years earlier.

"He was a tough taskmaster but always full of advice," he said.

In 1979, when Mr Sidek accompanied Mr Hon Sui Sen, then Minister of Finance, to China, Mr Lee asked him if he could take the cold Chinese winter, he said.

When he replied that he would buy an overcoat and boots, Mr Lee asked him to borrow them from his colleagues.

"So off I went to China with a borrowed overcoat and a borrowed pair of boots," Mr Sidek said in an emotional speech at the University Cultural Centre, which was delivered in Malay.

"Mr Lee believed in frugality, both in his personal life as well as nationally," he added.

"And he walked the talk. This episode is an example, and also showed his fatherly character and sharp eye for detail."

Mr Lee was "the embodiment of the term statesman - someone who comes along once every few decades to make an indelible mark on society and the world at large," he said.

Using a Malay pantun, or short poem, he spoke about Singaporeans' debt to Singapore's founding father.

"Monetary debts can be paid off, but debts of good deeds cannot be repaid. A person brings such debts to his grave," Mr Sidek said.

"Farewell my friend, farewell."

Mr Lee died aged 91 on March 23, and Sunday marks the end of a seven-day mourning period.

The funeral service at the cultural centre is attended by top leaders from more than 20 countries, family members and over 2,000 invited guests.

On behalf of young Singaporeans everywhere, thank you
Excerpt from the eulogy by Ms Cassandra Chew, 31, civil servant and former journalist with The Straits Times
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

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.

I was so nervous I could hear my heart pounding before the meeting, and actually felt a headache coming on. I braced myself to be peppered with questions on whether I was married, when I planned to have children or whether I spoke Mandarin often enough - questions Mr Lee was known to ask young Singaporeans he met.

But there was none of that during the 80-minute interview, which was focused on the beginnings of his political career. There was no room for nervousness either.

He came in, sat down and asked: "Who's going to start?" And with that, the interview began. As always, Mr Lee was focused on the task at hand.

Over time, I gained more glimpses of what he was like as a person. For instance, it was a thrill for me to learn from his oral history that he once failed an art exam in primary school. But that was, of course, a small blemish on his distinguished academic record. I also learnt that in his later years he craved his late mother's gado gado and mee siam which, thankfully, his sister, Madam Monica Lee, could replicate.

I made at least eight visits to 38 Oxley Road, where I went into all the rooms. But the only time I saw him at home was during our 20-minute photo shoot which began in his study, where he spent most of his time while at home.

He was in good spirits that day, dressed in a white, short-sleeved shirt, dark trousers and his trademark sports shoes.

It looked as if he had been going through his e-mail at his desk, which had newspapers, magazines, binders of papers and stationery, all neatly arranged.

It was clear that even at home, his focus was on his work. It didn't matter to him that his furniture was more than 60 years old and outdated. They served their purpose and that was all that mattered.

That was how he lived his life: very simply and frugally, and always putting the country first and his own creature comforts second.

We moved to the living room, which was also a very private space because it was where the late Mrs Lee was remembered. Her photographs were displayed in two rows above her urn, and I was told Mr Lee would gaze at them daily as he had his meals.

I could feel how much Mr Lee missed his late wife. She was his partner, his anchor, for more than 63 years.

The last set of photos we took at his home are my favourite. Seated on a chair by a wooden table on the verandah, Mr Lee flashed a bright smile. They turned out to be the best photos on the reel.

To thank him for the photo shoot that day, I had prepared two chocolate cupcakes after learning how much he enjoyed chocolate. But, on the day, I was far too excited and dropped the box before I could present them to Mr Lee.

I had been reflecting on what I was learning about Mr Lee, as a person and founder of independent Singapore, and had just begun to understand just how much he and his family had sacrificed to ensure Singapore's success. I realised just how much I had taken for granted, and how much more I had to thank him for.

To me, Mr Lee had transformed from an elderly statesman who our textbooks say did a lot for us but didn't seem relevant to my daily life, to a man for whom I developed a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation. So much of Singapore began to make sense to me now that I had seen the world through his eyes.

I decided to try to express my thanks again, and wrote him a thank-you card.

I had so much to say, but did not know how to say it, and ended up writing four simple lines.

A few weeks later, I received a reply. True to his personality, his response was brief and to the point. "Thank you," he wrote, and signed off as "LKY". I was thrilled to have heard back from him, but a little sad that I did not convey what I felt in my heart.

This is my last chance. Mr Lee, thank you for everything. Some days I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have been born a Singaporean.

We don't have everything, but we have more than most, because of your lifelong labour. On behalf of young Singaporeans everywhere, I'd like to say: Thank you.

Lesson on being responsible for a job
Excerpt from the eulogy by MR G. MUTHUKUMARASAMY, 64, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers, who spoke in Tamil
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

WHEN I was an apprentice wireman at PWD, my colleagues and I were asked by my supervisor to go to the newly built Changi Cottage to service the air-conditioning system. We did not know who stayed there or used the space.

As we were finishing up, Mr Lee, who was then PM, came into the room. When we saw him, we got extremely nervous but finished the job. When we were done, Mr Lee asked me to call in my supervisor. What happened next is still on my mind like it happened yesterday.

When my supervisor came in, Mr Lee said: "When a job is given to you, you should do it. I asked you to service the air-conditioning. Please service it now."

My colleagues and I were worried that we had not done the job correctly. We watched as my supervisor serviced the air-conditioning. When he was done, Mr Lee reiterated that he had given him the job because he thought he could do it - not for him to turn around and reassign it to his team. He told my supervisor that he did not want to see him again.

The incident left a deep impression on me. Mr Lee believed in one thing - one must do correctly what he is told and everyone should do his own work. If a third person is asked to do the job, the impact would not be right. We must not pass the job to others, and walk away from it. We must show involvement in our work and do it properly. This is how a leader should be."

No laughing matter when it came to Singapore
Excerpt from the eulogy by MR LEONG CHUN LOONG, 79, Tanjong Pagar grassroots leader who worked with Mr Lee Kuan Yew for 39 years
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

BACK in the early days, Chinese New Year celebrations would kick off with the lighting of firecrackers, followed by the singing of the National Anthem.

During one celebration, the firecrackers did not go off when lit. After a while, we got impatient and the emcee decided to move on to the National Anthem.

However, just as the National Anthem was being played, the firecrackers went off loudly.

We thought it was quite funny but Mr Lee was not amused at all.

Later he told us: "If we can't even do this right, how can we run the country?"

This incident showed us how serious he was about all things concerning Singapore and how he always expected us to do our best for Singapore.

Mr Lee cared for the people. At a Tanjong Pagar Family Day function, we had set up a stage for the day's activities.

The key officials were sitting on the stage while the residents were sitting in front of the stage. It was getting very hot and sunny.

Mr Lee noticed that the residents were perspiring in the sun while we, the officials, were sitting in the shade.

He turned around and asked us what we were going to do about it.

He was always thinking about the people and he expected us to put their interest above our own.

A father that we share with Singapore
Excerpt from the eulogy by MR Lee Hsien Yang, 57, younger son of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at the University Cultural Centre
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

SINGAPORE has lost the father to our nation. For my family, we have lost our beloved father and grandfather. We are bereft.

I was born in 1957 and, for as long as I can remember, Papa was a public figure. As a child, I was only vaguely aware that my father was an orang besar, or VIP in Malay. All little children must think their fathers are special; I do not remember when it dawned on me that he was not just my own special father and not just an ordinary orang besar, he was an extraordinary orang besar.

Papa was immersed in his work for much of my childhood. In September 1998, he gave Fern and me our copy of his book The Singapore Story. In it, he penned a note with a tinge of regret:

"To Yang + Fern, You grew up while I was running around as I describe in this book."

Perhaps in different circumstances, he would have been a very successful businessman or an entrepreneur; but he chose to dedicate his life and to serve the people of Singapore and to build a better future for all. He wanted to ensure his three children had a "normal childhood". He didn't want us to grow up with a sense of privilege and entitlement.

As a teenager in secondary school, seeking to assert my independence, I would sometimes ride the public bus. Papa did not object, and my poor security officer had to follow me around on buses. When I was in junior college and keen on outdoor activities, my security officer had to shadow me as I trekked around Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong and canoed around Singapore. But Papa's principles ensured that I had as normal a childhood as possible, although I think I put out the security detail often!

Family holidays were happy occasions. We were able to see more of Papa. We didn't go anywhere far away, posh or exotic: the government rest houses in Fraser's Hill, Cameron Highlands, and later Changi Cottage, a small, two-bedroom seaside bungalow that holds many precious memories for me, even if once in a while the air-con there doesn't work and we have to call out for help.

Golf was Papa's principal recreation and a passion, so golf featured prominently not only on vacations, but also after work in the evenings. The nine-hole course in the Istana grounds provided ample room for us children to find adventure while he golfed. Both Loong and I were sent for golf lessons. We learnt to hit a long drive from the tee box, but neither of us really took to the game and we stopped when we grew up.

But eventually, Papa, too, prompted by Ling, gave up golf, and for exercise he took to jogging, swimming, stationary cycling as well as walking.

In January 1973 when I was 15, Ling and I joined Papa and Mama on a trip to visit Loong, who was at university in Cambridge. It was our first family holiday where we travelled so far away. On that trip, Papa and Mama took the family to Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace. We watched the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Coriolanus and toured the usual Shakespearean sites in Stratford. At the time, I had assumed it was just Mama indulging her love for Shakespeare and trying to educate us while we were on vacation. But years later when Papa wrote his memoirs, we realised the hidden meaning this visit held for my parents. They had married secretly in Stratford-upon-Avon in December 1947.

When Fern and I married in 1981, Papa was keen to have us live with them in Oxley Road. Mama, perhaps because of her own difficulties living with in-laws as a new bride, and my wife Fern, too, had reservations, so upon marriage, Fern and I made a home of our own.

When my brother Loong's first wife, Ming Yang, died in late 1982, leaving Loong with two very young children, the family felt the weight of the tragedy. Fern and I wanted to help the family hold together and create some happy occasions to continue to share. Although growing up, all our birthdays, including those of Papa and Mama, remained unmarked and uncelebrated, we began inviting the family to our home for Papa's and Mama's respective birthdays, for which I would cook a simple meal. At the time, the family included my father's father, Kung, Papa and Mama, Ling, Loong and his two children. Papa loved a good steak and he had a Peranakan sweet tooth for desserts.

Over time, the group grew larger. The grandchildren had views of their own and they could be outspoken. They were often ready to engage with Papa on issues of the day. I recall one birthday dinner where Shengwu debated with his Ye Ye till late, long after we had finished dinner, both sides wanting to ensure that the other understood his perspective and point of view!

While there have been public celebrations to mark my father's key birthdays, these small private family celebrations were a source of much joy to him and Mama. It was anticipated for months before and savoured in the memory for months after, and was part of the ritual of each passing year.

Many know how privileged Singaporeans are to have benefited from my father's contributions to building our nation. I know that growing up as his son, I have also been privileged to have witnessed what it means to be a good man, a good husband, a good father and grandfather.

To Singapore and Singaporeans, Papa was at various times PM, SM, MM. But whatever his office, he was actually always LKY. Even after he stopped being MM, people found it awkward to refer to him by anything other than this alphabet soup. But to his grandchildren, he was always Ye Ye, and to Fern and me, he was and will always be Papa. We will miss him dearly.

This past week, my family and I have received a deluge of messages expressing appreciation for my father's life, sometimes providing poignant memories of interactions with Papa. And although in life, Papa kept the two threads of public and private life apart, and shielded Mama and the children from the glare of the media, in his passing, the two threads come together as we share the grief of loss. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of grief and affection. We have been touched beyond words by the many Singaporeans who have braved the elements to pay their last respects at all hours of night and day. Young and old, on foot or aided by walking sticks, in push chairs or wheelchairs, you came to pay your last respects, to sign condolence books and to write messages. You have posted touching tributes and poems online and waited patiently to greet his cortege as it passed.

Please accept my family's inadequate but deep and heartfelt thanks. We know our loss is your loss too, and that the loss is deep and keenly felt. We are humbled that so many have come forward to demonstrate your affection for, respect of and gratitude to my extraordinary father, a father we share with Singapore.

Farewell, Papa.

'In this final hour, Papa is with family'
Private farewell for about 300 held at Mandai Crematorium for Mr Lee
By Chua Mui Hoong, Opinion Editor, The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

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.

With that, the public mourning of Mr Lee the public figure became the private mourning of Papa and Ye Ye by family members.

Earlier, at the University Cultural Centre, the state funeral had been a sober affair of more than two hours attended by state dignitaries and about 2,000 others. Now, at Mandai Crematorium as the sun set, a private farewell was held for about 300.

As the casket arrived at about 6.30pm at Hall 1, daughter Wei Ling, 60, placed the memorial portrait in front of the coffin.

Then, as he had led the nation in its mourning as Prime Minister, Hsien Loong, 63, the eldest of Mr Lee's three children, stood to lead the family to mourn its patriarch.

He said: "We are gathered here to say our final farewells to Papa - Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

"After the formalities of the lying in state and the state funeral service, in this final hour, Papa is with his family, his friends of a lifetime, his immediate staff who served him loyally and well, his security team who kept him safe and sound, and his medical team who took such good care of him."

Mr Lee's three children and two grandsons delivered eulogies.

Daughter Wei Ling delivered a hearty, heartfelt eulogy on her "stubborn, determined" father she admitted she so resembled.

She lived with her father in Oxley Road, and as a doctor too, was often the first line of defence when he was ill, she said. She thanked his medical team for their care of her father.

Dr Lee has shunned the media spotlight all week, even as 1.2 million people in Singapore paid their last respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House or at tribute centres across the island. Clad in a black dress yesterday, she looked composed, although she admitted it had been a difficult week for her.

In the morning, she said, the maid put Mr Lee's chair away from the dining table and lined it against the wall. "It was a poignant moment because it came home to me that this farewell is forever. And I nearly broke down - but I can't break down, I am a Hakka woman."

Younger son Hsien Yang, 57, said: "Papa, thank you for a lifetime of service to the people of Singapore. You made this little red dot into the nation all of us are proud to call home."

For Li Hongyi, 28, second son of Hsien Loong, Ye Ye was more than a grandfather; he was an inspiration. "Ye Ye showed me that you could make a difference in this world. Not just that you could make a difference, but that you could do it with your head held high. You didn't have to lie, cheat or steal," he said, and paused as he fought back tears.

That proved a losing battle and his mother, Ms Ho Ching, went up to the podium to give him a handkerchief and a steadying pat.

Regaining his composure, he continued: "You didn't have to charm, flatter or cajole. You didn't have to care about frivolous things or play silly games. You could do something good with your life, and the best way to do so was to have good principles and conduct yourself honourably."

Hsien Yang's eldest son Li Shengwu, 30, recalled Sunday lunches at Ye Ye's house, where the white walls, old furniture and even the food would remain the same through the years.

He added: "As I grew up, sometimes I would talk to Ye Ye about politics and the state. Always he spoke with the courage of his convictions, with a certainty born of long consideration. As you might guess, we didn't always agree."

After the eulogies, family members filed past the casket for one last look at Mr Lee, laying a single red rose each in the open casket.

His sister Monica Lee was the first; then members of the extended family. Next, the grandchildren; then Mr Lee's three children and their spouses.

Hsien Loong, as eldest child, was last. He placed his rose in the casket, then beckoned to his wife Ho Ching and put his arm round her.

They stood, side by side, beside the casket. Then they bowed, once, twice and thrice, in their final farewell to Papa.

It was time for Singapore's founding father, and the Lee family patriarch, to go to his final rest. As so many have noted in tributes all week, he had done so much for Singapore; and it was time for another generation to take over.

Earlier, in his eulogy, PM Lee had described how his father helped him on his first bike ride: "Once when I was just getting the hang of balancing on two wheels, he pushed me off... I pedalled off across the field, thinking that he was still supporting and pushing me.

"Then I looked back and found that actually he had let go, and I was cycling on my own, launched, and he had let go! He was so pleased. So was I."

Pa was always there for us and taught us lessons in life
Excerpt from the eulogy by Mr Lee Hsien Loong at Mandai Crematorium
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

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".

Sai Sok (Suan Yew) would have him over to dinner every Christmas, and Ku Cheh (Monica) would cook him his favourite dishes, and teach his cook how to do them, almost to the same standard as hers. Papa made it a point to attend the Chinese New Year reunion dinner of the extended Lee family every year, even till last year, to catch up with his siblings, to meet his nephews and nieces, and later grand-nephews and grand-nieces.

Pa was also head of his own family - my mother and the three children. He had plunged deep into politics by the time we arrived.

In fact, the day I was born, when he visited Mama and the new baby in Kandang Kerbau Hospital, he told her how he was going to represent the postmen's union in their dispute with the government. This was the postmen's strike which first made his name and launched him into active politics.

So day to day, Mama ran the household, brought us up, saw to our schooling. But Papa set the tone, tracked our progress and made the big decisions.

He sent us to a Chinese school; he started us on Malay lessons with Cikgu Amin; he encouraged Yang and me to take up SAF Scholarships, to serve the nation; he persuaded Ling to become a doctor instead of a vet. He set us on the path to make our own marks in the world, and we are grateful.

We are also grateful that Pa guided and nurtured us to grow up into normal, well-adjusted people, even though we were the Prime Minister's children, always in the spotlight, in every danger of being spoilt, indulged and led astray. He and Ma decided that we would stay in Oxley Road and not move to Sri Temasek, lest we grow up thinking that the world owed us a living.

He made sure we did not get the wrong ideas - no inflated sense of self; never to be inconsiderate to others; not to throw our weight around. We may not always have done it right, but we were never left in any doubt what was the right way to behave.

He took pride in us children. When I learnt to ride a bicycle, he was there. Once when I was just getting the hang of balancing on two wheels, he pushed me off from behind to get me started. I pedalled off across the field, thinking that he was still supporting and pushing me. After a few seconds, I turned around and found I was on my own. He had let go. He was so pleased. So was I.

Like all good fathers, Papa continued to be there for us, even after we grew up. When Yang and I got married, he wrote us long and thoughtful letters sharing advice on how to make our marriages successful. Precious lessons drawn from his own long, very happy marriage with Mama.

After Ming Yang died, and especially before I remarried, he and Mama spent time with Xiuqi and Yipeng, then still infants, to fill the gap and help bring them up.

They took them for walks after dinner every night in the Istana. He was not an indulgent grandfather, but a loving one. There is a photo of Papa with four grandsons, who were then toddlers, blowing soap bubbles in the garden in front of Sri Temasek...

Papa was happy that all three children grew up to be successful, responsible people, contributing to society in our different ways. A few months after I became Prime Minister, he wrote me a letter on his Minister Mentor letterhead. It read: "These are mock-ups of my Christmas and New Year cards for this year 2005. The photograph after the swearing-in at the Istana records a memorable evening in my life. Have you any amendments or comments?"

The photo was of me shaking hands congratulating him, I as the new Prime Minister and he as the new Minister Mentor and President S R Nathan looking on. Naturally I replied that I agreed and had no amendments. He was proud of his son, but he wanted to do things in the proper way, as always.

He continued to teach us lessons in life even in his later years. We learnt from watching him grow old with Mama. She meant the world to him, and he to her. They delighted in each other's company.

After Mama's stroke in 2003, he nursed her back to health, encouraged her to exercise and stay active, and continued to take her on trips abroad. He even learnt to measure her blood pressure using a traditional sphygmomanometer and stethoscope, and faithfully did this twice a day every day and e-mailed the results to her doctors. He would tell her: "Life is an endless series of adjustments. As you grow older, you adjust. Think how lucky we are and how much worse off we could be. Always look on the bright side of things."

Mama's passing five years ago was a huge blow to him. But the pictures of them together kept Papa company, to remind him of their 63 happy years together.

All his life, Papa kept up with his old friends - Yong Pung How, Chia Chwee Leong, Hon Sui Sen, and after Sui Sen died his widow Annie. As the years went by, the numbers of his old friends dwindled. In recent years, he would occasionally host dinners for his tutors, doctors, staff and friends, usually at Raffles Hotel, courtesy of Jennie Chua, to stay in touch and show his appreciation.

And every fortnight or so, Kim Li, his niece, would take him out for meals, and for a change of surroundings. They would go to Underwater World Sentosa, Changi Airport to see Project Jewel, to take a boat ride in the harbour. He enjoyed the outings and the company. A few friends would join in and take turns to host him - Wai Keung, Stephen Lee, Ong Beng Seng, Ban Leong, Peter Seah, Robert Ng, among others. We are grateful to Kim Li, and to them.

I would also like to thank the medical team of doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, specialists of all kinds led by Professor Fong Kok Yong, for taking such good care of my father... For many years, Yang has made it a custom to host a family dinner at his home on our parents' birthdays. On Papa's 90th birthday, we had our usual cosy meal. I was taking pictures at the dinner table. Papa gave a radiant smile. I decided to soak in the moment and not scramble to capture the photo. I don't have the photo but it's a memory. It will be there forever.

Thank you to the Security Command team who have protected my father. You not only ensured his security, but were always by his side, round the clock, beyond the call of duty. You became friends, and almost part of the family. Thank you also to Papa's personal staff, especially Lin Hoe and YY, who have served him for more than 20 years each. I would like to thank my sister Ling, who lived with Papa in Oxley Road, and did so much to help take care of him. You were not only his daughter, but also his doctor. You were his close companion throughout. You travelled with him, watched over him closely, and made sure he got medical treatment in time when problems were brewing. You took on more than your fair share of our filial duties. Thank you, Ling.

Finally, I want to thank the dedicated grassroots volunteers from Teck Ghee and Tanjong Pagar. You served for many years on the ground, helping Mr Lee and me to look after our residents.

When we are young, we think our parents will always be there. After we grow up, as we watch them age and grow frail, we know rationally that one day we will have to say farewell, yet emotionally we find it hard to imagine it happening. Then one day our parents are really gone, and we are left with a sense of loss and pain. That is the human condition.

Papa had thought long and hard about this. When preparing what to say today, I remembered that once upon a time he had made a speech about growing old and dying, to a gathering of doctors. Nobody else remembered it, except Janadas. We searched for the speech, and eventually after a heroic effort, YY found it. Papa had made it to a congress of cardiologists, very long ago - in 1972! I must have read it at the time, and it left such an impression on me that I remembered it across four decades.

I re-read the speech with delight. It was vintage Lee Kuan Yew - thoughtful, erudite, elegant, witty, but with a deeper point. Sadly, nobody makes after-dinner speeches like that any more. He titled it "Life is better when it is short, healthy and full".

He talked about cardiac health, decrepitude, the right to die, advanced medical directives (though the term had not yet been invented), and much more. You have to read the full speech yourself, because it is impossible to summarise. I will just share one quote: "Life is better short, healthy and full than long, unhealthy and dismal. We all have to die. I hope mine will be painless. As de Gaulle said: 'Never fear, even de Gaulle must die', and he did."

Papa had a long and full life. He was healthy, active and vigorous, until advanced old age. He used to say that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Papa's marathon is done. He went away peacefully. He will leave a big hole in our lives, and in our hearts. But his values, his love, and his words - these will stay with us, inspire us, and live on in us for a long, long time. Farewell, and rest in peace, Papa.

Papa was ready to fight for the people till his last breath
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Family and friends, thank you for being here with us today.

After Mama died in October 2010, Papa’s health deteriorated rapidly. The past five years have been challenging. But as always, Papa was determined to carry on as normal as possible, as best as he could.

He developed Parkinson's disease three years ago which severely limited his mobility. He had great difficulty standing and walking. But he refused to use a wheel chair or even a walking stick. He would walk, aided by his SOs.

Papa was also plagued by bouts of hiccups that could only be controlled by medication which had adverse side effects. Over and above the frequent hiccups, his ability to swallow both solids and liquids was impaired, a not uncommon problem in old age.

Papa searched the Internet and tried a wide variety of unorthodox hiccup therapies. For example, he once used rabbit skin and then chicken feathers to induce sneezing, so as to stop the hiccups. Although the sneezing sometimes stopped his hiccups, it did not do so consistently enough. Papa also tried reducing his food intake, because he felt that eating too much could precipitate hiccups, hence he lost a lot of weight, and appeared thin and gaunt.

Papa was stubborn and determined. He would insist on walking down the steps at home, from the verandah to the porch where the car was parked. Ho Ching had a lift installed so Papa need not negotiate those steps. But when he was aware and alert, he refused the lift though it was a struggle for him to walk down those steps even with 3 SOs helping.

But the lift was not installed in vain. On several occasions when he was ill and needed to be admitted to SGH, he did not protest when the SO guided him onto the lift. Still, even when ill, if he was asked if he wanted to use the lift, the answer would invariably be "no".

The SOs were an integral part of Papa’s life, even more so in the last five years. They looked after him with tender loving care, way beyond the call of duty. One doctor friend who came to help dress a wound Papa sustained when he fell, noticed this and said to me: "The SOs look after your father as though he is their own father.”

Papa believed that goodwill goes both ways. He was very considerate towards his SOs. Once while in Saudi Arabia on an official trip, one SO came down with chicken pox. The doctors decided that the SO should be isolated in some hospital in Saudi Arabia for two weeks. Pa thought that very unkind to the SO and insisted that the SO return to Singapore together with the rest of the delegation. He wasn't going to leave any Singaporean behind, not least an SO.

Sensing he was special, all the SOs have been very kind to Papa. On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of them. I know each of them well, even the number of children they have. To me, they were not only staff whose job was to look after Papa, but also friends of the family. They helped me pull out the SIM card from my blackberry when it hung; they were friends for me to share food and goodies with whenever the opportunity arose.

Soon after my father died, Yak called to inform me. After being in my room alone and unable to go back to sleep, I went downstairs to the SOs room, and sat with the two SOs on duty, watching black and white footage of Papa in his younger days. I needed the company of friends. Junji jichaou dan ru shui. There is a Chinese saying that the relationship between two honourable gentlemen is as understated as plain water. That was the relationship between the SOs and me.

One occasion, while having lunch at home, Papa choked on a piece of meat. It went down his trachea and obstructed his airflow. Fortunately the SOs knew what to do. ASP Yak and Kelvin together carried out the Heimlich manoeuvre several times, but to no avail, because Pa’s abdominal muscles were very tense.

Yak then called for help over his walky-talky. Liang Chye was the only senior SO downstairs, and sensing something strange in Yak’s voice, he came running up. They formed a human chain. Liang Chye, the shortest and probably the strongest, was positioned behind Papa; the tallest, Yak, at the furthest end of the human chain; and Kelvin, the one of middle height, between the two. They coordinated their pull, and after several attempts, the piece of meat was finally ejected. By this time, Papa had already turned purple. But within seconds of the meat being dislodged, he was mentally alert.

I would like to give special thanks to Liang Chye and Kelvin, and especially ASP Yak, whose presence of mind saved Papa's life. To all the SOs who have served Papa over the years, I thank you on behalf of my family.

I would also like to thank all the nurses, doctors and specialists who have looked after Papa over the years, especially those who were involved in the last five years of his life, when his medical problems multiplied and became more complicated. At a ripe old age of 91, he had multiple medical problems and many specialists, so the list of people to thank is a very long one. I am grateful to each and every one of them for all the care they have provided to Papa.

When Pa was not well at home, I was the first line of defence. I would handle on my own what I could at home. At other times though, I had to call the relevant specialists outside of office hours when Papa had a medical emergency. Since the most common emergency was pneumonia, one particular doctor was called most frequently. He doesn’t wish to be named so I’ll call him Dr X. After several calls, I learned that Dr X would be up by 5:45am to send his children to school. One morning at 5am, I had to call him. I apologized for waking him up, and asked him to tell his registrar on duty at SGH what to do, adding: "You don't need to rush in to see Pa. You can see him after you have sent your children to school." Dr X replied, “Today is Sunday.” But even on Sundays, he made his rounds at SGH.

During his last illness, Pa had to be cared for in the medical ICU of SGH. This was a very difficult time for Papa, the medical staff, as well as for the family. The MICU staff were diligent and meticulous in their care, and no effort was spared to help Papa and tend to his every need. The doctors had meetings twice a day to discuss how to proceed, including on weekends and Chinese New Year.

Again, I thank all the doctors involved in this last fight. That includes not only the respiratory specialist who ran the ICU, who played the most important role, but also Dr X who decided on what antibiotics to use, the cardiologists, and others who advised on how to maintain nutrition whilst Pa was sedated and intubated on respirator. Thank you all -- doctors, nurses and physiotherapists -- who have helped Papa be as comfortable as possible in his final days. My family is extremely grateful to all of you.

I also want to thank the PMO office staff who kept the office running smoothly in Papa’s absence. Thank you all for being with Papa and for helping to ease his suffering in the last five years of his life. Thank you for being here with us today, to bid farewell to Papa

My brothers have said much about Papa. I just want to focus on one point: what have I learnt from Pa? What is the biggest lesson he taught me?

The influence parents have on children depends on many things. To a certain degree, it depends upon the temperament of the parent and the child.

Temperamentally, I am very similar to Papa. So similar that in a given situation, I can predict how he would feel and respond. For example, the SOs would look on with some amusement at the way Pa struggled to complete his 12 minutes on the treadmill, even on days that he was tired. He may rest in between bouts on the treadmill, but he was always determined to hit 12 minutes. The SOs were amused because they knew I was equally fanatical about exercise. Today, I have run up and down my 20 meter corridor 800 times, making it to 16 km.

Once, about 15 years ago, my father told me: “Mama and I should be very happy that you remain single and hence will be able to look after us in our old age. But you will be lonely. Also, you have inherited my traits but in such an exaggerated way that they are a disadvantage to you.”

Papa, I know you would have preferred if I had married and had children. But I have no regrets, no regrets I was able to look after you and Mama in your old age.

What is the most important lesson I have learnt from Papa? It is never to push around anyone simply because he or she is weaker than me or in a socially inferior position. And never to let anyone bully someone else if I am in a position to stop such bullying. If I saw someone being bullied unfairly by his superior, I should have no hesitation to come to the rescue of the victim. Since I am by nature pugnacious like my father, and I enjoy a fight so long as it is for a just and good cause, I learnt these lessons readily.

We have seen an astonishing outpouring of emotion on the passing of my father this week. There are many reasons why people feel this way about Papa. But I think one reason is that they know Papa was a fighter who would always fight for them no matter what the odds were. They know that he was ready to fight for them till his last breath.

This morning I noticed that the maid, in setting the dining table, had moved away Papa's chair and placed it against the wall. It was a poignant reminder that this farewell is for ever. I have been controlling my feelings for this past week, but looking at this unexpected scene, I nearly broke down. But I can't break down, I am a Hakka woman.

Farewell Papa. I will miss you. Rest in peace.

He was 'my own special father' and more
Excerpt from the eulogy by Mr Lee Hsien Yang at Mandai Crematorium
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

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.

For my sister, they chose the name Wei Ling, which means "the beautiful sound of tinkling jade". I suppose Mama thought that that was an appropriate and feminine name for a daughter, though I don't think it circumscribed Ling's development!

For me, they chose the name Hsien Yang. The name Yang has more literary origin. It was taken from a quote from the Three Letter Classics which can mean "to show off". So my mother used to tease me before I knew this and said: "Your name means you're an illustrious show-off". Actually, the phrase meant "to bring honour and value to your parents".

I am sure many Singaporeans travelling abroad have often received compliments on Singapore and its transformation over the last 50 years. Usually the conversation would quickly acknowledge the contributions of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I would nod in agreement but I would not acknowledge my relationship, and I just kept quiet. I'd say: "Yes, it's been a remarkable journey."

Unsolicited compliments like this are the most authentic and heartfelt. Keeping private my family connection only served to enhance the pleasure for me, and sadly, as I developed a more visible public profile, it became harder not to be recognised as Lee Hsien Yang and my father's son.

I taught my children not to mention or flaunt their relationship with their grandfather, that they needed to make their own way in the world, on their own merit and industry. I suggested to them that should they be asked whether they are related to Mr Lee Kuan Yew that a good answer was to say: "My name is spelt 'Li', Mr Lee Kuan Yew's name is spelt 'Lee'. 'Li' is one of the most common Chinese surnames in the world..." This response, which I suggested, was not meant to mislead or to obfuscate, it's born out of a desire to be recognised for who we are as individuals and not for who we are related to.

We are immensely proud of Papa and his achievements, and yet perhaps it is part of our DNA to seek our own way in life. I am sure that Papa would not have wanted it otherwise.

Papa, thank you for a lifetime of service to the people of Singapore. You made this little red dot a nation all of us are proud to call home.

Papa, thank you for being a wonderful husband and companion to Mama, for loving her completely, for caring for her during her illness and during your lives together.

Papa, thank you for being my own special father. Always there to guide, counsel and advise me every step of the way, but also prepared to step back and let me find my own wings and make my own way.

Papa, thank you for loving my wife, and my children, Shengwu, Huanwu and Shaowu. You have been a loving grandfather to each of them, sharing small pleasures, enjoying their companionship.

Papa, it is hard to say goodbye. Your work is done and your rest is richly deserved. In our own different and diverse ways, my family and I will continue to honour you and your memory in all that we do.

Ye Ye showed us what we could be
Excerpt from the eulogy by Mr Li Hongyi, 28, son of PM Lee Hsien Loong and grandson of Mr Lee Kuan Yew
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Some years ago when I was preparing to go to university, Yeye 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.

Yeye 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. And even now, I still do.

We would have lunch with Yeye and Nainai 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 ridiculous. 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 realize 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.

He was not an especially charming man. Yet when he spoke you felt compelled to listen. Because when he spoke you knew he was being straight with you. He was not trying to cajole or flatter. He would be completely frank and honest. After speaking to him in person you knew that his speeches were not puffed up fluff. They were truly his opinions on the matters he cared most about. He would never echo empty slogans or narrow-minded ideologies; it was always thoroughly researched and well-considered perspectives. I had the privilege once of accompanying Yeye to a ceremony in Washington where he was receiving an award. Hearing him speak and watching the entire room listen made me feel so proud. His charisma came not from showmanship but from pure substance.

Yeye understood the limits of his knowledge. He made it a point to try and understand the flaws and risks of his own perspectives better than anyone else. This was especially true when it came to Singapore. He refused to let blind nationalism run this country into the ground. He cared deeply about this country and made sure that he was aware of any weaknesses that could cause us harm. And yet he was very proud of Singapore and confident that we could be better.

Yeye showed me that you could make a difference in this world. Not just that you could make a difference, but that you could do it with your head held high. You didn't have to lie, cheat, or steal. You didn't have to charm, flatter, or cajole. You didn't have to care about frivolous things or play silly games. You could do something good with your life, and the best way to do so was to have good principles and conduct yourself honourably.

People admired Yeye for his brilliant mind. They admired him for his ability to lead and rally us together. They admired him for all of his staggering accomplishments. These are all true. But to me, what made him a great man was the person he chose to be. A man of character, clarity, and conviction. We should remember him less as a man who gave us great gifts, and more as a man who showed us the kind of people we could be.

When Yeye gave me that camera years ago, he wrote me a note. It was a simple note without any flowery language or cheap sentiment. He simply told me that he hoped I made good use of it. I hope I have.

Excerpt from the eulogy by Mr Li Shengwu, 30, Mr Lee Hsien Yang's eldest son and grandson of Mr Lee Kuan Yew
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

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.

The food stayed the same too - Singapore cooking that would not be out of place at a good stall in a hawker centre. Ye Ye and Nai Nai would take us on outings, to the zoo, to the Science Centre, to National Day. As a child, I believed that the chief benefit of his position was that it came with a marvellous view of the fireworks.

Ye Ye loved his role as a doting grandfather. It delighted him, at each Chinese New Year, when the grandchildren gathered to greet him and receive hongbao. After Nai Nai had her second stroke in June 2008, he continued the tradition, preparing himself the hongbao for his grandchildren.

As I grew up, sometimes I would talk to Ye Ye about politics and the state. Always he spoke with the courage of his convictions, with a certainty born of long consideration. As you might guess, we didn't always agree. At the dining table, he never argued opportunistically, never took a position he didn't believe for the sake of a tactical advantage. The facts were the facts; our beliefs should accord with the evidence, and not the other way around.

To grow up in Singapore is to grow up in his shadow; to see in our skyscrapers, our schools, our highways and our homes the force of his singular vision.

History is full of plans for the total transformation of society. Plato's Republic. Abbe Sieyes' What Is The Third Estate? The Communist Manifesto. Few plans succeed, and many cause more bloodshed than happiness. As such plans go, his was compassionate, even humane. His objective was that his fellow citizens, you and I, would know peace and plenty.

He believed that education, open markets and clean government would make the people of Singapore a great people. That his plan succeeded is beyond dispute. It succeeded so rapidly, so thoroughly, that to my generation, the poverty and instability of Singapore's beginning feel almost unreal - like a fever dream chased away by the morning light.

He was our man of tomorrow. From the day he took office in 1959, he fought to bring Singapore into the future. In real terms, the average Singaporean in 1959 was as poor as the average American in the year 1860.

Today, Singapore is one of the most developed countries in the world. The Singapore economy has advanced more in 50 years than the American economy advanced in 150 years. This is a pace of pro-gress less like economic development, and more like time travel.

Once, at the suggestion that a monument might be made for him, my grandfather replied: "Remember Ozymandias." He was, of course, referring to Shelley's sonnet about the greatest pharaoh of the Egyptian empire. In the poem, a lone traveller encounters a broken statue in the desert. On the statue, the inscription, "My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains.

I think his meaning was that, if Singapore does not persist, then a monument will be no help. And if Singapore persists, then a monument will be unnecessary. And that assessment is accurate: His legacy is not cold stone, but a living nation. We could no more forget him than we could forget the sky.

It is often said that my grandfather built great institutions for Singapore. But what is an institution? It is a way of doing things that outlives the one who builds it. A strong institution is robust, persistent. It does not depend precariously on individual personalities. It places the rule of law above the rule of man. And that is the sacrifice of being a builder of institutions. To build institutions is to cede power, to create a system that will not forever rely on you. That this funeral passes without disorder or uncertainty shows that he succeeded in this task. We are bereft at his passing, but not afraid. The foundations that he built run deep.

The next task falls to us. I think my grandfather always saw my generation of Singaporeans with a mixture of trepidation and hope. We are children of peacetime, unacquainted with the long struggle to make Singapore a modern nation state. We view stability, prosperity and the rule of law as our birthrights.

We have our own visions for what Singapore will be. Some of our hopes may seem idealistic or far-fetched. But my grandfather's vision must have seemed outlandish too, when he promised 50 years ago that an impoverished backwater would become a metropolis. He showed us that, with courage and clear thinking, Singapore can rise above its circumstances and be a light to the world.

Ye Ye, you started by fighting for Merdeka, for our right to rule ourselves. I found out this week that Merdeka has its roots in an old Dutch word, meaning a freed slave. When Singapore was cut adrift from Malaysia, you adopted an orphaned nation and made us all your children.

Ye Ye, you chose to forsake personal gain and the comforts of an ordinary life, so that the people of Singapore could have a better life for themselves, and for their children and for their grandchildren.

That Singapore is safe, that Singapore is prosperous, that Singapore is - for this we owe a debt that we cannot repay.

Ye Ye, we will try to make you proud. Majulah Singapura.

Hongyi wanted to make sure that those who came to pay their respects to his yeye have the best experience possible. He...
Posted by HO Ching on Monday, March 30, 2015

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