Tuesday 16 September 2014

Tributes pour in on Lee Kuan Yew’s 91st birthday

Tributes, gifts pour in as Mr Lee turns 91
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 16 Sep 2014

FORMER Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew turns 91 today and well-wishers are brimming with tributes and gifts to honour him. There are video montages of the major moments in Mr Lee's life, portraits of him in various mediums, and several suggestions to declare Sept 16 a national holiday.

The birthday greetings on social media this year, numbering more than a thousand, are believed to be initiated by logo designer Catherine Leck.

On Aug 31, using the hashtag #happybirthdayLKY, she encouraged friends and followers to post online messages for Mr Lee, a founding father who was Singapore's first prime minister.

"I want him to know that even younger Singaporeans who didn't get to see him in action appreciate his efforts," the 32-year-old said.

Her birthday greeting to Mr Lee is an image of his face, made from confetti.

Meanwhile, the People's Action Party (PAP), which Mr Lee co-founded, added to the swell of wishes by creating a website for people to post greetings. It also collated the messages of netizens who had used the hashtag.

In response, Mr Lee said in a statement: "Thank you for your birthday greetings and good wishes. I cannot reply to each greeting individually. I wish you all the very best in return."

The Straits Times understands he celebrated his birthday with his family last week, before Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his son, began a week-long trip to southern China last Thursday.

Often, the wishes on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter were a simple "Happy Birthday" greeting.

But many also wrote heartfelt messages of how their lives were changed by what Mr Lee achieved for Singapore.

One eye-catching post is a photograph of Mr Lee's visage done in embroidery. Illustrator Evon Lim, 34, took about 40 hours, over eight days, to sew it. "It would be a huge honour to be able to give my embroidery to Mr Lee," she said.

Artist Ng Huifong, 33, who lives in Brunei, is putting the final touches to an oil painting of Mr Lee. She expects to finish it today. "There is no one else whose name is synonymous with Singapore," she said.

Several grassroots leaders also joined in the digital celebrations. Taking the lead from their MP Alex Yam (Chua Chu Kang GRC), several Yew Tee volunteers posted videos on their own Facebook page, showing them extending wishes with birthday cake in hand.

Greetings also popped up in various Facebook threads.

For instance, The Straits Times' Facebook post over the weekend about the PAP website for Mr Lee's birthday, drew more than 3,500 likes and about 400 well-wishes.

The flood of greetings has taken Ms Leck by surprise. Initially she feared some might misconstrue her move as an attempt to curry favour with the PAP.

“It’s really just my sincere appreciation for the man,” she said. “He has shown admirable qualities and there is no doubt he shaped Singapore.”

It's Chinese lessons as usual for Mr Lee on 91st birthday
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 17 Sep 2014

STICKING to his routine, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew spent part of his 91st birthday yesterday having his usual Chinese lessons.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong wrote about it on his Facebook page, saying he had gone to Mr Lee's office to wish him "Happy Birthday".

Mr Lee was dressed smartly in a casual red jacket, and "looked well and sharp and spoke with a strong voice", wrote Mr Goh, who had succeeded Mr Lee as PM.

"Unfortunately, he was having one of those hiccups triggered by some allergic irritations. Even then, he was getting ready for his Chinese lessons," he said. "I cannot help but marvel at the spirit and fight of The Singapore Lion. More good years to you, Mr Lee."

A small indulgence came in the evening, when he celebrated his birthday with some current and former staff. Among them was Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was his principal private secretary from 1997 to 2000, and Singapore Press Holdings chief executive Alan Chan, who preceded Mr Heng: from 1994 to 1997.

Last night, Mr Heng said on Facebook: "Not many people see this side of Mr Lee, but I have always found him to be caring to his staff. We are very happy to see him so well... I am always reminded when I see him to do my part to make life better for all Singaporeans."

Other politicians also shared anecdotes online.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, an avid triathlete, recounted the time Mr Lee had asked him, when they were at a gymnasium, how to build up one's core strength. "Despite some discomfort, whatever I suggested, he tried. Simple request but it reflected Mr Lee's willingness to learn from anyone."

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin wrote of a resident who asked him on Monday at his Meet-the-People session, to convey his well-wishes to Mr Lee. "He was quite emotional when he asked me to do so," Mr Tan said.

Online tributes poured in through the day. There were some 13,000 likes and over 1,700 birthday wishes on the People's Action Party's Facebook page yesterday.

Meanwhile, a group of six did a walking tour of sites significant to Mr Lee, such as Istana Park and the Urban Redevelopment Authority Centre, to honour him.


No comments:

Post a Comment