Monday 23 March 2015

Thousands send good wishes to Lee Kuan Yew

As former PM's health worsens further, people gather at SGH, Tanjong Pagar
By Fiona Chan, Deputy Political Editor, The Sunday Times, 22 Mar 2015

Thousands of Singaporeans took time out from their weekend plans yesterday to drop off cards and gifts for ailing former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, as word came that his health had weakened further.

A one-line statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) yesterday afternoon said Mr Lee's condition had deteriorated again. An announcement last Tuesday said he had taken a turn for the worse and daily updates since Wednesday said he remained critically ill.

About 1,000 people were at the art gallery of the Tanjong Pagar Community Club (CC) to leave cards and gifts and write messages on a giant banner that said: "Get well soon, Mr Lee Kuan Yew."

Mr Lee, 91, is an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, having represented the area since he won the 1955 legislative assembly election.

His son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, arrived at the CC in the afternoon with his wife, Ms Ho Ching, to thank those present and add their signatures to the hundreds covering the banner. It was PM Lee's first visit to the CC since he accompanied his father there as a child.

He took photos of the cards, soft toys and flowers people had left. He also penned a short message on the banner: "Dear Papa, Hope you get better!"

Well-wishers lined up to take photos with him and to say that they were concerned for his father.

Senior Minister of State for Law and Education Indranee Rajah, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, also signed the banner yesterday. She said Singaporeans are worried about the health of the elder Mr Lee as they feel a bond with him "that goes beyond policies". Older citizens see him as a pioneer and comrade-in-arms, while younger ones grew up reading about him in the news every day. "He gave this nation pride," she said.

Travel agent James Wong, 55, and his wife wrote good wishes for Mr Lee on the banner before heading to the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), where another area has been set up for people to leave flowers and messages. "We want to wish Mr Lee well as much as we can - going to both places is like double insurance," said Mr Wong, who lives in the Pinnacle@Duxton development in Mr Lee's ward of Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru.

At SGH, where Mr Lee has been warded with severe pneumonia since Feb 5, hundreds of visitors added to a growing array of bouquets, balloons, handmade cards, children's drawings and boxes of paper cranes at a designated area outside Block 7. The hospital erected tentage with lights over the outdoor area just before it started to rain in the evening, giving the space a warm glow.

A few visitors were teary-eyed, such as sales manager Cindy Ang, 34, who brought her sons Lennon, seven, and Lewis, four, to tell them about Mr Lee's life and work. "It's the last thing we can do for him, to come here, to pray for him," she said.

Another four-year-old, Lim Kai Jun, skipped his English tuition class to visit SGH with his family and leave a daisy for Mr Lee. His father, Mr Adrian Lim, said: "I want my son to understand that we have to be grateful for what Mr Lee, our founding father, has done."

Grassroots leaders in Tanjong Pagar GRC and neighbouring Radin Mas ward told The Sunday Times they are making preparations for various activities. Said Mr Tan Bok Seng, a Radin Mas grassroots leader: "I go regularly to the temple and I pray for Mr Lee's recovery."

Ministers also said Mr Lee was in their thoughts. "We wish him well. We are all rooting for him," said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang at the Chingay Heartlands celebration in West Coast GRC, where he is an MP.

At another event at Rivervale Mall, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told reporters he had met PM Lee on Friday. "He really appreciates the outpouring of good wishes for Mr Lee and also for himself and his family. He thanks everyone for the good wishes," he said.

Additional reporting by Tham Yuen-C, Walter Sim, Rachel Au-Yong and Charissa Yong

PM drops in on well-wishers at SGH
By Tham Yuen-c, Assistant Political Editor and Kash Cheong, The Straits Times, 23 Mar 2015

WELL-WISHERS leaving cards and gifts for former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) yesterday morning were surprised by a visit from Mr Lee's son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The younger Mr Lee dropped by an area at SGH where more than a thousand people have left notes and flowers for his ailing father, who has been warded at the hospital with severe pneumonia since Feb 5.

After PM Lee's visit, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) issued an update saying his father's condition had weakened again. The elder Mr Lee, 91, took a turn for the worse last Tuesday and has been critically ill since then. The PMO said on Saturday that his health had worsened further.

At SGH, the Prime Minister thanked well-wishers and took photos with them before leaving with his wife Ho Ching to visit his father.

Among those PM Lee spoke to was student Lim Chee Kiang, 17, who had brought a lava lamp that he hoped would brighten the get-well area at night. The Delta Senior School student told PM Lee he lives in MacPherson and had taken the bus and train to SGH.

PM Lee later said in a Facebook post that he was touched by Chee Kiang's effort. He also thanked SGH for setting aside the corner for gifts for his father.

By late afternoon yesterday, the bouquets, handmade cards, works of art, soft toys and balloons had spilled out of a tent the hospital had set up around the area. A downpour at around 5pm did not stop the stream of people from dropping off their gifts.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam said on Facebook that he and his wife Mary were "deeply concerned" about and praying for Mr Lee.

Over in Toa Payoh, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen spoke to reporters at a community event about Mr Lee's "enormous impact on Singapore".

Holding back tears, he said: "I spoke with him before I entered politics and very much because of these conversations and looking at what he believed in, what he gave, I decided to enter politics.

"His influence is enormous and all of us here and abroad are hoping for his recovery."

Across the island, special corners were set aside at Tanjong Pagar Community Club (CC), Teck Ghee CC in Ang Mo Kio, Pek Kio CC in Moulmein, Taman Jurong CC and Ulu Pandan CC for people to leave notes for Singapore's founding prime minister.

Thousands of Singaporeans did so over the weekend. Many also took to social media to post sketches, cartoons and short essays about Mr Lee.

Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew posted a message to Mr Lee on Facebook: "Even in illness, you are touching Singaporeans and drawing us together in a way that no one else can. Just as you have done all your life."

Outside of Singapore, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the country was observing Mr Lee's condition with "concern and sadness".

"What we will always remember is that he developed a close friendship between Singapore and Indonesia and that friendship continues till now."

Clean rivers, thanks to Mr Lee
Ailing former PM lauded for his foresight at World Water Day events
By Melissa Lin and Pearl Lee, THe Sunday Times, 22 Mar 2015

Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's vision and role in cleaning up Singapore's rivers and starting the push towards water self-sufficiency decades ago were highlighted as World Water Day was celebrated here yesterday.

At the Singapore Sports Hub, where activities ranged from kayaking to Zumba, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the country's clean rivers were a result of Mr Lee's determination and vision.

Referring to the Kallang River next to the Sports Hub, Mr Teo said: "Right here on this river in the 60s and 70s, where the water was black, oily and dirty, he had the vision to think of this place as a beautiful bay that we could clean up and enjoy."

Mr Lee is seriously ill at the Singapore General Hospital and yesterday, thousands of people went there and to the Tanjong Pagar Community Club to leave flowers and good wishes for him.

At the Sports Hub, Mr Teo said: "Let us all wish Mr Lee strength for his recovery."

At Jurong Lake, where people took part in a 2km walk and qigong, Ms Grace Fu, Second Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said: "We owe it to Mr Lee that we can proudly say today that through 30 to 40 years of research and development, as well as hard work, we have almost reached water self-sufficiency."

She urged Singaporeans to continue to keep all the country's water sources clean, conserve water and treat it as a special resource.

"If we are able to carry on this good work, Singapore would have a bright future from where Mr Lee has left us," she added.

Ms Fu also announced that from October the minimum water-efficiency standards for washing machines will be raised from one tick to two ticks. Compared with one-tick models, two-tick washing machines can save more than 20 litres of water per wash on average.

Mr Teo urged visitors at the Sports Hub to practise simple water-saving habits, such as washing clothes on a full load at home.

In Singapore, each person consumes 150.4 litres of water per day on average. "We aim to lower this, slightly, to 147 litres per day by 2020," he said.

He pointed out how Singapore experienced a significant dry spell last year, with February 2014 being the driest month in almost 150 years. There was a repeat of dry weather earlier this year, although it was less severe.

Water demand is also expected to almost double by 2060 from the current 400 million gallons a day (mgd).

Singapore is investing in infrastructure ahead of demand, he said.

A second Newater plant at Changi, when completed next year, will see Newater capacity increase by another 50mgd.

A third desalination plant in Tuas, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will add another 30mgd to Singapore's water supply.

Aspiring artist writes Mr Lee Kuan Yew's name 18,000 times to create this amazing portrait
By Lee Min Kok, The Straits Times, 21 Mar 2015

From a distance, Ong Yi Teck's A2-sized portrait of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew appears to be a nicely drawn work of art.

But look closer, and the amount of effort - and creativity - that went into this aspiring artist's labour of love will astound you.

Armed with only drawing pens and his own imagination, the 20-year-old, who is waiting to enrol in Nanyang Technological University's School of Art, Design & Media, spent 15 painstaking hours writing Mr Lee's name roughly 18,000 times.

The result is a portrait of Singapore's founding father, who was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb 5 for severe pneumonia.

The portrait, along with videos detailing the drawing process, was uploaded on his Instagram account over the past two days. It has since gone viral.

In one Instagram post, he wrote that he was reminded of two things while drawing it - success requires dedication and perseverance, and mistakes are inevitable.

"Whatever wrong decisions Mr Lee has made in the past (if any) does not change the fact that he dedicated his life into building this small nation since independence and brought us to where we are now. We should be appreciative of that, certainly."

Mr Ong told The Straits Times in an e-mail interview that he had been caught off-guard by how quickly his portrait was spread on social media. It was shared by, among others, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's wife Ho Ching on Facebook.

"I decided to do a drawing of Mr Lee on bigger canvas as a symbol to a great leader," said Mr Ong. "To make it more challenging, I wanted to try name-writing as a way to shade his facial features." 

He revealed that the portrait is not for sale, despite strong interest from several buyers.

"I would prefer the focus to be on Mr Lee at this point of time," he added. "He is still in critical condition and we should all pray for his recovery."

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