One of our neighbours whose children attend the Singapore International School in Hong Kong sent me those..
I also found this... Personal Encounters With Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Been watching former university mates post of their vigils, reading Singaporean and non-Singaporean friends' much more timely responses to the loss........
"I won't deify him, for there were people who suffered from his decisions." - from lilbluebottle's In Memoriam, here. She quotes him:
Those who married spouses who are not as bright are tearing their hair out because their children can’t make it. I have lived long enough to see all this play out.”
“So when the graduate man does not want to marry a graduate woman, I tell him he’s a fool, stupid. You marry a non-graduate, you’re going to have problems, some children bright, some not bright. You’ll be tearing your hair out. you can’t miss.”
– Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going (2012)
“I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn’t be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbour is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think.”
– The Straits Times, 20 April 1987
She goes on to say, "His policies made it possible for my parents to own long leases on their homes, for their children to get educated in some of the best universities in the world, not from legacy or hereditary right, but from hard work and the availability of background-blind scholarships."
I don't have a personal encounter with the man, but I do with the country, and if a measure of a great person is the work of their hands, what they leave behind......:
Singapore gave me my first taste of freedom and independence at the age of 17 when I pursued A levels and later Uni and a 3 year government grant bond. I tell people this story a lot in Hong Kong - that I remember changing dorm rooms at least 3 times, and when the Permanent Resident forms and a letter assuring me of approval of PR upon my finding a job and I should probably include said letter in job applications arrived at the right dorm room. Like, even my mum could barely keep my rooms straight, but the Singapore Government knew which room I was in! 😀 (For the record though, it was still hard to get a job coming out, I graduated at a time the market was bad so it's not like I just waltzed in and bagged a prime job there.)
Moving around in Malaysia, growing up in places where I remembered not to walk with my back to oncoming traffic, narrowly avoiding being stuffed into the car of a man who walked onto my school playground and simply walked away never to be seen in the area again, I revelled in the ability to walk from Bugis to Raffles and City Hall at 3am unaccompanied.
One of my uni mates posted a day or two ago how he was at the time coming on 4 hours sitting vigil amongst a vast sea of others, in the background of his selfie. In another life, I probably would've been sitting vigil like my seniors - but maybe in some "ulu-fied" lonely place because I could.
My aunts, uncles and grandma moved to Singapore - 30, 40 years ago? I don't remember a time when they lived elsewhere, just this Bishan house, among others - at one point they took the roof off, added a second storey, koi pond.... During one of the construction periods I was quite little, when I looked down to find a police car pulling up behind my cousin, who was steadying the shaky construction scaffolding I had employed to reach the flowers off a tall tree at the garden gate.
(Never did it again; I didn't need to be reprimanded much, though I remember some incredulousness I had made it all the way up that shaky thing and so quickly so yeah I suppose that's one place the Miss got the climbing thing from - BUT the principle difference between my daughter and me is I was very hungry for approval, a Tiger Parent's dream. The Miss is Excuse Me, But You've Mistaken Me For Someone Who Cares.)
More than a decade later I borrowed my cousins' rooms, now empty as they studied abroad, to prepare for my own A levels (CJ Hostel was famously under construction at the time). They always appeared so cool and creative to me - I remember one room had "large little men" painted all over the ceiling, walls, reaching down over the door frame... My other cousin, a year my senior at CJC, was very popular and on the student council. Back then our grandmother would tell me how she wrote in about issues, appeared on talk shows by Television Corporation Singapore.
Their father my uncle became a top heart surgeon after moving to Singapore initially, later on ranking on some global scale in the top 10. (Now semi-retired for awhile, he also worked on setting up some clinics or hospitals in Malaysia. He has both waived fees for those who couldn't afford it as well as operated on HK movie stars like Chow Yuen Fatt and Indonesian royalty. (That I know of. I never followed closely, just dropped in here and there, saw pictures or press or else colleagues highlighted a news article), among many philanthropic activities I have not kept track of closely enough to write adequately about.)
I have other cousins, including in the Singapore Air Force (he was a major last I heard ages ago; his late father had retired a colonel). Another is in the financial sector, periodically interviewed on CNBC. And I have more cousins in Singapore, besides.
So many experiences, so many opportunities, chances in life, not so long after Singapore first became.
So many lives.
“At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.” - Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Oh, what a life. Rest in peace, sir.
ps: I was also thinking now he can be with his beloved wife after not seeing her for the last 4 years <sheepish> Still an idealist. Even if that gets run over by a big stinky garbage truck whose driver also tries to record it on iPhone sometimes...