Monday, March 30, 2015

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

29 March 2015

While the feelings are still raw, I decided to wait no further and pen down how I felt over the past week. It has been a difficult and emotional week for Singapore and you could sense the the sadness easily across the island via the television, the newspapers, on social media platforms and even via conversations with the people around us.

I am sadly ashamed to say that I am one of those who never knew the large extend of Mr Lee's contributions till this week. I was born in the late 1980s, and was clearly past the era where I could grow up hearing Mr Lee gave those passionate speeches that stirred the hearts of many Singaporeans. From our social studies classes, we read about him and knew that Mr Lee was an important figure in Singapore, but never knew enough that he was actually more than important, but the very key person who united the country together.

After reading so much about his life this week, it was hard not to be moved or inspired by this man. My husband and I hardly watch the television at home but this week we were glued to it for hours watching CNA. We cried at articles that revealed the side of Mr Lee that we never knew, particularly about his deep love for his wife, "The Red Box" that speaks of his dedication to improving Singapore, and his frugal lifestyle which has an accompanying picture of his present "1960s" living room in Oxley Road. We never knew we would be so grieved or affected by his passing.

Hence it was only fitting that we should pay our last respect to Mr Lee, but sadly we couldn't make it to the end and had to drop off half way. We were there in the priority queue with Zoe and our friends who has a 2 year old toddler and was 39 weeks pregnant with their second child. We waited in the line for 2.5 hours, standing with all the other parents who brought their babies and kids, the wheelchair bound and elderly. I was deeply moved in that 2.5 hours as I witness a Singapore that I have never seen. Volunteers who kept offering drinks and snacks, NSF who tore cardboard boxes into pieces so that we could use them to fan ourselves, and though our queue wasn't moving much, everyone was patient and no one lost their cool at all. And that is very rare when all you hear are babies crying as its past their bedtime and feeling extremely sticky from the humidity.

My husband and I would honestly have continued to wait in the line if not for Zoe. We were actually the next batch to cross the road to the security check point, but was told that we had to wait for another 2 more hours. It was already 1030pm, and way past bedtime for Zoe. She was well-behaved throughout but we highly doubted she could last another 2 hours like this plus we had to consider another hour where we had to exit, get a cab and travel back home.

So, off we went to a community tribute center instead. It was a different experience from Padang, but equally moving.I had tears welling up my eyes as we stood there presenting our flowers and writing our heartfelt messages in the condolence book. And as we laid the flowers, I told Zoe to wave goodbye and we left with a heavy heart.

Needless to say, I bawled my eyes out during the funeral procession today. I cried when I saw how the people stood in the heavy rain waiting for the cortege, cried when the cortege left Parliament House, cried when the eulogies were delivered (esp former Senior Minister of State Sidek Saniff), cried when we said the pledge and sang Majulah Singapura. And I cried again when I read more articles after that and also from watching the news. I have not even started on reading the papers today, which I think I will call it a day for now and read them tomorrow.

 So, just like how Mr Lee always go straight to the point, I would like to end off and say, Thank you Mr Lee.

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