Mr. Lee Kuan Yew lives forever

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew may have passed on, but his legacy lives forever. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is Singapore’s icon – the man who shaped Singapore’s national consciousness and brought her to international stages.

Health complications 

On 5 February this year, 91-year-old Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was admitted to Singapore General Hospital due to severe pneumonia. On 21 February, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a statement that Mr. Lee’s condition has stabilised and he is conscious and lightly sedated, but remains on mechanical ventilation in the ICU. However, Mr. Lee’s condition deteriorated last week and at 3.18am this morning (23 March), he passed on at Singapore General Hospital.

A eulogy for the man who gave his all to Singapore

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Mr. Lee Kuan Yew once said this about Singapore in an interview with International Herald Tribune:

 It should not exist…

Indeed, Singapore should not have existed – we lack basic natural resources like land and water; not to mention the lack of a defence capability, leaving Singapore vulnerable to attacks. However, 50 years on after independence, Singapore is not just a surviving city-state, but a cosmopolitan, developed country with a first-world skyline.

All these would not have been possible without the governance of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, one of Asia’s most remarkable personalities.

The background story

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He was born in 1923 as Harry Lee Kuan Yew, a time when Singapore was still under British colonial rule. Mr. Lee had also experienced the Japanese Occupation and cheated death during the Sook Ching massacre before heading to England to study law, where he graduated with double First Class Honours at the University of Cambridge. He then decided to drop his English name, Harry, and be known merely as Lee Kuan Yew.

Having witnessed how the British was unable to protect Singapore from foreign powers like the Japanese, Mr. Lee decided that Singapore has to govern herself and returned to Singapore in 1949. He formed the People’s Action Party (PAP) in 1954 with like-minded individuals.

From 1957 to 1958, Mr. Lee negotiated for self-rule. In 1959, he assumed the role of Singapore’s first Prime Minister and fought for a Singapore-Malaysia merger in 1963, only for Singapore to get expelled two years later.

Contributions

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Under his rule, he solved problems which threatened Singapore’s stability. Compulsory conscription in the form of National Service was introduced to build Singapore’s defence force without burdening her limited manpower. Today, Singapore is the second safest country in the world.

Worried about the lack of water supply should there be conflict with Malaysia, Mr. Lee began to experiment on water recycling in 1974. His hard work paid off as water recycling in the form of NEWater today has proved to be a viable source of potable water.

He also helped build Singapore’s image as a ‘Garden City’, a reputation that has been sustained till today. Let’s not forget the various decisions and policies Mr. Lee had made to help Singapore grow this far, such as the passing of laws to counter any threats to race and religion, the introduction of corporal punishment and forging international relations, amidst many other contributions he had made for Singapore.

In 1990, when he stepped down as Prime Minister, he had already served 31 long years in the cabinet, making him the world’s longest serving PM. He then undertook the role of Senior Minister from 1990 to 2004, before taking on the position of Minister Mentor from 2004 to 2011.

On his 90th birthday two years ago, Mr. Lee was given a 30-second standing ovation in Parliament for his service and contributions to Singapore.

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Singapore today

The founder of modern Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, turned a fishing village into today’s economic powerhouse. With world-class healthcare, high literacy rate, one of the world’s highest per capita incomes, Singapore has progressed way beyond anyone’s imagination. This is all thanks to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, who sweated blood and tears for our little red dot.

His demise marks an epoch in Singapore’s history.

Without Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, there would not be Singapore – the Third World country that has transformed into a First World country within a short span of less than 50 years.

Thank you, Mr. Lee. You’ve fought hard for Singaporeans and the future of Singapore in the beginning and you fought for your survival right till the very end. May you rest in peace.

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Featured image via ejinsight
With reference to The New York Times, Wikipedia