PM Lee finally called him ‘Papa’ and not ‘Mr Lee Kuan Yew’
In a touching private ceremony at Mandai Crematorium, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s family members gathered to send him off on his final journey. They delivered touching, personal eulogies to the man they called “Papa” or “Yeye”. These are the 15 most memorable quotes from their eulogies.
1. Lee Hsien Loong
“We are also grateful that Papa guided and nurtured us to grow up into normal, well-adjusted people, even though we were the Prime Minister’s children, always in the spotlight, in every danger of being spoilt, indulged, and led astray.”
PM Lee and his siblings could have had lived at Sri Temasek. But LKY chose for the family to continue living in their simple Oxley Road home.
“When we are young, we think our parents will always be there. After we grow up, as we watch them age and grow frail, we know rationally that one day we will have to say farewell, yet emotionally we find it hard to imagine it happening. Then one day our parents are really gone, and so we are left with a sense of loss and pain. That is the human condition.”
This is the hard truth, so let us learn to respect and love our parents while they are still here with us, such that regret will have no room to take root in our future lives.
“Farewell, and rest in peace, Papa.”
2. Li Hongyi
Li Hongyi is the second son of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
“Yeye was more than a grandfather to me. He was an inspiration. As a child, I looked up to him and wanted to grow up to be the kind of man he was. And even now, I still do.”
We all do.
“Yeye showed me that you could make a difference in this world. Not just that you could make a difference, but that you could do it with your head held high. You didn’t have to lie, cheat, or steal. You didn’t have to charm, flatter, or cajole. You didn’t have to care about frivolous things or play silly games. You could do something good with your life, and the best way to do so was to have good principles and conduct yourself honourably.”
Li broke down during his eulogy and had to be handed a tissue by mother Ho Ching.
3. Lee Wei Ling
Lee Wei Ling is the only daughter of Lee Kuan Yew and Director at the National Neuroscience Institute.
On the Security Officers involved in the life of LKY:
“For example, the SOs would look on with some amusement at the way Pa struggled to complete his 12 minutes on the treadmill, even on days that he was tired. He may rest in between bouts on the treadmill, but he was always determined to hit 12 minutes. The SOs were amused because they knew I was equally fanatical about exercise. Today, I have run up and down my 20 meter corridor 800 times, making it to 16 km.”
Dr Lee is known for being a fitness fanatic, even at the age of 60.
“This morning I noticed that the maid, in setting the dining table, had moved away Papa’s chair and placed it against the wall. It was a poignant reminder that this farewell is for ever. I have been controlling my feelings for this past week, but looking at this unexpected scene, I nearly broke down. But I can’t break down, I am a Hakka woman.”
Dr Lee is a stoic woman. Even her two brothers could not hold back their tears at some point in time during the week of national mourning.
“Farewell Papa. I will miss you. Rest in peace.”
4. Li Shengwu
Li Shengwu is Lee Hsien Yang’s eldest son.
On LKY’s Oxley Road home and its ancient furniture:
“In a city of continual renewal, my grandparents’ house never changed. Always the same white walls, the same wooden furniture, the same high windows letting in sunlight.”
The quotes that gave us feels:
“To grow up in Singapore is to grow up in his shadow; to see in our skyscrapers, our schools, our highways, and our homes the force of his singular vision.”
“His legacy is not cold stone, but a living nation. We could no more forget him than we could forget the sky.”
His ending note:
“Ye Ye – We will try to make you proud. Majulah Singapura.”
5. Lee Hsien Yang
“For my sister they chose the name 玮玲 (Wei Ling), which means “the beautiful sound of tinkling jade”. I suppose Mama thought that that was an appropriate and feminine name for a daughter, thought I don’t think it in any way circumscribe Ling’s development!”
Dr Lee was known to be as fiery as LKY himself.
On the great mystery of why LKY’s grandchildren have the surname ‘Li’ and not ‘Lee’:
“It is born out of a desire to be recognised for who we are as individuals and not for who we are related to. We are immensely proud of Papa and his achievements, and yet perhaps it is part of our DNA to seek our own way in life. I am sure that Papa would not have wanted otherwise.”
His last words to his father:
“Papa, it is hard to say goodbye.”
And so it ends
The week of national mourning for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew ended yesterday (29 March) as he was cremated at Mandai Crematorium. And with that, the Singapore flag flies high once more, the black/white clothing is shed and Singaporeans work again towards “progress for our nation”.
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