Thursday, April 2, 2015

Singapore Mourns Lee Kuen Yew



Last week Ray and I experienced a once in a lifetime event here in Singapore. Lee Kuen Yew, the Father of Singapore died. Singapore as an autonomous country is only 50 years old. Their growth from a British colony to a  Japanese-occupied prison back to British partial self rule to an independent island nation is nothing less then amazing.

Lee Kuan Yew memorial exhibition to be held at National Museum
LKY's official funeral photograph

The island is clean, safe, everyone has the ability to own an apartment and all religions and nationalities are accepted. The official government and business language is English but all schools offer "native" language classes in Mandarin, Tamil and Malay as well.

The funeral procession leaves Parliament building in the rain.
We read all the articles and watched the State funeral procession on television with amazement and we also learned lots about LKY's life. He was a larger than life person known to all.

LKY in his power days.
  • He was 91 years old when he died. 
  • He loved languages and up to his death was daily studying Mandarin 
  • He was in his 70s when he learned how to use a computer
  • He was decisive, not afraid of making hard decisions, and outspoken
  • Singapore is an island with little of it's own natural resources 
  • He made decisions that were best for Singapore if not always best for the Singaporeans
  • Singapore originally was part of Malay (now called Malaysia) but LKY made the decision to split off and become independent because he wanted Singapore to be inclusive of all it's people and their backgrounds (Malaysia is a Muslim country and did not like the number of Chinese citizens in Singapore). This was a very sad day for LKY.

The line to pay respects to LKY was 8 hours long and very wet.

His two son's, Lee Ksien Loong (the current Prime Minster) and Lee Hsien Yang gave beautiful eulogies. The funeral procession wound through parts of the city in heavy rains. The streets were lined with people.

We continued to read about his life and how his ideals formed the Singapore we live in today. We also read commentaries from ex pat Singaporeans living abroad like this quote:

"Even as children, we were aware of the constant change, not just externally, with the nation's skyline, its factories and rivers, but also internally. Campaigns spearheaded by Mr Lee's government sought to micromanage our behavior. From courtesy to anti-spitting campaigns, Singaporeans were taught from a young age how to be compliant."

"When we were older, we were told how many children we should have and even whom to marry. As graduates, you were encouraged to marry someone with the same level of education, to make real Mr Lee's vision of social engineering and becoming a nation producing smarter babies."

The day after the funeral Amos Yee, age 15, was arrested for posting a video stating he was glad that LKY was dead.

There are always many ways to See our world. It will be interesting to witness the future of Singapore without Lee Kuen Yew.