A student’s tribute to LKY

(This is the house of Mr. Lee, the room where many an important decision was made)

By Donavan Cheah

I was born after you stepped from down the Prime Minister position. My first knowledge of you was mostly through social studies class, and even that was rather inadequate. Most of what we learnt was of Singapore’s struggle with independence; there wasn't a whole lot depicting your thoughts, motivations and reasons for the fight. My first thought was this: who are you? What was the story of the man before Goh Chok Tong?

My parents were your fervent supporters. My intrigue grew. Who is this man they were always speaking so passionately about?

I was so young then and therefore never experienced a Singapore under your leadership. What I’ve learnt were merely through historical accounts of others. I started reading your writings from books my parents bought, but to be honest I never read them in detail at all.

Perhaps it was curiosity, perhaps it was intrigue…but I turned to the next source of information: the internet. There, I was completely astounded by high praise from people all over the world. There was good words, and there were the very nasty. Great leaders have political opponents; you were no exception. However, the level of praise you received took me aback.

Your intellect, fervour and passion for Singapore and Singaporeans won you accolades from global leaders such as Richard Nixon, George H W Bush, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher amongst others. Deng Xiaoping hailed you as his “mentor”. So did Xi Jinping. Presidents of the United States during the decades you were Prime Minister sought your wisdom and counsel. You were a leader who so immensely praised that I was deeply moved.

Although I never lived through the transformative years where you and your colleagues were hardest at work, your international recognition, praise and outreach spoke for itself.

And more touchingly, the words of grandfathers, grandmothers and senior Singaporeans who have lived through your legacy spoke and affirmed what modern literature says.

I can’t help but cry inside when I learnt of your passing. I may have never experienced your leadership first-hand, but the fruits of your labour are for all of us to witness in this present day. It is probably a blessing that you have moved on to be reunited with Mrs. Lee.

At this time, you probably won’t want to see us grieve even though it is human to, but instead hope this country you had fought so hard for continues to prosper.

With that, I will always remember you, and will strive to forge for a better Singapore.

This article was first appeared on Five Stars And A Moon. It is reproduced with permission.

About The Author (Donavan Cheah)

Donavan is currently a Physics student at the National University of Singapore. Besides Physics, he enjoys commenting on issues ranging from education, public policy and even speculating on the future of the country. Formerly from Breakfast Network, he plans to further hone his writing abilities. Through FSAAM, he hopes to bring readers through seemingly complicated matters in Singapore in simplified manners, illuminate often-forgotten yet important topics for discussion in Singapore’s socio-political context. Hopefully his care for the country will indeed be reciprocated with a maturing society capable of making decisions that will set Singapore in good stead for the future.


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