“He had a soft spot for chocolate cake…” We have learnt that one of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s favourite food was chocolate cake.
My generation may have grown up not knowing very much about our former Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew, what he liked, what he disliked, many of his policies not exactly documented in our history books – which we have memorised, and forgotten much.
I have learnt so much more about Singapore’s founding father this week, than my entire life combined.
Have we taken him for granted? Have we taken Singapore for granted? I speak for myself. Yes.
The irony was just a week before, a group of friends was just discussing about “where to escape to” during the SG50 long weekends. Perfect opportunity to take a holiday to Bangkok or Hong Kong, it seemed.
The very week after, the very same Whatsapp group were planning “when we should we go down to queue?”
I figured that we all had different reasons for going to the Parliament House – to truly pay our respect, to feel less guilty (because everyone is doing so), to be part of Singapore’s history, to document on social media, or just because we Singaporeans, just love joining any queues.
Whatever the reason, we went, and came back with the same conclusion. It was all worth it.
What was worth it again? To give thanks to the man who made one of the greatest changes in our lives, and who helped build our dreams.
The man who we have taken for granted all this while.
To see videos of handicapped people struggling out of wheelchairs to give him a final bow, was heart-wrenching. If my late father had been around, he would have done the same. Therefore, I was there.
My family is a beneficiary of the education and meritocratic system put in place by Mr Lee. We are grandchildren of a taxi driver, children of a school teacher, all whom came from humble backgrounds, but are now able to live comfortably.
It becomes too easy to say that it is because I studied hard, I worked hard, I had the intellect, I, I, I, I, I… when actually, all these that we are having would have been very difficult to achieve, without him.
The people who queued in front of me were PRCs, whom we hear nasty stories revolving their queue etiquette all the time on media. But they were all in line, because “是应该向他致敬。”
Outside the Parliament House, just moments before entering, many of around me were kind of in ‘high spirits’ (because the queue unexpectedly didn’t take that long), took selfies or had fan moments with the MP.
Inside the Parliament House, the moment I stood there, said a prayer and gave thanks on behalf of my late-father, the sudden burst of emotions in those seconds just overtook.
As I exited and looked, nobody was spared of a teary eye.
I wondered if we were moved by the stories, the sight of the coffin covered by the Singapore flag, the song by the choir in the Parliament House, or the determination of people I met along the way, or all.
Everyone has a different reason for going. But whether we realised it or not, he did give many of us, a better life.
Where do we go from here?
Thinking about it, there is a “LKY” in every one of us… The spirit to work hard, the love for family, the determination for success, the proficiency in languages, the harmony with friends from different races and religion, and more and more.
Moving on, the best tribute to him, is to keep up with those positive traits Singapore has inculcated in us.
As he moved on, I hope that he would be smiling at us from heaven, looking at the more united Singapore, with Mrs Lee enjoying his favourite chocolate cake.
Thank you Mr Lee. I will be a better son of Singapore. Thank you & Farewell, Singapore’s Papa.