Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tribute to Singapore's Titan: Lee Kuan Yew

To me, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Keng Swee were the best political duos the world had ever seen. Our two Titans who shared tremendous intellect and common goals started with bold ideals to provide for the people, then went on to build a nation from scratch, from a kampung to a global hub, from third world to first. They are true heros. I wrote with intensity for Dr Goh five years ago. Mr Lee deserves as much respect as our first Prime Minister, as our leader, and indeed, as our founding father. However, so much had already been written about the great man, one would barely have new and differentiated views. So I shall focus on his leadership and his team.

The best endeavours in human achievement often see enduring partnerships between a strategist and/or architect and a visionary leader. Zhuge Liang and Liu Bei, Takeo Fujisawa and Honda Soichiro, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. For all the good fortune of Singaporeans, we had Goh Keng Swee and Lee Kuan Yew. The two best brains that generations had seen, deciding to come together and built a nation with no natural resources nor hinterland, not for personal benefits or personal glory but for the greater good of their people. Let's remember the team behind as well, Toh Chin Chye, Rajaratnam, Hon Sui Sen and all our other unsung heroes. This is as much a tribute to all honorable men who played their part in building Singapore.

Mr Lee was the force binding this dream team to execute with his charisma, his foresight, his tough attitude and his commitment. Oh, and he was really committed, here's one of my favourite quotes:

Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him. Or give it up. This is not a game of cards. This is your life and mine. I’ve spent a whole lifetime building this and as long as I’m in charge, nobody is going to knock it down.

His goals were simple yet monstrous: to provide a roof over everyone's head, to give everyone a job and a livelihood and to provide top notch affordable education to every Singaporean. And he did all that. He succeeded way beyond expectations. Because he really gave everything for Singapore and inspired every Singaporean then to do the same as well. He was also the orator who convinced the people to take the pain when the going got tough, to delay gratification and to work hard for the future. His grit fueled the people to endure, to strengthen themselves and then to soar to greater heights.

My father's generation adored Lee Kuan Yew and his team. They saw the transformation of Singapore. They saw how their environment changed from a laid back village to a metropolis, mostly in astonishment that so much could be achieved in such a short time. They were the beneficiaries of the shelter over their heads and owning homes they could call their own. They were employed in the stable jobs the Government created, earned their livelihoods and saw better education for their kids. Lee Kuan Yew was their idol, their god. Hence they bought all the books, collected all the newspaper cuttings and mourned when Mrs Lee passed on. Mr Lee, do kindly say hi when you see them as you reunite with Mrs Lee. 

Yes, we have come so far because Lee Kuan Yew gave his life to build this nation. It is now our job to continue his legacy and also to pass on his greatness to our future generations. RIP Mr Lee, thank you. Thank you for all that you have done for Singapore. 

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