Sunday 12 April 2015

Tribute to a Statesman

This post is a little late.

When Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away, I paid my last respects to him at Parliament House and at the community tribute site. But I did not know what to write in the condolence books then. It was only a week later that I realised something. At the time of his passing, I could not find a building named after him, nor did he have a long string of national awards and titles to his name. What saddened me the most is this: although Singapore is a land-scarce island, if he had wanted it, we could have given him a permanent resting place. But no, he chose to cremate like any other Singaporeans. I don't know if there is even a place where we could go and pay respects to him in future. He made such a lasting impact on Singapore, but when he left, he left without leaving behind a physical trace. We can all have differing views about a man who had impacted our lives so profoundly, but his final act for Singapore shows that he placed the interests of Singapore above all. It epitomises his belief that no man is larger than Singapore, not even him as the Founding Father of modern Singapore. He set a role model for all Singaporeans to follow. 

A great statesman never seek to be popular or be understood. He only asks to be correct, because if he is wrong, it is millions of his people who have to bear the consequences. It is probably long after his passing will we finally understand all his actions. I hope one day, we will be able to say, "We understand. Thank you, Mr Lee."

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