A Tribute to the Man Who Saw it All: Mr. Lee Kuan Yew

Living in Singapore for more than two years, I am in great awe of knowing the humble beginnings of this country and the lone statesman responsible for bringing Singapore to great heights of local and international success. 


Photo grabbed from scene.sg

Mr. Lee Kwan Yew, was the first prime minister of Singapore and has served his country for three decades. He literally gave his full life to public service and he admirably transformed Singapore from an unknown swamp land to a strong city state that the whole world recognises now. 

Singapore, as how he envisioned it in the 60’s, has become a first world country enjoying a tiger economy, crime less society and a throng of multicultural people living in harmony. 

His ways are oftentimes misunderstood, like a father so strict to her teenage child who wear skimpy shirts,  chews on a gum, and does graffiti on community walls. He uses the cane. He did not spoil his children. He knew his people so well that all the rigidness were essential to the welfare of his country. He gave them strict rules to follow and it did taught them discipline — a valuable key to progress

He passed away peacefully last Monday, 23 March as reported in the news. In his old age, he probably has the content in his heart knowing that he has left a great legacy to his family, to his countrymen and to many people who emulates his kind of leadership. 

He has made his mark on earth. His mission is well accomplished. As a tribute, here are some anecdotes from this great man that we could ponder on.

On Family and Relationships

“At the end of the day, what I cherish most are the human relationships. With the unfailing support of my wife and partner I have lived my life to the fullest. It is the friendships I made and the close family ties I nurtured that have provided me with that sense of satisfaction at a life well lived, and have made me what I am.”

On Fierce Leadership

“Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli was right. If nobody is afraid of me, I’m meaningless.”

On Popular Choice 

“I have never been overconcerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind … you will go where the wind is blowing. And that’s not what I am in this for.”

On Leaving a Legacy

“We were called a Nanny State but the result is that we are today better behaved and we live in a more agreeable place than 30 years ago.”

On Banning Chewing Gum

“Putting chewing gum on our subway train doors so that they don’t open, I don’t call that creativity, I call that mischief making. If you can’t think because you can’t chew, try a banana”.

On Philippine Politics and Filipinos

“The difference lies in the culture of the Filipino people. It is a soft, forgiving culture. Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged the country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics…”

The last one really hit me. If only my Philippines had a Lee Kwan Yew. If only democracy is not misused and abused. From the highest elected officials who pocketed millions and millions of public funds to the lowliest traffic enforcer who bargains how much bribe to ask from a violator, my homeland is dying of this cancer and I really pray that we are not a hopeless case. 

May the Almighty bless my country and Singapore, our second home, and may the soul of this visionary man rest in peace. 

ℹ️ People may read more of Mr. Lee Kwan Yew’s inspiring life story on http://www.rememberingleekuanyew.sg 

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