Remembering a man of Iron: Mr.Lee Kuan Yew


The author wrote on a tumblr page, paying respect and tribute to the one great man who ruled this tiny island that is big as a dot on the map. He passed on 23rd March, 2015 at the age of 91. This year 2015, also marks the Nation’s Golden Jubilee of 50 years of independence. His passing leaves a tremendous impact on many who had hoped he would be around to share this otherwise joyous occasion.

Here is the actual write-up, after more soul-searching, on what the author wanted to convey in his memory:

He might have been a person no different from you and me. A man on the streets; A man of average stature, with slight receding hairline showing the high forehead that is probably his trademark look, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew would otherwise have been your average quick-witted, wise old man with a sharp tongue. Had it not been for that moment in time…

For that one event which propelled his decision and resolve to commit the rest of his life for the tiny island where his roots planted, and where it dug deeper, and spread throughout the whole island that is now Singapore. That one event, the epiphany of his life, and everything else as we see it, is history. He worked tirelessly for the rest of his life after completing his education, paving his route that leads Singapore from a phase of colonial rule, to an independent state, and finally a wholly independent nation-state. If Great Britain had an Iron Lady that is Margaret Thatcher, Singapore had a Man of Iron, as he famously proclaimed in one of his rally speech in 1980:

“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.” – Lee Kuan Yew (1980)

And nobody was ever able to knock him down.

Like any typical Asian Family, he does not spare the rod when it comes to discipline, be it his family or for the nation. His policies and regulations are pointed and harsh, and not everyone can agree with the way he governs. But if you were to stand from his point of view, at that moment in time, it made sense, impacting not only from a Singapore standpoint, but it also allows Singapore to be noticed and shine on a global scale. A firm grip on upholding law and order to all who stands on Singapore soil may not bode well with some other nations, but he persevered, and it made sense, and commands respect that a nation so small, seemingly insignificant, cannot be trifled with. For the tough and sometimes seemingly unreasonable decisions he made, would it have been different had he not made that decision? How would the world view Singapore then? Would Singapore have what the people now enjoy? Maybe it would, maybe it wouldn’t; but for all that Singapore has become, for the simple comforts that we the citizens enjoy, we must have it in our hearts to forgive him, as he too did admit that he had made bad decisions. No one man is ever perfect. But he stood by his decision, and I respect him for that.

In just 50 short years, his vision and his hard life work can be seen, heard, and felt in every corner of the nation. And it will continue to thrive, and blossom in his memory for future generations. As the nation progresses, the citizens will have to work closely with their government to not only maintain the reputation of this tiny but volatile city-state, but to constantly make changes to better the system, keep it up to date and relevant to time. He started the journey for Singapore; it mustn’t just end with him. For that, the people must never fear to open up, voice out, but also keep in mind that your opinion must be for the good of the whole nation regardless of ethnicity and gender, not just yourself.

A big Thank You to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew for sacrificing his life and for his dedication to better not just for Singapore, but for the world as well. His vision and sound advice made it possible for a world to be as small as it is well-connected today. A fond farewell for the founding father of this tiny red-dot, but it’s never really goodbye, until time comes where Singapore is no more. But that’s not going to happen as long as its people believe in it.


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