The past week has been a very emotional one for many Singaporeans – and this was especially so yesterday, because that had marked the day of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s state funeral.
Mr Lee had been the main driving force behind the transformation of Singapore
Mr Lee was the founding father of Singapore and our city state’s very first Prime Minister, in 1959. Since then, Mr Lee was the main driving force behind the rapid transformation of Singapore into the cosmopolitan first-world city that we are all familiar with today.
Mr Lee had passed away last Monday, 23 March 2015, at 3.18am in the morning. He was 91 years old.
Mr Lee’s passing brought out the best in Singaporeans
All week, I had found myself deeply moved, by how Mr Lee’s passing had brought out the best in so many Singaporeans. For example, when many of us were all braving marathon-length queues of up to 10 hours long – to pay final respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House, many retailers and merchants showed kindness and compassion – over money making. Businesses gave out a wide range of free items for those in the queue. These had ranged from tidbits such as bread, cakes and biscuits, to even flowers and pasta. During these long periods of queuing, strangers chatted to each other and became firm friends. Singaporeans from all walks of life were co-existing together in harmony and sharing feelings of sorrow and mourning. It was definitely a moment that none of us would ever forget, in a very long time.
And some Singaporeans even reached deep into their own pockets to do their own bit of kindness for those in the queue – such as how a student from the Singapore Management University, had bought 20 McDonald’s burgers to feed the people in line. I found that the way that so many different races and religions were able to cast aside their differences, and exist together harmoniously in the queue, was so heart warming and gave me a very warm and fuzzy feeling inside.
However, that had been only the beginning.
Singaporeans united in sorrow and mourning during the State Funeral of Mr Lee
On the day of the state funeral, which had taken place yesterday afternoon, it was a very heart warming feeling to see so many Singaporeans lining the streets all along the route of the funeral cortege, to say their final farewell to Mr Lee. So many Singaporeans, from all ages, religions and walks of life were all united together in sorrow and gratitude for what Mr Lee has done for our country. Some Singaporeans had gone out in the morning to stake a good spot along the route. And when it had started pouring with rain around 11am that morning, it felt very touching that so many braved the torrential rain – to pay a final tribute to Mr Lee. This was truly Singaporean harmony at its very best.
When Mr Lee’s funeral cortege passed along the streets, on its way to the University Cultural Centre at the National University of Singapore, it was obvious that we Singaporeans are a very patriotic lot. The crowds were often at least four or five layers deep. Moreover, everyone was screaming out “Lee Kuan Yew!” as the cortege went by, and waving their red and white state flags. Some were even tearing as they bade Singapore’s founding father a final farewell. It got even more emotional later on, when we watched the eulogies for Mr Lee on television. The speeches were so sad that I found that I was barely able to hold back tears myself.
Mr Lee will live on in our hearts forever
The public state funeral may have ended with a nationwide minute of silence for Mr Lee at 4.35pm, followed by a teary recital of the National Pledge and the singing of the National Anthem. But our gratitude for Mr Lee and everything that he has done for Singapore, will never die.
Mr Lee may have passed on from this world after 91 years – but he will continue to live on in our hearts forever.
Thank you, Mr Lee, for all of your contributions to Singapore.