Nation to remember Lee Kuan Yew today


Across Singapore, events from tree-planting ceremonies to an academic forum and a morning walk take on special significance today.

They are among the activities planned by various groups to commemorate the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at age 91 this day last year.

Organisers said these events are meant to celebrate his life as a reminder to Singaporeans of what it took for modern Singapore to be built, and what it will take to ensure the country’s success.

Singapore Polytechnic student Fu Kah Deng, 19, hopes they will be “a call to action for Singaporeans to work hard”, in keeping with what Mr Lee stood for.

At a remembrance ceremony that will start at 11am at The Arts House, past and present MPs will pay tribute to Mr Lee by remembering the values he stood for and the principles he upheld in Parliament.

The venue – home to Singapore’s Legislative Assembly which Mr Lee entered in 1955, and to its Parliament from 1965 to 1999 – was where Mr Lee delivered many of his fiery speeches as an assemblyman and, later, as Prime Minister.

In Tanjong Pagar, the constituency Mr Lee represented for nearly 60 years until his death last year, residents and grassroots leaders will gather at Tanjong Pagar Community Club this evening to share their thoughts on Mr Lee and their aspirations for Singapore.

Vera Ang, 11, is among those slated to speak and she plans to talk about Mr Lee’s “spirit of standing firm”.

Pupils at Mr Lee’s alma mater, Telok Kurau Primary, will also pay tribute to him. A special assembly will be held in his honour at the school he attended from 1930 to 1935.

At night, a group of volunteers, brought together by People’s Action Party supporters, plans to hand out electric candles to passers-by across from the Padang, where over 450,000 people queued for hours last year to pay their last respects to Mr Lee.

There will also be exhibitions at various museums. A new video installation by local film-maker Royston Tan will be screened at National Museum. It showcases photographs of Singaporeans during last year’s week of national mourning. Also on display is an artillery shell casing from the 21-gun salute fired during Mr Lee’s state funeral procession.

A selection of the more than 1.3 million tributes – including letters, notes, cards and artworks – that poured in after his death will be put up at the National Library.

“It’s not common for Singapore to celebrate an individual this way, and it shouldn’t be a spectacle,” said National University of Singapore (NUS) undergraduate Nhor Sharafina Sarfrazul, 22. “But Mr Lee was someone who did a lot for the country and there is a need to remember him.”

Yesterday, unionists held a ceremony to remember Mr Lee’s contributions to the labour movement.

As a young lawyer, Mr Lee represented more than 50 unions to fight for better wages for workers.

National Trades Union Congress secretary-general Chan Chun Sing, together with more than 100 union leaders, resolved to build upon Mr Lee’s legacy.

Said Mr G. Muthukumarasamy, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers: “Mr Lee may not be with us, but his philosophy never ends.”

At a separate event by the non-profit SG100 Foundation, set up to link young local entrepreneurs with experienced older mentors, 600 young Singaporeans and corporate leaders pledged to keep Singapore going beyond SG100.

Its co-founder Vernon Yim, 23, said: “Mr Lee said he didn’t want any monuments, but we want to carry on his legacy and continue his vision for Singapore to succeed. This is our way of doing so.”

This article was first published on March 23, 2016.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016 – 10:11
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