The image of him shedding tears on national television decades ago is one that many Singaporeans – and even non-Singaporeans – are familiar with.
50 years after the nation’s independence, many are shedding tears for the man who made it all possible. Founding Father Lee Kuan Yew’s death has virtually taken over the entire nation, and I’m quite confident in saying that to many, it is unthinkable.
I grew up with a love-hate relationship with the man. I loved being able to walk out at 3am without fear of getting mugged, but I hated that I had to be extremely careful about what I write. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about basic survival needs in Singapore, but I hated the seemingly oppressive government that had a say in almost all aspects of life. As mentioned before, I do not align myself with any political party, but with policies. I disliked many of the policies in place as a result of Mr Lee’s government, but the good far outweighs the bad.
Without him, Singapore will definitely not be where we are. Such a small, resource-stricken nation would never be able to grace the top of so many lists, naming us as a country good for so many reasons. My mother, a single parent, would definitely not be able to afford to buy her own flat. My grandmother, almost 80-years old, would not be able to receive efficient healthcare for her medical needs.
It seemed to me that Mr Lee is an enigma that will never die, childish as it sounds. He was the backbone of Singapore, a larger than life individual that is the very essence of the country. Perhaps because when I was born, he was already in his 70s, yet was still so strong a person.
I’m not living in Singapore anymore, but the impact of his death can be felt so many thousands of kilometres away from home. The past week has seen much of Singapore on tenterhooks – checking daily to see if his condition in the hospital has changed, and hoping that the inevitable announcement wouldn’t come so soon.
What struck me the most was how united the nation is today. We are notoriously frustrating, but today much of Singapore’s digital media is flooded with condolences and eulogies about the man. We might not agree about much, but one thing that most of us (of course, there will always be trolls) agree on the fact that Singapore has become what it is today because of him.