A student’s tribute to LKY


 (This is the house of Mr. Lee, the room where many an important decision was made)

I was born after you ceased to be Prime Minister. My first knowledge of you was mostly through social studies class, and even that was rather inadequate. Most of what we learnt was of Singapore’s struggle with independence, not a whole lot about your thoughts, the motivations, the reason for the fight. My first thought was this: who are you? What could be the story of the one before Goh Chok Tong?

My parents were fervent supporters of you. My intrigue grew. Who is this man that had so much passion over them?

I was so young then and I was never experienced a Singapore under your leadership. What I’ve learnt, I’ve learnt through historical account of others. I started reading your writings from books my parents bought, but to be honest I never read them in detail at all.

Perhaps it was curiosity, perhaps it was intrigue…but I turned to the next source of information: the internet. There, I was completely astounded by high praise from people all over the world. There was good words, and there were the very nasty. Great leaders have political opponents; you were no exception. However, the level of praise you received took me aback.

Your intellect, fervour and passion for Singapore and Singaporeans won you the accolades from global leaders such as Richard Nixon, George H W Bush, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher amongst others. Deng Xiaoping hailed you as “mentor”. So did Xi Jinping. Presidents of the United States during the time you were in leadership sought you wisdom and counsel. For Singapore, here was a leader who so immensely praised that I was deeply moved.

Although I have never lived through the transformative years where you and your colleagues were hardest at work, your international recognition, praise and outreach spoke for itself.

And more touchingly, the words of grandfathers, grandmothers and senior Singaporeans who have lived through your legacy spoke and affirmed what modern literature says.

I can’t help but cry inside when I learnt of your passing. I may have never experienced your leadership first-hand, but the fruits of your labour are for all of us to see around us. It is probably a blessing that you have moved on to be reunited with Mrs. Lee.

At this time, you probably won’t want to see us grieve even though it is human to, but to make sure the hard-fought country you had fought for continues to prosper.

With that, I will always remember you, and will strive to forge for a better Singapore.



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About the author

Donavan Cheah

Donavan is currently a Physics student at the National University of Singapore. Besides Physics, he enjoys commenting on issues ranging from education, public policy and even speculating on the future of the country. Formerly from Breakfast Network, he plans to further hone his capability at writing.

Through FSAAM, he hopes to bring readers through seemingly complicated matters in Singapore in simplified manners, illuminate often-forgotten yet important topics for discussion in Singapore’s socio-political context. Hopefully his care for the country will indeed be reciprocated with a maturing society capable of making decisions that will set Singapore in good stead for the future.

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