21 Gun Salute shell casings to be presented…who gets it?
So Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on his Facebook page this morning (17 March 2016) about the presentation of 21 artillery shell casings to 21 people, institutions and organisations that were closely linked to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Of course, it is no wonder that 1 of the organisations which will be getting the casing is the People’s Action Party (PAP) which Mr Lee had founded with his other founding partners such as the late Mr S Rajaratnam and Dr Goh Keng Swee.
But since there is no full list of who is going to get it, here’s a speculation of a few organisations who should get it and why they should be getting it:
Mr Lee’s alma mater from 1936 to 1940. According to an article, the late Mr Lee while being RI’s most distinguished alumnus, was “far from a model student”.
In fact, Mr Lee was given three strokes of the cane as a result of being late for school three times in a term.
In his memoirs, Mr Lee wrote:
“I coped with the work comfortably, was active in the Scout movement, played cricket and some tennis, swam and took part in many debates. But I never became a prefect, let alone head prefect. There was a mischievous, playful streak in me,”
So, for being the institution which formed his future, Raffles Institution should be given the commemorative casing.
National Trades Union Congress (NTUC)
Another organisation close to the heart of Mr Lee was the Labour Movement. He had workers in his mind from the start. Before embarking on his political career, Mr Lee successfully represented postal and telecommunications clerical workers in their battle for better wages.
He later went on to become advisor to numerous other unions, and continued to maintain relations with unions after he became Prime Minister of Singapore in 1959.
He dedicated much of his political career to the workers of Singapore.
“The close co-operation between the political and the union leadership made modern Singapore. It is both history and today’s reality. We have advanced because the Government and the unions moved in tandem.”
Mr Lee was awarded The Distinguished Comrade of Labour Award in 1991 for his help in raising the status of the Labour Movement in Singapore and his contributions to nation-building.
Singapore aviation industry was shaped by Mr Lee himself. After making a personal decision to move the airport from Paya Lebar to Changi, he continued to take a personal interest in the development of the world class airport.
In fact, Mr Lee wanted weekly reports on the state of cleanliness of the toilets in Changi Airport from then Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore Director-General Wong Woon Liong.
This attention to detail resulted in Changi Airport being hailed as “World’s Best Airport” many times.
Another Singapore icon which had the keen interest of Mr Lee. Zoo workers know that he visited the zoo numerous times to find out about its development.
He was even concerned about animal waste which would flow into the reservoir and pollute the water.
On the 20th anniversary of the zoo in 1993, Mr Lee said:
“I have made many visits to the Zoo in the last 20 years, first with my children, and now my grandchildren, and the reason I come back is because each time it gives me the impression of being well kept, well maintained, receiving a lot of care and attention. I think it symbolises the kind of effort Singapore has to make if it is going to remain what it has been.”
National University of Singapore/Ministry of Education
For Mr Lee, education went beyond formal schooling.
In 1977, during a Parliament sitting, he said:
“My definition of an educated man is a man who never stops learning and wants to learn. I am not interested in whether a man has a Ph.D or not, or an M.A. for that matter, or a diploma. Mao never had one, neither had Khrushchev, nor Stalin.”
He believed that for a nation without any natural resource or hinterland, its manpower would be the biggest resource. Hence, in the 50s and 60s, he focused on building an efficient, universal education system to provide a skilled workforce for Singapore’s industrialisation.
The first anniversary of the passing of Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is just next week. Over the next few days, we will see who will receive the 21 artillery shell casings.