As Singaporeans mourned the loss of their great longtime leader, Lee Kuan Yew, with a three-hour state funeral, the deceased’s son, the current prime minister of Singapore, eulogized his father in front of thousands of mourners.
Despite the heavy rains in Singapore, tens of thousands of people lined a nine-mile stretch of the streets just to steal a glimpse of the late leader’s coffin.
As prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said, in the first of 10 eulogies at the funeral, “To those who seek Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s monument, Singaporeans can reply proudly: Look around you.”
Speaking through tears and laughter, Loong said, “Singapore’s voice is heard and we enjoy far more influence on the international stage than we have any reason to expect.”
Yew was the prime minister of Singapore for more than 30 years, ruling with an iron fist until 1990. For most Singaporeans, Yew is a legend who is responsible for the nation’s prosperity and harmonious relations among the ethnic Chinese, Malay and Indian populations.
One Yew fan, Jennie Yeo, said about the late leader, “He did everything for us Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion. Education, housing, everything you can think of, he’s taken care of for us.”
Lawmakers in the country already paid tribute to Yew during a special sitting of parliament, as Low Thia Khiang, the leader of Singapore’s tiny political opposition, said, “Many Singaporeans were sacrificed during the process of nation-building and policymaking, and our society has paid a price for it. This is why Mr. Lee is also a controversial figure in some people’s eyes.”
Yew’s effect on Singapore as a nation is stunning, and today the country’s GDP is among the highest in the world, at roughly $54,000 per person.
London-based author Salil Tripathi, who was a foreign correspondent in Singapore in the 1990s, said about the leader, “His sharp intellect gave him the aura of an elder statesman, allowing his admirers at home and abroad to overlook more complicated facts about him, including how political opponents were treated. How there was little space for imagination on that crowded island.”
[Image credit: myajc.com]