Friday, March 27, 2015

Goodbye Mr Lee Kuan Yew

I am not a regular follower of politics. I don't even subscribe to newspapers preferring to read online. It has taken me a while to gather my thoughts on this, after all I am no expert in this field nor was I there to experience first hand the tumultuous times before Mr Lee Kuan Yew became Prime Minister. 

But what I am, is a product of the first generation of citizens under his leadership - the 2 children policy, the emphasis on a quality education and English as our first language. And though I do not agree with all the policies, I have been blessed. 

I have been blessed because I grew up having the opportunity to study and at a subsidized rate by the government. I grew up at a time where the government was slowly improving the lives of its citizens where the blackouts and water disruptions / rationing I experienced slowly trickled to a stop. 

I also grew up witnessing and benefiting from the economy boom where jobs were created and we had better quality of life as compared to my parents' younger days. I recall one of my most exciting excursions as a young girl was when my parents brought us to try out the MRT when it was first launched. Family outings for us included trips to Singapore Botanic Gardens and Chinese Gardens. All these, were part of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's plans for our country, to transform us into an efficient Garden City. A small red dot with no natural resources unlike some of our neighbors but we had people and the focus was to transform the country into a knowledge-based economy. 

My daughter and I took a vacation to Krabi last year and we went on a day trip for elephant trekking. At the waiting area, my daughter commented on the strong stench and was visibly uncomfortable with the bathroom as the sanitary facilities were not as clean or as modern as she was used to. That scene brought me back to years and years back where I possibly was her age and Chinatown was also in a similar state with an overpowering stench due to the state of its sewage system. How our country has grown. 

I can't help but marvel how clever our leader was with the foresight on including the clause on water supply in our separation deed from Malaysia, how corruption was eradicated and how girls are given equal standing in society. As a mother now, I look around and truly appreciate how much he and his team have done to create a better Singapore not only for himself, but for us and for the generations after. Perhaps if I were not a parent, I would have taken many of these living 'conditions' for granted. But motherhood has opened up my eyes where I view things differently. I am blessed because our children are able to run around in parks and playgrounds freely, safely. Our children are also given a chance at world-class education so that our country remains competitive globally.

I am also blessed in his vision of creating a multi-racial society as my marriage is one that is inter-racial. From it, I have a beautiful daughter whom I give thanks for, daily. Being a product of this education system has given me the ability to homeschool my daughter in her preschool years too where we had many wonderful experiences and adventures. Sure, not all our policies are perfect but at 35, I was still learning to be a mother to my child. At 35, Mr Lee Kuan Yew became responsible for many lives. 

I have been reading reports that have been sprouting non-stop on Facebook on overseas visitors, from Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka Shing to Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart to dignitaries who travelled to Singapore pay respect and say their last goodbyes to Mr Lee. And I am proud and I am amazed. 

That a man, in just 50 years, became internationally recognized as a powerful statesman and a much sought after 'advisor' whom other world leaders treasured his insights and counsel. He and his team certainly helped put Singapore on the map, and not just any dot but a prominent red dot where our country is known for its highly-qualified workforce, and for its safe and stable environment.

To Mr. Lee Kuan Yew: 

Sir, my daughter and I caught a glimpse of you last year at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It brought me great joy and pride to explain to her who you are and what you and your team have done for our country. You will be sorely missed this National Day as we celebrate the Jubilee year. But I am comforted in the fact that we will still 'see' you through your works - from our award winning Changi airport to our public transport system, from the flats we stay in to the parks and beaches our children run in. Thank you Mr Lee, for your dedication and for this nation which we can truly call our home. May you rest in peace. 

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