23 March 2015 will always be a day to remember as Singaporeans lost their first leader. Singapore’s founding father, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, passed away peacefully at Singapore General Hospital at the age of 91.
At 7am that morning, I tuned-in to Class 95 and I could sense that something has happened. I was still in a state of denial, hoping that it wasn’t true. Fear crept up on me as I flicked my Facebook to find out the truth. My heart was crushed with sorrow. The time has come, finally.
As I drove to work, my eyes were filled with tears. Throughout the day, I was fighting back tears in my office whenever I read something about him. At night as soon as Edison went to bed, I watched the running tributes on TV. My tears rolled down and I wept silently.
I’m never a fan of history or politics. But that night, my heart swelled with gratitude when I finally understood the extent of hardships he faced, and the depth of sacrifice he made for this country – until today.
I never thought I would cry. And I never thought I would feel this sad. Everyone has to die someday, and he has lived a well-deserved, meaningful, and extraordinary life. That’s what I originally thought. But today, I felt an emptiness I’ve never felt before.
I love seeing him at the National Day Parade. The way he waved to the crowd with his spirited smile can never be forgotten. Even though he grew old, it’s always nice to see his appearance at events and meetings with leaders all over the world. He is undeniably one of the most inspiring and well-respected global leaders.
To us, he’s our greatest transformational leader who has dedicated his entire life to build this country from a tiny little island with no natural resources into a thriving economic success today.
Last night for the first time, Edison looked at the newspaper. It was the special edition on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. He looked at his picture and said, “Mama, I know him. He is Lee Kuan Yew. He died yesterday.” His school made the announcement during the morning assembly; they sang the national anthem and lowered the flag.
“He’s Singapore’s first Prime Minister. He made this beautiful country for us to call home. Look around you. You’ve everything that you need to grow up – education, healthcare, safety, peace, food, water, electricity, recreation, public transport, etc. There is nothing you need that you can’t find in Singapore.” I told him.
“He’s a very clever and great man,” he replied, looking visibly sad that we lose a great leader who has given his entire life to get us to where we’re today.
For the past two days, I read so much about him that I felt impelled to write a tribute to him. Even though I wasn’t born in this country, I’ve spent almost half of my life here. I’m truly grateful for everything that he has done for Singapore.
I can only repeat the same word, over and over again. Thank you for everything!
Dear Mr. Lee Kuan Yew,
THANK YOU for giving us a beautiful and clean country to call home,
THANK YOU for your selfless dedication to this country,
THANK YOU for giving us safety and security which is a scarcity in the world,
THANK YOU for giving us food and clean water which is in shortage in some parts of the world,
THANK YOU for your visionary leadership that transform Singapore into a stable and economically thriving society today, and
THANK YOU for teaching me how to love and cherish my loved ones.
It’s very painful to accept that you have to go. It’s even more painful to say goodbye to you. May your generous soul rest in peace. May all of us find comfort in knowing that you’re finally pain-free, re-uniting with your beloved wife, and watching over us from heaven.
You’ll always be in our hearts.