Thank you for showing us how you lived your markBy Kenneth OhMar 28, 2015
As the 21 guns fire off amidst the Black Knights performing the Missing Man Formation in the sky tomorrow, our nation will bid an emotional farewell to our founding Prime Minister. As the leader of a small fledging island with a history of less than 50 years, but whose funeral will be attended by over 20 current or former head of states, you know he is someone that has left his mark in this world.
How did a small island state without much resource, surrounded by powerful, populated and natural resource endowed neighbors, manage to thrive and play an active role in shaping the political climate of the region? Why have a multitude of top political and academics actively sought out his coaching and consultation throughout the years? Why is he revered not just for his piercing intellect, but also for his vision and pragmatism in nation-building?
Everybody will agree that he was a great leader and a visionary. The question is: What makes him able to achieve all these in a time of uncertainty, in the post-colonial years?
When you look at Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s life, you see very little hesitation: he knew where he wanted to bring Singapore, his vision was crystal clear and unwavering. He added a very strong work ethic, commitment and hard work to it: working till 3:30 AM every day when he was serving as Prime Minister, cutting it down to 2:30 AM after stepping down and still being at the office before 9 AM.
Coming from a background of being English educated, he had to study Mandarin and Malay in his 30’s in order to walk the talk of building a multi-racial society. He had a strong will that few of us can match. Singapore has prospered under his stewardship, transforming from a backwater fishing port to a first world metropolis in only a generation. Never one to back down from expressing his opinions, he ensured that Singapore will never be left out in the politics of the region. With his myriad of forward-looking policies, ranging from governing housing, sanitary to military defence, Singapore has been able to attract investments from all over the world and enjoy her current economical success and freedom.
His unwavering dedication and steadfastness to build our home and nation will remain etched in our spirit. And for his final parting gift, he united the entire nation together. That is the mark he has lived and now leaves us with.
From the 1988 National Day Parade Rally, he gave us the following quote: “Even from my sickbed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up.”
Well, Sir, there’s no need to, thank you for all you have done.
We will continue to live your mark for generations to come.