By now, many Singaporeans have penned their eulogies, queued their queues, and in short, honored and paid their last respects to our Great Grand Father of the Nation in their own way. I have seen enough images and footage, heard enough defenses and criticisms to know that whether people revere him or not, none can truly deny his legacy that is imprinted in every aspect that is Singapore.
I have never met Mr Lee and other than sharing the same surname, I cannot boast of any other connection to him. But like many Singaporeans, despite not having the opportunity to be closely connected to him, his contributions and legacy connects him closely to us.
Throughout this week, through the testimony of others, through the early speeches made by Mr Lee and through the tremendous show of respect and gratitude by Singaporeans from all walks of life, young and old, friend and “foe”, I caught another glimpse into the character of a man I already greatly admired.
What strikes me most now, other than his obvious great intellect and wisdom, is a man with an incomparable sense of responsibility. We can all see how devastated he was when he had to announce to the nation that we are splitting from Malaysia. A lesser man would have crumpled, given up and walked away and history will still not judge such action as villainous. But what I see is a man that feels personally responsible for the almost 2 million lives that were placed in his hands then. Whose lives whom he had promised a better future should they put their trust in him. Of which he work tirelessly fulfilling this promise and this monumental responsibility. He truly was Singapore’s Servant and the evidence is in the frugal way he lived, his meticulous attention to detail to the smallest matter of the State and his kindness and patience to his constituents.
The depth of his responsibility is so deep that even when he retired from politics, he still remains very concerned for Singapore’s well-being. It is as though he felt he had to keep this promise to the people not only for one generation, but also for the next. And the next. Forever even! if that is possible.
This responsible man with his gargantuan sense of responsibility is chiefly responsible for what Singapore is today. And I strongly believe it is this aspect of character that had capable and brilliant men follow him; men like Dr Goh Keng Swee, Hon Sui Sen and the rest of the Old Guard.
Even though he retired from politics for quite some time now, it is only with his death that most of us feel the baton is well and truly handed over. It is now up to us to make sure we do not waste his excellent legacy.
So thank you Mr Lee, and have the rest you so richly deserve but never dare crave. We as a nation now stand on your mighty shoulders and the horizon we see is clearer, farther and brighter because of you.