Saturday, March 28, 2015

Remembering LKY

The night before, I told my friend that I hope Mr Lee Kuan Yew survived. The very next morning, he passed away. I watched the national address by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the chinese address was one of the hardest segment. I sobbed, when he struggled to continue his speech. 

My primary school best friend has a strikingly similar name with the Mr Lee, that's how I first heard about this great man. My dad is a voracious reader, I remembered when we moved, I organised the books according to category and there were a couple of memoirs of Mr Lee. When I first came to Australian National University, I went to one of the five libraries, Menzies. I saw the collection of your books, and borrowed one. Unlike Mrs Lee or my dad, I am not a voracious reader like I used to be, I didn't manage to finish it. At that time, his last book 'One Man View of the World' was just released and I was more interested in that. 

I was almost part of his investment in human resource back in 2007. I tried for the ASEAN scholarship when I was Form Three and it turned out I stood a chance. I was brainwashed by how nice the institution was and I thought it could be my chance. The tuition was free but there is no way my family could afford SGD1,200 a month for living expenses. Things could have been so different now if I left for Singapore that time. 

In 2013, I went to Singapore by myself. The main purpose was for sitting an entrance test to Nanyang Technological University. Once again, I was brainwashed and slightly disgusted by the almost-perfect nation. The life in Singapore, based on my observation was robotic and efficiency-demanding. But it was modern, safe and first-class, as compared to my country. 

I have seen tributes and videos, it touched me and everyone who watched it. A tribute was held by the fellow Singapore Students' Association in ANU and without hesitation, I knew I have to go. There were addresses by the High Commissioner of Singapore to Australia, two students and an expatriate. All were beautifully spoken about Mr Lee.

It was difficult to hold the emotions. The soft background music with monochrome pictures of Mr Lee created a solemn atmosphere. After the addresses, we watched the official national address by PM Lee. I was grateful that it was not the chinese address. I was on the verge of storming out the lecture theatre if the chinese address is presented. It followed by a short documentary on Mr Lee's life and a minute of silence, which was difficult to endure.

After the documentary, I could not agree more on the idea of meritocracy, a principle which was held by Mr Lee. I remembered during my English essay-writing in college, I wrote on a country who accepted citizens based on merits. Coming from a middle income family background, everything is merit-based for me, since I was ten years old. After a season of hard work, there comes rewards, in the form of cash, phone, medal and recognition. Even today it still is, but the reward comes in the form of fulfilment.

I felt for the Singaporeans, it was a painful loss. I wept for the passing of Mr Lee, but I am not sure if there is a Malaysian politician, significant enough to wept for. I hope one day, Malaysia will have a leader, at least half as inspiring, impactful and influential as Mr Lee. Perhaps one thing I learned throughout the week was, despite being in the state of mourning, recovering or grieving, do not lose hope, time will heal everything. And this is exactly what I need at this time. 

Thank you for the inspiration Mr Lee. Your legacy will stay and will continue to inspire Singapore and the world. May you rest in peace. 

Wen Xin