Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

I'm Singaporean. Born and bred.

Although I've lived for almost 9 years overseas, I've never once considered exchanging my passport for a European one.

I can't describe what it means for me to be Singaporean.

Ask any overseas Singaporean and they'd probably tell you it's the Singlish or the local food that you miss no matter how long you've lived abroad.

It didn't matter if you're Chinese, Malay or Indian. You'd inherently feel a sense of patriotism of being Singaporean. Singapore is a multi-cultural, multilingual and multi-religious society so intrically-woven together that every person, regardless of race or heritage is proud to be a Singaporean.

I've always felt proud of being Singaporean.

It's safe, the food is the BEST in the world, everything is efficient and it was home to me for the first 23 years of my life.

Once, I had to renew my Singaporean passport in Germany and seriously, it was as easy as an online application and voilĂ ! I got it within a couple of weeks! I was mega impressed!

I enjoy hassle-free visa-free travel to so many countries in the world. The last time I went to Bali with my family, everybody had to pay a visa-upon-arrival fee of about US$30 per person, while I could happily go through for free.

When I first relocated to Germany, I could conveniently convert my Singaporean driver's licence for the German one because Singapore fell under the list of "exception" countries that Germany recognized had high enough standards of driving requirements, such that I didn't have to fork out another 1,000€ to re-do my driver's licence here.

These are real conveniences of being Singaporean. 

When I got the news that LKY died, I felt so upset.

It felt like my own grandfather had passed away.

I didn't know LKY as a person, but without him, the Singapore I know wouldn't be in existence today.

I've been reading all the articles and videos of LKY that have inundated my FB the past 2 days. And each read only made me feel so deeply appreciative, grateful and thankful for all this man has done.

He was truly a gift to Singapore.

One thing that struck me was that when LKY became PM of Singapore, he had to take care of 2 million Singaporeans - create jobs for them, housing, schools, root out corruption, ensure the security of the country....

2 million! That's 2,000,000 people!

My hubby is boss to a medium-sized company with 35 employees and I know the type of issues and level of decision-making he has to deal with on a regular basis.

I have a family with 2 kids. And taking care of these 2 kids is enough to tire me out at the end of everyday! 

LKY took it upon himself to take care of the welfare of 2,000,000 citizens!

One only does that when one truly has a heart and a vision for this people. He literally lived and breathed Singapore.

Due to the government's policies of meritocracy, Singapore has one of the most rigorous education systems in the world.

I say this from experience. I had my first exams in English, Maths and Chinese when I completed kindergarten. Can you imagine my pleasant surprise when I found that in Germany, children do not have any tests / exams in kindergarten?

One is not required to know how to read / write properly before grade 1. I think you only need to know how to write your name?

Sammy, in comparison to his Singaporean friends, is most definitely trailing behind when it comes to academics even at this age!

I graduated from university almost 10 years ago (ah-hm) but I still recall having nightmares of Chinese exams years after I graduated! That's how terrified I was of exams, especially Chinese exams!!!

I do appreciate the fact that children are allowed to have more of a childhood in a laid-back environment in Germany. And Germany's economy is still prospering, (despite) its lack of a rigorous early education environment.

My point is, growing up in Singapore, I know that the government's policies may not have been the easiest for everybody. For myself, my entire childhood was made up of studying, exams and more exams.

BUT at the end of the day, this education system brought forth a lot of fruit for the economy and produced a people who are known worldwide for their efficiency and high standards of work ethics.

I was whatsapping a fellow Singaporean of mine and we both felt that, when LKY was around, there was this sense that Singapore would do just fine.

Economic crisis. That old man knew what to do to turn Singapore around.

Terrorism. SARS. Whatever you name, it felt that as long as LKY was around, Singapore was in safe hands.

I'm so thankful that LKY stayed on in cabinet even after he stepped down as Prime Minister. He was in cabinet for 52 years (!!!) and was the longest-serving PM in the world when he finally stepped down in 2011.

He could have easily chosen the easy path of retirement but instead he stayed on to mentor the next generation of leaders.

I realize that my opinions of him might not be shared by every person. To each his own. 

LKY's works speak for itself.

He may not have been perfect but nobody is. (Except Jesus. And even he had enemies who wanted him dead). 

To me, LKY was the best gift that Singapore could ever have.

Lee Kuan Yew truly is Singapore.

-- A truly grateful Singaporean

#remembering LKY

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