Our Founding Father Mr Lee Kuan Yew changed the lives of Singaporeans in many ways. Some more lasting than others but all for the common good of our young nation over the last decades. As we paid our sincere tributes to him, let us remember the 8 ways that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has changed our lives forever.
1. He Gave Us Our National Day.
Because Mr Lee Kuan Yew believed in a multi-racial Malaysian Malaysia and meritocratic society regardless of race and religion, he upset UMNO leaders who did not want their party’s agenda of undisputed Malay dominance to be challenged.
“Whatever our race or religion, it is what we produce that entitles us to what we get, not our race or religion.” Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1969)
Mr Lee announced Singapore’s split from Malaysia on TV on 9 August 1965, paving the way for our independence.
2. He insisted on everyone being able to receive a good education
“I am convinced that if I were born in Singapore in an earlier era, or if I were born in a similar era, but in another Asian country, I would not, being a girl with a disability coming from a poor family with no connections, I would not have been able to go to school, enter a profession and serve the community today.” NMP Chia Yong Yong (2015)
3. He Helped Trade Unions Help Workers Get Better Jobs.
“I began my political life by representing trade unions. I was a young legal assistant at the firm of Laycock & Ong, and the postmen were about to go on strike. I was asked to look after them. They went on strike… I drafted their statements.
Public sentiments swung towards the unions, and the Colonial government had to give way: higher wages and better terms and conditions of service, removal of thick printed red stripes on their trousers making them look like circus attendants.
Because the union won, I was next briefed by the clerical union of Post & Telegraphs for their demands, which went to arbitration. Again the union won.” Mr Lee Kuan Yew (2011)
“Self-respect is what our trade unions have, and will give to our workers. That protection for a man’s right to his own dignity, his dignity as a human being, as a citizen. He may be an unskilled worker, but he is one of us.” Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1969)
4. He Amplified Workers’ Voices Through Tripartism.
“(Tripartism) is a unique system which has served us well. It has stopped unions from being adversaries to squeeze employers out of business. Instead, they have teamed up with the government and employers in a tripartite system which has brought benefits to workers, the government and employers because industrial peace creates confidence and increases foreign investments. “ Mr Lee Kuan Yew (2011)
5. He Set The Gold Standard For All Husbands To Follow
“I know that growing up as his son, I have also been privileged to have witnessed what it means to be a good man, a good husband, and a good father and grandfather.” Mr Lee Hsien Yang shared during eulogy.
“My parents at the Bridge of Sighs in Cambridge.I mentioned in last night’s post that it was one of their favourite spots. They took a picture there when they were students, and would try to see it again every time they visited Cambridge.
The second picture was when they came for my graduation in 1974 – so I must have been standing around somewhere.
The third was in old age, happy and healthy, in 2000. Now they have both left. May they rest in peace.” Mr Lee Hsien Loong on his Facebook.
“Mr Lee asked to excuse himself so that he could speak on the phone to Mrs Lee. Due to previous strokes, Mrs Lee could not speak but remained conscious and aware. Mr Lee had made it a routine to speak and read to her each night. He did not want to break this routine, even though he was in Malaysia on a long trip. He asked the nurse to put the phone to Mrs Lee and spoke to her. He did this every night while we were in Malaysia. We stood aside to respect their privacy, but that image of Mr Lee, hunched over the phone speaking to Mrs Lee who could not speak back, will stay with me for a very long time as a simple but pure picture of true devotion. Mrs Lee passed away in 2010 and the impact on him was visible physically. Many people noticed this.” Ng Eng Hen (2015)
6. He Brought Us From Third World To First.
“There was no litter in Singapore’s streets. Every building looked clean and every walkway looked newly washed. The national library had numerous branches, stocked with wonderful books. With my baby in a stroller, I could go practically anywhere. It was like an India I had always dreamed of: clean, green and hassle-free. … The engine behind that transformation was the governance of Lee Kuan Yew, the man whose vision took this little dot of a city-state “from third-world to first.” Sahana Singh (2015)
7. He Unified Us When No One Else Could.
8. He Gave Us A Nation We Can Call Home