Govt will hold firm to Mr Lee’s values and ethos: PM

Govt will hold firm to Mr Lee’s values and ethos: PM
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Cabinet members remember Mr Lee Kuan Yew on the first anniversary of his passing at the Istana on March 23, 2016. Photo: MCI
Published: 4:37 PM, March 23, 2016
Updated: 11:21 AM, March 24, 2016

SINGAPORE — The Government will hold firm to the ethos and values that Mr Lee Kuan Yew stood and fought for, as it deals with a changed world in new ways, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a speech to members of his Cabinet to mark the first anniversary of the founding Prime Minister’s death.

In his remarks, made before the Cabinet’s weekly meeting at the Istana and broadcast as a Facebook live video on his page, PM Lee said: “Now we are a new team, dealing with a changed world in new ways, but always inspired by Mr Lee’s example and his memory, and holding firm the ethos and values that he stood and fought for.

“These will guide us as we in our turn follow the rainbow that Mr Lee himself chased all his life — to build an exceptional nation and to improve the lives of all Singaporeans,” he added.

PM Lee said that the late Mr Lee’s “lifelong passion” was Singapore, and by remaining in Cabinet as Senior Minister and then Minister Mentor, Mr Lee was making sure his successors succeeded. Mr Lee’s presence in the weekly Cabinet meetings even after he had stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990 also allowed three generations of younger ministers to benefit from his experience and insights for nearly half a century, PM Lee added.

“It was an open, interactive, dynamic process, an unforgettable experience for all those who participated in it,” he said.

Although Mr Lee would usually have his own clear views on issues, he encouraged ministers who hold differing views to argue their case, which he would listen to with an open mind, said PM Lee, whose remarks were followed by a minute of silence.

Several other events were held in various parts of the island to commemorate the late Mr Lee.

At a mass tree planting event at Jurong Lake Park earlier in the day, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam called on Singaporeans to continue the journey started by Mr Lee and “never be satisfied”.

Citing Mr Lee’s fastidious attention to greening efforts as an example, Mr Tharman said: “Mr Lee Kuan Yew was about that: Always looking for things that were wrong, never being satisfied and always wanting to improve. That’s what our journey is about in Singapore — never be satisfied, always try to improve, discuss with each other how we can improve.”

At a parliamentarians’ remembrance ceremony, Ms Grace Fu, who is Leader of the House, called on Members of Parliament to build on Mr Lee’s legacy and values to take the country forward.

The Culture, Community and Youth Minister said one of the greatest aspects of Mr Lee’s legacy was preparing Singapore to flourish beyond his prime ministership. While he had continued to mentor successive generations of leaders after stepping down in 1990, he had left them to make the decisions, she noted.

“Mr Lee and his team left subsequent generations of leaders a rich legacy — strong institutions and systems based on multi-racialism, self-reliance, meritocracy, integrity and rule of law — values and principles that remain precious and important to us in this present day,” Ms Fu added.

The remembrance ceremony at The Arts House — held in tandem with the launch of an exhibition about its history as Singapore’s Parliament House until 1999 — was attended by more than 100 guests and parliamentarians past and present, including PM Lee, Workers’ Party chief Low Thia Khiang and former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi.

Describing Mr Lee as a man who was “always proper”, Mr Abdullah recalled that during his time as Speaker, Mr Lee would make it a point to write him a note whenever he could not make a parliamentary sitting. “To my recollection, no MP ever (did) that.”

In a Facebook post in the evening, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat recalled a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist’s description of Mr Lee as a “true entrepreneur” who had founded a nation.

“He strove to build a nation out of a diverse people, to grow a sense of togetherness and common strength,” Mr Heng wrote, adding that the pioneer leaders mobilised a whole people to pull together in the same direction to build something special and enduring.

Noting that Mr Lee would expect Singaporeans to keep that spirit alive and carry on the work of building this nation, Mr Heng added: “He would hope that all of us continue to stay united and think long term; be courageous and bold to find new ways and to try and try again until we succeed; and to leave no one behind, and always do our best for one another and for Singapore.”