Quiet reflection as Singapore marks solemn anniversary

Quiet reflection as Singapore marks solemn anniversary
A woman placing flowers at the Lee Kuan Yew tribute site at Istana Park yesterday. Photo: Jason Quah
Published: 4:15 AM, March 24, 2016
Updated: 8:49 AM, March 24, 2016

SINGAPORE — One year on, Singaporeans marked the first death anniversary of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in a less emotionally charged manner than the outpouring of grief last year, as they took part in commemorative events across the island.

These included reflections by students at Telok Kurau Primary School — where Mr Lee was a student — on how to continue honing the firm foundations he has built, to the planting of Mempat trees at Jurong Lake Park by residents and grassroots volunteers, in memory of Mr Lee and his nation-building team.

When TODAY visited at lunchtime yesterday the remembrance site adjacent to Parliament House — one of three set up to mark his death anniversary — several passers-by were seen pausing to lay flowers or to spend a quiet moment at the photo panels.

Although she had to rush off for an appointment, accounting undergraduate Sachi Koyanagi stopped by to lay a bouquet of flowers at one of the panels.

The 24-year-old Singaporean said: “(I’m here) just to pay my respects to Mr Lee, for helping to build up Singapore … (and to show) gratitude towards him.”

Lawyer Roger Lim, 30, had missed paying respects to the late Mr Lee at Parliament House last March because of the long queues and waiting time, so he made a “conscious effort” to visit the remembrance site this year to view the panels on display. “It’s part of being Asian … to pay your respects to elders. With my little effort in coming to see the exhibition, I hope that contributes,” he told TODAY.

Calling Mr Lee an “honourable man”, Miss Lau Chean Nee, a banker, admired the former leader for his intellect and how he knew Singapore “inside out”.

“It’s good to relive the moments of what he had contributed to Singapore,” the 30-year-old said.

For Ms Shamani Pillai, 26, who also brought flowers, she was grateful to Mr Lee for the clean environment here and for ensuring that Singaporeans are well looked after. “We cannot forget Mr Lee ever in our lives,” the customer service officer said.

A 76-year-old office cleaner, who wanted to be known only as Madam Fong, said Mr Lee was “admirable” in the way he had transformed Singapore into what it is today. Laying a flower at the site, she said she appreciated how he had called for a clean-up of the Singapore River, which had been “very dirty”, in 1977.

“In my heart, Mr Lee deserves all my respect,” she said.

Civil servant Diana Lee, 47, who works near the site, had this to say: “You asked why I came down today. I have only three words: I miss him.”