10 Eulogies for Mr. Lee During State Funeral

10 Moving Eulogies

Eulogy. A speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly, especially a tribute to someone who has just died. Sunday, 29th March 2015, there are total of 10 moving eulogies meant for Mr. Lee which are delivered during his funeral service.

The service was held at the University Cultural Centre of the National University of Singapore. It was attended by more than 2,000 people including Mr Lee’s family members, President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Cabinet ministers, judges, members of Parliament and foreign leaders from more than 20 countries, as well as invited Singaporeans from all walks of life.

Below are some notable points during the eulogies (in order):

1. PM Lee Hsien Loong

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He mentions how heartbreaking it is for the late Mr. Lee during the separation in 1965. From the ashes, he built a nation, multi-racial and multi religious nation.

PM Lee tried to hold his anguish when he recalled “I remember the day he told me, while we were playing golf at the Istana, that should anything happen to him, he wanted me to look after my mother and my younger brother and sister.” – Indeed it is very touching. How many of us, if we are in his shoes, able to hold back our tears?

He also mentioned how the late Mr. Lee wanted to built Singapore to be clean and corruption-free. PM Lee quoted “He imparted these values to the Government. And even when old and frail, on his 90th birthday when he came to Parliament and MPs celebrated his birthday in Parliament, he reminded them that Singapore must remain clean and incorruptible, and that MPs and Ministers had to set the example.” – Reminds me of what Dr. Ng Eng Hen said during his speech at parliament on Thursday.

He finished his euology by saying “Let us shape this island nation into one of the great cities in the world, reflecting the ideals he stood for, realising the dreams he inspired and worthy of the people who have made Singapore our home and nation.”

2. President Tony Tan Keng Yam

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President Tony Tan started his eulogy by recalling their meeting two years ago.

“I recalled how Mr Lee insisted on making a trip to his office two years ago, despite his frailty. I asked to visit Mr Lee to see how he was doing. With Mr Lee’s increasing frailty and out of respect, I planned to meet him at his office. Mr Lee, however, was adamant that he should come to my office. It took him a great deal of effort. But he did it as a mark of respect for the Office of the President.”

“Over the past week, we have mourned the passing of a man and an era. There will never be another Lee Kuan Yew. No one person can take his place nor do what he did.”

He concluded his eulogy by saying “I call on all Singaporeans to honour the memory of Mr Lee by working together to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our Singapore. This will be our tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.”

3. ESM Goh Chok Tong

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Mr Goh mentions how Mr Lee had become synonymous with “Singapore” as early as 1967. During a trip to Puerto Rico in 1967, a Puerto Rican excitedly shouted “Chino, Chino” when he saw Mr Goh. (Chino means Chinese in Puerto Rico)

“I shouted back, ‘Singapore!’. He replied, ‘Lee Kuan Yew!'”

Mr. Goh also mentions that “To Singaporeans, he was our first Prime Minister, our leader who fought for our Independence, the man who turned Singapore from Third World to First, our national father. For me, he would always be my teacher.” He also describe that they are used to have lunch together until the late Mr. Lee’s health was deteriorating on 2013.

He concluded his eulogy by urging Singaporean: “Let us stay united, across race, language, religion, across young and old, across rich and poor, across our whole society, to write an exciting sequel to his and our Singapore Story.”

4. Former Cabinet minister Ong Pang Boon

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“He was a consummate and farsighted politician, maximising every opportunity to advance his political advantage and the PAP’s interests. Although English educated, Mr Lee understood that power rested with the pro-communist students from Chinese schools and the trade unions.”

“He spent every moment thinking of how he could improve Singapore and Singaporeans’ lives. Once he decided that a policy was in the interest of Singapore, he would implement it even if it meant making himself unpopular.

“Every thing he did was to make Singapore better… throughout his life, he was always wholeheartedly fighting for the best interest of this small and vulnerable nation.”

5. Former Cabinet Minister S. Dhanabalan

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“The myth is that he brooked no opposition to what he wanted… That was not my experience. He argued tirelessly to get Cabinet to accept his views not because it was the PM’s views but because of the strength of his arguments.”

“He was a pragmatist, yet in a very deep sense, he was an idealist. This is well illustrated by his approach to the language policy…. the easiest way to ensure electoral support would have been to champion Chinese language… To convert Chinese schools into national type schools and to push for Mandarin against Chinese dialects were the acts of an idealist not the acts of a pragmatist. “

6. Former Senior Minister of State Sidek Saniff

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Speaking in Malay, Former Senior Minister Mr. Sidek recalled his conversation with the late Mr. Lee prior to his trip to China.

“In 1979, when I was to accompany Hon Sui Sen, then Minister of Finance, to China, Mr Lee asked me if I could take the cold Chinese winter. “Do you have an overcoat” he asked. I said that I would buy one. “No, don’t waste money”, he replied. He paused and said: “Ahmad Mattar has a good overcoat. Borrow from him.”

“What about boots to cover your shoes for walking” he continued. I said I didn’t have any but I would buy a pair. “No, no don’t waste money. Borrow from Chok Tong!”

“So off I went to China with a borrowed overcoat and a borrowed pair of boots!”

Mr Lee believed in frugality, both in his personal life as well as nationally. And he walked the talk. This episode is an example, and also showed his fatherly character and sharp eye for detail.

He also cannot hold back his tear when he said (in Malay) “Farewell my friend, farewell.”

7. Trade unionist G. Muthukumarasamy

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Speaking in Tamil, Mr. Muthu emphasize how Mr. Lee would believe that everyone should do their own work. He was once assign a supervisor to do a work, only to found out that the supervisor has re-assign the work to someone else. Furious Mr Lee said “When a job is given to you, you should do it. I asked you to service the air-conditioning. Please service it now.”

He also describe how the late Mr. Lee is supporting trade unions and their members by urging the low income workers to come forward and upgrade their skills by attending available courses.

8. Tanjong Pagar community leader Leong Chun Loong

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Mr. Leong highlighted how the Late Mr. Lee always took all things concerning Singapore very seriously. “Back in the early days, Lunar New Year celebrations would kick off with the lighting of firecrackers, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. During one celebration, the firecrackers did not go off when lit. After a while, we got impatient, and the MC decided to move on to the National Anthem. However just as the National Anthem was being played, the firecrackers went off loudly. We thought it was quite funny but Mr Lee was not amused at all. Later he told us: “If we can’t even do this right, how can we run the country? “

He also mentioned how delighted Mr. Lee are when he meet his old friends.

“During constituency dinners, Mr Lee would usually like to sit with grassroots leaders so that he could talk to them. When Mr Lee heard that his old friends were doing well and leading good lives, his face would light up with pride.””

9. Former journalist Cassandra Chew

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She started off his eulogy by describing how nervous she is when she is going to interview Mr. Lee.

“I was so nervous I could hear my heart pounding before the meeting, and actually felt a headache coming on. I braced myself to be peppered with questions on whether I was married, when I planned to have children or whether I spoke Mandarin often enough – questions Mr Lee was known to ask young Singaporeans he met.” – She said afterwards that none of this was raised by Mr Lee. He started off the interview by asking “Who’s going to start?”

From her six meetings with him, she gained “a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation” for a person she had known only from textbooks, she said.

“So much of Singapore began to make sense to me now that I had seen the world through his eyes.”

She also expressed her gratitude to the late Mr. Lee:

“This is my last chance. Mr Lee, thank you for everything. Some days I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have been born a Singaporean. We don’t have everything, but we have more than most, because of your lifelong labour. On behalf of young Singaporeans everywhere, I’d like to say: thank you.”

10. Mr Lee’s younger son Lee Hsien Yang

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Mr. Lee Hsien Yang is the current chairman of Civil Aviation Authority Singapore (CAAS). He was previously CEO of Singtel (1995-2007) and Chairman of Fraser and Neave (2007-2013).

He spoke of how Mr Lee Kuan Yew was always immersed in work. That was why the family holidays – at Fraser’s Hill, Cameron Highlands in Malaysia and Changi Cottage were relished, because they got to see more of their father.

He recalled how the arrival of grandchildren brought a great deal of joy to his parents, of how Mr Lee Kuan Yew loved having them playing around as he exercised after work in the evenings, and of how he would take them out on weekends, “to the zoo, the bird park, the science centre and other places where families would go”.

Family birthdays were usually not celebrated, but in later years after the death of PM Lee’s first wife, Mr Lee Hsien Yang began inviting the family over for his parents’ respective birthdays when he would cook a simple meal.

“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,” he said.

He added that the family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of grief and affection.

“Please accept my family’s inadequate but deep and heartfelt thanks.” After saying this, he bowed to the audience, who responded by giving standing ovation to him and PM Lee.

“We know our loss is your loss too, and that the loss is deep and keenly felt. We are humbled that so many have come forward to demonstrate your affection for, respect of and gratitude to – my extraordinary father, a father we share – with Singapore.”

Following the Eulogies are one minute of silence, followed by Singaporean saying national pledge and singing national Anthem.

Goodbye, Mr. Lee.

 

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Source: Straits Times Singapore

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