I don’t know much about him – his personal life, how he started his political career, how he became a giant among leaders in Asia. I do know his name, and I have lived amidst and grown to love many things about his legacy – the success story of Singapore. And today, with the people of Singapore and their friends and allies all over the world, I pay my respects to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the man who made Singapore what it is today.
I am Filipino, and I grew up in the Philippines. It is my first home; it is where most of my family are. It’s far from perfect, but if you open your heart to it, the Philippines has many treasures to behold, including the warmth, resilience and creativity of its people and the natural beauty of its mountains, islands and waters. I’ve been living in the Philippines again for almost three years, and I am getting reacquainted with it – the good, the bad and everything in between.
My family and I lived in Singapore for almost seven years. I adjusted to life there so well that I call it my second home. It is a place close to my heart because I have very good friends there, some of whom are friends for life. Apart from the many good people I met there, the conveniences of being in such an efficient, clean, safe and well-planned place made Singapore very appealing. Especially that we had very young children when we moved there, I was very thankful for the safe, clean, multi-cultural environment that my children were growing up in. We enjoyed the beautiful public libraries, the lush and colorful public parks, the interesting museums and galleries and the many public events showcasing art, music and culture. We were fortunate enough to meet and become friends with people from different backgrounds. We learned about different cultures and religions. Thanks to the ease of travel in and out of Singapore, we were able to explore many other parts of Southeast Asia. Our world became bigger, our experiences richer.
With my limited knowledge of the political history and workings of Singapore, I do believe that these First World benefits are here for us now because of the hard work, commitment and vision of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.
On this day of your passing, I tip my hat to you, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Indeed, as you said, there’s nothing more that you need to do. Rest in peace, LKY.