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Friday 20 March 2015

The Final Chapter

In the last few days, the reality is finally setting in that Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is entering the final moments of his life. When the news began to filter to me on Wednesday that the media were gathering at the Singapore General Hospital, and there were sightings of next-of-kin arriving, I too thought that the time had finally come, and a wave of sadness overwhelmed me; knowing that he didn't actually pass that day has not helped because I think deep in the hearts of many, we know that even if the final chapter of the life of our Founding Father has not closed, we are certainly on the last few pages.

Many have been moved to write down their thoughts about the man who has left such a large imprint on modern Singapore, and for those born after Independence, we have never lived in a Singapore without Lee Kuan Yew. Much has already been said, and more will be said in the coming days of the gargantuan achievements of Mr. Lee. It is not the purpose of this piece to repeat these things. Some have also been writing to criticise Mr. Lee; I have also no intention of refuting them or arguing with these critics because even at the peak of his power, a good quarter of voters never voted for Mr. Lee. Also, it is my belief that any person who has actually stood for something and has done great things in his life would always make enemies - and that is why Mr. Lee in life or death can never be the kind of universally-loved figure like Nelson Mandela, who unfortunately spent most of his active years in prison.

What has struck me more than the outpouring of emotions of Singaporeans is that the entire world seems to be holding its breath when news of the critically-ill Mr. Lee was announced. All over the world, media was constantly updating on the news on Mr. Lee's condition, with even the ill-judged hoax of his death erroneously reported on the American CNN and the Chinese CCTV. The irony was not lost on me that the main broadcaster of the two most powerful nations on this planet were so gripped by the news of Mr. Lee that they both simultaneously reported the same (false) news.With all the navel-gazing that has been afflicting our country in recent years, especially amongst our young, I wonder whether they realise how significant it is that even the hoaxed death of Mr. Lee was reported on both CNN and CCTV.

We are a nation of 5 million people.

5 million.

A small-red dot whose population is not even that of a district of Beijing, or even a small town in America.

And the whole world is writing articles about the passing of our first Prime Minister! In the last few days, commentaries about Lee Kuan Yew has been published in the leading newspapers of the US, China, Britain, Indonesia, Hong Kong and many more.

Hilary Clinton once said that there are few countries that punch as far above their weight as Singapore, and it will do us well to remember that.

And there is nothing that will remind us more of that, and WHY we do, then when the final chapter finally closes on the man that led this nation for the first 25 years as an independent country.