Singapore remembers founding PM on anniversary of death

Singaporeans visit memorials, attend events in honor of Lee Kuan Yew, known as nation-builder of regional economic powerhouse

Singapore remembers founding PM on anniversary of death

World Bulletin / News Desk

Tens of thousands of Singaporeans gathered Wednesday at remembrance events to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the death of the city-state’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

During the premiership of Lee -- known as a nation-builder involved in transforming the former British outpost into a regional economic powerhouse -- Singapore adopted policies that made it Southeast Asia's wealthiest and most competitive economy.

The event was marked in a variety of ways, from poetry readings to exhibitions – and even the distribution of 200,000 copies of a new workbook aimed at teaching secondary school students more about Lee and his impact on Singapore.

"As Prime Minister, Mr. Lee kept an eagle’s eye on every aspect of Singapore, whether it was the health of our economy, the state of our foreign relations, the trees along the East Coast Parkway, or the cleanliness of the Singapore River,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong -- also the eldest son of the late statesman.

“He left nothing to chance,” the younger Lee added in his speech at the beginning of a meeting with cabinet members.

Preschoolers and retirees alike visited memorial sites such as the one in Istana Park, located near the prime minister's office.

A local newspaper reported that 30 teachers and pupils laid sunflowers at the memorial; others took children through panels highlighting the values and achievements of Lee, who passed away at the age of 91.

Anthony Low, a 63-year-old retiree who visited the memorial site, expressed gratitude for the “safe housing that Mr Lee built for us”.

“I came today just to remember him and his contributions to the country. He gave us a safe country and dared to make difficult decisions that helped us to progress," he told The Straits Times.

Past and present parliamentarians filled the historic chamber at the old Parliament House, where flowers were placed on Lee's old seat, still marked by a nameplate.

"As we honour Mr Lee's memory today, let us resolve to uphold the integrity and honour of our Parliament," Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said in her tribute.

"We will emulate his spirit, and build on this inheritance to bring Singapore to greater heights," she added.

Throughout March, events such as tree-planting, brisk walking in a park and a range of conservation activities in Singapore's green areas had been organized countrywide in honor of Lee Kuan Yew.

A new tour has been launched by a private company to take people through locations associated with Lee's life, such as his home and favorite restaurant.

A massive portrait made of 4,877 erasers sporting the Singapore flag is also available for viewing in remembrance.

Lee Kuan Yew co-founded the People's Action Party in 1954, and led the party to a landslide win in 1959, when Singapore – then a British colony – was allowed to fully elect members of the Legislative Assembly for the first time.

The party has won every general election since, with Lee serving as prime minister for more than three decades, presiding over a period of rapid development and economic growth.

However, his rule has also drawn criticism for what some saw as high-handed tactics, including the detention of -- and filing of defamation lawsuits against -- political opponents and journalists.

After stepping down from his post as prime minister in 1990, Lee served as a senior government adviser for two decades.

He was a "minister mentor" in his son’s cabinet until their party’s poor performance in the 2011 general election.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Mart 2016, 16:27