News

Former Senior Minister of State: He walked the talk

In an emotional eulogy at the State Funeral Service, former Senior Minister of State Sidek Saniff recounted how Mr Lee Kuan Yew's frugal ways extended even to his Cabinet.

Speaking in Malay, he said when he had to accompany then Finance Minister Hon Sui Sen to China in 1979, Mr Lee asked if he could withstand the cold Chinese winter.

Mr Sidek recounted: "He asked if I own an overcoat and when I said I would buy one, he replied, 'Don't waste money.' After pausing, he added, 'Ahmad Mattar has a good overcoat. Borrow from him.'"

Same went for boots to cover his shoes.

"'Borrow from (Goh) Chok Tong.' So off I went to China with a borrowed overcoat and a borrowed pair of boots," Mr Sidek added.

He said Mr Lee believed in frugality, both in his personal life as well as nationallyand he walked the talk.

Before bidding a teary farewell to Mr Lee, he recited a Malay quatrain: "Pisang emas dibawa belayar, masak sebiji diatas peti, hutang emas boleh dibayar, hutang budi dibawa mati." (With golden plantains sail away, while on a chest lies one that's ripe, the debts of gold we can repay, but debts of kindness last through life.)