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Man who tattooed Lee Kuan Yew's photo on his arm: 'He saved me'

It might seem shocking to have a tattoo of Mr Lee Kuan Yew - but it's a no-brainer to this Singaporean.

When he heard about the news of Mr Lee's death, Mr Nagen Samuel knew he had to do something.

And he knew a tattoo was the answer after he saw the photo of a black and white ribbon image with Mr Lee's face circulating online on Tuesday (March 24).

Mr Nagen has two other tattoos - both of which mean a lot to him. One is dedicated to his grandfather, who died in 2001, and the other to his aunt, who died in 2005. 

Mr Lee not only shaped the country - but also shaped Mr Nagen's life. 

"Mr Lee was a brilliant leader, and the tattoo is a reminder of what I have learned from how he led and moulded the country ," said the 34-year-old. 

"After all, he saved me."

Owed debtors

After falling in with a group of bad friends at the age of 23, Mr Nagen said he found himself owing debtors $90,000 - and was soon chased out of his house.

He then started living with his grandfather, who said to him: "Life might seem tough. But never forget that you are in Singapore. This is the country which makes the impossible seem possible."

Mr Nagen's grandfather than passed him a copy of Mr Lee's Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew.

He said: "Among many things, I learned never to give up and this has guided me in my adulthood."

Now, he is the CEO of several safety schools. 

Mr Nagen said that another reason for the tattoo was to remind him of Mr Lee's "philosophies and ideals" that will, in turn, lead him to more success.

"He will always be my biggest inspiration in life," he said.

Mr Nagen did a quick search of good tattoo artists and found Mr Joshua Ong, who goes by the name Jaws, (below) a 43-year-old tattoo artist at Johnny Two Thumb tattoo studio.

Jaws, who was touched that Mr Nagen was doing this in tribute to Mr Lee, gave him a 50 per cent discount.

Instead of $500, Mr Nagen was asked to pay just $250.

Jaws said: "While Mr Nagen was trying to pay respect to Mr Lee in his own way, this was my way of doing so."

He added: "If I had space for a tattoo of Lee Kuan Yew, I would probably do something special. But unfortunately, I'm all covered up."

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