Saying goodbye to 'Papa'
One is the leader of a nation. The other, of a business.
But when it came to delivering the eulogies in the state funeral service for their late father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, at the University Cultural Centre yesterday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his brother Mr Lee Hsien Yang were choked up with emotion.
After all, their "Papa" was "not just an ordinary 'orang besar' (Malay for very important person), "he was an extraordinary orang besar".
PM Lee, the elder son, paused twice in his 30-minute eulogyto the founder of modern Singapore.
The first time was when he related a private moment he had with his father, before the state funeral ceremony began at Parliament House yesterday.
"...we had a few minutes. I sat by him and meditated," he said before pausing to take a sip of water to mask his grief.
PM Lee had been recounting the occasions his father had encouraged him to try meditation - after the death of his first wife Ming Yang and when he had lymphoma.
"I was by then nearly 60 and he was nearly 90. But to him, I was still his son to be worried over, and to me he was still a father to love and appreciate, just like when I was small," he said.
PM Lee was again overcome by emotion when he remembered the day his father told him while they were playing golf at the Istana that "should anything happen to him, he wanted me to look after my mother and my younger brother and sister".
Once again, he reached for the glass of water to compose himself.
"Of course, growing up as my father's son could not but mean being exposed to politics very early.
"I remember as a little boy I knew his constituency was Tanjong Pagar. I was proud of him becoming legal adviser to so many trade unions, and I was excited by the hubbub at Oxley Road whenever elections happened and our home became the election office.
"I remember when we were preparing to join Malaysia in the early 60s, going along with my father on constituency visits - the 'fang wen' (Mandarin for interview) tours which he made to every corner of Singapore.
"For him, it was back-breaking work, week after week, every weekend, rallying the people's support for a supremely important decision about Singapore's future.
"For me, these were not just Sunday outings but also an early political education."
PM Lee also remembered vividly the night of Aug 7, 1965 - two days before Separation.
"I remember the night the children slept on the floor in my parents' bedroom at Temasek House in Kuala Lumpur because the house was full of ministers who had come up from Singapore.
"And every so often, my father would get up from the bed to make a note about something before lying down to rest again. But obviously, he wasn't asleep.
"Growing up with my father, living through those years with him, made me what I am."
Mr Lee Hsien Yang remembered how their father was immersed in his work for much of his childhood. "Family holidays were happy occasions, for we were able to see more of Papa. We did not go anywhere far away, posh or exotic: The government rest houses in Fraser's Hill, Cameron Highlands, and later Changi Cottage, a small two-bedroom seaside bungalow that holds many precious memories for me..." he said.
He said the arrival of grandchildren was a source of great joy for his parents.
"Our youngest son, Shaowu, arrived long after all the other grandchildren... Papa was in his 70s and less active in public life. So he and Mama took this as a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their last grandchild."
Mr Lee continued: "Many know how privileged Singaporeans are to have benefited from my father's contributions to building our nation.
"I know that growing up as his son, I have also been privileged to have witnessed what it means to be a good man, a good husband, a good father and grandfather.
"To Singapore and Singaporeans, Papa was at various times PM, SM, MM. But whatever his office, he was always LKY. Even after he stopped being MM, people found it awkward to refer to him by anything other than this alphabet soup.
"But to the grandchildren, he was always Yeye, (grandfather in Mandarin) and to Fern and me, he was and will always be Papa. We will miss him dearly."
PM Lee said Singapore had lost its founding father who had "lived and breathed Singapore all his life".
Summing it up, he quoted the Latin epitaph on architect Sir Christopher Wren's grave in St Paul's Cathedral in London.
"Si monumentum requiris, circumspice (If you seek his monument, look around you). Mr Lee Kuan Yew built Singapore. To those who seek Mr Lee Kuan Yew's monument, Singaporeans can reply proudly: 'Look around you'."
Of course, growing up as my father's son could not but mean being exposed to politics very early.
- PM Lee Hsien Loong
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.)
ESM Goh Chok Tong: He was strict for good reason
Ten eulogies were delivered at Mr Lee Kuan Yew's State Funeral Service yesterday.
One of them was delivered by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.
He remembered how after he took over as Prime Minister, Mr Lee continued to be "punctilious in observing the protocol of my office".
"He made sure he arrived before me for all events.
"As I respected him as my elder and mentor, I told him to dispense with this practice at non-formal events.
"But he explained that it was important to observe this protocol. Otherwise, people might draw the wrong conclusion that he did not respect me and take their cue from there."
Also remembering Mr Lee was former Cabinet Minister S. Dhanabalan.
He said the late Mr Lee had an "absolute obsession to ensure an honest, corruption-free political process and public administration system", after having seen the damage a nation suffers when well-meaning leaders allow those close to them take advantage of their position.
Mr Dhanabalan also dispelled the myth that Mr Lee "brooked no opposition to what he wanted and that the Cabinet members merely fell in line".
"He argued tirelessly to get Cabinet to accept his views, not because it was the PM's view but because of the strength of his arguments," he said.
Representing young Singaporeans was Ms Cassandra Chew, a former journalist with The Straits Times.
Part of a team that put together the book Lee Kuan Yew - A Life In Pictures, Ms Chew said that after her interaction with Mr Lee, she began to "understand just how much he and his family had sacrificed to ensure Singapore's success".
"I realised just how much I had taken for granted and how much more I had to thank him for.
"To me, Mr Lee had transformed from an elderly statesman, whom our textbooks say did a lot for us but didn't seem relevant to my daily life, to a man for whom I developed a deep sense of gratitude and appreciation.
"So much of Singapore began to make sense to me now that I had seen the world through his eyes."