Singaporeans hold memorial service at Lee Kuan Yew's Cambridge University
by Desmond Ng
in Cambridge, UK
Singapore's farewell to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew saw rain fail to dampen the spirits of Singaporeans.
In the UK, it was cold and windy as over 200 people attended an afternoon memorial service (9pm Singapore time) for the nation's founding father at his alma mater - Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge.
Among the VIPs at the event was Mr Lee’s sister-in-law Mrs Pamelia Lee, as well as Singapore’s High Commissioner to the UK, Ms Foo Chi Hsia and Fitzwilliam archivist Dr John Cleaver.
The service was jointly organised by CUMSA (Cambridge University Malaysia and Singapore Association) and Fitzwilliam College.
Mr Lee attended law school at the university in 1947 and was also the founding president of CUMSA.
Mrs Lee told The New Paper that it was heartening to see so many young Singaporeans turn out for the event.
“If he was here to see so many people, and that all these (were born) during Mr Lee’s lifetime, I think he would be very pleased,” she said.
Mrs Lee is currently on a holiday in UK, a trip which was planned a number of months ago.
She is married to Mr Lee’s younger brother Dr Lee Suan Yew, a general practitioner.
Mrs Pamelia Lee (fifth from right) during an address at the chapel at Fitzwilliam College. TNP photo: Desmond Ng
Gregory Teo, a former president of CUMSA paid tribute to Mr Lee - a firebrand who gave himself completely to Singapore.
Mr Teo, a third-year law undergraduate from Christ's College said: "Many of (Mr Lee's) lessons will endure. We will surely continue to adapt in a turbulent world. We shall continue to create exceptional people and empower them to accomplish exceptional things."
He added: "His legacy will be a future which lies not in his shadow, but in his example."
Dr Cleaver also addressed the audience, recounting Mr Lee's time at Cambridge.
The university played a major part in Mr Lee's life as it was during his time there that he wed Madam Kwa Geok Choo. The couple were secretly married in Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon.
One of the couples favourite locations in Cambridge was the iconic Bridge Of Sighs - a 184-year-old covered bridge that crosses the River Cam.
On March 26, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted a series of three pictures of Mr and Mrs Lee at that location. One in their youth, one in 1974 at PM Lee's graduation and one in "old age, happy and healthy".
Ms Foo travelled 100km from London to attend the service.
She said: “It was extremely moving in terms of recounting Mr Lee’s time spent in Fitzwilliam and more importantly, the gathering of the large Singaporean community here in Cambridge as well as the whole of UK.
“Given that this is where Mr Lee spent some of his time, it’s poignant for everybody.”
Yesterday, some floral tributes had been placed at the bridge, acknowledging its significance to both Mr and Mrs Lee.
Floral tribute in front of the Bridge Of Sighs. Photo: G Wong
Most of those who paid tribute at the service were Singaporean students studying at the university, and some Singapore tourists who were in the area.
The chapel was filled to capacity which meant others had to watch the solemn proceedings from a live-feed in a separate room.
Dressed mostly in black and white, they also signed a condolence book which will be placed at the college for those who could not make the event.
There was also a partial screening of the state funeral.
Befitting a primarily Singaporean event, fried spring rolls, Want Want crackers and Apollo chocolate wafers were served.
Retiree Mr Yeung Hang Chye, 62, was in Cambridge to visit his daughter who found out about the event through social media.
Mr Yeung Hang Chye signing the condolence book. TNP photo: Desmond Ng
His daughter, Miss Yeung Li-Ying, 18, is currently taking her A-levels in a college in the area. He commended "the young Singaporeans who took the time and effort to organise this event".
Mr Yeung was in the UK when Mr Lee died and lamented the loss of a great person who - together with his contemporaries Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr S. Rajaratnam and Dr Toh Chin Chye - has done all he can for his country.
“Without them, there would be no Singapore today"
Slide showing highlighting Lee Kuan Yew's name. Mr Lee graduated with first class honours in Law. TNP photo: Desmond Ng