I wanted to blog about him.
My first encounter of this man was when I had to take up social studies during my secondary school days. It was more than 10 years ago and the first time I met him was on the book about Merger and Separation during 1965. The topic was interesting during that point as it was about Singapore. After that period, I didn’t took up any Singapore History subjects until my University days.
I had to take up a subject close to being social studies and it was in depth study of what he has done for Singapore. Besides 1965 Merger and Separation, there were the 1959 By election, the time before 1959 the British rule and how the people felt about colonial rule. Then the 1961-1963 battle against pro communist to 1963 finally merger with Malaya and become Malaysia with the help of referendum. The 1964 race riots and finally the separation in 1965. Post 1965 was also taught heavily in the subject as it was the main reason why Singapore became so successful.
I admit that I started out late to respect this man for what he has done for us because I was exposed to these information late. Luckily, I am still given a chance this year to finally bid goodbye to him.
I have always wanted to meet him in person. Be it in a group, a solo dialogue or just a simple hand shake. In 2011, there was a chance for me to meet him in person in NTU and I couldn’t make it even into the auditorium as the ticket were gone in seconds. I did not know how others got the tickets but I was kind of despair by it as I don’t know when would I have the chance to see him.
I tried hard every year to try and get to the National Day parade as I believed that I have a slim chance of meeting him in person should I be at the venue. Its seems destined that we can’t meet as I got nothing yearly. This year was the year for Singapore to celebrate its 50th years of Independence and I really hope that I can get on hold of the ticket on National Day. Unfortunately, we got to know of this news.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew was admitted into the hospital on 5th Feb 2015. I thought it would be a short medical attention and he would be fine within a week. Then came Chinese New Year, he had not discharged from the hospital. Then it was March when we started to see messages from the Prime Minister Office that his condition had started to deteriorate daily.
I went over to SGH last Sunday to offer my blessing to him and hope he could recover soon. The next day, 23rd March 2015 was the day every Singaporean’s heart sank. He past away peacefully at 3.18am.
When I woke up to this news, I couldn’t believe what I have just read. I thought it was another coax news that was made up but when I saw it on CNA and also through our PM’s site. It was dead serious that this can’t be a hoax news. Throughout the journey to work, I was shocked. The whole bus journey was quiet. Everyone was busy looking at their phone.
I can’t seem to find any reason to work as probably being the only Singaporean in the team, I wanted to find someone to talk to about this. And I just can’t find one. So I decided to work at a slower pace than usual. Skip lunch with the same group that I have not had lunch ever since the day that they decided to talk about babies and left me out totally. I went down to look for articles about Lee Kuan Yew. I even went down to look for made in Singapore dishes for lunch. It was a real heavy day for me on Monday.
On the second day, I went down to Istana to pen my thoughts and gratitude to Mr Lee. I wanted to get him some flowers but I can’t find any flower shop at Plaza Sing. I made my way empty handed to the entrance of Istana to join the queue. There were already a number of people writing down what they wanted to say. I saw a few actually had they hearts broken as they wrote on the A5 sized card. I stood at a table with the card in my palm as I wrote my thoughts to him.
“To the Dearest Mr Lee Kuan Yew,
Thank you so much for everything that you have done for us. It was an incredible work by you. With you, we were able to be transformed from a simple fishing village into a vibrant nation. With a vibrant nation, I am able to go through good education system and eventually get a job. I am happy to be a Singaporean and I am proud to raise the flag for this nation. Thank you Mr Lee for everything and we will ensure that your legacy will continue on.
One People, one nation, one Singapore.
Count on Us.
We will make it even better for you.”
The next day his body was moved from Istana to the Parliament house for public to pay respect to him. It was overwhelmed by many and the waiting time to go in to pay him respect went up to 8 hours that day. I didn’t went down immediately as I wasn’t sure if I am able to wait that long and go back to work the next day. I decided to wait for more news on social media sites.
On Thursday, I wanted to talk to my boss to ask if I can go down in the afternoon to pay him a visit as I read the waiting time in the morning was about an hour. By afternoon it went up to 7 hours again. That’s when I finally decided to use my only leave balance to pay him a visit on Friday.
The initial plan was to go on Thursday night and spend the night over at Padang and rest at home on Friday. I had to stay for Overtime at work and judging the morning crowd, I thought probably I can make it the next Morning.
When I woke up on Friday morning, I was shocked to see the wait time was at 8 hours. I have no idea what should I do as I have to attend this no matter what. I got up and got myself ready and went straight to Clarke Quay. I thought the queue was at Clarke Quay as the queue on the first day went all the way there. Then I realized that I had went to the wrong station and had to make my way back to City hall where the queue actually starts at Padang.
9am I reached Padang, joining queue lane 9 with many unknown figures. Singaporean, non citizens were in the mix. It took us 1.5 hours before we moved to the next area and I was under the hot sun for over 30 minutes. I didn’t take out the umbrella to block it as I thought we would be going to another waiting area and it would cause unwanted trouble. In the end, we took an hour to walk from Padang to Floating platform and back to Esplanade. By 12.40pm, we were at Anderson Bridge and we had to cross the tunnel where the Major told us that after this tunnel we would be at the 1.5 hours mark to Parliament house. I was relieved and it didn’t take 1.5 hours to reached. By 1.30pm, I was welcomed by the aircon in the parliament house and was directed to a good position by a commando officer to give Mr Lee a final bow.
Saturday was the final day to pay respect to him at Parliament house. I didn’t went anywhere as Saturday was packed with lessons. My Japanese teacher asked me where did I went on Friday as it was part of the class activity, I proudly said Parliament house. Everyone was shocked to hear the answer and it intrigued almost all when I gave every answer in Japanese. Saturday ended with his speeches on tv.
Today was the day. The final goodbye. I went early to take up a good place to see him at the Parliament house. Unfortunately, the rain was really heavy and I lost my spot to those with umbrellas. At 1130am, I decided to go out into the rain and wait for him as it was impossible to see if I were to stay indoors.
The rain got even heavier at 12.10pm and I am already all wet inside out. Even with the umbrellas, rain still streamed through as the height of people with umbrellas were different. At around 12.30pm, the ceremony started and a platoon of officers and man marched out to our direction and raised the rifle to salute Mr Lee. As his heist passed our sector, everyone started to keep their umbrellas and sounded Lee Kuan Yew… and I stood there with my hands around my forehead saluting him for the first and final time. Thank you Mr Lee. It was an honor to finally see you and say goodbye. Thank you for everything you have done for us. I will never forget what you have done for us.