Tributes to Lee Kuan Yew should be in keeping with his ideals, says PM Lee

Tributes to Lee Kuan Yew should be in keeping with his ideals, says PM Lee

SINGAPORE - A committee headed by Esplanade chairman Lee Tzu-Yang will be formed to conceptualise a memorial for Singapore's founding fathers, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in Parliament on Monday.

The committee will gather public feedback and explore the idea of having a memorial for all of the founding fathers, possibly coupled with an exhibition gallery to honour their legacy and educate future generations, PM Lee said.

While the late Mr Lee did not wish for monuments to be made in his honour, he was aware that Singapore's success was achieved through the hard work of a multi-racial team. His core team included Goh Keng Swee, S Rajaratnam, Othman Wok, Hon Sui Sen, Lim Kim San, amongst others.

"Mr Lee himself said he was only primus inter pares - first among equals. So it is appropriate that we consider how to honour not just Mr Lee, but also our other founding fathers," PM Lee said.

The proposed founder's memorial may not be grand structure but it must "stand for our ideals, our values, our hopes and aspirations. It must belong to all Singaporeans and mean something significant to us all," PM Lee said.

"With time our grief will subside, but our unity should remain. If the memorial captured that same spirit, we will have succeeded."

In the wake of Mr Lee's passing, many MPs had provided suggestions on how to honour the late Mr Lee, including printing his image on currency notes and re-naming Changi Airport after him.

However, the Government must try to honour Mr Lee in a way that keeps with his ideals, including not having any monuments and not being turned into a personality cult, PM Lee said.

"Mr Lee made it very clear throughout his life that he did not need and did not want any monument. It was not monuments but ideals that were his chief concern, the ideals upon which he built Singapore: Multi-racialism, equality, meritocracy, integrity, and the rule of law. He hoped these ideals would endure in Singapore beyond him. We can pay no greater tribute to him than to uphold the principles upon which he built this country.

"Mr Lee was very careful when it came to lending his name to institutions and awards. When he consented, it was for causes that he was passionate about, and where using his name served a greater purpose. He was intent on showing support for the cause or institution, rather than using the honour to glorify himself.

"For example, on his 80th birthday, he agreed that NUS should create a Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Cabinet had convinced him that having such a school, and associating his name with it, would help establish the Singapore brand of governance and advance the school’s mission – to raise standards of governance in Asia, improve the lives of people and contribute to the transformation of the region.

"For the same reason, he supported NTU in naming its school of international studies after his old comrade, S Rajaratnam, and the SAF in naming the command and staff college after Dr Goh Keng Swee.
 The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize honours contributions towards solving the world’s water challenges, because water was a lifelong obsession of his.

"The various education awards in his name are to encourage students at all levels and of all abilities to strive for all round excellence.

"Mr Lee lived his life for Singapore, not for himself. Let us take time to consider the best way to honour his memory, in a way that is in keeping with his ideals.

"In remembering the past, we must also look to the future. Whatever memorial we decide upon should not only be right for Singaporeans living today, but also for generations not yet born. The memorial should reflect and strengthen in all of us our sense of what it means to be a Singaporean, why Singapore is worth striving and fighting for, and how we can continue to build a harmonious and successful Singapore for future generations," he said.

ljessica@sph.com.sg

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