Eulogy delivered by Tanjong Pagar community leader Leong Chun Loong at the University Cultural Centre:
Today, we mourn the loss of our country’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I have been a grassroots leader in Tanjong Pagar Constituency for 39 years. I am privileged to be able to stand here today to pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew whom I consider my leader and my friend. His departure is not only a loss to the country but also a deep personal loss for me.
Having worked closely with him for so many years, I have developed a profound respect and admiration for Mr Lee and I now wish to share with you some stories of my encounters with this great man. Back in the early days, Lunar New Year celebrations would kick off with the lighting of firecrackers, followed by the singing of the National Anthem.
During one celebration, the firecrackers did not go off when lit. After a while, we got impatient, and the MC decided to move on to the National Anthem. But the moment National Anthem started, the firecrackers went off loudly. We thought it was quite funny but Mr Lee was not amused at all. Later he told us: “If we can’t even do this right, how can we run the country?”
This incident showed us how serious he was about all things concerning Singapore and how he always expected us to do our best for Singapore. Mr Lee cared for the people.
At a “Tanjong Pagar Family Day Function”, we had set up a stage for the day’s activities. The key officials were sitting on the stage whilst the residents were sitting in front of the stage. It was getting very hot and sunny. Mr Lee noticed that the residents were perspiring in the sun whilst we the officials were sitting in the shade.
He turned around and asked us what we were going to do about it. He was always thinking about the people and he expected us to put their interest above our own. During constituency dinners, Mr Lee would usually like to sit with grassroots leaders so that he could talk to them. We would always arrange the seating such that his old friends would be seated en-route to his table.
That made it easy for him to meet them along the way. It would take him some time to get to his table as he would stop by to speak to every familiar face, asking them how they and their families were. This is something he really enjoyed.
When Mr Lee heard that his old friends were doing well and leading good lives, his face would light up with pride.
Even though Mr Lee is no longer with us, his legacy is something that we Singaporeans will always remember. I am thankful that I had the opportunity of knowing him personally and serving him as a grassroots leader.