'He's proof one man can make a difference'

'He's proof one man can make a difference'

Lee Kuan Yew at 90: He blazes with intellect and sometimes warmth

Mr Sim S. Lim, 55, is Singapore Country Head for DBS Bank.

Mr Sim on Mr Lee's legacy: I was born in Malaysia, but became a Singapore citizen in 2008.

Immigration officials who processed my application were surprised by it, since I was stationed in Hong Kong at the time.

"Why do you want citizenship?" they asked.

Before the posting to Hong Kong, I spent 3 1/2 years working and living in Singapore. I had tremendous respect for the government and the country.

I replied without hesitation: "Because I choose Singapore as my home. I know I want to spend the rest of my life here."

I moved back to Singapore in 2010.

Born and bred Singaporeans sometimes may not come to appreciate Singapore the way immigrants do - simply because immigrants have seen how bad things can get in other countries.

The only competitive advantage this country has is a good government, which has spawned good schools, the rule of law, meritocracy and corporate governance, which have in turn brought high-end investments here. These investments have raised the standard of living for all.

At the heart of good government, of course, is Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Through his brilliance and sheer tenacity, he has proven that one man can make a difference. He took the poorest country in ASEAN (by gross domestic product per capita) and made it the richest.

I watched the National Day Parade this year from my new office on the 46th floor of the Marina Bay Financial Centre, which has a breathtaking view of the bay. The development of the bay area is a story in itself - of how Singapore can create value from little more than air, water and earth.

When Majulah Singapura was played, I sang it with my right hand to my chest. I sang it with pride because I love my new home country.

On Mr Lee's 90th birthday, I want to say: Mr Lee, you are one in a billion. Thank you for building this great nation.

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