Key points from eulogies delivered at funeral service for Lee Kuan Yew

Key points from eulogies delivered at funeral service for Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE - Ten moving eulogies were delivered on Sunday afternoon at the funeral service of Singapore's founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Held at the University Cultural Centre of the National University of Singapore from 2pm, the funeral service was attended by 2,200 people, including Mr Lee's family members, President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Cabinet ministers, judges, members of Parliament and foreign leaders from more than 20 countries, as well as invited Singaporeans from all walks of life.

The service ended at 4.40pm. Mr Lee's cortege then made its way to Mandai Crematorium for a private cremation. 

Here are the main points of the eulogies delivered:

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

On building the nation

"Because he never wavered, we didn’t falter. Because he fought, we took courage and fought with him, and prevailed. Thus Mr Lee took Singapore from Third World to First."

On leaving his mark on Singapore

"Mr Lee imbued Singapore with his personal traits. He built Singapore to be clean and corruption-free. His home was spartan. His habits were frugal."

On growing up as his father's son

"I remember when we were preparing to join Malaysia in the early 1960s, going along with my father on constituency visits - the "fang wen" tours he made to every corner of Singapore. For him, it was backbreaking work, rallying the people's support for a supremely important decision about Singapore's future. For me, these were not just Sunday outings, but also an early political education."

President Tony Tan Keng Yam

On his impact beyond Singapore

"He raised the profile of our Republic, earning respect and admiration around the world. On behalf of Singapore, I thank the many friends of Mr Lee - friends of Singapore - who have travelled great distances to be with us today."

On integrity

"Mr Lee demanded, without compromise, complete integrity in personal and professional matters from himself, his family and his colleagues. He said in Parliament in 1979: "The moment key leaders are less than incorruptible, less than stern in demanding high standards, from that moment the structure of administrative integrity will weaken, and eventually crumble.""

On the nation

"Every National Day, we looked forward to seeing Mr Lee. I remember vividly our National Day Parade two years ago. There had been some uncertainty about Mr Lee's health. While I was waiting to enter the Floating Platform to officiate the Parade, suddenly I heard a huge cheer, a roar - the biggest that day. My staff informed me that Mr Lee had just made his entrance to take his seat. That roar captured the feelings of a nation, of all of us, towards Mr Lee. It rang with respect, affection, friendship and deep emotional attachment. It is not something that can be easily put into words."

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong

On Mr Lee as a teacher

"To Singaporeans, he was our first Prime Minister, our leader who fought for our Independence, the man who turned Singapore from Third World to First, our national father. For me, he would always be my teacher."

On Mr Lee's passion: Singapore

"Mr Lee drove his people hard because he had to toughen fledgling Singapore quickly. As he put it, he had to account for the lives of millions of Singaporeans. He rallied and united a disparate population to share a common destiny. He braved necessary long-term painful policies."

On leadership renewal

"In pushing for leadership renewal, he had to cut short the political careers of his old colleagues. This was painful for him. He said that it was "emotionally difficult but necessary … I had to do it, whatever my own feelings". I know he felt for them. He would occasionally ask me about them."

On Mr Lee as a wise teacher

"After I took over as Prime Minister, Mr Lee was punctilious in observing the protocol of my office. He made sure he arrived before me for all events. As I respected him as my elder and mentor, I told him to dispense with this practice at non-formal events. But he explained that it was important to observe this protocol. Otherwise, people might draw the wrong conclusion that he did not respect me and take their cue from there."

On the future of Singapore

"Mr Lee has completed his life-journey. He transformed our lives. He touched our hearts. We grieve. But I believe Mr Lee would say, "What to do? This is life." He would want us to move on with the Singapore Story. He would want us to fight our own battles and conquer our own peaks. He would want Singapore to succeed long after he is gone. We must honour him."

Former Cabinet Minister Ong Pang Boon

On Mr Lee as a politician

"He was a consummate and farsighted politician, maximising every opportunity to advance his political advantage and the PAP's interests."

On Mr Lee's passion for Singapore

"He spent every moment thinking of how he could improve Singapore and Singaporeans' lives. Once he decided that a certain policy was in the interest of his beloved Singapore, he would implement it, even if it meant making himself unpopular."

Far-sighted leader

"He was the lightning rod that galvanised the pioneer group of PAP leaders and grassroot supporters in our battles first against colonial rule and then the pro-communists and communalists. In short, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a far-sighted leader who had the courage to realise his vision."

Former Cabinet Minister S. Dhanabalan

On corruption

"He had an absolute obsession to ensure an honest, corruption free political process and public administration system. He had seen the damage a nation and society suffer when well meaning leaders allow those close to them to take advantage of their position."

Committed to the end

"Today we come to say our farewell to Mr Lee Kuan Yew who is in a complete sense the Father of our Singapore that we know. Up to the very end he was committed to this nation."

Former Senior Minister of State for Education and Environment Mr Sidek Saniff

On Mr Lee's frugality

Today we come to say our farewell to Mr Lee Kuan Yew who is in a complete sense the Father of our Singapore that we know.

Up to the very end he was committed to this nation.

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"In 1979, when I was to accompany Hon Siu Sen, then Minister of Finance, to China, Mr Lee asked me if I could take the cold Chinese winter.

"Do you have an overcoat" he asked. I said that I would buy one. "No, don't waste money", he replied. He paused and said: "Ahmad Mattar has a good overcoat. Borrow from him."

"What about boots to cover your shoes for walking" he continued.

I said I didn't have any but I would buy a pair. "No, no don't waste money. Borrow from Chok Tong!" So off I went to China with a borrowed overcoat and a borrowed pair of boots!"

On Mr Lee as a statesman

Mr Lee was the embodiment of the term 'statesman'. Someone who comes along once every few decades to make an indelible mark on society and the world at large.

Trade unionist Mr G Muthukumarasamy

On improving financial status of Indians in Singapore

"During those days, most Indian families had single incomes because they did not allow their women to work. However, Mr. Lee greatly encouraged and emboldened Indian women to join the workforce, to learn a skill and help their families financially. As more Indian women started to work, their families began to earn higher incomes. He wanted to protect the women who worked late at night.

Because Mr. Lee had also made sure that public housing was affordable, the combined incomes of the husband and wife enabled Indian families to purchase a basic house and start families. Today, we see many dual-income families in the Indian community. If he didn't do that then, we wouldn't be here today. We have to thank Mr Lee for that."

On self-discipline and strictness

"When I was an apprentice wireman at PWD, my colleagues and I were asked by my supervisor to go to the newly-built Changi Cottage to service the air-conditioning system. We did not know who lived there or used the space. When we got there, we serviced the air-conditioning system as per my supervisor's instructions. As we were finishing up, Mr Lee, who was then PM, came in to the room. When we saw him, we got extremely nervous but finished the job.

When we were done, Mr Lee asked me to call in my supervisor. What happened next is still in my mind like it happened yesterday. When my supervisor came in, Mr Lee said, "When a job is given to you, you should do it. I asked you to service the air-conditioning. Please service it now."

My colleagues and I were worried that we had not done the job correctly. We watched as my supervisor serviced the air-conditioning. When he was done, Mr Lee reiterated that he had given him the job because he thought he could do it - not for him to turn around and re-assign it to his team. He told my supervisor that he did not want to see him again."

Tanjong Pagar community leader Leong Chun Loong

Serious about all things concerning Singapore

"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 emcee 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?""

Always thinking about 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."

Happy to know friends are doing well

"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."

Former journalist Cassandra Chew

On Mr Lee as an intimidating person

"I was so nervous I could hear my heart pounding before the meeting, and actually felt a headache coming on.

I braced myself to be peppered with questions on whether I was married, when I planned to have children or whether I spoke Mandarin often enough - questions Mr Lee as you know, was known to ask young Singaporeans he met."

On glimpses of Mr Lee as a person

"Over time, I gained more glimpses of what he was like as a person.

For instance, it was a thrill for me to learn from his oral history that he once failed an art exam in primary school.

But that was of course a small blemish on his distinguished academic record.

I also learned that in his later years he craved his late mother's gado-gado and mee siam, which thankfully, his sister, Madam Monica Lee, could replicate."

On her gratitude as a young Singaporean

"This is my last chance. Mr Lee, thank you for everything. Some days I cannot believe how fortunate I am to have been born a Singaporean. We don't have everything, but we have more than most, because of your lifelong labour. On behalf of young Singaporeans everywhere, I'd like to say: thank you"

Lee Kuan Yew's second son Lee Hsien Yang

On how Mr Lee was a special father

"As a child, I was only vaguely aware that my father was an "orang besar" or "VIP" in Malay. All little children must think their fathers special; I do not remember when it dawned on me that he was not just my own special father and not just any ordinary "orang besar", he was an extraordinary "orang besar"."

On having a normal childhood

"He wanted to ensure his three children had a "normal childhood". He did not want us to grow up with a sense of privilege and entitlement.

As a teenager in secondary school, seeking to assert my independence, I would sometimes ride the public bus. Papa did not object, and my poor security officer had to follow me around on buses.

When I was in junior college and keen on outdoor activities, my security officer shadowed me as I trekked around Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong and canoed around Singapore. Papa's principles ensured that I had as normal a childhood as possible, and although I think I put out the security detail often!"

On Mr Lee's relationship with Mrs Lee

"In January 1973 when I was 15, Ling and I joined Papa and Mama on a trip to visit Loong who was at university in Cambridge.

It was our very first family holiday where we travelled so far away. On that trip, Papa and Mama took the family to Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace.

We watched the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Coriolanus and toured the usual Shakespearean sites at Stratford.

I had assumed it was Mama indulging her love for Shakespeare and trying to educate us on vacation. But years later when Papa wrote his memoirs, we realised the hidden meaning of this visit for my parents. They had married secretly in Stratford upon Avon in December 1947."

On Mr Lee as a grandfather

"The arrival of grandchildren was also a source of great joy for Papa and Mama. Mama was traditional enough that she was thrilled that Fern and I had one son after another but my sense is that Papa would have been equally happy and delighted if we had had three girls.

When the grandchildren were little, Papa would love to have them playing around him as he exercised after work in the evenings.

At weekends he and Mama often took them out - to the zoo, the bird park, the science centre and other places where families like to go.

Our youngest son, Shaowu, arrived long after all the other grandchildren, and long after they had given up hope of any more grandchildren.

Papa was in his seventies, and less active in public life, so he and Mama took this as a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their last grandchild."

On how Mr Lee will always be Papa

"To Singapore and Singaporeans, Papa was at various times PM, SM, MM. But whatever his office he was always LKY. Even after he stopped being MM, people would find it awkward to refer to him by anything other than this alphabet soup. To the grandchildren, he was always Ye Ye, and to Fern and me, he was and will always be Papa. We will miss him dearly."

On sharing Mr Lee as a father

"Please accept my family's inadequate but deep and heartfelt thanks.

We know our loss is your loss too, and that the loss is deep and keenly felt. We are humbled that so many have come forward to demonstrate your affection for, respect of and gratitude to my extraordinary father - a father we share - with Singapore.

Farewell Papa."

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