LKY mourner:He's going even though he is ill

LKY mourner:He's going even though he is ill
Mr Joe Oh, who is suffering from cancer, outside the National Stadium on 14 October 2014.

Beset by cancer and poor health, Mr Joe Oh still wants to bid his final farewell to Mr Lee Kuan Yew today.

"If I don't go to see him, I'll regret it for the rest of my life," says Mr Oh, 80, a retiree.

"I want to be there to say my last goodbye."

He does not know how much time he has left, only that he is "counting down the number of years".

He is not even sure what type of cancer he has. All he knows is that he was diagnosed with it in 2013 and had to have his right lung and right kidney removed.

A growth in his bladder also made life difficult and painful for him, he adds.

Because of his condition, his children do not want him to join the crowd lining the route of the funeral procession.

Says Mr Oh: "They say I'm old and there'll be thousands of people there. They are afraid I can't stand it as I get tired easily. But I can still walk. I can still cycle. I'm not bedridden. I want to go."

He says catching a last glimpse of Mr Lee will bring back fond memories.

In his youth, Mr Oh used to follow the then prime minister around at his political rallies to "listen to his words and the way he speaks".

HE REPRESENTED US

Mr Oh recounts fondly: "I can remember very well the merger days in the 60s.

"There were many talks between the two countries (of Singapore and Malaya), but most importantly, it was Mr Lee who represented us Singaporeans."

Some 50 years later, he can still recall the impact of Mr Lee's speeches, especially those in the turbulent days after Singapore separated from Malaysia.

"They (Malaysia) wanted bumiputera-style policies, but Mr Lee wanted meritocracy.

"Mr Lee didn't cave in. He fought for where we are today. He is our fighter."

Today will mark the last time the public can see Mr Lee before the coffin departs the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre for a private service at Mandai Crematorium.

Mr Oh, who is unsure where he will station himself during the procession, says he will not stop trying to "convince" his family to let him to join the crowd.

"Eventually, they'll relent. I have to pay my respects to Mr Lee," he adds.


This article was first published on Mar 29, 2015.
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