'Nothing is too small for Mr Lee'

'Nothing is too small for Mr Lee'
PRIDE AND JOY: Retired photographer Eng Bow Kee, 83, with the photos he took of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

As Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew celebrates his 90th birthday, we speak to several people on their experiences with him:

SINGAPORE - On meeting Mr Lee Kuan Yew after his visit to the riot-hit area of Henderson in the 1960s, she described Singapore's founding father as an "Ironman".

"My mum used to tell me that Mr Lee is not only a strong person but an 'Ironman' who takes good care of our nation," said Mr Murugiah Arumugam.

He lived in the area when he was young.

"My father worked as a mason in the Public Works Department and we used to stay in the labourers' quarters at Henderson Road. In those days, we didn't have gas stoves or electric ovens. The only means was burning wood to boil water...

"Mr Lee and other members had visited a Chinese school near our home and was passing by, when my mum brewed and offered tea to the group. Mr Lee was delighted by her warm hospitality," said Mr Murugiah, 60, branch chairman of the Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Employees' Union.

He was one of the many who responded when we asked people to write in with their anecdotes of Mr Lee, who celebrates his 90th birthday today.

Photographer Eng Bow Kee's anecdote also evokes the Ironman description.

He said Mr Lee's exercise schedule included cycling, swimming and running, even when he was 60.

Mr Eng, who is seven years younger, had a hard time keeping up to get a shot of him jogging.

It was in 1983 and Mr Eng was then a photographer with the Ministry of Culture.

"Mr Lee was very strong and fast. Trying to sprint ahead of him just to snap a few shots was difficult. I was out of breath after a while," Mr Eng told The New Paper.

But eventually, Mr Eng managed to get that jogging shot - and more.

"Seeing how I was panting badly, Mr Lee consented to running a second time around the Istana grounds.

"This time, he said I need not run after him. Instead I was to wait at a spot for him to approach.

"Finally I managed to snap a couple of shots before he moved off to Seri Temasek to do the circuits," Mr Eng said.

At the official residence at the Istana, Mr Eng managed to capture more shots at the "circuits", including some candid ones of Mr Lee at the rower and the stationary bicycle.

Exercise has always been part of Mr Lee's life and in his recent book, One Man's View Of The World, he wrote: "I must exercise every part of my body to stay in good shape. And that includes my brain.

"At the age of 89, I can sit up and I do not need a walking stick," he wrote in his book, which was launched on Aug 6.


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