Outpouring of good wishes for Mr Lee on social media

Outpouring of good wishes for Mr Lee on social media

Once a week, undergraduate Doris Kwoh, 23, visits a group of elderly residents in Commonwealth to check on them.

But on Thursday, aside from keeping them company, she recorded videos of five of them with her smartphone, thanking Mr Lee Kuan Yew for his contributions to Singapore.

At home, she edited the videos into a single clip and uploaded it on Facebook, where it garnered more than 13,400 views as of 10.30pm last night and was shared by Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.

"These seniors, who went through Singapore's tough times with Mr Lee, have always been telling me how grateful they are to him. I wanted to capture and share their feelings," she said.

"I hope that somehow, Mr Lee and his family will be able to see the video and feel encouraged."

Like Ms Kwoh, many Singaporeans have been expressing their good wishes to Mr Lee - who remains critically ill at the Singapore General Hospital - by using social media's multimedia capabilities and reach to convey their feelings.

Artists produced portraits of Mr Lee and posted their works online. Ms Pepperika See shared a painting captioned as her "tribute to our charismatic leader", while Mr Lawrence Koh uploaded a video of a sand painting with the words "father of Singapore".

Many netizens tweeted photos of Mr Lee taken during different stages of his life as they reflected on his role as the country's first prime minister.

"The truth is, many of us won't be able to build our dreams without him," said one tweet, which was accompanied by a photo of Mr Lee and his late wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, during their time as students in Britain.

Others simply expressed their emotions using just words.

Bangkok-based former opposition politician Nicole Seah wrote on her Facebook page: "Even though I am not in Singapore with all of you right now, I feel the same trepidation as if I was right there, refreshing all the news sites and keeping close tabs on any development. Whether we agree or disagree with what he has done, we cannot deny that this is a man of great intellect, talent and ambition to give Singapore the profile that it has and moulded it into what it is today...

"Whatever the outcome, LKY has led a full life dedicated to doing the best he could for us, and I hope that people will know better and have the sense to respect that, and to respect him for the years he has given, than to bay for blood or cast stones."

Taxi driver Ganesh Sundram's March 18 Facebook note, which reminded Singaporeans of what they can be grateful for because Mr Lee "had a vision and he went about executing it", has been shared by nearly 16,300 people.

"That man... whether u like it or not... was a key installation to the life we have today... not sang nila utama... or that tengku... or stamford raffles... The name is LEE KUAN YEW... and if he is no longer ard... i WILL feel sad..." said part of his post.

Speaking to The Straits Times, he recalled picking up a South African couple at the airport.

During the drive, he noticed the wife clutching her handbag tightly and keeping it hidden from view. "But the husband, who worked here for a few years, told her, 'Darling, this is Singapore, you don't have to do that.'

"At that moment, I felt so proud of my country and so lucky to have been born here," Mr Ganesh said.

The outpouring of sentiments online was no surprise to Nanyang Technological University associate professor Augustine Pang, who studies public communications.

He said: "Mr Lee is someone who attracts adoration and respect, and social media allows people to participate collectively and yet express themselves individually."

He said Singapore's celebration of its 50th anniversary was also a reminder that "Mr Lee's narrative has always been intertwined with that of Singapore's. It's part of the increasing participatory climate, people want to have their say and want to be heard".

ziliang@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 21, 2015.
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