SG100 will be even better, said Mr Lee in Jan

Below is an excerpt from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally speech last night, when he shared an anecdote about founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

Can I be sure that Singapore will still be doing well, still be special, come SG100?

Nobody can be sure. Nobody can promise that we will all live happily ever after. We all have our hopes and fears, our views and our guesses.

One opinion that I know everybody would have liked to know was Mr Lee Kuan Yew's.

He's gone now, but some friends did ask him this question not too long ago.

In his old age, a group of friends would regularly take Mr Lee out for meals.

Conversation would flow, and Mr Lee would get a chance to see a different bit of the Singapore that he had built.

The last time they had dinner together was in January this year, shortly before he was taken to hospital.

After Mr Lee died, one of the friends wrote to me, describing what happened. Let me read her letter:

As it was the start of 2015, we talked at length about the celebrations for SG50.

We took turns to encourage Mr Lee to attend as many SG50 events as possible. Actually, we hoped he would be there for the SG50 National Day Parade.

Mr Lee listened to our exhortations, but stopped short of saying "yes" to our suggestions.

At each of our gatherings, it had become a tradition to ask Mr Lee: "Will there be a Singapore many years from now?"

Once, Mr Lee said: "Maybe."

On another, Mr Lee said: "Yes, if there is no corruption."

This was classic Mr Lee - ever-believing in Singapore, yet ever-cognisant that there was always work to be done, that we should never take things for granted.

Continuing with our tradition and in the spirit of SG50, that evening we asked him: "Will there be a Singapore 50 years from now?"

Mr Lee's answer took us all by surprise.

That evening, for the first time, Mr Lee said: "Of course there will be… even better!"

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