SINGAPORE: Through Loss, a Nation Gains Its Spirit: In Memory of Lee Kuan Yew

JOHN PO WRITES – Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passed away peacefully on March 23. As Singapore observed her final day of mourning, the legacy that he leaves behind is one that can be seen in the modern city that is home to 7 million.

Mr. Lee has left behind a legacy that is simply inspiring.  Despite odds greatly stacked against him and the nation that he was attempting to build, much has been achieved in the last half century.

But what have Singaporeans really gained from this titan of history we call our very own? It is important to observe the intangible influences that we have inherited from such a great man.  Singapore has truly become a united nation as we mourn our modern founding father together.  He has left behind a unified Singapore, a true country.

We have sometimes been described as a people that are apathetic, competitive, and straight-laced – in other words, soulless.  In my eyes, over the past seven days of mourning in honoring the late Mr. Lee, we have proved otherwise.


With the outpouring of grief and sadness from Singaporeans here at home, and in many countries across the world, we stand united in our sorrow.  This is what has proved to me our collective Singapore spirit. We came together braving the rain and the heat, waiting hours to pay our last respects. The funeral procession was lined 10 people deep. His name was chanted in the pouring rain.  The scenes throughout these final days are proof of the depth of a people’s affection for their leader.

After witnessing this emotional outpouring from fellow Singaporeans, I respectfully disagree with Mr. Lee that Singapore might not exist in a 100 years. If we continue upholding our collective spirit as we have through this period of mourning, I can confidently say we will continue on  as one people, one nation, one Singapore.

As Mr. Lee once roared, “Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up!”  As of right now, it seems we are on the right track, but we’re going to have stay on top of things if we do not want to wake Mr. Lee from his eternal slumber.

Let us all give him that well deserved final rest. We are eternally grateful to Mr. Lee, for everything he helped us accomplish and everything he has sacrificed. You’ve taught us well. Most of all, thank you for helping us find our fire, our eternal, indomitable Singapore spirit that will help keep Singapore strong. You will forever live on in our hearts.

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