Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Dear colleagues, 


We are here today to pay tribute to our former prime minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who have passed away. I am truly honoured to be here. Me and my colleagues in Berita Harian, wish to extend our condolence to the Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, for the lost of his papa and in this difficult times, we too grieve for we lost one of Singapore’s finest son.

Let me now share, a personal thought, in both English and Malay, of the man, who have contributed much to the building and success of this nation.


In memoriam


how do i remember thy
for whom he has been one
among the many who plays a part
in shaping my view about life

i read his books, aplenty
i translated his words, interpreted his works

i covered his walks and travel with him for miles

all in a decade, I got a sneak
of his life, love and struggles
the challenges i must say, enormous
for a statesman he is, having that courage
leading his men, taking care of them
from cradle to grave

he build this nation, achieving his vision
turning this little island into a place one called Home

what he fear is complacency, and I keep reminding
myself, relaxing is never free

Life is not just eating, drinking, television and cinema…The human mind must be creative, he said… well, am trying, no?

He once said, I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens.
If only I can muster the courage to tell himyou did, sir.

I am the product of your policy – of two child per family!

Once, we were in KL for his eight-day visit to Malaysia, I asked during our usual wrap-up interview: “MM… (He was then Minister Mentor) why don’t you meet (Dr) Mahathir?”

His answer in Malay was short yet crisp

Dia orang besar… saya orang kecil (He is a big man, I am a small man)…


And that one liner response, reminded me of his words:

“You lose nothing by being polite.” I agree and indeed, “Politeness is 
the flower of humanity,” as said by Joseph Joubert. 


Now in Malay:


Sejauh perjalananmu


sejauh perjalananmu, memartabat nusa

menyeka keringat warga, yang lelah sesudah dijajah


sejauh perjalananmu, memacak jati diri anak zaman

tanpa sekali mengira suku-suku yang mewarna

menyemai benih-benih kesatuan, meski persatuan digugah-gugat

api-api persengketaan, hingga luka dan berdarah…


seawal hadirmu dunia menerka…

tanah ini tidak mampu menjanjikan 

selautan harta, segedung khazanah


engkau meniup semangat 

agar si walah bangkit, membangun pertiwi nan kontang

menjadikan ia apa-apa, walau tanpa apa-apa


lima darsawarsa sesudah, Singapura kini di kemuncak

engkau pendorongnya…


Chairul Fahmy Hussaini

26th March 2015, Thursday

– Speech cum eulogy delivered during SPH’s Memorial Event for former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew at SPH News Centre, 1000 Toa Payoh North, held between 11am to 12pm and was attended by more than 700 staff.


SINGAPORE – Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died at the Singapore General Hospital on Monday at the age of 91 on March 23rd 2015, Monday. He had been hospitalised since February 5th at Singapore General Hospital for severe pneumonia, which saw him being sedated and was put under mechanical ventilation fom February 21st.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has declared a seven-day period of national mourning.

Many Singaporeans were still asleep as the news broke in the early hours of the morning. 

“The Prime Minister is deeply grieved to announce the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore. Mr Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3.18 am. He was 91,” says the first statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) sent at 04:04am announcing the passing of Mr Lee. 

At 6.31am the Prime Minister declares a period of national mourning for seven days – from Monday (March 23) to Sunday (March 29). The PMO says that flags on government buildings will be flown at half-mast for the duration.

The body of the MP of Tanjong Pagar was brought to Istana for private wake for a day before it will be lying-in-state at the Parliament House for dignitaries and public giving their last respect.

After four days of lying-in-state at Parliament House, there will be funeral procession for Mr Lee Kuan Yew on Sunday, March 29,  from Parliament House to University Cultural Centre at National University of Singapore. The procession will cover significant landmarks like the Old Parliament House, as well as heartland areas.

Covering a distance of 15.4km, it will commence at 12.30pm. Other landmarks include City Hall, the Padang, NTUC Centre and Singapore Conference Hall.

The state funeral service will be held at 2pm until 5.15pm on Sunday at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore. After the funeral service, the late Mr Lee will make his final journey to Mandai Crematorium. The cremation service will be private. 

Mandai Crematorium will be closed on Sunday (Mar 29) from 1pm for the cremation service for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore.

Harry Lee (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015) leaves behind his sons, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 63, and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, 57, daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling, 60, daughters-in-law Ho Ching, 61, and Lee Suet-Fern, 56, seven grandchildren and two siblings. 

His wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, died in 2010, at the age of 89. – The Straits Times, ChannelNewsAsia.



About chairulfahmy

A writer.
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