With the demise of our founding father, I have to, ashamedly, admit that it wasn’t till now that I felt I understood Mr Lee better; only when I started to read the outpouring of tributes from the various influential leaders all over the world. Only then did I understand how he has amplified this little country on the world map, giving it a voice totally disproportionate to its size. I guess the list of overseas delegates who attended his funeral is a testament to how people have respected him for his far-sightedness and pragmatism in governance.
While browsing through excerpts from the interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, I found myself having to re-read the para repeatedly which expresses his gratitude towards Mr Lee for allowing him to understand that governing is really about efficacy rather than ideology, that instead of trying to craft your governance and facts around an ideology, it is more important to search for the right answer, which has indeed transformed Singapore from a third to first world country incredulously in just one generation. This is, pragmatism and decisiveness, from the Singapore model. Indeed which has turned into a valuable Singapore lesson for many other countries round the world, termed aptly by Blair as the quality of governance.
This somehow struck a chord in me as I have always read about pragmatism and a forward-looking government (in our Social Studies textbook in Secondary school) as an essential prerequisite for a successful country but have never really understood what it really means and the impacts it could bring (as I was the late 80s babies) until we see the fruition of Mr Lee’s governance over the past few decades from the various documentaries shown on tele. And from the tributes of world leaders around the globe, they have clearly expressed the qualities that have made them hold Mr Lee in such high esteem – his practicality and the more highly-revered forward-lookingness, that even has gotten the late Margaret Thatcher (Former Prime Minister of UK) to say (Quoting) “there was no prime minister she admired more than Mr Lee for the strength of his convictions, his clarity of his views and his vision of the way ahead”.
Now as this marks the end of the week-long national mourning and while his spirit still burns within us, let us, young and old Singaporeans alike, not forget the lessons/attributes learnt from this great man today. Apply them to our daily life, all for a greater future for a place we call home. Thank you Mr Lee for such a valuable lesson. (Hope to get my hand on all his books asap!)
And with that, I would like to end this post with his quote:
You begin your journey not knowing where it will take you. You have plans you have dreams, but every now and then, you have to take unchartered roads, face impassable mountains, cross treacherous rivers, be blocked by landslides and earthquakes. That’s the way my life has been…
Your worldly wealth, you can’t take with you. Your life has been lived.
Mr Lee, you are dearly missed…