「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Count on us, Mr. Lee

By Tan Ying Zhen


When ST suggested I write about what Mr. Lee Kuan Yew means to me as a young Singaporean, I agreed readily.

Now, a week after Mr. Lee passed away on March 23rd, I'm tearing up as I tap away at the keyboard. It has been a dark week for Singapore as our country grieved as one people.

I never thought I'd feel this mix of sorrow, regret and loss so deeply. I have never met Mr. Lee, the founding prime minister of Singapore. I wasn't there when he gave his feisty rally speeches, though I've watched them on TV. I was not amongst the older generation who looked to him for leadership when it seemed impossible for such a tiny island to survive.

I grew up in the 1980s in a safe and stable Singapore. We learned our country's history from textbooks, museum visits and stories from our elders. We thought of Mr. Lee as the pivotal figure who played a crucial role in Singapore's transformation.

Then somewhere along the way, we started hearing alternative views on him. I found myself thinking about his policies and the controversy surrounding some of them. Many peers grew critical of the leader who had always been larger than life.

But we found ourselves standing alongside our pioneers who'd fought alongside Mr. Lee in the tumultuous years. We took leave from work or queued through the night or in the hot sun for up to ten hours to pay our respects to him as he lay in state. As we lived through history this past week, we learned more about him than we'd ever known.

We heard from elderly Singaporeans how he'd promised to give them a better life, and how he'd fulfilled those promises. Our hearts broke as we saw usually stoic Singaporeans break down as they expressed their thanks. We realized how much we'd taken for granted. Some may disagree with some of his views, but there's no way anyone can deny his dedication and contribution to Singapore.

We also learned more about ourselves. So much of what makes Singapore Singapore, and what makes us Singaporean — our multi-racialism, bilingualism and belief in meritocracy, to name but three things — can be traced to his vision for our home country.

Singaporeans are not known for being expressive. But we have surprised ourselves in our unity and show of gratitude to the man whose legacy lives around us and in us. For he showed us what kind of people we could be.

So we lined the streets, drenched in torrential rain, to bid a final farewell as Mr. Lee's cortege made its 15.4-km journey to the state funeral.

Thank you, Mr. Lee. Count on us to do our best and more for Singapore, just like you did.



The Japan Times ST: April 24, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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