Days Like These

It’s been a long, long time. School’s really eating up my time, so I have been away. I’ve got so many stories to tell you, and so much I want to hear from you – but that’s a conversation for another day.

He passed more than a week ago, and there was a week-long national mourning for the people of Singapore, and friends from all over the world. I’ve decided to make this post after the funeral procession ended just last Sunday. Photo credits to Straits Time Singapore, Channel News Asia and People’s Action Party’s Facebook group. 

——

29th March, 2015.

The sirens sounded throughout the entire country; to mark the minute of silence, a moment to mourn our passing former Prime Minister. Some quick shushes here and there, some side-way glances.

And the world fell silent.


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Some call our state authoritarian, some say it’s a “nanny state” or a state without fun and freedom. They call our leadership dictatorship, mock-democracy, iron-gripped totalitarianism or even brainwashed; similar to North Koreans. Some can’t tell us from China, others believed we were still a fishing village.

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What Mr.Lee believed in was Singapore.
All these time – after the World War 2 seige by the Japanese, after the British left us, after we were ejected from Malaysia only after a short 2 years. He bravely believed. And it was because of he and his team that we’ve come this far.

Thatcher on LKY:

“Prime Minister, I wonder if it is true that when you were leaving Cambridge your tutor said “Well, Mr. Lee, when you get back I hope you will keep the flag flying”

and that you replied “When I get back I will make it my duty to get the flag down”.

And Freedom?

Westerners ridicule Singapore for restrictions on personal expression, on freedom of choice for their personal lifestyle and our ‘strict’ disciplined citizens.
Of course we’re not perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

What we ‘sacrificed’ for individual liberties for is a kind of freedom for our society.

——

Freedom is being able to step out late at night, to catch a movie or stroll by the beach.
Freedom is where your children can safely take the train by themselves, 10 miles away after dark.
Freedom is where I know there is nothing to fear in the back alleys.
Freedom is knowing I can fall asleep in a taxi, and the uncle would ferry me home and wake me up with a gentle tap.
Freedom is where you feel at home whilst wearing a hijab, a dastar or a tudung.

——

We were prepared to make our individual expression a bit less free in order to make our community a bit more whole. Where we are to embrace the Singapore’s pledge, working as one regardless or race. It is where the Muslim mosque is right across the road to a Christian church, and a Buddhist temple 2 blocks away. There’s a really good satay cart outside that Hindu temple too, maybe you’d like to bring back some to your Catholic church?

But that’s not where the crowd prayed at last week. Instead, they poured into the streets and into tribute centers.
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And these are our men and women.

 

This is the country where our people stood as one, and cried as one, regardless of beliefs and skin color. funeral-crowds-data

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The padang queue, at 12 AM. 1427472444673840 This is the country where our people would wait for 10 hours in line, just to pay our final respects to Mr Lee, where our servicemen and servicewomen have to start cutting off the crowd. Where our transportation service have to be opened for 24 hours, just to cope with the crowd. 1427326191245734

The queue at Padang, 4am. 1427327236583832 This is the country where our people would line the streets as the State Funeral cortège passes through the heartlands, to send off a man who lived and breathed Singapore.

1427605443784483 1427606514422523 And as cortège passes, the people would lower their umbrellas, and get drenched in rain. Just so they could give Mr Lee a final salute, a final serenade of some of our Nation’s songs, and wave their flags proudly, shouting his name til throats go dry.

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Soldiers braving the rain giving Mr.Lee a final salute.

Do you want to know what he accomplished?
Then look around you; it’s more than the clean streets, waterways and high-rise buildings.

It’s our people.

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And the heavens cried during our first National Parade; where our people 50 years ago said to themselves:

“I must not fall. And if I must, then the flag – it must not fall.”

 

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This is the country where, 50 years ago – a man cried for a Nation.

And today, a nation weeps for him.

And all of the above, are my friends, my family, my brothers and my sisters.
Sons and Daughters of Singapore.

Days like these, where Singaporeans mourn as one. 
Days like these, we are all Singaporeans.

Not Singaporean Malay, not Singaporean Chinese, not
Singaporean Indian, not Singaporean Caucasian and the like.

Just Singaporeans.

Majulah Singapurah.

One thought on “Days Like These

  1. I’m so sorry to hear that such a great leader has passed. It is devastating, to lose a man who is so influential, who fought so bravely for a nation he truly believed in. But yet it is so inspiring, to see a nation brought together in such a time, to weep on each other’s shoulders and stand as one. It is clear that his impact was profound, and that he will long be remembered.

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