It was about 1:00 PM (Pacific time) when the phone buzzed with an update from Bloomberg News: Lee Kuan Yew passes at 91.
Thinking it was another hoax that was perpetuated by the mass media, and remembering the false statement that was published the week before, I decided to ignore it. However, text messages and updates started to pour in, reputable news sources such as Wall Street Journal and Reuters started publishing their pieces. It was then, I realized that one of Singapore’s founding fathers’ had passed away.
While the consensus from Singaporean students in California has been that of wanting to escape Singapore for a while, most of us still have fond memories of the rise of Singapore — more notably from all the social studies education that we received at the tender ages of ten and up.
From Daniel Chew, a sophomore at the University of Southern California:
“To our founding father, you will be sorely missed, thank you for making Singapore what it is today, you spend your whole life transforming what used to be a dot into what is now an exclamation mark. Your legacy will live on for generations to come. RIP LKY.”
From Evangeline Ang, a senior at the University of Southern California:
“I am saddened by the loss of such a great leader. Some might say that he had a harsh hand or some harsh policies but I do believe that it was the right strategy to take a young country out of the rut it was in. We have a Singapore that we are all proud of — one that we can live in multi-racial and religious harmony. It is thanks to him that we can be called a country of the future.”
Despite our differences in opinion of the current political, economical or social climate of Singapore, all of us agree that Singapore would not have had a meteoric rise in success without the vision and leadership of Lee Kuan Yew. The million dollar question for us would be: What changes would this bring to Singapore in the near future, and is it enough to tempt us to come back home yet?