Sunday, 29 March 2015


29 March 2015 was a dark day for Singapore. The skies opened with grief, pouring a torrential load on much of the island as Singapore's first Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923- 23 March 2015) was laid to rest after a glorious fight and final illness nobly borne. 

The cortege moved from Parliament House to University Cultural Centre for the funeral service, greeted by thousands who lined the streets despite the deluge. After the service, attended by many of the world's dignitaries, the cortege took a northward journey to Mandai Crematorium where the final rites were administered. 

We witnessed the moving service via computer, and then made our way to Farrer Road where the cortege passed for the final time. The street was lined with Singaporeans and foreign talents alike, many attired in black and some carrying Singapore flags. All had come to pay tribute for the man who made Singapore happen despite all the odds. 

9 August 1965 was the day when the new nation was born, ejected from the Federation of Malaysia, without natural resources nor a glimmer of hope to survive. "And yet we made it," to quote a popular song, and this was in the most part due to Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his indefatigable cabinet. He ruled without fear nor favour from 1959 to 1990, and had his critics who decried a lack of freedom in the so-called "Nanny State" or "Disneyland with the Death penalty". But think for a moment, would you prefer to live in any of the neighbouring ASEAN countries, which have perceived greater freedoms to protest or demonstrate?  

When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd,
And the great star early droop'd 
in the Western sky in the night,
I mourn'd, and yet shall mourn 
with ever-returning spring...

O powerful western fallen star
O shades of night 
O moody, tearful night! 
O great star disappeared 
O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless
O helpless soul of me
O harsh surrounding sky that will not free my soul...

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, 
That day and night with the 
great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop'd flags 
with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the states themselves
as of crape-vale'd women standing,
With processions long and winding
and the flambeaus of the night...
Here, coffin that slowly passes
I give you my sprig of lilac. 

O how shall I warble myself for 
the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song 
for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be 
for the grave of him I love?

Come lovely and soothing death,
Undulate round the world, 
serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later delicate death. 

I cease from my song for thee,
From my gaze on thee from the west,
fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous 
with the silver face in the night...

For the sweetest and wisest soul 
of all my days and lands,
- and this for his dear sake,
Lilac and star and bird twined 
with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines 
and the cedars dusk and dim.

quoted from
Lilacs Last In The Dooryard Bloom'd,
Walt Whitman


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