It may sound pagan-putting a dead person on a pedestal or even promoting ancestral worship. To some, it may sound disrespectful to not only a deceased but the deceased who had done much to earn our respect in every way. Pardon me but being a true Singaporean, well-protected in a developing island to a developed country, this is the first time I experienced a lost of someone of such magnitude.
Before the passing of our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, murmurs of fear arise when he was reported critically ill. Our future is uncertain for the utilitarian paradise he has created. The anxieties surfaced were not unfounded.
This is not merely a testament to Mr Lee’s tenure as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, the longest of any in world history, but the singularity and durability of his accomplishment. From Singapore’s independence to the present day, Mr Lee helped fashion what is arguably the most successful and best run city in the world.
In this age of political Lilliputians, we must acknowledge the passing of giants. The news came-Mr Lee Kuan Yew, aged 91, passed away peacefully at Singapore General Hospital on 23 March 2015, at 3:18am.
A 7-days long of mourning-black or white or black and white campaign, the gathering of people, young and old, with the Singaporean’s legendary way of maintaining law and order even in queuing and management of such critical mass, the various expression manifested through tears, songs, poems, cards, flowers , words of sadness & gratitude, unceasing updates by the media and videos enacting history and the makings of Singapore, largely attributed by our late founding father, Mr Lee Kwan Yew, interviews with various members and ex-members of the Parliament and people who had up-close and personal dealings with him. Great leaders from all over the world rushed into our tiny red dot to pay their last respects, spoke not only well of him as a ruler of Singapore but with respect and admiration for the knowledge and wisdom he had contributed much to the world’s development and globalization. The worldwide good relationships he had built over the many years while he was alive were incredible. Countries including India and New Zealand flew their National Flags at half-mast on Sunday to mark the State Funeral for our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He has indeed left a legacy of honor and pride for us, as Singaporeans. Not forgetting a recollection of the most heart-felt love story of Mr and Mrs Lee, recorded in the Memoirs of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and some parts of the story retold by Mr Lee’s children. The period of mourning also included segments to feature Mr Lee’s home and the simplicity of his life, which portrayed how a man had lived out the values he strongly held in his lifetime.
The intensity of remembering Mr LKY continued. Media continued to flash reports on the state funeral, eulogies given by the respective representatives of family, friends, member of Parliament, Singapore citizens, some, of which, may seemed more like propagandists. Family members of Mr LKY who were previously unfamiliar to us start to appear & account for events they had encountered with late Mr Lee. The character of late Mr Lee began to unfold more and more. We had largely only experienced Mr Lee as a product or even by-product of his works. But through the knowledge given, emotions were stirred, historical records were made alive. There is now this new meaning and purpose that gives strength to a belief that we can do it, we can do better, we can excel. A fresh Singaporean-spirit is birthed as we prepare ourselves to celebrate our 50th as a nation.
This is revelation.
I am thankful to be born and living in a time to experience such a revelation from a man’s life. Our God has given Mr Lee Kuan Yew not to India, Korea, USA or UK but to this tiny red dot, an island that got kicked out from Malaysia some 50 years ago as we gained our independence. It is this man, whom we inherit a land we can call home. It is this man, whom we can carry the pride of being Singaporean wherever we go.
I cannot help but relate this whole account to Jesus and my faith journey. God gave His one and only Son to live, die and resurrect so that those who believe in Him shall not perish but be given eternal life. Salvation given to us is not by chance. It is through revelation, God’s revelation. According to John Calvin, we can only know God when God chooses to reveal to us. Have I been taking this revelation for granted that I live as though I am just a product or even by-product of the price Jesus paid on the cross? We express our love and remember Jesus in every creative ways we can come up with, just like what we did for Mr LKY. People were calling out Singaporeans to join hands and sign for petition to make 23 March a Lee Kuan Yew Day as a gazetted public holiday, in remembrance of late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Singaporeans need a day to remind ourselves the contributions of our nation’s founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew and to express our gratitude to him, without whom, there is no modern Singapore. It also serves as a day for the younger generations to reflect and to carry on the ideals of Mr Lee. Expressions of gratitude emerge one after another like naming our new airport after Mr LKY, planting of memorial tree at Duxton Plain Park in honor of Lee Kuan Yew, the upcoming LKY musical played by Adrian Pang and Sharon Aw, and the list goes on.
During the 7-days long of remembering Mr LKY, I felt sad but somehow not enough to be mourning for the lost. There was more a feeling of regret that I did not know more before and that maybe I can be more appreciative of Mr Lee and his works, in the process of growing up. I did the same, together with over 415,000 people who paid their last respects to Mr LKY at the various allocated wakes. I see the pain of some, expressed in words, tears and all. Weeks gone by. We still see decals of remembering MR Lee, here and there, on cars especially. However, news headlines are very quickly updated with life’s happenings and it’s trivial.
As believers of Christ, we remember the suffering and death of Jesus at least once every year. The season of Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar of many Christian denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately forty days towards Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. It is in some ways, a time for mourning with a hope to see Jesus again because He has risen. Year in year out, we go through the motions but do we really mean what we say? Do we know the purpose of what we do? For us as believers, the account of Jesus’s ministry is clearly written and it’s authenticity undeniable-why does it feel so near yet so far, if not all, then most of the time? I am hesitant to claim that I have been observing this period of mourning with clear understanding, giving the due respect to the belief we have, the Jesus we called Savior and the God who is the Author of Life. I am now caught in the limelight, naked, before the King I sing gladly, to bow my knees to, each time I feel spiritual. I feel ashamed that I do not know Him as much as I think I did at this point that He is just right in front of me. I may not even recognize the voice when He gently calls my name once again. I shudder at this sudden awareness that I have fallen short. All these I have mentioned are still not about remembering Jesus. It is still about me, myself and I. It is how I am now being exposed-my insecurities, my baggage, my failures and my weaknesses. John Calvin said the knowledge of self comes with first, the knowledge of God. Without knowing God, we cannot possibly know ourselves by our own efforts. This is revelation-a Truth that sets bondage free. We no longer require our own efforts to know God because we simply cannot! God chooses who, what and when He will reveal Himself. The purpose has never been us or about us. Remembering Jesus has never been more meaningful. This is a fresh touch of the beautiful exchange revealed.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.