Dear Mr Lee,
As Singapore turns 50 this year, we are missing something.
Yes, that is your gracious presence, Mr Lee. Your absence during SG50 — on our nation’s milestone birthday — is a great loss to us Singaporeans.
There were many praiseworthy things that happened after you left, Sir, but there are some key events that I feel compelled to share with you, just to share the joy and pride, if nothing else.
1. Singapore Botanic Gardens named UNESCO World Heritage Site
Singapore is honoured to have Singapore Botanic Gardens as our first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo Credit: ST Photo
You were a nature-lover and we all know that you were the man behind the making of Singapore as a Garden City. And you loved the Botanic Gardens, didn’t you?
You would visit the Gardens at least once or twice a month in your last year with us. You spent time admiring the orchids at the National Orchid Garden, the opening of which you yourself graced in 1995. You took great pleasure in the refreshing sights and tingling smells of the plantations at the Fragrant Garden and Healing Garden.
Now, let me tell you the good news. On 4th July in Bonn, Germany, Singapore Botanic Gardens was officially designated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site! The nation cheered when we heard this, as it is yet another accolade to our amazing country you helped build.
Mr Lee, it would have made your heart sing to see the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Heritage Site plaque proudly announcing the achievement at the Tanglin gate.
2. Singaporean athletes break records
The opening of the Singapore Sports Hub is testament to Singapore’s commitment to making its mark in the sports arena. Photo Credit: Skyscanner
Sir, you were always supportive of the sports scene in Singapore. When Singapore hosted the 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), you were there. You came to show your support when, at 86, nobody would have blamed you if you had preferred to watch the YOG from the comfort of your home.
When you graced us with your presence at the final leg of the Journey of the Youth Olympic Flame, you also endorsed your support for sports for the youths with your words:
“We support the ideals of Olympism and in the way it aims to encourage young people to take up sports and embrace and live by the values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect through the Youth Olympic Games.”
Let me share a piece of news that will make you so proud. Singapore has made history, yet again, this time in the area of sports. The Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held in our country in June saw Singapore coming in second, just after Thailand.
We may gotten the same position many years ago, in the 1975 SEA Games, but this time round, we hauled in a record-breaking 259 medals, which include an impressive 84 gold medals! We beat our own record of 164 medals when the Games were hosted in Singapore in 1993.
SG Heart Map
The Singapore Heart Map project is a heartwarming endeavour by Singaporeans. Photo Credit: Today Online
Then, there was the SG Heart Map project. As you know, it was launched in November 2014 as part of the plans to celebrate our nation’s Golden Jubilee. The SG Map is a manifestation of the love that Singaporeans feel for the country, knowing that deep down Singapore is and will always be home.
The SG map is a crowd-sourced initiative that maps out places — both old and new– in our island. It is also a collection of heart-warming stories, which help us to reminisce about the past and anticipate the exciting future—a project for Singaporeans, by Singaporeans.
How I wish, Mr Lee, that you could have joined SG Heart Map tours. From the “Scenic South-East” and the “Enchanting South-West” to the “Captivating North-East,” the Adventurous North-West,” and the “Charming Central” tours, you would have been delighted to visit those places—places which embody the Singaporean culture and lifestyle, then and now. Think Changi Airport, Chong Pang Market and Food Centre, and Punggol Waterway.
SG50 Jubilee Weekend
A line-up of exciting events occurred at Gardens by the Bay. Photo Credit: Mynewsdesk
I have to tell you about the wave of excitement that swept over the island during our historic Jubilee Weekend, from the 7th to 10th of August.
The SG50 Jubilee Weekend kicked off with a healthy, meaningful, and beautiful start. Hordes of participants joined the Community Chest Heartstrings Walk 2015 – SG50 Community Heartbeats at Marina Bay Sands Event Plaza on 7 August morning. This showed our commitment to being not only a health-conscious society but also a kind and compassionate lot, with the hearts of Singaporeans all beating as one.
Festivities continued over the next few days, with concerts, performances, and carnivals. There was an aerial display above the waters off the Marina South area, showcasing the spectacular manoeuvres by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Black Knights, every noon time till National Day.
The Marina Bay area also underwent a dazzling makeover every night, with glowing lights and colours, mesmerising the crowd with fireworks.
National Day Parade 2015
Dazzling fireworks and the “5-stars” aerial flypast by the RSAF Black Knights, which was a tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, graced the National Day Parade 2015. Photo Credit: Mindef
What saddens me most is that you were not here with us on the day that our nation celebrated 50 years of independence on our 50th National Day at the historic Padang.
We celebrated our National Day with a lot more fireworks exploding into our city-state’s skyline, double the amount that is usually set off, because it really was a Jubilee celebration. What took our breath away was the Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Black Knights. They impressed us by not only their amazing criss-cross stunts but also the formation of the number 50 with their F-16s! You would have been so proud of them, Mr Lee.
In the midst of the exuberant celebrations we remembered you, Mr Lee.
In honour of you, a “Five Stars” Tribute Aerial Flypast was executed to signify Singapore’s values, the very same values with which you governed our country: democracy, peace, progress, justice, and equality.
You were key in leading us through young Singapore 50 years ago, enabling us to enjoy its impressive growth. You are the main reason Singapore is not just a red dot on the map, but a country that is a globally recognised and respected.
We no longer have you to guide us, but we still have your words of wisdom to live by.
I wish you had been here. Or perhaps you had been here all along, showering us with your blessings.
Rest in peace, Mr Lee.
P.S : This year, many international newspapers and media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, CNN, CNBC, and the Sydney Morning Herald reported on our celebration of 50 years of independence and our remarkable progress. CNN even commented that Singapore is a “clean, green economic powerhouse” and that it is “hard to believe it gained its independence only 50 years ago.” This is yet another commendation on how far we have come. Thank you again, Mr Lee.