Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paying Homage and Respect to a Legend.

Yesterday, under a hot and blistering sun, I drove myself to a corner of Singapore I had not visited for a mighty long time....Dunbar Walk, off East Coast Road. It is a neighbourhood that I knew rather well back in the early 60's. As a scout, some of my scouting buddies and I had explored Katong, Siglap and the adjacent Opera Estate areas in the hunt for jobs during annual Job Week.
However, it was for a different reason that I decided to go to Dunbar Walk yesterday.
The beautiful house in Dunbar Walk is the home of Dr Phua Swee Liang and her husband, the late Dr Goh Keng Swee who passed away last Friday morning. Maybe the younger generation may not know who Dr Goh K S was and the IMMENSE role he played in the building of our young nation. The people of my generation who had lived through those tumultous years and seen it all happening before their very eyes not only knew but were deeply thankful that we had among our founding fathers men such as the MM Lee Kuan Yew, former DPM Toh Chin Chye, the late S Rajaratnam, Eddie Barker, Lim Kim San, Hon Sui Sen and Dr Goh Keng Swee.
Even in this elite group of the inner circle, the late Dr Goh is regarded by many as a Giant of a man, and as a leader of the highest standard and quality.
In the years to come, Raffles will still be remembered as the founder of Singapore in 1819. His place in recorded history remains safe.
How will Singapore history remember Dr Goh Keng Swee?
I have no idea what and how future historians will conclude about him.
To me, if we leave MM for a short while out of the picture...then Dr Goh would be the first among equals. Even if we consider all Singaporeans who had ever lived from Raffles' time till today...I truly believe that Dr Goh qualifies as the greatest Singaporean from 1819 till now.
I have the deepest respect and admiration for such a man, such a leader.
And yet, personally I have not known him.
And suddenly, he's gone from among us. Not even the time nor the opportunity to thank this great man for all he has done for us, for Singapore.
Thus my journey there yesterday to pay homage to one of the greatest heros S'pore will ever see...while he's lying peacefully in his simple coffin at his home. Even in death he is still surrounded by simplicity and humility.
Such a man was Dr Goh..frugal, thrifty, my book he is now a LEGEND!

Photo: A side view of his Dunbar Walk home
Another view of the home with the tentage fronting it

There were many wreaths from all over S'pore.

The public, like Unk Dicko, can go to pay their last respects
at the wake at his home. When I walked into the entrance, I was met
by a genial Mr Lim Cheng Hoe ( a seniorMFA staff ) who asked where I was from.
I told him and we chatted about a very close friend of mine who had just
retired as an ambassador.
There was a guest book to pen your condolences. Taking the pen, I wrote
from my heart these words,
" My greatest respect and admiration!
With deep sympathies and condolences.
Dick Yip "
I walked over to pay homage at his open coffin. The late Dr Goh appeared

very serene and peaceful as though he was asleep. He still looked like the face
in the photograph below.
After my own minute of bowed silence and goodbye, I walked out to the patio.
There I was given a copy of the private booklet entitled,
" Goh Keng Swee - PUBLIC FIGURE, PRIVATE MAN "..authored by Dr Phua Swee Liang.

Just as I was about to leave, a party from MOE consisting
of senior staff arrived to pay homage. As I am known to some of them,
I remained behind until they came out and chatted with them.
The MOE senior staff who came. Dr Goh K S played a huge
and pivotal role in transforming the education system and service in 1979.
I still have the entire 1979 Goh Keng Swee report as published in the Straits
Times in my archives.
The booklet given to me has 51 pages and is not for sale.
The book is not a biography but is just a sample of his accomplishments
and contributions to S'pore's development.
It also has captivating anecdotes, photos and some other peeks into
the private side of Dr Goh.

Photo: This is the cover of the Booklet

[ All photos in this story is from Unk Dicko ]

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