Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A nation grieves, with deep Respect and Admiration...Mrs Lee Kuan Yew, wake, Istana.

For more than half a century, in fact close to 60 years of Singapore's political history, she was always in the shadow, always in the background. Singaporeans could easily identify with the face and figure of our founding father... former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. But Kwa Geok Choo who became Mrs Lee Kuan Yew when they were married in December 1947 played no less an important role in those early momentous years.

Her gentle passing at 5.40 pm at her Oxley Road home on Saturday ( 2nd Oct 2010 ) has set an entire nation in grief. From all corners of our island and all walks of life, sincere warm tributes gushed forth ..and these are our ordinary citizens, old and young, across our multi-racial society.
Even PRs and foreign visitors caught the nation's drift and moods these past days.

Unk Dicko dedicate this blogpost solely in rememberance and recognition of this great lady of Singapore. Reading her life story it would not be wrong to liken her to a beacon, a lighthouse which provides safety and guidance for all by shining its light brightly. It wasn't only MM and his family that has benefited from such a remarkable woman.
She has ,while alive, inspired many through her gentle strength and brilliance.
And now with her sad passing, she will inspire even more mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and not forgetting half a million school children who will undoubtedly look up this wonderful mother figure as someone they hope to emulate or learn from.

KWA GEOK CHOO 1920 - 2010

[ Picture source: CNA online ]

Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew in Cambridge 1947

[ Picture source: CNA online ]

Mrs Lee Kuan Yew with grand-daughter Li Xiuqi

[ Picture source: CNA online ]

When that little girl ( Xiuqi ) grew up, she went through her secondary education and entered Hwa Chong Junior College for her 'A' Levels. Unk Dicko was one of those who taught her class. I can still recall none of my colleagues had the "courage" to take charge of that class being aware of who she was, probably afraid of making some mistakes or whatever that may filter back. So, they requested me to take her class since I was the Head. No problem, she and her CT mates were with me and I found her to be an unusual leader. It was on her own initiative, that she got the PE or sports equipment needed for the lessons and had them arranged neatly and nicely even before I came before the class! No other student in my experience had done so in my long years there or elsewhere. Normally, we had to roster some students to do such menial tasks. When the lesson ended she took it upon herself to organise the return and safekeeping of all the stuff used. I need not have to worry at all and she'll return the store key to me personally . To me, she was a jewel. It showed that despite her high family background, she was not unaccustomed to pitch in to help anyway she could. She was also not the kind of student who expected "special' treatment from any of us during her JC days. It spoke volumes of the upbringing she had and I wouldn't be surprised her favourite grandma (Mrs Lee K Y ) had much to do with it.

Below is a touching account about her grandmother by my former student Li Xiuqi. Also a nice picture.

Tuesday 5 October 2010

The members of the public and other organised groups began streaming into the Istana groundssince Monday to pay their last respects at her official wake. They came from near and far, many braving the fierce sun for 2 hours or more in the long queues that formed.

Unk Dicko and his friends from Kampong Serangoon went there this morning in an organised group. There were 2 lines only- 1 for the public and another for groups. The queue for the public was super long stretching from where the wake is held, far inside the Istana, to the main gate
at Orchard Road. Still I could see more people joining in despite the big numbers.
It clearly showed how much this woman meant to them, not forgetting the pain and loss that MM and his family must be bearing bravely.

Security was very tight. Individuals and all vehicles had to go through checks and scanners.
Because my party was only 20 strong, we were fortunate to move in less than 10 minutes.

[ Pictures from Unk Dicko ]

The long lines proceeding towards the Istana annexe.

Some members of my group as they moved forward.

Friends and GRLs from Kampong Serangoon assemble and wait for their

turn before they proceeded into the wake chamber.

Kampong Serangoon people remember!

After paying our respects at Mrs Lee's flower draped casket we filed down

another way. That is the building where we came from.
As I was the last one to walk down this path, I asked a fellow kamponger
to capture the moment in time. I was the only one there with a camera.

A section of the people who came now making their way out.

Our chartered bus
Below is an updated link that have many photos that covered the wake at the Istana
as well as the Funeral Ceremony at Mandai Crematorium on 6 Oct 2010.


Icemoon said...

Uncle Dicko, you had my belief suspended for a moment.

> Unk Dicko was one of those who taught her class.

I thought you taught the late Mrs Lee, that would make you as old as that 97 years old lady who taught her at MGS!

unk Dicko said...

I like your sense of humour Icemoon!

Anonymous said...

Dick, it's good you visited the wake with your kakis without being forced to do so by any organisation. That's why I find it distasteful that MCYS staff were 'forced' to line Thomson Road and bow their heads when the cottege went by. This is the act of an over-zealous, misguided civi-servant. It smacks too much of Communist North Korea!

unk Dicko said...

Good Grief! How could anyone give such an order and not expect repercussions later?
Yes, as for my "kakis" and I, we went pay homage and honour to the leading lady in our land for nearly 6 decades.
When our late former SM, Mr S Rajaratnam died and was lying in state at Parliament House,I even brought my young grandsons along to pay homage. My purpose was when they grow up, at the least they'll remember
the great S'porean who wrote the I encouraged them to write in the Memorial Condolence Book.

Anonymous said...

You are right! I remember my father and I going to see Yusok Ishak's funeral cottege. There were so many people. It has stayed in my memory all these years. I was also there when Sheares died. Nobody forced us!

unk Dicko said...

S Rajaratnam passed away on 22 February 2006. At that time, I was in great pain recovering from a major operation on my right Achilles tendon. I was then still in a wheelchair and using a pair of crutches to hobble around. Despite all this handicap, I asked my wifey to "let's all go pay our utmost respects to this dearly beloved Son of Singapore...with our 2 grandkids ".
We had to park very far away, no choice, too many people. I did not realise it was that far! Remember, I was using a pair of crutches to amble along. That walk to Parliament house, turned out to be the longest, toughest struggle I had endured all 8 months of my recuperation!
The policemen there helped to carry my grandsons who were so exhausted by the long walk.
Showing respect comes from deep within our hearts and cannot be forced in anyway.