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24 March 2015

On the passing of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew


To all Singaporeans

On the occasion of the passing of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, I wish to convey my condolences to you all. I felt the news heavily this morning. It is a significant day. Across the world today, Singapore is in the minds of millions of people.

Any reading of Singapore’s history since the 1950’s recognizes the enormous ongoing changes which bolstered Singapore’s development. The Singapore story is awe-inspiring. Spanning every decade since, the hard work, determination, and courage to change were often driven by necessity. National progress like Singapore’s requires enormous determination. His leadership and the kampung spirit of Singaporeans is a shared story of achievement.

I pay tribute to Singapore and to Singaporeans who have lived through these changes under Lee Kuan Yew and his successors. When I have met Singaporeans in Australia they seemed proud and confident to say “I’m Singaporean.” There seems to me to be a quiet determination in the Singaporean national character. Then again, that quiet is like that of a lion.

Lee Kuan Yew was deeply respected and widely known in Australia. His unique reputation was as a forthright, sometimes fierce, and always informed leader. When he spoke in Australia, people listened. When he spoke he always said something. For example, in the late 1970’s during a visit he even said that Australia was “in danger of becoming the white trash of Asia if it did not reform its economy.” You can imagine that this comment was hotly debated for decades. Finally he said in 2007, “Your economy has changed. The comment was made in the heat of the moment. It is now irrelevant.” Such was the respect given to his view, people needed him to say it.

The importance of education in Singapore is significant in the country’s successful development. No doubt, it will always play a key role in the future development. Lee Kuan Yew spoke strongly about culture and language and learning. He was a role model for life-long learning. The decisions he took as Prime Minister required him to be deeply knowledgeable about everything. Surely, he was one of the most well-read and thoughtful leaders of our times. He forced himself to be progressive by learning everything he could and being ready to debate. He was an original. He set a standard. He was relentless. The Singapore that he helped build and the country he led and which exists in 2015 has attracted my family and I to make our life here. His legacy has many tentacles.

On the passing of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, we acknowledge his leadership and contribution and that of his fellow leaders and successors which he nurtured. May Singapore continue to prosper for another fifty years and may Singaporeans find confidence in his example that this one man and this ‘little red dot’ is important to the world. It is a country of which the world expects a lot. May he rest in peace after a lifetime of work.

Yours in sympathy

Allan Menagh
General Manager
Kumon Singapore

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