Lee Kwan Yew — Husband.Father.Statesman.Friend
It is in human nature to respond to greatness. Whether it is well scored soccer goal or a thought provoking piece of art, to celebrate greatness, is human. There is a need to respond when one perceives great sacrifice, great deeds, great character and great humanity.
I, like many of my fellow Singaporeans have spent the last few days honoring and discovering and reflecting about the life and legacy of Mr Lee Kwan Yew. As I discovered more about him, his life and times and what he lived for, I came to a conclusion that Mr Lee was, a Great Man. I mean, more than just being a good politician, lawyer and diplomat, Lee Kwan Yew was a great man.
He was an exemplary husband whose love for his wife was the stuff of legends.
He was a good father who raised his children well.
He was a politician who was hard and uncompromising but was 100% committed to Singapore.
He was a mentor whose insights were valued by many of the top leaders. One of the first world leaders to offer his condolences was president Obama who said
“…generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development. I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific.”
He was a friend to many. As the tributes poured in, many of the tributes from names which included some of the most recognizable names on the planet included the lines “I considered him a friend… “
Husband, Father, Statesman, Mentor, Friend.
These were perhaps the titles he lived for, and in that order of importance.
In this day and age, we have many different perspectives on what being a man is supposed to be like. After reading this particular story, my perspective on this topic has changed somewhat.
“in 2003, when Mdm. Kwa suffered her first stroke, Mr. Lee made the effort to adjust his lifestyle to look after her although he was still in the Cabinet as Senior Minister, and later Minister Mentor. He took care of her complicated medication regime. Because Mdm. Kwa lost her left field of vision, Mr. Lee would sit on her left side during meals, reminding her to finish the food on the left side of the plate. He would also meticulously pick up the food Mdm. Kwa’s left hand dropped. Mr. Lee urged Mdm. Kwa to exercise by swimming daily and would measure her blood pressure several times in a day. Although their daughter, Lee Wei Ling, contacted a doctor who invented a watch-like device to measure blood pressure, Mdm. Kwa said:
“I prefer to have my husband measure my blood pressure.”
As I watched the procession progress slowly from the Istana to the Parliament House the gun carriage appeared and slowly made its way down orchard road, I found myself slowly standing up and applauding a life well lived.
I am inspired. Thank you Mr Lee. you’re the Man.