10 things we learned about the Lee family from Lee Hsien Yang’s eulogy — Martino Tan

MARCH 29 — All of us have heard elder son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s moving eulogy that highlighted the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s life, achievements and legacy.

Lee Hsien Yang, his second son, chose to share the personal side of his father, at the state funeral service held at the National University of Singapore.

By doing so, the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and former Singtel CEO revealed an aspect of the Lee family that many do not know.

Below are 10 things we learn about the Lee family from Lee Hsien Yang’s eulogy:

1. Lee Kuan Yew’s children were protected by security officers: “As a teenager in secondary school, seeking to assert my independence, I would sometimes ride the public bus. Papa did not object, and my poor security officer had to follow me around on buses. When I was in junior college and keen on outdoor activities, my security officer shadowed me as I trekked around Pulau Ubin, Pulau Tekong and canoed around Singapore.”

2. Lee’s note to Hsien Yang and his wife in his memoirs: “In September 1998, when he gave Fern and me our copy of his memoirs, “The Singapore Story”,  he penned a note with a tinge of regret: “To Yang + Fern, You grew up while I was running around as I describe in this book.”

3. Where the Lee family spent their holidays: “We did not go anywhere far away, posh or exotic: the government rest houses in Fraser’s Hill, Cameron Highlands, and after independence in 1965, Changi Cottage, a small seaside bungalow that holds many precious memories for me.”

4. Lee Kuan Yew used to love golf: “Golf was Papa’s principal recreation, so golf featured prominently not only on vacations, but also after work in the evenings. The nine hole course in the Istana grounds provided ample room for us children to find adventure whilst he golfed.”

5. Lee family’s first holiday overseas: “In January 1973 when I was 15, Ling and I joined Papa and Mama on a trip to visit Loong who was at university in Cambridge. It was our very first family holiday where we traveled so far away. On that trip, Papa and Mama took the family to Stratford upon Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.”

6. Lee and his wife do not always agree on family matters: “When Fern and I married in 1981, Papa was keen to have us live with them at Oxley Road. Mama, perhaps because of her own difficulties living with her in-laws as a new bride, and Fern too, had reservations”.

“The arrival of grandchildren was also a source of great joy for Papa and Mama. Mama was traditional enough to have been thrilled that Fern and I had one son after another but my sense is that Papa would have been equally happy and delighted if we had had three girls”.

7. Hsien Yang started holding family gatherings: “Fern and I wanted to help the family hold together and create some happy occasions to continue to share…we began inviting the family to our home for Papa’s and Mama’s respective birthdays, for which I would cook a simple meal…Papa loved a good steak and had a Peranakan sweet tooth for desserts.”

8. LKY vs Li Shengwu: “The grandchildren had views of their own and could be outspoken, and were often ready to engage with Papa on issues of the day. I recall one birthday dinner where Shengwu debated with his Ye Ye till late, long after we had finished dinner, both sides wanting to ensure that the other understood his perspective and point of view!” Li Sheng Wu is the son of Hsien Yang and won the Best Speaker in the World (World Universities Debating Championship) in 2010.

9. Visiting the zoo with grandchildren: “When the grandchildren were little, Papa would love to have them playing around him as he exercised after work in the evenings. At weekends he and Mama often took them out – to the zoo, the bird park, the science centre and other places where families like to go.”

10. The pet names the Lee family used for each other: Papa (Lee Kuan Yew), Mama (Kwa Geok Choo), Loong (Lee Hsien Loong), Ling (Lee Wei Ling), Fern (Lim Suet Fern, Hsien Yang’s wife) and Yang (Lee Hsien Yang). — Mothership.sg

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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