IN PARLIAMENT TODAY: Frail but still a Giant – Mr Lee. On 3 June 1959, a momentous event occurred at City Hall. Yet, despite the historic impact that the day will make there was no photographic record. No pressmen or photographers were allowed. On that day, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was sworn in as Prime Minister of the State of Singapore, signaling that Singapore was now self-governing. He and our early pioneers weathered the storm with fellow Singaporeans, creating a dynamic and developed nation in a short 50 years.
This afternoon at our tea break, the conversation at our table fell into a respectful silence for a moment. With my back to the door, I had not seen Mr Lee enter the Members’ Room. We all stood up and made space for him. He insisted on getting up from his wheelchair and to sit with us and just have a drink. While he looks much thinner and gaunt and halting though his speech, the conversation we had over the next 15minutes reveal the continued sharpness of his mind and the wisdom and counsel of his years.
I walked behind him as he entered the chamber, and was reminded of the painting by Dr Lai Kui Fang which hangs outside the Parliament Library, a recreation from interviews and memories of that moment in 1959, when Mr Lee and his comrades led Singapore to self-government, and how the now slightly frail gentleman is a giant of our nation.
I think many are watching for this Saturday when the parade takes place and for the presence of Mr Lee. We asked him if he will be attending, he gave us an answer, and I’ll keep you in suspense for now. To our pioneers and our early leaders, we salute you on our nation’s 49th birthday!