by Sharon Au

I met Mr Lee at the launch of the Huayu Cool Speak Mandarin campaign in either 2004 or 2005. The organisers knew I was a fan so they gave a chance to invite him on stage and teach him how to SMS the code, which would set off the pyrotechnics.

But I was so awestruck when he came close to me that I forgot the code! I said, “Sorry Mr Lee, my mind is a blank now, ” and he said something to the effect of how we had to get our act together or else no one would be speaking Mandarin. He really put me at ease and became this grandfather figure speaking to his silly granddaughter.

The whole thing took less than five minutes, and I realised that he wasn’t as severe a person as what people imagine him to be. It sure didn’t help that before our meeting, his security was telling us a thousand things not to do – the most memorable one being to not touch him [for security reasons].

But it was my dream to shake his hand!

So as he was exiting the stage, I said to him, “Mr Lee can I shake your hand?”, and he stuck his hand out. As you can see from the picture, he had already turned to walk away but I refused to let go. Or rather, I realised I hadn’t let go. I thought to myself that this was the end of my career and that I was going to jail ‘cos his security had started to walk towards us.

You could hear the nervous laughter in the room. The he broke out in a grin when he realised that I was still tugging his hand – it was only then that everyone broke out in laughter too.

These two photos are very precious to me. When I stopped hosting and went to study in Japan, I even pasted them on my dormitory wall.

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