Pay it forward

By Assistant Professor, Zhou Yi

As a new citizen of this country, I am very thankful to Mr Lee Kuan Yew – not only because he started the SM3 program which brought me here and gave me a chance for further development – but also as the founding father of the country that I am now living in. To me, Lee Kuan Yew is the greatest leader who has brought the value of Asia to the world.

Last view

When I was offered the SM3 scholarship, I decided to leave Zhejiang University to come to Singapore. One of the reasons for my decision was that I wanted to experience and learn how a great man, named Lee Kuan Yew, transformed Singapore from a small port into a great first-world country.

In making the long queue to pay my respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, I was deeply moved by the government and people of Singapore. The queue was extremely long but orderly, and it also gave me time to look around the surroundings: the Singapore skyline, the Singapore River and the people of Singapore. These were all part of the legacy that Mr Lee Kuan Yew has left for us. In the queue I met our two Deputy Prime Ministers, Mr Teo Chee Hean and Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and Speaker of Parliament, Mdm Halimah Yacob. They were thankful for all the well-wishers in the queue and the people also thanked them for their service to the people.

As the last autonomous university established during the life of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Singapore Institute of Technology now has a mission to instil the values of Singapore’s founding father in our students, through the SIT DNA:

Thinking Tinkerers

If we look at our Singapore River and this garden city, we will always remember how Mr Lee planted trees every year. Without a thinking tinkerer like him, this country would not have developed from a third-world to a first-world country that is free from pollution and heralded as ‘The Garden City’.

Able to Learn, Unlearn and Relearn

Mr Lee continued to learn Chinese even when he was ill. There is no man greater than Mr Lee who exemplified lifelong learning.

Catalyst for Transformation

Mr Lee is also the greatest catalyst who has transformed this country, the people of Singapore and even the world. A great Singapore was not built by a single man. Mr Lee acted as a catalyst to form the government of Singapore, in which I have faith and confidence that his legacy will continue.

Grounded in the Community

When the government advised the public not to join Parliament House queues yesterday, the people continued to join the queues to bid their last farewell to Mr Lee. This is evidence that Mr Lee is a man who was deeply grounded in the community and well-loved by his people.

Singapore has lost a great leader who had devoted his life to the building of a nation. The best way that we can honour his memory is to push on with the values that he has given us and propel Singapore to greater heights.

Assistant Professor Zhou Yi is with the Singapore Institute of Technology.