The Lee Kuan Yew Centre for Innovative Cities is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. We mourn with our nation on our profound loss.
Mr Lee was Singapore’s first Prime Minister after independence. His courage, foresight and enterprise transformed the city of Singapore. From how a small city-state should be governed and developed, to our public housing infrastructure, to our water strategy, and to the greening of Singapore, Mr Lee was instrumental behind many of Singapore’s urban planning and design innovations. These innovations have improved the lives for generations of Singaporeans. They have also inspired many cities around the world.
It is our privilege to carry Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s name in the Centre. We know this is a responsibility too, and will continue to be guided by his aspirations for Singapore in the work that we do in the LKYCIC.
In my year and a half here it has been a great privilege to learn of the extraordinary legacy Mr Lee Kuan Yew has left behind in terms of a stronger, healthier, more vibrant, and caring Singapore. His vision and leadership is imbued in the work of this Centre to endeavour to make Singapore, and many other cities around the world that are grappling with their own challenges, into a better living environment for all. Rest in peace.
Dr. John Clancy Powers, Research Fellow, LKY CIC
I was deeply saddened by the news of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s passing. He was a great man. Among his countless remarkable achievements, he laid the foundations for Singapore’s tremendous economic success and transformation into one of the world’s most liveable cities.
Dr. Thomas Schroepfer, Associate Professor and Associate Head of Pillar, ASD
I met Mr Lee Kuan Yew once when I was a boy. It was at a Community Day Chinese calligraphy competition. Close to being 70 then, Mr Lee was sprightly: dressed in his white polo T-shirt and shorts, with white socks and shoes, he walked briskly through us, donning his iconic smile. As I looked back at this chance encounter, I also reflect on what Mr Lee has given us. Beyond the physical infrastructure and efficiency associated with various aspects of Singaporean way of life, Mr Lee showed us how to be confident in our skin, that we are capable of independent thought and arriving at our own models of governance. Mr Lee reminded us that no one owes us a living and we must be prepared to grab opportunities as they open to us. I thank Mr Lee for his conviction and dedication to the then-impossible task of raising Singapore. Please rest in peace, Mr Lee.
Dr. Lim Wee Kiat, Research Fellow, LKY CIC
I first met Mr Lee at a forum as a PhD student in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. I remember how a hush of revered silence fell over the room as he entered. Faculty, staff, and students had already been sitting in the room for 30 minutes or so, awaiting the man whose name was emblazoned upon our school and whose influence permeated every lecture and class discussion. And so it was with no small amount of trepidation that I stood to ask him a question during that forum. We had a brief to and fro. I will always remember the way his eyes pierce right through you as he listens to you and the methodical way in which he responds to questions, affirming the points that he agrees with and systematically demolishing those that he didn’t. This was a first rate mind at work, from the man who, with a generation of extraordinary Singaporeans, built up Singapore as we know it today. As we mourn the passing of Singapore’s founding father, we should also find time to celebrate his life and appreciate his accomplishments for the nation.
Dr. Woo Jun Jie, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, LKY CIC
Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew is to recall his capital role in the physical transformation of Singapore, “from a Third World to a First World country” as he once wrote in his memoirs.
During the LKYCIC-CLC seminar on Lee Kuan Yew and the physical transformation of Singapore (18 Sep 2013), speakers upon speakers from different sectors, both public and private, recounted Mr Lee’s foresighted vision, unwavering dedication and problem-solving approach in the remaking of modern Singapore economic, social and environmental infrastructures. Mr Lee is not just a remarkable statesman but also Singapore’s Chief Gardener, Water Engineer, Airport Planner and more. His concern is not only with the political survival of an emerging nation-state but also its liveability and beautification. He has put Singapore and us, Singaporeans on the world map.
We see his rich legacy all around us. It is to this treasure-trove of legacy that we will always draw upon in our study and sharing of Singapore’s urban development experience.
Thank you, Mr. Lee.
Dr. Belinda Yuen, Senior Research Fellow, LKY CIC
For people working with plants and environmental issues, Mr Lee Kuan Yew will forever be remembered as Singapore’s Green Champion. Thank you for giving Singapore the Garden City blue print that greatly improves liveability of our city state. I met Mr Lee Kuan Yew personally when he was planting the “Changi tree” (Hopea sangal) at the Henderson Crescent area in Nov 2004. Our lab was very honoured indeed to grow the famous Changi Tree that was planted by Mr Lee!
Dr. Jean Yong, Associate Professor (Life Sciences), SCI
Thank you Mr Lee for dedicating your whole life to build Singapore. Although I did not grow up during the period when you were rebuilding the nation with our forefathers, I am one of those who have benefitted from your hard work and effort. Today, Singapore is remembered for being the cleanest, greenest and safest country. Your legacy will continue living in our heart.
Eliza See, Centre Manager, LKY CIC
2.5 years ago, when I was hesitating if I should move to Singapore and to join SUTD, I decided to read Lee Kuan Yew’s memoir, “From Third Word to First: The Singapore Story”. Diverse stories in the book repeatedly conveyed the same message to me: Lee Kuan Yew is a great entrepreneur. Facing enormous uncertainty and resource constraints, Mr. Lee’s approach of development was to experiment. Indeed, many of his experiments failed. Singapore’s success was not due to luck, imitation of other countries, or a single correct choice, but bold experiments and entrepreneurship of a visionary leader. In his recent conversations, Mr. Lee further envisioned Singapore’s future prosperity must be driven by innovation and entrepreneurship of the grassroots, and educating younger generations with creativity and entrepreneurship. Encouraged by his visions and the relentless venturing for a better future, I joined one of the most recent Singapore experiments—SUTD. With Mr. Lee’s passing, the world has lost a great mind and entrepreneur. But “the Singapore story” will continue.
Dr. Jianxi Luo, Assistant Professor, EPD
Few leaders have defined a nation in the way Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has Singapore. We have all heard – especially during these days – the role Mr. Lee played in transforming a vulnerable island into the gleaming, confident and prosperous nation that Singapore is today. He also knew when to pass on the reins of power and had the prudence and restraint not to eclipse his successors. History tells us that this is not an easy achievement.
To me, just as laudable as his statesmanship was his tenderness and loyalty towards his wife. The love story of Mr. and Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew is full of romance and gallantry and is as important an example to the younger generations as his iron will, courage and foresight.
The examination of Mr Lee’s legacy will, as he himself once said, not end with the obituaries and tributes that have been pouring in these last few days, but will be the work of the scholars of the future. Whatever their verdict will be on his political decisions though, they and even his most trenchant political critics, would acknowledge that this was a giant of a man and ‘we won’t see another man like him.’ May he rest in peace.
Dominic Cooray, Research Assistant, LKY CIC
The world has lost another great leader, a true visionary and a dedicated public servant, the founding father of Singapore. He devised the rise of a struggling little red dot to one of the world’s most advanced nations. Mr Lee, your legacy is well reflected in this great city you have created that goes beyond just physical infrastructure. May Singapore continue to emulate his principles and flourish as one of the most successful cities in the world. Rest in peace Sir!
Dinithi Jayasekara, Research Assistant, LKY CIC
I have always enjoyed watching Mr Lee Kuan Yew smile during our National Day Parade. It was as though watching a father celebrate his child’s growth with a deep sense of achievement and satisfaction. He was a great leader and I am saddened by his departure. His unwavering dedication towards the country will be deeply engraved upon our hearts.
The life of a mortal may be transient, but Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s principles, words of wisdom, and his contributions towards the nation, will continue to inspire our current nation builders as well as the younger generations.
Please rest in peace, Mr Lee.
Sharelle Wong, Administrative Executive, LKY CIC
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew is a great mind and a great statesman. Among his many achievements, it has been a privilege to learn of Mr. Lee’s dedication to Singapore, transforming the city-state into one of the most liveable cities with his foresight, leadership, candidness and perseverance. His legacy is reflected in Singapore’s remarkable urban development experience, which continues to inspire other cities to better governance and built environments.
Esther Wong, Research Assistant, LKY CIC
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew possessed a great mind, and strong sense of character in building our nation.
I will always remember Mr. Lee as a great visionary, and a selfless leader. I mourn with heavy heart his departure but find consolation in the legacy he has left behind emulated in the physical and social infrastructure of this great city. Thank you for teaching me valuable lessons through your words of wisdom, strength of determination, and courage in undertaking your life work of shaping Singapore into the first world nation it is today.
Rest in eternal peace, Mr Lee.
Laura Jasmine, Research Assistant, LKYCIC