On 29 October, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) commemorated the 100th birthday of their founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, through the “LKY100 The Greening of Singapore” ceremony.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong extolled his late father’s visionary strides in nation-building, invoking a legacy that encompasses robust defense, public housing, education, healthcare, and economic transformation.
The centennial event, organized by various branches of the PAP and the PAP Community Foundation, drew over 800 party activists, green enthusiasts, and guests. It featured the premiere of a mini-documentary, “The Greening of Singapore,” chronicling the nation’s eco-journey intimately tied to Lee Kuan Yew’s vision.
The late leader’s advocacy for environmental consciousness, originating with the 1963 tree-planting campaign, was showcased as a fundamental element of Singapore’s identity as a Garden City, emphasizing his wider impact on the country’s international stature.
The commemoration serves not solely as a tribute to the late Mr Lee but also as a deeper exploration into the causes he championed and the reasons behind his decisive actions,” stated PM Lee, who is also PAP’s secretary-general.
He underscored the need to honor the foundational values and ambitions that propelled Singapore from the third world to its current prosperity during the celebration.
“Why all those years ago in 1963, in the midst of so many other things to think about, he decided to say let’s have a Tree Planting Day,” he said. “Every year we plant a few trees. Slowly, we not only make the country green and beautiful, but we also inculcate in Singaporeans this consciousness that we want to make our neighbourhoods, our city, our whole country, a green and livable place, a place where people are happy to live, where we are proud to belong, and where we can continue to thrive and prosper for many years to come.”
PM Lee also said: “Thanks to Mr Lee’s vision and to the founding fathers’ efforts, we can enjoy our city in nature. “It was their ambition for Singapore, their courage to make difficult choices, their foresight to plan ahead and their determination to realise these plans — these are the attributes, these are the factors that took Singapore from third world to first.”
He then advocated for continued allegiance to the resilience and vision imparted by Lee Kuan Yew’s generation, highlighting PAP’s 64-year governance as the world’s longest-uninterrupted ruling party.
This grand celebration, endorsed by PAP, contrasts with past public objections from Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, who contested her father’s lionization after his passing in March 2015.
Dr Lee’s historical sentiments, outspoken about her father’s aversion to personality cults, stand in stark contrast to the narrative of reverence.
She emphasized in her writings that Lee Kuan Yew shunned adulation, sought a life beyond public veneration, and expressed a desire for the demolition of his family home to prevent it from becoming a monument—a course the PAP government seems inclined to pursue.
Accusing her brother, PM Lee, of potentially misusing Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy to perpetuate political power, Dr Lee called into question the congruence of state narratives with personal histories.
“In this age where prestige and power attract unscrupulous individuals into politics, Papa’s wish should be honored as an example of an outstanding Singaporean who rejected hero-worship,” Dr Lee wrote in a Facebook post back in 2016.
“Preserving the house sends a wrong message to Singapore’s politicians and aspiring politicians. It is paradoxical to claim we honor him yet disregard his solitary request to Singaporeans.”
Dr Lee even branded PM Lee ‘a dishonorable son’ in her comments, vowing not to permit her father’s name to be tarnished by his actions.
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