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Papa had a sweet tooth: Hsien Yang

FAMILY TIME:Mr Lee and wife Kwa Geok Choo with their grandchildren at the Istana in 1989: (from left) PM Lee Hsien Loong's youngest son Haoyi; Mr Lee Hsien Yang's sons Shengwu and Huanwu; and PM Lee's second son Hongyi.
Papa had a sweet tooth: Hsien Yang

AT THE AIRPORT: Mrs Lee with daughter Lee Wei Ling, Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Hsien Loong waiting for Mr Lee in 1964.


    Mar 30, 2015

    Papa had a sweet tooth: Hsien Yang

    IN DIFFERENT circumstances, Singapore's first prime minister could have been a very successful businessman or an entrepreneur, said Lee Hsien Yang, Lee Kuan Yew's second son, in his eulogy to his father last afternoon.

    Instead, "papa chose to serve the people of Singapore and to build a better future for all".

    The younger Mr Lee, who was the last to speak at the funeral service, shared some touching and personal insights on their family.

    He spoke of how Mr Lee was always immersed in work. That was why family holidays - at Fraser's Hill and Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, and at Changi - Cottage were relished, because they got to see more of their father.

    The younger Mr Lee said how - even on the issue of exercise, as with everything he had set his mind to - his father was disciplined and exercised regularly to the last.

    The younger Mr Lee also shared a romantic insight into his parents' relationship. He spoke of a family holiday to Stratford-upon-Avon - Shakespeare's birthplace - in 1973 and how they had toured various sites.

    "I had assumed that it was just mama indulging her love for Shakespeare and trying to educate us whilst we're on vacation. But years later when papa wrote his memoirs, we realised the hidden meaning this visit held for my parents. They had married secretly in Stratford-upon-Avon in December 1947."

    He recalled how the arrival of grandchildren brought a great deal of joy to his parents, of how Mr Lee loved having them playing around as he exercised after work in the evenings, and of how he would take them out on weekends, "to the zoo, the bird park, the science centre and other places where families would go".

    He also spoke of how his youngest son Shaowu was born many years after all the other grandchildren, and with Mr Lee less active in public life, this gave his parents the opportunity and time to enjoy being with their last grandchild.

    Family birthdays were usually not celebrated, but in the years after the death of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's first wife, Mr Lee Hsien Yang began inviting the family over for his parents' birthdays, when he would cook a simple meal.

    "Papa loved a good steak and had a Peranakan sweet tooth for desserts," he said.

    He also revealed how the grandchildren had outspoken views. One birthday dinner, his son Shengwu debated with Mr Lee until late, with both sides wanting to ensure that the other understood his perspective and point of view.

    "Many know how privileged Singaporeans are to have benefited from my father's contributions to building our nation," the younger Mr Lee said.

    "I know that growing up as his son, I have also been privileged to have witnessed what it means to be a good man, a good husband, and a good father and grandfather."

    He added that the family have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of grief and affection.

    "Please accept my family's inadequate but deep and heartfelt thanks.

    "We know our loss is your loss too, and that the loss is deep and keenly felt. We are humbled that so many have come forward to demonstrate your affection for, respect of and gratitude to - my extraordinary father, a father we share - with Singapore."