Remembering A Father’s Heart

taken from our writer’s social media page – a poignant personal reflection after the loss of Singapore’s founding father, Mr. Lee KUAN Yew

What I valued most about this week was seeing glimpses of Mr. Lee’s personal life. I love hearing the stories of those who knew him not just as a politician, but as a father. Because I’ve never been interested in politics or national affairs (my parents constantly chide me for not reading newspapers), I never knew or cared much about what exactly LKY or LHL or anyone else did. To me the name “founding father” was merely a formality people used, just because he was in politics at the time Singapore became independent. I was never fully interested until this week.

I’m up late tonight watching some of his old interviews, reading accounts of his life from his family, hearing the Parliamentary tribute speeches made by those who worked with him, and they all say one thing in different ways: He loved Singapore with a father’s heart, just as he loved his biological family with a father’s heart. For the first time, I understand why people call him 国父, and I’ve begun to see him as not just “a founding father”, but MY father too.

One of my friends put it this way:
“You see, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was not just a leader, or a great. He was our father. People may say that calling him that is glorifying him, but I think it is only befitting for the type of love and dedication that he showed us. Mr Lee was not just a leader, he was a father. In the words of his grandson Li Shengwu “When Singapore was cut adrift from Malaysia, you adopted an orphaned nation and made us all your children.” Fathering is different from leading. It is leading with love and desire for the next generation to survive and succeed.”

A father trains up his children in the way he knows to be good, and a father takes extreme measures against anything if it threatens his family’s stability. Mr. Lee, being mortal, did not always do it perfectly. But like a true father, his purposes were always for us, not against us and not for himself. As Former DPM Wong Kan Seng said in his parliamentary tribute: “He often reminded us that some policies were like bitter medicines which might be hard to stomach in the short term. But, as long as the purpose of the policy is to benefit the people, then we must persist.”

What strikes me is that Lee Kuan Yew’s three children graciously shared their father with the nation. Hearing Lee Hsien Yang’s eulogy at the state funeral, it sank in that his own children were growing up while he was running around the world and working crazy hours to father Singapore. I have no idea how he managed both fathering roles without crumbling under the stress.

I’m amazed that his three children also chose to take up work that involves the difficult path of leadership, just to serve this country. These children shared their Papa with us, didn’t hold a grudge against this country for occupying so much of his attention, and then proceeded to serve us with their lives too.

Maybe, that’s what you do when you have experienced the love of a father – you walk in his steps.

Hannah writes because it helps her think more clearly. She finds it pretty nerve-wrecking to put her thoughts out in public view but she does it because maybe, hopefully, these thoughts will point readers to see the invisible God in their visible world.

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