SINGAPORE: With the country’s first Prime Minister in hospital for a 45th straight day, people continued to stream to the Singapore General Hospital to drop off cards and flowers of support on Saturday (May 21).
An area for members of the public to leave messages of support for Mr Lee has been designated outside SGH Block 7, at an area known as The Quad.
Mr Adrian Kum, 41, arrived just before 8am to set a card down for Mr Lee. He told Channel NewsAsia it had been a “trying” week for him, as his son, just two months old, had been admitted to hospital. Having received so many thoughts and prayers for his son, he said he felt compelled to do the same for Mr Lee, before he went to see his son at KK Hospital.
Also at The Quad on Saturday morning were the Lee sisters, Florence, 69, Fanny, 68, Margaret, 66, and Deanna, 64 – no relation to the former Minister Mentor.
“We are here because Lee Kuan Yew has a heart for the poor. He did a lot of kind and good deeds for Singapore. When we were young, living in an attap house, we were very poor. Our mother wrote to him for help repairing our home, and he helped us,” said Deanna.
Added Margaret: “Today Singapore is a beautiful country (because of Mr Lee). We all love him and his family members.”
Mr Mauricio Soliano, 77, said he came on behalf of his late father.
“We were staying at Geylang Lorong 33, when Mr Lee was campaigning to be Prime Minister. I was about 19 years old then. It was in the early 1960s, slightly before Independence.
“My father asked me to come back early one day. I came home and he was well dressed. He said: ‘I want to meet Mr Lee and I want to shake his hand!’ I laughed and my father said: ‘You don’t laugh, he will build up this country.’
His father did finally get to shake Mr Lee’s hand, Mr Soliano recounted – but only after he had paid someone S$350 to replace him at work that day. It was a “S$350 handshake”, he said, laughing.
“I have to come here, all the way. I remembered my father’s words. The smile he gave to my father – a million dollars cannot buy that. With him, Singapore is a better place to live in,” he said.
At the other end of the age spectrum was Constance Tan, 6, who drew a heart-shaped card for Mr Lee. Constance came with her mother, who she said had told her all about Mr Lee – how he is “an important man” who gave Singapore a good housing and transport system, among other accomplishments.
Stopping by just after 10am on Saturday morning was a familiar name to journalists – Mr Zeng Guoyuan, 63, a former General Election candidate.
Said Mr Zeng, who recently suffered from nose cancer: “To govern Singapore isn’t easy. I think there is nobody in this world who can do a better job than he did.”
Another visitor, Ms Francis Lim, was there to drop off a card made by her niece “of her own accord”.
“I am here to give Mr Lee my best wishes on behalf of my family. Every Singaporean knows who he is. He is the Father of Singapore, without him there is no Singapore. I hope he can celebrate SG50 with us. We are all praying for him,” said Ms Lim.
Some came not bearing gifts, but prayers. Mr Chen, himself a hospital patient since the turn of the year due to a leg infection, said he has been coming down daily to pray for Mr Lee since Feb 26.
“His leadership brought us very far. Whenever there are updates about him, I come down to pray for him,” said the 60 year old. “This is all I can do for our founding father.”
Some of the gifts left behind were labours of love. This box of origami cranes was left by National Cancer Centre senior staff nurse.
“Mr Lee, you have struggled for the nation. You are the very reason that we are so peaceful,” she wrote.
Also folding paper cranes were Ms Lim Mei Hua, 26, and Mr Edwin Tan, 25.
“We folded these paper cranes because it’s a Japanese tradition – when someone is ill, it’s a way to help them recover. We folded 50 of them to mark SG50,” said Ms Lim.
One little girl – Angeline, aged 5 – left a surprise egg toy for Mr Lee, along with a card she made with her sister. “I hope he can build it when he’s better,” she said.