The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
When you witness how a person dedicated his whole life to a cause he believed in and against all odds made the seemingly impossible a reality, it inspires you profoundly. The late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father, is one such exemplary figure.
And when you read his various memoirs, you get a good sense of his central traits and when you sense his heart and care for the people he governed, it moves you greatly. It feels like you had a stroll with him in a park on a cool breezy day with him humming lightheartedly along and no words were spoken. You know him in that way.
Others read about how Singapore developed from a third world country to a first, while I lived through it moving from a kampung attap house without even the basic sanitation when I was a few years old to public housing with good clean sanitation later and eventually private housing where we get to toy with designer finishes and all in my adulthood. And it was clear that one visionary leader with the utmost willpower, tenacity, intellect and dedication made it possible. Mr Lee is my personal Superman hero who inspired me to be a better person through his visions and value system he instilled into Singapore’s cultural DNA. I was indirectly taught by him to be an honest and incorruptible person, to be a person of integrity and to never give up at times of adversity and be a fighter.
There is a sense of beauty to Mr Lee’s almost ascetic way of living and unyielding focus to bring success to the nation and by default, every Singaporean. He attained a sort of “secular sainthood” through his life’s work and way of life. After all, he created the miracle of this shining little red dot we call home today. I have not experienced another human source of inspiration more powerful than Mr Lee. Such inspirations from and respect for him pushed me to work for a few years before I could complete the creation and preparation of the public tribute exhibition to him titled “光宗耀祖” (Light and Brilliance).
It is with regret that I was not able to present the series of work to him in person. I dedicate this series of work to him and pay him the highest tribute I can as an artist and citizen and hope to share the artwork with all who love him.
He made me a better man and a proud citizen of Singapore.
Y/X (Chua Koon Beng)