Following Facebook user Dennis Lim’s post recounting how Lee Hsien Yang treated construction workers at his wife’s law firm so well, more heartfelt testimonies from ordinary Singaporeans have gone viral.
Check out 13 personal experiences Singaporeans have said they’ve had with Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s younger son, who has been embroiled in a bitter public feud with his elder brother, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, over their family home at 38 Oxley Road:
Tim Chan: “Yes I agree with Mr Lim, I was LHY runner during my NS days 1992-1993. He was the commander of HQ2SIB Changi then. To me LHY was a down to earth and humble person. Unlike some other officers who has many different demands and request. His usual drink in his office was a simple ice cold glass of water. I didn’t have to rinse his running clothes after his morning runs nor wash his personal stuff or run errands for his private matters, unlike what I heard from other runners from my batch.
“During our Taiwan field exercise for 9 days, his meals was again simple, Taiwan instant noodles and combat rations, like what the HQ troops like me and other lower ranks would eat. Noodles alternating with tulip canned sausages, and Campbell cream of mushroom soup, all prepared in mess tin and served to him. He didn’t once complain how the food was cooked or tasted.
“When HQ Encik gave LHY a list of items for the Taiwan exercise, which included hot water flask, metal bunk bed, mattress and pillow, GS table and chairs for his sleeping tent. He told me to inform Encik not to bring all those into the field, all he wanted was the usual SAF safari bed and he brought his own sleeping bag, which he used during the entire 9 days.
“A practical man, who doesn’t need a entourage to follow him during reconnaissance trips and actual exercise, if he doesn’t need a signaller or any officer, he will tell them to stay back, he takes only what he needs, unlike some officers.
“I have also been told by other NS men quite a few times that LHY even open and hold the doors for lower ranks when they enter into the exercise planning rooms, as well as him greeting them even before others can greet him when walking along the corridors in camp. Didn’t intend to share my thoughts, but after reading Mr Lim and what others have posted, i thought I share. I don’t think he LHY has change much, and I Respect him.”
Athena Lee: “He was the CEO of my ex company, and he would join the queue with us for morning coffee in canteen. Very humble person and has no airs.”
Sabrina Fernando-Briche: “Many years ago I travelled back to Singapore from Paris and LHY and his wife were on the same flight. At the CDG airport duty-free in Paris they were in the same boutique where I was doing some shopping and I overheard him tell his wife that he needed to look for a present for ‘mama’, I thought to myself how sweet that was.”
Yoshiyuki Endo: “I was at SP for a seminar and he was the speaker. when he arrived, everyone stood up and clapped to welcome him. he however, told everyone to sit down and not treat him as a vip. he said he is just an ordinary person invited to share something he knew. I was impressed.”
Fazlena Kaswadi: “Many years ago, when I was working at the airport handling arrival and departure flights, I remember that he refused any sort of escorts to assist him and his family down to arrivals and baggage claims, even though the chief purser of Singapore Airlines insisted. Instead, he walked on his own, holding hands with his family and I thought to myself that he must be a humble guy. Not like his brother.”
Freddy Neo: “My wife and I often see him at Thomson Plaza Fairprice in shorts doing his weekly grocery shopping. No airs!”
Norazli Razali: “Still remember back then during my teenage years. Was working at raffles hotel and we do banquet at his then singtel office. Once event was over he stayed back talk to us and gave ang pao. He’s a nice guy to talk to.”
Erik Seeto: “He was my CO in 46SAR. botak, friendly, and very low key. Once I even mistook him for a recruit (botak + jocky cap) and did not salute him. But he just smiled and went on his way, and my IC asked WTF was I doing. Unlike some COs, there was no pressure to be best unit or anything. We just did our best. Many officers were genuinely sorry to see him transferred . I hope people realise that whatever the difference of opinion amongst the siblings, they are all doing it not for selfish reasons. There is no need to tar and feather one because we agree with the other.”
Wilson Toh: “When I was in Armour, I was told LHY having no TV at home, for better education for his children. And he kept coming back to Armour joining us for running even he became BG. Well like by us Armour guys.”
Nelson Poon: “I was a perm staff in Base 2 in ROC some time in ’93. LHY came to visit as BG. As usual, stuff gets painted and the camp is made as tip-top as it can be. Overlooked was a dump where we threw all the broken parts of the armored vehicles at a mud track somewhere at the back. He wasn’t expected to go there anyway. But obviously someone forgot and after inspecting the vehicle park he was taken on the short cut which runs past the dump.
“LHY saw and we all had “gg” written on our faces. We thought he would make a fuss about it during debrief and there would be hell after that.
“He said absolutely nothing about the dump. There’s nothing more for lower ranks to be thankful about, when superior officers would not make a big fuss over stuff like that.”
Steven Lee: “We were colleagues for at least 4 yrs in an organisation, tough training, harsh and risky work environment, irrational irritations and taboo, he remains calm and composed, honest , always contribute most surprising solutions in learning, problems solving, play and even struggle in the face of adversity. He was very fit and down to earth good man, remembered him participated as the anchor runner running the last lap of a 16 miles road relay..”
Brian Vittachi: “When I was running a pub in Klliney Road in the mid 90’s he passed by a few times and always had a nod and a smile for my staff or the customers sitting outside. Since he wasn’t a politician I took that as a sign of a genuine person. Some say he was more people-smart than his elder brother.”
Jason Lim: “I used to work at Caldecott Hill and there was once I was just outside my company and a colleague of mine saw a car drove past and tell me that the driver inside is LHY, I was still young back then not knowing much about him (because he was very low profile) but I got a shock when my colleague told me that he is the son of LKY and I couldn’t believe that the car that I am driving (a Honda Civic) is much better looking and newer than his. Can’t really remembered what car it was but it look like those Japanese nissan sunny COE car.”