SINGAPORE: An eulogy penned by senior lawyer Lee Suet Fern for her dearly departed father, prominent economist Lim Chong Yah, has touched the hearts of Singaporeans.
Ms Lee, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s youngest son Lee Hsien Yang’s wife, was unable to be with her father in his final moments. She is currently living in an undisclosed location in Europe with her husband.
The couple’s self-imposed exile comes amid a longstanding feud with Mr Lee’ estranged older brother, current Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong. A series of actions the authorities have taken against his immediate family has led Mr Lee Hsien Yang to assert that he has been made a fugitive in his own country for standing up for his late father’s last wishes.
While the couple’s younger sons were able to be in Singapore to bid farewell to their maternal grandfather, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, Ms Lee Suet Fern and their son Li Shengwu were unable to come back to Singapore.
In her eulogy, published by Jom today (21 July), Ms Lee said she has been left bereft by the loss of her beloved father and that her words are a “poor substitute for a “good-bye” in person.”
Recalling fond memories from her childhood, Ms Lee painted a vivid picture of her father’s love and dedication to both his family and his fellow countrymen. She recounted their time in Oxford during the early 1960s, where her father was pursuing his doctorate at Oxford University. Ms Lee cherished her conversations with her father, who taught her to read and instilled a love for literature, which she carried with her throughout her life.
The eulogy made Mr Lim’s commitment to his family and their well-being evident. Ms Lee recounted how much it meant to her when her father took swift action to alleviate her distress after she faced teasing at school. He moved her to a new school, where he personally drove her every day, engaging her in meaningful conversations about life, values, and education.
The respected economist was also dedicated to helping others and was deeply empathetic to the plight of struggling Singaporeans, given the hardships he faced as he grew up. Ms Lee recalled an incident when he rescued victims of a hit-and-run accident, disregarding his own safety and comfort, without thinking of how his actions may impact him.
It is clear that his altruistic actions left a lasting impression on his daughter, inspiring her to follow in his footsteps.
Ms Lee ended her heartfelt tribute with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, “A Psalm of Life,” revealing that the poem resonated deeply with her father, encapsulating his belief in leaving a positive impact on others.
Singaporeans responding to Ms Lee’s tribute praised the late Mr Lim for being such a good father, on top of leaving an indelible mark on Singapore’s labour and economic policies. Many said that the values Mr Lim left on his children shows in Ms Lee.
Singaporeans also expressed deep sympathy for Ms Lee, understanding the pain of not being able to bid farewell to her late father in person and to be with the man who made, raised and shaped her in his final moments.
Read the eulogy in full HERE.