I woke up this morning to a brand new day. The sun was up shining bright. After one week of national mourning, I can move on finally to the usual routine without the solemn feeling in the air.
On reflecting this one week, it brought to my consciousness what Singapore has become from 1950s to 2015. Leaving aside politics and negative aspects, let me share what I saw and felt about our country. I touch on just five points.
1. The citizens of Singapore stand ready to be united as one people in face of adversities and external threats. See how so many people braved the rain to line the streets waiting for the funeral cortege to pass by. See how nearly 455,000 people queued for hours in tight spaces to enter Parliament House and paid their respect to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I am certain many more were glued to their television sets or the Internet to watch the Sunday funeral proceedings.
2. In Singapore, things happened and worked with careful planning and execution. See how we mobilised men and resources to mount this dignified funeral event and the state funeral service at the NUS’ University Cultural Centre.
3. For a small nation, Singapore stands tall among big countries. Singapore has a reputation and is known to the world. We can no longer be mistaken as part of China! Mr Lee Kuan Yew had the greatest contribution in this regard. See how many foreign dignitaries graced this occasion with their presence. King and Queen, Yang di-Petuan Agong, and several Heads of States came.
4. Singapore has moved from third world to first since 1950s. Our GDP per capita jumped from $1,240 (GNP) in 1959 to $71,318 in 2014 (a mind boggling 5,651% increase). The government expenditure jumped from $243.3m in 1959 to $57,200m in 2014. Our infant mortality rate improved from 36 per 1,000 live births in 1959 to just 1.8 per 1,000 live births in 2014. In one generation we became a developed nation.
5. Literacy rate was 52% in 1957 and last year it was 96.7%. Practically everyone has an education now. A nation that is highly literate allows us to plug into the information age and to contribute for the well-being of the nation and to oneself.
You bet that I am proud to be a Singaporean. I contributed to National Service and did my part in the progress of the nation. I am sure Singaporeans have their own stories to tell and they too played an important part.