Remembering LKY: Daughter Lee Wei Ling's personal, touching eulogy

Remembering LKY: Daughter Lee Wei Ling's personal, touching eulogy

Although she was rarely seen in public over the past week as the nation mourned her father, Dr Lee Wei Ling, in her candid and touching eulogy at Lee Kuan Yew's private cremation service, shared in great detail about Lee's final few years.

"After Mama died in October 2010, Papa’s health deteriorated rapidly. The past five years have been challenging. But as always, Papa was determined to carry on as normal as possible, as best as he could.

"He developed Parkinson's disease three years ago which severely limited his mobility. He had great difficulty standing and walking. But he refused to use a wheel chair or even a walking stick. He would walk, aided by his SOs (security officers)," Dr Lee said, in an excerpt made available on the website of the Prime Minister's office.

"Papa was also plagued by bouts of hiccups that could only be controlled by medication which had adverse side effects. Over and above the frequent hiccups, his ability to swallow both solids and liquids was impaired, a not uncommon problem in old age.

"Papa searched the Internet and tried a wide variety of unorthodox hiccup therapies. For example, he once used rabbit skin and then chicken feathers to induce sneezing, so as to stop the hiccups. Although the sneezing sometimes stopped his hiccups, it did not do so consistently enough. Papa also tried reducing his food intake, because he felt that eating too much could precipitate hiccups, hence he lost a lot of weight, and appeared thin and gaunt."

'As though he is their own father'

She also spent some time thanking Lee's SOs, whom she said had looked after her father "with tender loving care, way beyond the call of duty".

"I know each of them well, even the number of children they have. To me, they were not only staff whose job was to look after Papa, but also friends of the family. They helped me pull out the SIM card from my blackberry when it hung; they were friends for me to share food and goodies with whenever the opportunity arose," Dr Lee, LKY's only daughter, shared.

There was one occasion where the SOs saved Lee's life, according to Dr Lee, and she thanked these men by name.

"One occasion, while having lunch at home, Papa choked on a piece of meat. It went down his trachea and obstructed his airflow. Fortunately the SOs knew what to do. ASP Yak and Kelvin together carried out the Heimlich manoeuvre several times, but to no avail, because Pa’s abdominal muscles were very tense. 

"Yak then called for help over his walky-talky. Liang Chye was the only senior SO downstairs, and sensing something strange in Yak’s voice, he came running up.  They formed a human chain. Liang Chye, the shortest and probably the strongest, was positioned behind Papa; the tallest, Yak, at the furthest end of the human chain; and Kelvin, the one of middle height, between the two. They coordinated their pull, and after several attempts, the piece of meat was finally ejected. By this time, Papa had already turned purple. But within seconds of the meat being dislodged, he was mentally alert," she recalled.

"I would like to give special thanks to Liang Chye and Kelvin, and especially ASP Yak, whose presence of mind saved Papa's life. To all the SOs who have served Papa over the years, I thank you on behalf of my family."

Dr Lee, who is said to be most similar to her father in temperament, also thanked Lee's medical team and staff of the Singapore General Hospital.

Strength and control

In ending, she stoically, and perhaps like her father would have, indicated that she would stay strong.

"This morning I noticed that the maid, in setting the dining table, had moved away Papa's chair and placed it against the wall. It was a poignant reminder that this farewell is forever.  I have been controlling my feelings for this past week, but looking at this unexpected scene, I nearly broke down.  But I can't break down, I am a Hakka woman," Dr Lee said.

"Farewell Papa. I will miss you. Rest in peace."