Singapore, March 29:
Paying tribute to former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, Indian-orgin trade unionist G. Muthukumarasamy on Sunday acknowledged that the late leader helped improve the finacial status of the ethnic Indian community in the city state.
The funeral of Lee, 91, who died on March 23 at the Singapore General Hospital after a long battle with pneumonia, is being held on Sunday with a galaxy of world leaders in attendance.
Muthukumarasamy recounted how, when he was young, his father would often tell him about Singapore’s founding father, the Straits Times reported.
“Lee saw the hardships experienced by the Indian community at the time and he was determined to help and make a difference,” Muthukumarasamy said in Tamil in his eulogy at the funeral.
“During those days, most Indian families had single incomes because they did not allow their women to work.”
He credited Lee for encouraging Indian women to join the workforce, to learn a skill and help their families financially.
Ethnic Indians comprise a little over 9 percent of Singapore’s total population of 3.9 million.
On a personal note, Muthukumarasamy, general secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers, said that Lee had inspired his development as a worker, a unionist and a leader, and shared an experience that was so vivid to him that it seemed “like it happened yesterday”.
Sunday’s funeral service began after Lee’s casket was brought to the University Cultural Centre (UCC) located at the National University of Singapore (NUS), following a funeral procession which started earlier in the day from Parliament House.
In attendance for the state funeral are about 2,200 guests, including foreign dignitaries and Singaporeans from all walks of life.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former US president Bill Clinton, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott are among those present. IANS