Valē, Mike Ovey.

Valē, Mike Ovey

The Facebook newsfeed is awash with shock and sadness. Mike Ovey is dead at 58 from a heart attack.

We shall miss his:

  • sharp thinking about theology:

Why bother with systematic theology?
Putting contextualisation in context
The gospel “how” of theological education
The gospel “what” of theological education
The grace of God or the world of the West?

  • astute theology:

The Person of Christ
Eternal subordination of the Son

The Son incarnate in a hostile world
Complementarianism and homoianism
Gender and sexuality

Valē, Mike Ovey

  • incisive commentary on contemporary issues:

Certainty
Looters: them or us?
Killing cultures or saving from superstition?
How do we get the leaders we don’t deserve?
Malfunctioning Democracies?

  • deep thinking about the church, and interaction between Christians and the world:

Evangelical Liberalism in the UK
Is the Reformation over?
Courtier politicians and courtier preachers

Rev'd Dr. Mike Ovey from Lawyers Christian Fellowship on Vimeo.

Law and Gospel in the public square


Gender and free speech

  • absurd and unexpected pop culture references while communicating profound truths, and the timing of a stand-up comic

Valē, Mike OveyM1 and M2.

But most of all, we shall miss his deep humility and pastoral nature and genuine love and care for people. Many Christian leaders and teachers are clever and quirky; but it is rare to find one much like his Master.

When circumstances…take our mentors from us:

Others:
Lee Gatiss’ “A Tribute to Mike Ovey (1958 – 2017)”
Duncan Forbes’ “A Tribute to Mike Ovey. We need more Mike Oveys”
Chris Stead’s “Will you let God disagree with you?
Graham Shearer’s “On ‘Learning in Time of War’
Moore Theological College’s obituary – “The Rev. Dr Mike Ovey
Daf Meirion-Jones’ “Mike Ovey: The Spiritual Surgeon
Dave Williams’ “What Mike Ovey taught me
Matthew Barrett’s “Best Possible Gift: The Legacy of Mike Ovey (1958 – 2017)
Co-Mission’s “A mighty brother has fallen: we salute his courage for Christ
Mark Tanner’s “The gift of a friend
Chris Green’s “Obituary: Revd. Dr. Michael J. Ovey, PhD MTh MA BCL BA, Principal at Oak Hill College

And Credo is doing a much better job of collating!

A burial, on a normal sunny afternoon, just like any other

late breakfast of fried eggs and bacon, with smashed avocado on wholewheat toastI crawled out from under the bedcovers late today, aching, peering out at the hazy Singapore sky (thanks to forest fires in Indonesia), wondering what time it was. As I made breakfast/lunch/tea, the previous day came back to me.

**************

It was a normal sunny afternoon in Malacca, Malaysia. Just like any other. Along Jonker Street, tourists would have been queuing up for chicken rice balls or cooling off with a sweet chendol dribbled with gula melaka.

burial in Malacca, on a normal sunny afternoonBut we were here in the Malaccan countryside, by a narrow hole, in a graveyard.

The local Methodist pastor, who’d forgotten the deceased’s name twice already (it wasn’t really his fault – the deceased only turned up in church twice a year, at Christmas and Easter), was throwing white flowers into the grave.

As he threw the first white chrysanthemum he said, “You were made from the earth, and to the earth you shall return.”

Then,”Ashes to ashes.”

And finally,”Dust to dust.”

Family and friends threw flowers into the hole. When they were done, the workers who had been idling nearby, sipping water from plastic cups, moved concrete slabs over the hole and laid several wheelbarrows of cement over it.

His widow, who had become blind over the last few years, could only hear the scrape-scrape-scrape of the cement sealing in the decaying body of her husband in the tropical heat. She asked to be helped away.

Then the many wreaths were piled on.

Some of the younger mourners, who hadn’t known the deceased, were teasing each other by the grave (“hey, your boyfriend says he wants to break-up with you!”), and laughing, and talking about hatching eggs in Pokemon Go.

When all the wreaths had been piled on, we all left to go to lunch.

**************

Four days ago, life had been going on as usual. The deceased’s wife was holidaying with their daughter in the UK. And the deceased had gone for a golf game with some friends (“never said no to a round of golf”, nodded one of the mourners). On the way home from a trip like any other, the driver of the car lost control of the SUV. They smashed into a lorry, flipped over, and crashed roof-first onto the hard ground. Three people were “killed instantly”, the fourth was critically injured and didn’t know what’d happened as he’d fallen asleep in the back seat.

On hearing the tragic news, the rest of the family rushed back to the empty house, in utter shock and massive grief.

One day ago, my friend, the only son of the deceased, had given a eulogy. A very bold witness, he’d told those gathered that his father’s death was a warning that they must heed:

  • none of us knows when we will die
  • are we prepared for death and what will come after death?
  • if the Christian claim is true that we all live once and then face judgement, then we must all repent and trust in Jesus’ death to save us from that judgement, before it is too late!

The black-and-white photos before the casket had shown a dashing young man, with a bright smile and a full head of dark hair, in a sharp suit, with his arm proudly around his new wife (now widow), an equally fashionable young lady. Other photos recorded the births of a succession of children, then grandchildren. My friend’s father went on to lead a respectable life amongst the local people. A successful medical career behind him, he retired and was enjoying life without any major health complaints. “A nice man”, agreed the mourners. “Director of 6 companies, you know, to keep his mind active”. “Oh yes, and also director of a bank. It’s been in his family for ages!”

But he was unprepared for death. And then it was too late.

How inappropriate to warn people to repent at a funeral, my friend’s sister had berated him. But because death can come at anytime, there will never be a more appropriate time than now, than today.

Last Day of National Mourning for Harry Lee Kuan Yew – State Funeral Procession

7-day Period of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew:

Last Day of National Mourning for Harry Lee Kuan Yew – State Funeral Procession

On the Sixth day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, and the Wilful Blindness of Man

On the Fifth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Fourth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Third Day of National Mourning: Long Snaking Queues to Pay Last Respects to Lee Kuan Yew

On the Third Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Second Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Farewell and Good Night, Harry Lee Kuan Yew – 7 Reasons for Respecting LKY

The heavens opened up onto the tiny island at the tip of the Malayan Peninsula. A fitting end to a week of national mourning for Harry Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister. As thousands (some reports give an estimate of 100,000) lined the state funeral procession route, drenched even in their ponchos and under their umbrellas, salty tears mixed with the rainwater coursing down contorted faces.

State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015 State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015 State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015

State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015 State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015 State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015Strangers held up the ends of full-sized state flags and distributed smaller ones to those who had none. While waiting, standing in unmuddied rainwater, under the shadow of skyscrapers in the financial district, we spoke of the magnificence of the man, not tiring of reminding each other of his legacy.

People were worried about the “Missing Man Formation” ceremonial flypast by the Republic of Singapore Air Force – “Aiyoh, raining so heavily, can fly anot? I hope they take care!” State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015And true to form, several in the crowd were following the “Live” proceedings on their mobile phones – “Ok, they’ve just left Parliament House…now turning right…wait, why are they travelling so fast? That’s not 25km/h…Oh! Coming, LKY is coming!” The last cry was taken up by the waiting crowd.

State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015 State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015 State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015 State Funeral Procession for Lee Kuan Yew in heavy rain along Shenton Way, 29 March 2015And there he was – so small, so frail, in his casket in a glass case; so vulnerable. “We love you Lee Kuan Yew!” “Thank you Lee Kuan Yew!” cheered the onlookers, waving their dripping flags and wiping away tears and rain.

There was no reply, of course, no acknowledgement, no smile and a wave. That man, that personality, so immortalised in videos and photographs at different stages of life – dispensing wisdom, being cheeky to American journalists, firing up the people of Singapore to do the right thing for themselves and their nation, was no more.

Then it was as if the whole nation was tuned in to the state funeral at the University Cultural Centre. At Heartland Mall, the aunties selling dim sum had the radio on, the promoters of products in Cold Storage were watching it on their mobile phones, and shoppers had gathered around the HD TV seller’s demo set: watching Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral at Heartland Mall

Here it is on Youtube:

And then the eulogies at the private funeral service at the Mandai Crematorium by LKY’s son, current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong (full script, and this is possibly the the speech to cardiologists that he referred to):

daughter, Lee Wei Ling (excerpt) youngest son, Lee Hsien Yang:

Li Hongyi, son of Lee Hsien Loong:

Li Shengwu, eldest son of Lee Hsien Yang (full transcript):

After the rain, after the state funeral, after the private cremation, we saw the sun break through the dark clouds. A reminder that great as our founding father was, there is a greater Father still who:

makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45b)

And so we carry on not just to make Singapore a great nation, but to live according to the contrarian values of that even greater kingdom:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

On the Sixth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, and the Wilful Blindness of Man

7-day Period of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew:

Last Day of National Mourning for Harry Lee Kuan Yew – State Funeral Procession

On the Sixth day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, and the Wilful Blindness of Man

On the Fifth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Fourth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Third Day of National Mourning: Long Snaking Queues to Pay Last Respects to Lee Kuan Yew

On the Third Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Second Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Farewell and Good Night, Harry Lee Kuan Yew – 7 Reasons for Respecting LKY

On the sixth day of national mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, the queues have continued unabated. It is the final day for paying last respects to Singapore’s first prime minister.

Some of our friends were in the queue at the Padang, where apparently even the Priority Queue was a few hours long. But everyone was making a go at getting to Parliament House before the queue closed at 8p.m..

television crew and media setting up shop along the route of Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral procession from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre television crew and media setting up shop along the route of Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral procession from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre

television crew and media setting up shop along the route of Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral procession from Parliament House to the University Cultural CentreThe rest of us were strategising where to position ourselves for the best vantage point along the route of Lee Kuan Yew’s state funeral procession from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre where the state funeral service would be held. As we travelled along, we could see that barriers had been put up and the television crew and other media had started to set up shop.

At lunch at Brotzeit at Westgate Mall, conversation turned inevitably to online commentaries, blog posts, articles, Facebook status updates on LKY. The general frustration was that the usual tired hackneyed accusations were being rehashed despite evidence to the contrary or without regard for the context in which certain decisions were taken. The frustration was two-fold:

  • that it was unfair to the memory of Singapore’s first prime minister – not that he cared when he was alive, nor will he care now that he is gone. But it was a matter of justice – that is, in the vein of “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbour.” (Leviticus 19:15);
  • that if many couldn’t even separate facts and the proper interpretation of facts with regard to context, then what hope did we have of an educated (not merely literate) populace who would be able to carefully consider current circumstances and so elect the right people to govern us and not just those who pander to popular desires but have no interest in doing the difficult and necessary for Singapore and Singaporeans.

It was pointed out that this was not an unexpected trait of humankind – a fallen humanity.

Weihenstephan, Brotzeit, Westgate Mall, SingaporeTake Jesus – the Jews in that time had been waiting for hundreds of years for the Messiah to come. But when the Son of God himself came to them:

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13)

 Later on, John records the signs Jesus kept doing that should have alerted the Jewish leaders that he was truly the long-awaited Christ. But instead of breathing a sigh of relief and welcoming him with tears of joy, though they acknowledged that the miracles did happen, they refused to think anything of it.

In John 9, there was the miraculous healing of a man who had been born blind. The reaction to this great event was at the same time hilarious and very sad.

His neighbours, too used to him on the ground waiting for spare change, couldn’t believe it was really him:

The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” (John 9:8-11)

Brotzeit, Westgate Mall, SingaporeThe Pharisees saw it was a tremendous miracle again (not something that could be faked or be the result of any adrenaline rush), but refused to be think well of Jesus because he did this on a Sabbath when no “work” was to be done:

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. (John 9:13-16)

So they thought perhaps there was a sleight-of-hand somewhere and called up the formerly-blind man’s parents as witness:

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” (John 9:18-23)

No joy there either. Yes, it was indeed a spectacular miracle – not just to show Jesus’ power, but to fulfil what the Jewish Scriptures had prophesised a long time ago by Isaiah, that God’s appointed servant would be sent to Israel as:

a light for the nations,     to open the eyes that are blind (Isaiah 42:6d-7)

And so, rather poignantly,

Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. (John 9:40-41)

Starbucks and white roses. long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, SingaporeNow no one is equating Harry Lee with Jesus. Far from it. Rather, the focus is on the crowd, the populace, the people – this shows human beings have not changed since the first century; we are the same wherever we are found in the world. If God’s own people, no, the teachers and leaders of God’s own people could not even recognise the Son of God when he was displaying his identity fairly obviously, then it is of little surprise that many would refuse to look at LKY with proper judgement.

That’s where the parallel ends though. As LKY himself predicted, PhD candidates and history book writers will be arguing about this sort of thing for a long time to come, and it would make little difference to him. And though it might be a worry for those of us who plan to live the rest of our lives in Singapore, that’s only a cause for concern for the next, what, 50-60 years? But if what Jesus says is true, then our concern is not merely academic – our individual response to him, our personal refusal to see him as he is, means that our guilt before God remains, and affects us for eternity.

On the Fifth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

7-day Period of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew:

Last Day of National Mourning for Harry Lee Kuan Yew – State Funeral Procession

On the Sixth day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, and the Wilful Blindness of Man

On the Fifth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Fourth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Third Day of National Mourning: Long Snaking Queues to Pay Last Respects to Lee Kuan Yew

On the Third Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Second Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Farewell and Good Night, Harry Lee Kuan Yew – 7 Reasons for Respecting LKY

Friday evening. The last night to join the long queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House.

long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, SingaporeAt about 10.45p.m. at City Hall MRT, Exit B was closed off to people coming to the Padang. The Priority Queue (for the elderly, disabled, people with young children) was still starting from the vicinity of the steps of the old City Hall building. The normal queue started at Exit A, just outside Starbucks and McDonalds in Raffles City.

long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, SingaporeNever have I seen such sustained crowding – not on any National Day, not when the IT Fairs were on, not at Christmas or New Year or Chinese New Year.

The lady holding the waiting time board, not finding anywhere to stand, was perched on the MRT parapet. “10 hours” it read:

long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

At about 11p.m., the queue was temporarily suspended for the safety of the crowd. Fortunately, there wasn’t any pushing that might lead to the horrific stampede that killed many in Shanghai over the New Year.

long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore“Please do not join the queue. The Padang is full!” yelled this policeman into a megaphone, but the crowds were still arriving.

Check:

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew – Lying in State at Parliament House for up-to-date details

And here in true Singapore form is a live telecast of the room in which LKY is lying in state:

We felt no fear at the crowds; just amazement at the sheer number of people who would wait through the night to demonstrate their gratitude to this man. And somehow, sweating it out in solidarity with fellow Singaporeans and sympathetic visitors seemed a form of catharsis.

Loved how people commemorated Ah Kong (grandfather) in their own way, demonstrating the rarely-seen diversity of Singaporeans: the Singapore Botanic Gardens named a new orchid breed after him (Aranda Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀蜻蜓万代兰)), Teo Ser Luck dedicated a new work out to him, and Christopher Pereira made figurines which he put on display outside Raffles City: Christopher Pereira (Chris Treewizard) and his LKY dolls and figurines,  past the long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Christopher Pereira (Chris Treewizard) and his LKY dolls and figurines, past the long queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House, SingaporeIs all this idolatry? Well, Paul the apostle who spoke out strongly against the worship of anything other than Son of God himself had this to say:

Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed. (Romans 13:7)

And as I read more about the man I never bothered to know other than the “authoritarian”, “dictatorial” prime minister, senior minister, minister mentor others said he was, I understood that respect and honour was due to him.

As a “global statesman” he did not try to be the star of the show, instead he had only one interest – the good of Singapore. What a wonderful thing to say about any person, not to say any politician!

First of all, I learnt not to be ashamed to be a patriot. To the young, as I then was, the term carries a vague, undefinable whiff of unfashionable mustiness. But to serve the Republic of Singapore in any capacity is no mean profession because if Singapore does not survive, no other value can be realised in this vale of tears we call the world.

You may think that all diplomats or all statesmen must obviously serve their own countries’ interests. Well, they certainly ought to. But as I grew more experienced in the craft of diplomacy, I observed that this was all too often the exception rather than the rule; that too many leaders and diplomats, from too many countries, too often confuse personal interests with national interests, or convince themselves that these are synonymous. There is no creature more susceptible to self-deception than certain types of diplomats or erstwhile statesmen. The worst types believe that whatever they do is necessarily important simply because they do it – they and no one else, because, of course, they are the centre of the universe. Mr Lee was never like that. He is often described as a global statesman, and so he was. But I doubt Mr Lee ever set much store by that appellation or any of the many formal honours he was given by foreign countries. These were means, not ends. His laser-like focus – his “universe” if you like – was always Singapore. He operated on a global stage, but only for Singapore. He won many friends and was personally greatly admired around the world. But this was always deployed for Singapore. He spoke his mind and never hesitated to do what necessity dictated for Singapore’s interests, even if it put his personal friendships at risk.

Second, I learnt that the pursuit and defence of Singapore’s interests must be grounded in a clinical and clear-eyed, indeed cold-blooded and intellectually ruthless, understanding of the environment in which a small country operates. Small countries cannot afford illusions. Mr Lee never mistook the necessary politesse and hypocrisies of statecraft and diplomacy for reality. He took as the starting point the world as it is; a world as full of promise and opportunity but a world also inevitably flawed and, so, often perilous. Mr Lee invariably cut through all the fluff that usually conceals the hard realities of international relations. He zeroed in on the very core of any issue or situation. His analysis was always holistic, enriched and given depth and breadth by his realistic understanding of history, of different cultures and, ultimately, of human nature in all its rich variety. He pursued what was possible in practice, not what was desirable on principle. He wanted to get things done. He always dared to try – Singapore would not exist otherwise – but was not given to chasing chimeras. This is again rarer than one might expect. Mr Lee never stopped learning and was never too proud to seek information even from the most junior, and certainly never too proud to change his mind whenever the situation warranted.

Third, I learnt no leader, however talented, can achieve much alone. Mr Lee was undoubtedly a great leader, but he was the great leader of a great team and of a great people. Leadership is not a matter of intellect alone. His sense of mission, his dedication to and passion for Singapore inspired an entire generation of Singaporeans from all walks of life to defy the odds and to serve some cause larger than themselves.
(Bilahari Kausikan, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was ‘a complex man who evoked many emotions’, Straits Times, 27 March 2015)

As a prime minister, his government was remarkable not for oppression, but for using democratic institutions to ensure there would be no oppression:

But the Singapore model, as China’s rulers understand it, never existed. To emulate Lee’s model of government – rather than its cartoon caricature – would require allowing a far more democratic system than the CCP would ever tolerate.

The true secret of Lee’s political genius was not his skillful use of repressive practices, such as launching lawsuits against the media or his political opponents; such tactics are common and unremarkable in semi-authoritarian regimes. What Lee did that was truly revolutionary was to use democratic institutions and the rule of law to curb the predatory appetite of his country’s ruling elite.


By holding regular competitive elections, Lee effectively established a mechanism of political self-enforcement and accountability – he gave Singaporean voters the power to decide whether the PAP should stay in power. This enforcement mechanism has maintained discipline within Singapore’s ruling elite and makes its promises credible.

Regrettably, most of the rest of the world has never given Lee proper credit for crafting a hybrid system of authoritarianism and democracy that vastly improved the wellbeing of his country’s citizens, without subjecting them to the brutality and oppression to which many of Singapore’s neighbors have resorted.
(Minxin Pei, The Real Singapore Model, Project Syndicate 26 March 2015)

As an elected member of parliament, he was more interested in what was right for the country, rather than being popular with the people:

We in Government and as MPs on the ground know how difficult it is to carry unpopular policies, even if they are right. Why did Mr Lee and his Government choose to persuade Singaporeans to do, again and again, what was necessary but painful? Mr Lee himself provided us the answer. He said in 1968 in this House ‘If we were a soft community, then the temptation would be to leave things alone and hope for the best. Then, only good fortune can save us from the unpleasantness which reason and logic tell us is ahead of us. But we are not an easy-going people. We cannot help thinking, calculating and planning for tomorrow, for next week, for next month, for next year, for the next generation. And it is because we have restless minds, forever probing and testing, seeking new and better solutions to old and new problems, that we have never been, and I trust never shall be, tried and found wanting.’

“Mr Lee refused to be swayed by ideology that could not work. He dubbed these as ‘highfalutin ideas that misled Singaporeans’. (‘A nation cries out in mourning’: Dr Ng Eng Hen on Lee Kuan Yew, Channel NewsAsia, 26 March 2015)

On the Fourth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

7-day Period of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew:

Last Day of National Mourning for Harry Lee Kuan Yew – State Funeral Procession

On the Sixth day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, and the Wilful Blindness of Man

On the Fifth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Fourth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Third Day of National Mourning: Long Snaking Queues to Pay Last Respects to Lee Kuan Yew

On the Third Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Second Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Farewell and Good Night, Harry Lee Kuan Yew – 7 Reasons for Respecting LKY

On the 4th day of national mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, after MRT and LRT trains and some buses ran all night, the crowds cleared a little. We got to City Hall MRT, took Exit B to emerge outside St. Andrew’s Cathedral. There, those for the priority queue (frail, elderly, special needs) turned left and headed to the steps of the old City Hall, while the rest of us turned right and skirted the other side of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Water was handed out and there were clean portaloos. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

There was a last chance to get to the priority queue.”Oh! Me, me!” yelled the white-haired man in front of me as he sprinted forward with remarkable agility, to the amusement of the crowd. No one begrudged him his technical right. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

From there, there were snaking queues on the Padang, where the hardworking army boys had set up tents. The queues were efficiently run, though of course, people weren’t always around to stop queue jumpers.

Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

Then across to the Cenotaph at Esplanade Park, along the leafy Connaught Drive where we had a good view of the new Downtown Core and magnificent Marina Bay Sands. More water was available, as were clean portaloos.

“Please take water and drink. Take care of yourself. Very hot, don’t dehydrate.” Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

We shook hands with (and here I had to check against the composite photos of MPs, ignoramus that I am) Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shamugaratnam and Halimah Yacob, who thanked us for our patience and for coming. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

Past Victoria Memorial Hall (or Victoria Concert Hall), we hanged a left on Fullerton Road, down the underpass to the other side, past the Asian Civilisation Museum, kept along the Singapore River, where there was more water available and some cold yoghurt drinks and juice. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

You could tell some people were a little worried. It was a typical Singaporean worry:

“Eh, where is the dustbin?”

Fortunately, they were in plentiful reassuring-green supply. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

Under the white tentage, there were powerful fans, and pens and cards for condolences messages, and the opportunity to read some condolence boards until we got to the security scanners.

“No point spreading out, please keep to one line.”

“Tell your friends to keep all their metal objects in one bag.”

Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

Then into the Parliament House compound, where there was speculation amongst the crowd whom each SD car belonged to. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore

No photos inside, but not many were obeying the SILENCE sign. Suddenly, and very matter-of-factly, there was the casket drapped with the Singapore flag, and the vigil guard.

“Don’t stop, keep moving.”

Several people choked up. Many bowed as they wiped their tears (and sweat).

Then we were out, blinking in the sunshine. The priority queue was heading in as we exited.

Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, SingaporeAs one of my queue neighbours said, waiting in line was almost like a tour of what LKY had achieved for Singapore* – look at the greenery; look at the well-paved roads; look at the efficiency of the army and police; look at the cleanliness of the place – no globs of spit everywhere like in Beijing, no smell of urine or vomit like in London; look at the polite but again efficient security clearance; look at the buildings all around – office buildings full of workers driving the financial sector, shopping centers where a wide selection of goods are available to most of the population.

As George Yeo is reported to have said, quoting the epitaph of Christopher Wren in St. Paul’s Cathedral,”If you seek his memorial – look around you.”

*no he didn’t physically do the work, but as the leader, he set the vision, recruited the right people, drove them towards the goal. In the world, the leader is the one who is responsible for the group, the company, the country he leads. When Churchill led Britain to victory, Churchill wasn’t in a uniform with a gun, but the world credits the victory to him. In the same way, when a bank does dodgy deals, it is not usually the managing director who authorised or even had knowledge of the deals – but the world also holds him to account for them.

Good places to eat after the long queue to Parliament House (and talk more about LKY’s legacy and toast to his memory):

food court at Peninsula Shopping Centre

places to eat after Parliament House: food court at Peninsula Shopping Centre. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore places to eat after Parliament House: food court at Peninsula Shopping Centre. Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parliament House, Singapore Mourners queue to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at Parlia or just a few bus-stops down along Keong Saik Road:

big prawn hor fun at Kok Sen Restaurant (50 Keong Saik Road) Kok Sen Restaurant (50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) Kok Sen Restaurant (50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) Kok Sen Restaurant (50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) big prawn hor fun, Kok Sen Restaurant (50 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) steamed kaya bread, crispy kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs, good strong tea at Tong Ah Eating House (36 Keong Saik Road) Tong Ah Eating House (36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) Tong Ah Eating House (36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) Tong Ah Eating House (36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) Tong Ah Eating House (36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore) good strong tea, soft-boiled eggs, steamed kaya bread, crispy kaya toast, Tong Ah Eating House (36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore)

Third Day of National Mourning: Long Snaking Queues to Pay Last Respects to Lee Kuan Yew

7-day Period of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew:

Last Day of National Mourning for Harry Lee Kuan Yew – State Funeral Procession

On the Sixth day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew, and the Wilful Blindness of Man

On the Fifth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Fourth Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Third Day of National Mourning: Long Snaking Queues to Pay Last Respects to Lee Kuan Yew

On the Third Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

On the Second Day of National Mourning for Lee Kuan Yew

Farewell and Good Night, Harry Lee Kuan Yew – 7 Reasons for Respecting LKY

Early last afternoon, three separate queues of about 8 hours long each had formed of people lining up to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew, whose body was lying in state at Parliament House.

Here’s the one that started at Clarke Quay, snaked round one side, up the overhead bridge to Fort Canning, up a little of Fort Canning, doubling back across the overhead bridge, along the Singapore River, through the underpass, up and along New Bridge Road, onward to Hong Lim Park and back down North Bridge Road towards Parliament House.

The queue route continued to change over the course of the day. This official Remembering Lee Kuan Yew site gave good updates on where to join the queue and queue-timings.

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

long snaking queues to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew lying in state at Parliament House

There’s the usual Singaporean banter about how we love to queue (for free things, for places in a good school for our children, for HDB flats, for Hello Kitty). I think that’s wrong. I also think people who’ve judged us as the most unemotional country in the world are wrong – they were using a culturally-inappropriate yardstick. We don’t love to queue; rather, we demonstrate our affection for things by queuing for them. We queue for things we place value on – limited edition dolls of cats with no mouths, but much much more so, for a man who gave his life for the good of our country.

As I was standing there in the hot sun, I thought of a man who not only gave his life for his country, but for the whole world – Jesus of Nazareth. And he had it much worse. He died shamefully in agony on a cross, not peacefully in a hospital bed. He was placed in a borrowed tomb without much ceremony and without being properly embalmed. There weren’t snaking queues to his tomb, just a few timid women and disbelieving disciples. But then there is a reversal – Jesus rose to life from the dead in 3 days, and in 3/4 days we will witness the cremation of LKY’s mortal shell.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is of course the thing on which Christian claims stand or fall. Googled around and found a talk well worth listening to – “The Resurrection of Jesus: did it happen and does it matter?” which I’ll park here for future reference:

TU13-014 from St Helen’s Church on Vimeo.

This is what I find so compelling about the Christian faith – that it isn’t about blind faith or a leap in the dark, but the Bible expressly says time and time again: here is the evidence, here is more evidence, here is overwhelming evidence, so believe – because your life, now and in eternity, depends on it.