Stalin recalls LKY's contribution to Tamils

Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew will be honoured with a statue in Tamil Nadu, the Indian state's Chief Minister M.K. Stalin announced in Singapore on Wednesday.

It will be erected in Thiruvarur district's Mannargudi town, which has seen a number of people finding employment in Singapore over the years, along with a library in Mr Lee's name.

Mr Stalin said Mr Lee is hailed as the father of Singapore and recalled his contribution towards the growth of Tamils in the country.

Addressing a gathering of Tamil associations at Suntec City Convention and Exhibition Centre, the chief minister recalled a speech by Dravidian stalwart and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) founder late C.N. Annadurai, who called Mr Lee an "elder brother".

"Mr Lee later hosted Annadurai for a feast. When the Singapore leader died, late DMK chief (and Mr Stalin's father) M. Karunanidhi hailed him as 'Singapore's hero'," said Mr Stalin.

"Therefore, I want to share a happy news. We have decided to establish a monument for Lee Kuan Yew in Tamil Nadu. This will come up in Mannargudi."

Mr Stalin added that he is aware that a majority of Tamils residing in Singapore hail from Mannargudi and Pattukkottai towns.

Naming a number of villages in these places, he said that almost every household there has a connection with Singapore.

Mr Stalin's announcements was received with thunderous applause from the 1,800 gathering. Minister for Law and Home Affairs K. Shanmugam was the guest-of-honour at the event.

Tamil Nadu's newly-appointed Minister for Industries, Investment Promotion and Commerce T.R.B. Rajaa too praised Mr Lee's support for Tamils finding employment in Singapore.

At the Tamil Nadu Investment Conclave, organised by the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Tamil Nadu Guidance at the Shangri-la Hotel on Wednesday, the minister, who has served Mannargudi since 2011 in the state Assembly, said: "Many Tamils from Thanjavur, Mannargudi and Pattukottai, have come to Singapore with big dreams. And, with the opportunities they got in Singapore, they have returned to their hometowns and taken their families to new heights."

When Mr Lee died on March 23, 2015, people in Mannargudi mourned "a great loss" and held a funeral procession. They plastered his poster on streets across the town and one family even named their newborn after the Singapore leader.

"Our people celebrated his life like he was one of us," said Mr Rajaa.

"The families' eagerness in honouring Mr Lee was a reflection of gratitude towards the country that fed them."

He thanked Singapore for embracing the people from Tamil Nadu.

Mr Stalin also lauded Thamizhavel G. Sarangapany's contribution to Singapore society by founding the Tamil daily Tamil Murasu in 1935.

"His Thamizhar Thirunaal festival and Tamil Reform Association were progressive platforms that united thousands," the chief minister said.

"Sarangapany was fundamental in ensuring the prosperity of Tamils and Tamil language in Singapore. He is the pride of all Tamils."

Mr Stalin also spoke at length on the ties between Tamil Nadu and Singapore which date back to more than 1,000 years.

He noted that Singapore has Tamil as an official language and was the first country to adapt the simplified Tamil script.

Mr Stalin said he constituted a welfare board last year to safeguard the interests of the Tamil diaspora and promised to look into the requests of overseas Tamils, including intercultural exchanges and enhanced tourism relations.


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