Two political leaders who have had personal impacts on my life passed away in the last week or so. Former Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser and Singapore's first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew.
Malcom Fraser was instrumental to the Australian Government's policy shift in the mid-late 70's which embraced and welcomed Vietnamese refugees to Australia. This move was the first significant step towards multiculturalism following the dismantling of the White Australia Policy. When he came to power in 1975, less than 400 Vietnamese lived in Australia. By the end of his term, tens of thousands of Vietnamese would be recognised as refugees. My parents and sister were three of those people. Upon hearing the news of his passing and then seeing the coverage of his funeral, I surprised myself at how emotional I felt for this man I had never met. He was a man of true compassion and strength whose support for human rights was unwavering. Without him and his strength of leadership, my family and I would literally not be where we are today.
Lee Kuan Yew was the first Prime Minister of Singapore and is said to be the key architect behind Singapore's incredible development. Singapore has transformed from a third world country to a first world country within a single generation. He is known as the founding father of modern Singapore and whilst not all may agree with his policies, without him, I would not have the comfort, security and opportunities I currently enjoy in this amazing city state which has become my second home. The outpouring of grief and mourning across the country and how the people of Singapore have reacted has been so moving.
Reflecting on the loss of these two men, I am feeling very grateful that I can be the beneficiary of their life's work. I am also grateful for living in a democratic society where my vote counts and the leaders we vote in can really have such a significant and personal impact. We must not take this for granted. I only hope that we and our political leaders continue to be inspired and learn from them as we strive to be the best we can be and to be good to those around us.