Because it was kind of a big deal (for me) I have to pen down this memory on the blog.
On 8 November 2015, I met PM Lee for the very first time during the Cheng San – Seletar CC Tree Planting Day. Ecoponics was honoured to be one of the fringe activities for the event, where we had a booth allocated to us to conduct a Terrarium making session on the spot for the residents.
Although we have been to many Tree Planting Day sessions, what makes this one more memorable for me was the friendly interaction I had with the PM.
Tree planting has historical significance in greening Singapore. Like any other Tree Planting Day sessions, the Guest of Honour (usually the Members of the Parliament) is supposed to plant a tree together with the residents. As the VIP for this event, PM Lee had to do the same too.
After the tree planting , PM Lee made his walk around the fringe activities booths. I was actually quite impressed that PM Lee went to EVERY SINGLE fringe activity booth to mingle with the residents patronizing and the vendors. Not just for “wayang” (for show) purposes, but he was genuinely happy to be spending time interacting with everyone.
He was eager and enthusiastic to know what was going on on the grounds. I was really impressed.
We actually prepared a Singapore themed terrarium for him, and were hoping to have the chance to present it to him. I was quite nervous then, having a lot of thoughts running through my mind.
“Is he really that friendly?”
“Will he like it?”
“Is the terrarium ‘Singapore’ enough?”
“What if he doesn’t like it?”
“What if he missed our booth?”
Slowly, as PM Lee made his way over to our booth, these thoughts of mine were dispelled.
He came up to us, shook everyone’s hands firmly and thanked us for coming. His presence was indeed prominent, with all eyes on him and ears listening to every word he said.
I presented the terrarium to him and he smiled, accepting it wholeheartedly. He chatted with me spiritedly, asking me, “How do I take care of it (the terrarium)?” etc. And after I answered, he promised he would bring back to his office and take good care of it.
Before he left, I requested a photo with him. He agreed without any hesitation. After the photo was taken, to my surprise, he asked the photographer if the photo was alright, whether he had taken a good shot for me and if it wasn’t alright, he was more than willing to take it again. That was quite an epic, surreal, fanboy moment that I’ll probably remember for life. Because he DIDN’T have to ask whether or not the photo was well taken. He could have hurriedly left for the next booth. But he did not. He assured that everything was well for me before he made his move – which indeed left an impression on me.
I used to think that he wouldn’t be so approachable, and he’s doing all these just for the sake of doing so. I was wrong, very wrong. He isn’t the kind who acts all high and mighty. He isn’t the kind who bosses people around. He is the kind who actually cares for his people, and listens to them attentively. He is a very down-to-earth, amiable man.
TO PM LEE: You are truly a respected Prime Minister, a leader who has his residents at heart. It was really an honour to meet you in person. You might have heard this countless of times, but I still want to say Thank You, for even the smallest thing that you have done for us.
P.S I hope that the terrarium is still doing well in your office.
P.P.S I hope that I can meet you again in person, and this time, I will request for a selfie with you!!