Monday 30 March 2015

Lee Kuan Yew's final journey

Thank you, Mr Lee. Goodbye, Mr Lee

A grateful nation says: 'Thank you, Mr Lee!'
In pouring rain along the streets or glued to the TV, at home and abroad, Singaporeans bid a final farewell
By Warren Fernandez, EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

IN THE end, it all boiled down to four simple words: "Thank you, Mr Lee."

After nearly 2-1/2 hours of heartfelt eulogies at a moving state funeral service at the University Cultural Centre (UCC), those four words summed up the thoughts of the 10 speakers, at times personal, poetic or profound.

The more than 100,000 people who stood drenched in pouring rain all along the 15.4km route for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's hour-long final journey through Singapore, from Parliament House to Kent Ridge, called out his name perhaps because it seemed the best way to say: "Thank you, Mr Lee."

Indeed, that sentiment was evident over the past week of national mourning. In scenes never seen before or likely to be repeated, nearly 454,700 people had queued for up to 10 hours through the day and night to attend his lying in state at Parliament House. Another 1.2 million went to 18 condolence centres around the island to pay their respects, leave flowers, messages and gifts.

Mr Lee, who died aged 91 last Monday, had been a father figure to the country he helped found and forge over the decades, constantly worrying about the future of his charges, pushing them to work harder, behave better, think longer term, and even have more babies because the nation needed it.

Despite - or perhaps because of - his tough love and tough-minded policies, he won the people's trust when he delivered on his promises of a better life, building a metropolis where once there were mudflats.

Little wonder then that many had hoped he would recover from his illness and attend the celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the nation he played so critical a role in shaping. But, alas, that was not to be.

Yet in death, as he so often did over his long years in office, he managed to rally his people in what might well be the ultimate SG50 commemoration event.

Yesterday, the crowds made clear that they knew, or had not forgotten, what Mr Lee had done over those five decades.

Mr David Hong, 58, who had watched the 1968 National Day Parade at the Padang in the rain, braved a downpour again to send off Mr Lee.

"It's a test of our spirit and determination," he said. "Why should we be afraid of rain when Mr Lee Kuan Yew has gone through a lot more storms?"

Facility officer Sim Lye Hock, 58, who waited along Clementi Road from 10.30am, said: "It's my last chance to say goodbye... I could go to school because he pushed for it. If not for him, I don't know where I'd be now."

For over an hour, the gun carriage carrying Mr Lee's flag- draped coffin wove its way through Singapore, passing several defining landmarks.

These included the NTUC Centre and Trade Union House in Shenton Way, which reflect his beginnings as a lawyer defending workers, the Port of Singapore and his Tanjong Pagar constituency, as well as Bukit Merah, Queenstown and Commonwealth housing estates, before heading for the UCC.

There, top representatives of more than 20 countries including India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, and former United States president Bill Clinton joined more than 2,000 guests for the state funeral.

The solemn day was also marked by Singaporeans glued to their television sets or computers at home and abroad, as well as others in India and New Zealand, where state flags flew at half-mast.

"We have lost our founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who lived and breathed Singapore all his life. He and his team led our pioneer generation to create this island nation, Singapore," he added, before going on to sketch the battles that Singapore's founding Prime Minister and his exceptional team of ministers had fought to overcome the odds and build a modern, multiracial society, providing jobs, housing, education and security.

Noting that, above all else, Mr Lee was "a fighter", PM Lee added: "In crises, when all seemed hopeless, he was ferocious, endlessly resourceful, firm in his resolve, and steadfast in advancing his cause. Because he never wavered, we didn't falter. Because he fought, we took courage and fought with him, and prevailed. Thus Mr Lee took Singapore from Third World to First."

He went on to recall Mr Lee's tireless quest to help Singapore attain self-sufficiency in its water needs, from cleaning up rivers, building reservoirs, desalination plants and the Marina Barrage, fighting back tears as he said: "So perhaps it's appropriate that today for his state funeral the heavens opened and cried for him."

He also remembered Mr Lee as a father, who although not demonstrative or "touchy-feely", cared deeply about him and his siblings.

He recounted how his father had urged him to take up meditation when his first wife Ming Yang died, and after he was diagnosed with lymphoma. He pressed the issue again in 2011, after the last General Election, noted PM Lee.

"So this morning, before the ceremonies began at Parliament House, we had a few minutes. I sat by him and meditated," he said, choking up.

Mr Lee's biggest worry, he noted, was that younger Singaporeans would "lose the instinct for what made Singapore tick", which was why he was relentless in writing books right to his last days, to share his experiences with them.

PM Lee concluded with a rallying call, urging Singaporeans to build on what Mr Lee and the pioneer generation had achieved.

"We have all lost a father. We are all in grief. But in our grief, we have come together to display the best of Mr Lee's Singapore," he said, pointing to how people had gone out of their way to help and care for each other as they waited in line to pay their last respects.

"The grief we shared brought us all closer together, and made us stronger and more resolved. Together, we came not only to mourn. Together, we celebrate Mr Lee Kuan Yew's long and full life, and what he has achieved with us, his people.

"Let us continue building this exceptional country. Let us shape this island nation into one of the great cities in the world reflecting the ideals he stood for, realising the dreams he inspired and worthy of the people who have made Singapore our home and nation."

Nine other speakers delivered eulogies, including President Tony Tan, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, former ministers as well as grassroots and union leaders.

Mr Lee's younger son, Mr Lee Hsien Yang, extended his family's deep appreciation to Singaporeans for the "outpouring of grief and affection" for his father. He gave a deep bow to the audience, joined by PM and Mrs Lee, to applause.

A young Singaporean, former Straits Times journalist and now civil servant Cassandra Chew, who had worked with Mr Lee on a book, said she was thankful to have been born in Singapore.

"We don't have everything, but we have more than most, because of your lifelong labour," she said. "On behalf of young Singaporeans everywhere, I'd like to say: thank you."

A bugler sounded the plaintive last post, followed by a solemn minute's silence in honour of Mr Lee, marked by those in the hall as well as many around the island.

After the national pledge was recited and the national anthem was sung, the funeral procession made its way to Mandai for a private cremation service. This was attended by family, close friends and Mr Lee's long-serving staff and medical assistants.

There, family members shared personal memories of the father and grandfather they knew and loved.

Mr Lee had once been asked by Straits Times editors how he would like to be remembered. Not often lost for words, he struggled for an answer, saying it was not something he thought about, nor did it matter much.

Then, he added: "This was the job I undertook, I did my best. And I could not do more."

Given the circumstances, there was no more he could do, he said, adding that he would have to leave it to people to make what they will of his efforts.

"It is of no great consequence. What is of consequence is I did my best. Full stop."

Indeed, as many recounted in tributes over the past week, Mr Lee worked relentlessly to secure Singapore's future. He did so doggedly, with discipline and determination to ensure that Singapore succeeded. His supporters knew it, his enemies and opponents knew it, and ultimately, the people whose lives he transformed knew it.

Which is why tens of thousands braved the downpour yesterday, holding up posters of him, bowing in respect, throwing flowers or waving national flags, calling out his name, and giving voice to their innermost thoughts: "Thank you, Mr Lee."

The life may have ebbed away, but the light will continue to show the way
Mr Lee will endure not just in the landmarks bearing his mark, but in the minds and lives of his people
By Ravi Velloor, Associate EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Shortly after midnight on Saturday, streaks of lightning lit up the night sky over central and eastern Singapore as the heavens blazed forth.

As dawn broke, a misty haze hung over the city after days of clear skies. Business in the coffee shops seemed thinner as Singaporeans, normally eager to stumble to the nearest convenient outlet for their Sunday breakfast, seemed to tarry.

It was as though they were reluctant to meet this day when Mr Lee Kuan Yew, lionised leader of the Lion City, would pass into history.

Along Orchard Road, the city's most famous boulevard, a gusting wind flung laburnum and other flowers on the road, as though the "city in a garden" felt compelled to pay its own unique tribute.

Then, the heavens emptied, pouring moisture upon the earth.

Perhaps Mr Lee would not have minded; one more opportunity to funnel every drop of water into one of the island's 17 reservoirs.

It had to happen some day, and so it has. This man who led Singaporeans to independence, not only from Britain, but from poverty, want, ignorance, diffidence - and water dependency - has made his final journey.

Yesterday, thousands braved rain and slush to travel the last mile with him, lining the road along which Mr Lee's cortege travelled to the state funeral service, wearing plastic ponchos and carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from the elements. Others used floor mats they had brought for the wait against the rain. In places, the crowd was ten- and fifteen-deep.

Elsewhere, hundreds of thousands more stayed in the shelter of homes in residential estates like Toa Payoh and Paya Lebar, mostly unaware that their districts got their names from Hokkien and Malay words for "big swamp".

Such has been the Singapore journey to urbanisation and 90 per cent home ownership. Not to speak of the arboreal fantasy the island is today, with a green cover over fully half of it.

The route itself was a tribute to the man, cutting across the key sites that marked his life and career. The cortege passed Collyer Quay and Shenton Way, and between Queenstown and Commonwealth, British-era names Mr Lee felt no shame in retaining, having helped his people shed the colonial cringe long ago and, like him, look the world in the eye.

Overseas, thousands gathered in front of television sets or computers to watch the live streaming of the funeral service, wet-eyed and longing to connect with home. Others had taken a flight to be in Singapore yesterday. Just to be here.

Why would a taxi driver called Micky Tan, recovering from prostate cancer surgery, don a cap and show up in the rain to shout, "Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Kuan Yew"? Why would a Kala Pillay keep an all-night vigil in Calgary, Canada?

Because they wanted to.

As a proportion of their populations, the 454,700 who turned up to pay respects at Mr Lee's bier exceeded the throng at Nelson Mandela's passing. When Winston Churchill lay in state for three days, a total of 321,360 filed past the catafalque, according to the BBC's figures.

Churchill had been out of office for only ten years when he died. Singapore's founding father stepped down from national leadership a quarter century ago.

Mr Lee, who in his governing years preferred to be feared over being loved, may have been pleasantly startled by the public outpouring of grief at his passing.

And what of the potentates, the heads of state and government from two dozen nations who travelled to the island to pay him respect?

There was the young king of tiny Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who, in 2006, had sought him out for advice on developing his nation. There was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who leads the world's second largest nation, saying he had been inspired to believe he could work to transform India because of Mr Lee's record in developing Singapore within a generation.

There were Mr Bill Clinton, Mr Tony Abbott, Mr Hun Sen, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Mr Shinzo Abe and others listening to the funeral orations on Mr Lee's record - in incorruptibility, raising living standards, in providing security to their minorities and the vulnerable, in his ability to forgive historical slights in the national interest, and his devotion to family.

Thanks to the relentless media coverage of the past week, Mr Lee has come alive for Singaporeans in all his vigour. In the months and years that lie ahead, there surely will be times when the Gans and Tans of Singapore will turn their eyes towards him, longing to hear that strong voice and reassuring firmness.

In 1959, an 11-year-old Peter Gan had peeked down from his Neil Road home and spotted jubilant crowds carrying a newly elected Lee Kuan Yew on their shoulders. Yesterday, the Tanjong Pagar constituent watched him pass through the streets a final time. The next time Mr Gan looks for Mr Lee, he will not be there.

And yet, Singaporeans know he will endure.

Not just in the physical landmarks around the island that bear his mark, but in other ways as well.

He will be in their minds when they hear an incoherent in-flight announcement and wonder how Mr Lee would have reacted, when aspiring politicians hitch up their trousers and square their shoulders, LKY-style, as they approach a lectern; when parents go to bed without worrying about children having a late night out, in the confidence with which people step towards pedestrian crossings looking neither to right nor left; in the mini-United Nations that the country's work districts, shopping malls and restaurants have come to be.

As Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, what was said of the British architect Christopher Wren could apply to Mr Lee - for Lee Kuan Yew's monument, just look around Singapore.

As he began his eulogy, PM Lee, alternating between pride for his father's life and grief over his death, said the "light that guided us all these years has been extinguished".

It was a faint echo from the poignant words Jawaharlal Nehru used for Mahatma Gandhi's death, as he broke the news to his then young nation about its first big tragedy.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew began his anti-colonial struggle admiring Nehru's words and vision.

If only for that reason, it is not inappropriate to borrow Nehru's words as Mr Lee himself departs the stage.

"The light has gone out, I said, and yet I was wrong," Nehru said on Jan 30, 1948.

"For the light that shone in this country was no ordinary light. The light that has illumined this country for these many years will illumine this country for many more years, and a thousand years later, that light will be seen in this country and the world will see it and it will give solace to innumerable hearts."

Foreign dignitaries attend Mr Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral
By Rachel Au-YongThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Leaders from 23 countries attended the state funeral of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew yesterday, in a testament to the deep regard many had for his achievements and his insights.

Gathered at the University Cultural Centre were heads of state or government from the other Asean countries and close partners.

They were Malaysia's Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Laos' Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Myanmar's President Thein Sein, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung. Philippine Senate president Franklin Drilon represented President Benigno Aquino.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Canada's Governor-General David Johnston, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin were also present.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim Massimov, New Zealand Governor-General Jerry Mateparae, South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also attended the funeral.

Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchao, former United States president Bill Clinton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov were also there.

In his eulogy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said his father had raised Singapore's standing in the world.

"Mr Lee was not just a perceptive observer of world affairs, but a statesman who articulated Singapore's international interests and enlarged our strategic space," he said. He added that at crucial turning points, "his views and counsel influenced thinking and decisions in many capitals".

In the process, Mr Lee "built up a wide network of friends and acquaintances, in and out of power".

He knew every Chinese leader from Mao Zedong, and every US president from Lyndon Johnson. He established close rapport with President Suharto of Indonesia.

Other close friends, PM Lee said, included former British premier Margaret Thatcher, Mr Clinton, and former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who was also at the funeral service.

"They valued his candour and insight. As Mrs Thatcher said, '(Mr Lee) had a way of penetrating the fog of propaganda and expressing, with unique clarity, the issues of our times and the way to tackle them. He was never wrong.'

"Hence, despite being small, Singapore's voice is heard, and we enjoy far more influence on the world stage than we have any reason to expect," PM Lee added.

Mr Modi earlier told reporters that Mr Lee "was among the tallest leaders of our times".

"Singapore's transformation in one generation is a tribute to his leadership... I am sure that he left satisfied with Singapore's achievements and confident about its future," he said.

"He inspired not just South-east Asia, but all of Asia, to believe in its own destiny."

Mr Modi described Mr Lee as a source of inspiration, whose "achievements and thoughts give me confidence in the possibility of India's own transformation".

Bhutan's King said: "His legacy will live on forever (not just) through Singaporeans, but all over the world. People such as myself, young people who have great admiration for Lee Kuan Yew, will continue to remember him with great respect."

Mr Clinton added that he appreciated Mr Lee's insights and candour: "Because Singapore had been friendly to the US and was friendly to the forces of reform in China, we were all able to have an informal relationship and just talk things through, and I think that's the way.

"People can deal with differences as long as everybody is on the level. Lee Kuan Yew was on the level. Whatever the deal was, that's what he would say. It was a gift, not just to the people of Singapore, but to the rest of the world."

'Unite with a new spirit' in post-LKY era
In a S'pore without Mr Lee, let words of national anthem lead the way
By Ignatius Low, Managing EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to yesterday's funeral service for Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. I know myself to be a rather sentimental person, so I went expecting to shed tears at some point.

All of the eulogies were heartfelt and some very touching, especially those by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his brother Hsien Yang and former senior minister of state Sidek Saniff.

But my eyes welled up only right at the end of the ceremony, when all the speeches had been delivered and the audience stood up to sing the national anthem.

"Marilah kita bersatu

dengan semangat yang baru;

Semua kita berseru,

Majulah Singapura, majulah Singapura!"

I've sung these lines so many times in my life, but yesterday the meaning of the words hit me hard. They call on Singaporeans to "unite with a new spirit" and urge the nation onward.

At the end of seven days of national mourning, Mr Lee Kuan Yew has been laid to rest and today will seem like the first day in post-LKY Singapore.

So much has been written about this moment, not just this past week but in the months and years leading up to it. What happens now? Can Singapore survive?

For me, the events of the past week have unearthed what seem to be two new certainties among the myriad variables that go into the answer to that question.

The first is the pleasant discovery that the Singapore spirit is alive and well.

We saw it all week in the unending queues of people waiting for hours in the hot sun and into the dead of night, just for a minute or two to pay their last respects to Mr Lee as his body lay in state at Parliament House.

We saw it again yesterday as thousands lined the streets in the pouring rain to greet Mr Lee's cortege as it made its way to the University Cultural Centre.

All week, people have been posting pictures online of Singaporeans in these queues being not only patient but also civilised, helpful and considerate, volunteering their time in aid of complete strangers, cleaning up after themselves, offering free food, flowers and water and taking only as much as they needed.

Going by the comments posted, these images have taken many people by surprise. In a week, Singapore seems to have collectively realised that, given the right circumstances, it can be the sort of idealised proto-Japanese or Scandinavian society that it constantly beats itself up for failing to emulate.

That leads me to the second happy discovery of the week, which concerns the notion of the ideal political model a country should adopt.

After years of increasingly intense debate about the failings of the Singapore system, many Singaporeans suddenly became proud of the unique way that their country is governed and run, whatever outsiders may say about it.

Two of the most widely circulated articles last week were plain-speaking commentaries by former Nominated MP Calvin Cheng and Business Times correspondent Joyce Hooi that took on Western criticism of the Singapore model head on.

If the much-vaunted political freedoms of the West mean anarchy, crime, failing public infrastructure and poverty, then we do not want it, both argued.

And do not mistake the Singaporean grumblings about higher freedoms to be proof that there was some terrible trade-off between economic growth and political liberty, or that its system has not worked.

In fact, it is quite the contrary. As Ms Hooi put it, "such has been the earlier success of Singapore that its people have the middle-class wherewithal to demand change, and the Government has the resources to provide it". You could almost hear the collective roar of approval.

When you boil it all down, what you get is a Singapore that got a glimpse of the good in itself, and became more secure about where it is in the world and how it got there.

It was a much-needed shot of confidence that will help this relatively young nation continue to overcome the increasingly difficult challenges ahead. My hope is that this is not a flash in the pan, and will be the seeds of the "new spirit" - semangat yang baru - we sing of in the words of the national anthem.

If we get it right, then the only thing we need fear, in this post-LKY era, is the inherent uncertainty of the future itself.

Some of these uncertainties - such as the vagaries of global politics and economics - have little to do with Mr Lee Kuan Yew, although he was adept at anticipating and dealing with them.

Others, however, may be a direct result of his departure.

Will the political system in Singapore change? Are there new fault lines developing that will splinter society? Will we re-examine those Lee Kuan Yew "hard truths" about nationhood and survival, and eventually discard them?

As a nation, we take our first steps today without our founding father. But they are firmer steps, I believe - his last gift to us.

Honour Mr Lee Kuan Yew by making Singapore a great city: PM Lee Hsien Loong
Singaporeans urged to continue life's work of founding father
By Lydia Lim, Associate Opinion EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday called on Singaporeans to continue Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life's work by making this island nation a great metropolis that reflects the ideals of their founding prime minister.

In a 40-minute eulogy, delivered in English, Mandarin and Malay, he spoke of the late Mr Lee's commitment to multiracialism, equality, meritocracy, integrity and rule of law; celebrated his ferocious fighting spirit and described his decades-long effort to prepare Singapore to continue beyond him.

Not only had he systematically identified and groomed a team of successors, but he also continued writing books into his 90s so that a new generation could learn from his experience, and understand what their security, prosperity and future depended on. "His biggest worry was that younger Singaporeans would lose the instinct for what made Singapore tick," PM Lee said.

He cited three recent books, the first on bilingualism, the second entitled Hard Truths and a third - One Man's View Of The World. The first two were launched in 2011 and the third in 2013.

PM Lee spoke of a man who fought and laboured tirelessly for his beliefs and the country he loved. In the 1960s, he battled communists and communalists, putting his own life on the line. Later, he fought for Singapore's survival after separation from Malaysia and when the British forces withdrew, taking 150,000 jobs with them.

"Just weeks after Separation, he boldly declared that '10 years from now, this will be a metropolis. Never fear!' And indeed he made it happen. He instilled discipline and order - ensuring that in Singapore, every problem gets fixed," PM Lee said.

He also enabled his economic team of Old Guard ministers Goh Keng Swee, Hon Sui Sen and Lim Kim San to design and carry out their plans to attract investments and grow the economy. "As he said, "I settled the political conditions so that tough policies… could be executed."

PM Lee added that "because people knew that he cared for them and not for himself, and because he had faith that Singaporeans would work with him to achieve great things, Mr Lee won the trust and confidence of Singaporeans".

In both his eulogy at the state funeral service in the University Cultural Centre (UCC), and later at a private ceremony for family and friends at Mandai Crematorium, PM Lee shared personal memories of his father, including a conversation they had years ago over a golf game in which the elder Mr Lee told his oldest child to take care of his mother and younger brother and sister should anything happen to him.

Their father, he said, had already plunged deep into politics when the children arrived so their mother brought them up. "But Pa set the tone, tracked our progress and made the big decisions. He sent us to a Chinese school; he started us on Malay lessons with Cikgu Amin; he encouraged Yang and me to take up SAF Scholarships, to serve the nation."

His father was there when he learnt to ride a bicycle, helped take care of his young children when his first wife died, and worried about his nutrition when he was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma.

His father's death "will leave a big hole" in the hearts of family and friends, "but his values, his love, and his words - these will stay with us, inspire us and live on in us for a long, long time".

As for Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew intended nothing less than to see that it "will be here a thousand years from now". With him gone, it is the duty of those who remain to continue his life's work, PM Lee said.

He ended his eulogy with this rallying call to Singaporeans: "We come together to pledge ourselves to continue building this exceptional country. Let us shape this island nation into one of the great cities in the world reflecting the ideals he stood for, realising the dreams he inspired and worthy of the people who have made Singapore our home and nation."

In this final hour, Papa is with family: PM Lee Hsien Loong at private farewell
Private farewell for about 300 held at Mandai Crematorium for Mr Lee
By Chua Mui Hoong, Opinion EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

First, the Singapore flag draping the coffin was removed, folded ceremoniously, and handed over to the elder son.

Then the coffin lid was lifted, revealing an open casket.

Inside, the body of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister who died last Monday aged 91, lay in repose.

With that, the public mourning of Mr Lee the public figure became the private mourning of Papa and Ye Ye by family members.

Earlier, at the University Cultural Centre, the state funeral had been a sober affair of more than two hours attended by state dignitaries and about 2,000 others. Now, at Mandai Crematorium as the sun set, a private farewell was held for about 300.

As the casket arrived at about 6.30pm at Hall 1, daughter Wei Ling, 60, placed the memorial portrait in front of the coffin.

Then, as he had led the nation in its mourning as Prime Minister, Hsien Loong, 63, the eldest of Mr Lee's three children, stood to lead the family to mourn its patriarch.

"After the formalities of the lying in state and the state funeral service, in this final hour, Papa is with his family, his friends of a lifetime, his immediate staff who served him loyally and well, his security team who kept him safe and sound, and his medical team who took such good care of him."

Mr Lee's three children and two grandsons delivered eulogies.

Daughter Wei Ling delivered a hearty, heartfelt eulogy on her "stubborn, determined" father she admitted she so resembled.

She lived with her father in Oxley Road, and as a doctor too, was often the first line of defence when he was ill, she said. She thanked his medical team for their care of her father.

Dr Lee has shunned the media spotlight all week, even as 1.2 million people in Singapore paid their last respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House or at tribute centres across the island. Clad in a black dress yesterday, she looked composed, although she admitted it had been a difficult week for her.

In the morning, she said, the maid put Mr Lee's chair away from the dining table and lined it against the wall. "It was a poignant moment because it came home to me that this farewell is forever. And I nearly broke down - but I can't break down, I am a Hakka woman."

Younger son Hsien Yang, 57, said: "Papa, thank you for a lifetime of service to the people of Singapore. You made this little red dot into the nation all of us are proud to call home."

For Li Hongyi, 28, second son of Hsien Loong, Ye Ye was more than a grandfather; he was an inspiration. "Ye Ye showed me that you could make a difference in this world. Not just that you could make a difference, but that you could do it with your head held high. You didn't have to lie, cheat or steal," he said, and paused as he fought back tears.

That proved a losing battle and his mother, Ms Ho Ching, went up to the podium to give him a handkerchief and a steadying pat.

Regaining his composure, he continued: "You didn't have to charm, flatter or cajole. You didn't have to care about frivolous things or play silly games. You could do something good with your life, and the best way to do so was to have good principles and conduct yourself honourably."

Hsien Yang's eldest son Li Shengwu, 30, recalled Sunday lunches at Ye Ye's house, where the white walls, old furniture and even the food would remain the same through the years.

He added: "As I grew up, sometimes I would talk to Ye Ye about politics and the state. Always he spoke with the courage of his convictions, with a certainty born of long consideration. As you might guess, we didn't always agree."

After the eulogies, family members filed past the casket for one last look at Mr Lee, laying a single red rose each in the open casket.

His sister Monica Lee was the first; then members of the extended family. Next, the grandchildren; then Mr Lee's three children and their spouses.

Hsien Loong, as eldest child, was last. He placed his rose in the casket, then beckoned to his wife Ho Ching and put his arm round her.

They stood, side by side, beside the casket. Then they bowed, once, twice and thrice, in their final farewell to Papa.

It was time for Singapore's founding father, and the Lee family patriarch, to go to his final rest. As so many have noted in tributes all week, he had done so much for Singapore; and it was time for another generation to take over.

Earlier, in his eulogy, PM Lee had described how his father helped him on his first bike ride: "Once when I was just getting the hang of balancing on two wheels, he pushed me off... I pedalled off across the field, thinking that he was still supporting and pushing me.

"Then I looked back and found that actually he had let go, and I was cycling on my own, launched, and he had let go! He was so pleased. So was I."

Softer side of Mr Lee Kuan Yew unveiled
Leaders recall a tough but fair man who agonised over hard decisions
By Fiona Chan, Deputy Political EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

A softer side of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew emerged yesterday from the eulogies of those who had worked closely with him.

They spoke of Singapore's founding Prime Minister not just as a scrupulously honest leader and a tough taskmaster, but also as a mentor, a teacher, a friend - and a hero.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam recalled the "roar" of the crowd at the National Day Parade two years ago when the audience burst into a loud cheer upon seeing Mr Lee make his entrance.

"That roar captured the feelings of a nation, of all of us, towards Mr Lee. It rang with respect, affection, friendship and deep emotional attachment.

"It was the sound of one nation united," Dr Tan said at a state funeral for Mr Lee at the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre (UCC).

Last week, the nation gathered to mourn him, and did so in a manner that would have made him proud, the President added.

Singaporeans queued patiently for hours to pay their last respects to Mr Lee, who died last Monday. Many helped to make the wait less onerous by offering shelter and refreshments.

"This was what (Mr Lee) had worked for his whole life - to build a united people, who respect and care for one another as fellow citizens," Dr Tan said.

Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who had taken the Prime Minister baton from Mr Lee in 1990, described him as a man who "drove his people hard" to quickly create a nation from scratch.

But Mr Lee - whom Mr Goh first met in 1958 when he invited the then opposition leader to speak at his school, Raffles Institution - was also a "great teacher" and an inveterate worrier.

"He shared with the Cabinet useful articles, his conversations with world leaders, and insights from overseas trips," Mr Goh told the 2,200 guests at the funeral.

He also "worried incessantly whether Singapore would survive after he and the old guard were gone. He wanted to be judged on this, not by the city he had built and the lives he had improved".

To usher in Singapore's next generation of leaders, Mr Lee "had to cut short the political careers of his old colleagues", a process that "was painful for him", recalled Mr Goh.

"He said that it was 'emotionally difficult but necessary… I had to do it, whatever my own feelings'.

"I know he felt for them. He would occasionally ask me about them," he added.

After Mr Goh himself stepped down as Prime Minister in 2004, handing the office over to Mr Lee's son, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, he continued to have lunch regularly with the elder Mr Lee until the latter's health declined in 2013.

Mr Goh also caught peeks of Mr Lee's personal life during those lunches. "We talked about our families and health. After Mrs Lee's death, I glimpsed how lonely and sad he was."

Former Cabinet minister S. Dhanabalan, once identified by Mr Lee as a potential successor, shared similar memories of the latter mentoring younger ministers.

"When he made official visits and went to conferences, he always made it a point to take a few of us in the younger team along with him," he said.

"Mr Lee never tired of repeating his war stories, observations, and conclusions about events and personalities. To me, he was Minister Mentor from the time I started working with him."

Like Mr Goh, Mr Dhanabalan also witnessed Mr Lee's anguish behind the scenes when he had to make difficult decisions.

"He was sometimes seen as a hard-hearted man who acted without feelings. But on the few occasions he discussed privately with me the decision to act against someone, I know that he agonised over the decision," said Mr Dhanabalan, now chairman of NUS Business School's management advisory board.

But he added that Mr Lee "was convinced that a soft-hearted approach would undermine the ethos he wanted to embed deeply in public service".

One value Mr Lee held dear was that of no wastefulness, said former senior minister of state Sidek Saniff.

Speaking in Malay, he choked up at times as he recounted how Mr Lee had told him not to spend money buying a new overcoat and boots for a trip to China, but instead to borrow them - from former Cabinet minister Ahmad Mattar and Mr Goh respectively.

Concluding, Mr Sidek turned to face Mr Lee's coffin and said: "Farewell, friend. Farewell."

An equally heartfelt goodbye came from Mr Dhanabalan, who also faced the coffin and said simply: "Farewell, Sir."

Dr Tan and Mr Goh, on the other hand, ended their eulogies by urging Singaporeans to continue Mr Lee's legacy of a harmonious and successful Singapore.

"Let us stay united, across race, language, religion, across young and old, across rich and poor, across our whole society, to write an exciting sequel to his and our Singapore story," said Mr Goh.

Other eulogists at the 21/2-hour state funeral included former Cabinet minister Ong Pang Boon, trade unionist G. Muthukumarasamy, Tanjong Pagar community leader Leong Chun Loong and civil servant and former journalist Cassandra Chew.

Their speeches were bookended by eulogies from Mr Lee's sons, PM Lee and Mr Lee Hsien Yang.

After the 10 eulogies, PM Lee and Dr Tan laid wreaths near Mr Lee's coffin.

A moment of silence was then observed islandwide for Mr Lee and the pledge and national anthem recited before the family left for the cremation service at Mandai Crematorium.


“Every National Day, we looked forward to seeing Mr Lee. I remember vividly our National Day Parade two years ago. There had been some uncertainty about Mr Lee’s health. While I was waiting to enter the Floating Platform to officiate the Parade, suddenly I heard a huge cheer, a roar — the biggest that day. My staff informed me that Mr Lee had just made his entrance to take his seat. That roar captured the feelings of a nation, of all of us, towards Mr Lee. It rang with respect, affection, friendship and deep emotional attachment.

“It is not something that can be easily put into words. But I know that all Singaporeans, in their hearts, understand what I am talking about.”


“After I stepped down as Prime Minister, we continued to lunch regularly. Our conversations never drifted far from his life’s work. We shared many common concerns, including the emerging trend of income stratification and social fragmentation. He worried about almost every aspect of Singapore. He never ceased sharing and I kept on learning.

“Once in a while, he showed his soft side. We talked about our families and health. After Mrs Lee’s death, I glimpsed how lonely and sad he was. Sadly, we had to discontinue our lunches in 2013 because of his health. Sadly, his physical health declined. Sadly, Mr Lee is gone.”


“He had an absolute obsession to ensure an honest, corruption-free political process and public administration system. He had seen the damage a nation and society suffer when well-meaning leaders allow those close to them to take advantage of their position.

“Mr Lee demanded and expected honesty and probity from political colleagues, from his equivalent of ‘Long March’ comrades, public servants and from all members of his family.

“He was sometimes seen as a hard-hearted man who acted without feelings. But on the few occasions he discussed privately with me the decision to act against someone, I know that he agonised over the decision.”

Crowds line streets to witness start of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey
Young, old, locals and expats brave downpour outside Parliament House
By Karamjit Kaur, Andrea Ng And Kok Xing HuiThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

The scene of unprecedented crowds for the lying in state, Parliament House still saw scores turn up yesterday to witness the start of the end of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey.

By about 10am, more than 200 people - young, old, Singaporeans, expatriates, tourists - were lining the streets outside Parliament House. Some had turned up as early as five hours before the funeral procession was due to start, to pay their final respects.

A light drizzle, followed by heavy rain and strong winds, did little to dampen their spirits.

At about 11.45am - 45 minutes before the cortege was scheduled to set off - the road in front of Parliament House was closed.

This prompted mourners to surge forward to take up vacant space and police officers had to step in to maintain order.

When the combined military and police band started playing, leading a marchpast comprising military personnel and students to the front of Parliament House, some in the crowd shouted "Umbrellas down", so that the view of those behind would not be blocked.

A young man's comment - "Rain, never mind, tomorrow take MC (sick leave)" - raised cheers from those around him.

Soon after, the ceremonial gun carriage carrying Mr Lee's casket emerged from the front gates of Parliament House.

The crowd, drenched from head to toe, broke out into chants of "We love you, Mr Lee", "Thank you, sir" and "You made us, Mr Lee" as the casket made its way down North Bridge Road before turning into Parliament Place.

Walking behind before they got into their vehicles after a short distance were Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and other family members. They were joined by current and former Members of Parliament, including Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen and Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. The group also included former MPs Mahmud Awang, Chan Chee Seng and Chiam See Tong, with the latter two in wheelchairs but determined to be present.

The gun carriage was escorted by 48 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces and Singapore Police Force in ceremonial uniforms.

Some in the crowd wept but private tutor Ong Than Eng, 64, proudly chanted "Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Kuan Yew, God bless Lee Kuan Yew". He said: "We've shed enough tears. I cried when Mr Lee was in the Singapore General Hospital and when I paid my respects to him at Parliament House, but he's in a better place now."

Others like Madam Ang Quee Whuay, 83, could not hold back their tears. She said that, if not for Mr Lee and the Government's education subsidies, she would not have been able to put her five children through school after her husband died.

She queued for five hours last Thursday to pay her final respects at Parliament House and turned up again yesterday morning. "I'm just too thankful," she said as she wiped away her tears.

There were tourists present, too, such as Australians Brian Edgley, 67, who is retired, and his wife Susan Gilmore, 63, an administration officer. The couple had not planned to witness the funeral procession but ended up staying instead of going to Gardens by the Bay. Mr Edgley recalled: "In our 20s, anything to do with Asia, Lee was it."

About an hour after the cortege had passed, the streets had emptied and the crowd had moved to City Hall MRT Station, where train officers had to stop people at the entrances to avoid congestion inside.

Singaporeans do us proud with kind, caring deeds
By Marc Lim, Jermyn Chow And Jonathan WongThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

It is the place that has witnessed it all in the last few days, from snaking queues of tens of thousands of people, to yesterday's 21-gun salute in honour of the nation's first Prime Minister.

As Singapore mourned the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the Padang was also the place where Singaporeans showed the best of themselves.

As Mr Lee lay in state at Parliament House from last Wednesday to Saturday, more than 450,000 people turned up to pay their respects. Never mind the queues of up to 10 hours through the Padang, or the scorching sun. Not a complaint was heard.

In fact, everyday folk turned up to give out food, water and umbrellas, and even spray cooling mist and collect rubbish from the crowd, just to make the wait a little more pleasant.

As thousands turned up again yesterday, this time to say one last goodbye to Mr Lee as the funeral procession passed by, it was no different.

For instance, business owner Amy Lee, 43, and 15 members of her extended family, including her 82-year-old father-in-law Chia Tong Fong, were out distributing miniature Singapore flags at the main entrance of Raffles City shopping mall at 8.30am yesterday. They had bought 10,000 of the flags, and gave them all out in under three hours.

Said Madam Lee: "We wanted everyone here to be able to wave the Singapore flag during the funeral procession and show how much they love this country, and thank Mr Lee for everything he had done for us."

When torrential rain blanketed the city centre an hour before the cortege left Parliament House, many were caught by surprise.

But as retiree Rejina Tan, 61, found out, others jumped in to help. "It's the first time that I've seen so many Singaporeans being so kind and caring to each other... Strangers were helping each other to wear the ponchos and were sharing umbrellas," she said.

Mr Jason Lin, 27, who works in an IT company, was surprised at how orderly and patient the crowd was. "You could really feel that sense of unity... volunteers were patient and helpful, and the crowd were understanding and never complained," he said. "That's what being Singaporean means and, hopefully, it will continue even after this."

Many were also appreciative that the Urban Redevelopment Authority decided to open The Jubilee Bridge - which links Merlion Park to the promenade in front of the Esplanade - yesterday, a month earlier than planned. This meant more had a good vantage point to watch the procession.

Said housewife Audrey Koh, 48: "I think we have proven those doubters wrong. We don't need to be showy but we will come together when it matters."

ITE graduate Yuma Amalinapasha, 20, believes the spirit will live on. "We saw people of different races and ages coming together," she said. "Perhaps we need to do this more often, and not just in sad times."

Rain brings back memories of 1968 National Day Parade
By Jermyn Chow And Jonathan WongThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

The skies opened up and the deluge came, but thousands of people lining the streets around the Padang to say one last goodbye to Mr Lee Kuan Yew stayed put.

Getting soaked to the skin despite having ponchos and umbrellas, they waited up to five hours to catch a glimpse of the state funeral procession going past.

For Mr Philip Cheng, 63, and Mr David Hong, 58, there was a sense of deja vu.

Mr Cheng had stood in the same grass field as a 16-year-old, with the rain pouring down at the National Day Parade (NDP) in 1968. He had been part of the National Cadet Corps contingent.

"We were completely soaked but... we were not bothered by the rain," said Mr Cheng, who was among the more than 1,000 participants in 81 contingents.

"To see our fellow Singaporeans continue to stand and watch us was very special too," recalled Mr Cheng, who was with his wife Florence, 63, yesterday. "It showed solidarity. Just like today, as we wait to say goodbye..."

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, too, had performed at that parade 47 years ago, as a member of the combined school brass band. His father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, had decided that the show would go on despite the rain, and had even waved off the offer of an umbrella.

Mr Hong was an 11-year-old watching the parade with his father along Connaught Drive then. Yesterday, he was there with his wife Malee.

"Why should we be afraid of rain when Mr Lee Kuan Yew has gone through more storms," said Mr Hong.

"Back then, everyone in the parade marched and stood still in the rain to show our resolve even though we were still a vulnerable country," he added.

"Today, we want to show that we have not lost that fighting spirit and are still as determined. We didn't run then, we will not run away now."

Unionists, bank staff say goodbyes
Mr Lee's role in workers' rights and economic development remembered
By Toh Yong Chuan, Manpower Correspondent And Joanna SeowThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

With their families in tow, about 1,000 unionists lined the street outside the labour movement's headquarters in One Marina Boulevard yesterday, to pay homage one last time to the man whose career began by representing labour unions.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey through Singapore's financial district was remarkable as young and old put aside their umbrellas and, in pouring rain, bowed as the cortege passed by.

"Thank you, Mr Lee, for looking after workers," a lone shout rang out from the crowd.

The members of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and their families began streaming in as early as 9am for the best spots at the junction of Collyer Quay and Marina Boulevard.

NTUC's secretary-general Lim Swee Say arrived around 10am, stayed over an hour before heading to the University Cultural Centre for the state funeral service.

"We organised the event so that union members and their families can say farewell to Mr Lee," Mr Lim told The Straits Times.

Mr Lee began his political career in the 1950s, fighting for workers' rights in his role as legal adviser to more than 50 unions.

He was pivotal in nurturing tripartism, which strengthened the three-way partnership of unions, employers and the Government.

For his contributions, the NTUC gave him its highest award in 1991: Distinguished Comrade of Labour.

Unionist Raymond Chin, 32, cradling his six-month-old daughter Melanie, said: "She is too young to know what is going on, but when she grows up, we will tell her about Mr Lee."

Mr Chin is with the Union of Security Employees.

After the cortege passed, the NTUC played an a cappella version of the National Anthem, to which the unionists sang along, many tearfully.

Further down the road towards Shenton Way, about 550 staff and management of DBS Bank and their families gathered outside OUE Downtown 1 building, which previously housed its headquarters.

"We came a few hours early to reserve a place on the steps," said Ms Karen Ngui, head of group strategic marketing and communications at the bank.

"Shenton Way was the original financial centre and it symbolises the economic development that Mr Lee brought to Singapore."

Next door, safety coordinator Ismail Johari, 34, had waited with facade cleaner Mohamad Fairuz, 27. They had been cleaning the windows of OUE Downtown 2.

Said Mr Ismail: "I wanted to go to Parliament House after work on Friday but they closed the queue, no luck to see Mr Lee.

"But we got called back to work overtime today and heard he is passing by, so it's just nice, we can also pay our respects. He is our founding father after all."

Railings along the pavements were lined with the national flag.

Residents from estates in Pasir Ris, Bedok and Paya Lebar, as well as civil servants from the Ministry of National Development and Urban Redevelopment Authority flanked the roads.

Housewife May Liang, 46, could not hold back her tears as the cortege passed. She was with her sisters, children and nieces. They laid yellow and orange flowers on the road where they stood.

She said: "Since last week, I've been tearing every time I see the news and read people's tributes.

"We just wanted to bring something for him. He did so much for us."

SIA pilots gather to salute Mr Lee Kuan Yew
By Toh Yong ChuanThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

About 200 pilots stood in the pelting rain yesterday and saluted Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in a touching send-off for the man who once had a fractious relationship with their union.

Dressed in dark blue jackets with peak caps, the pilots of Singapore Airlines (SIA), Silkair and SIA Cargo were led by Captain Tan Peng Koon, honorary secretary of the Airline Pilots Association Singapore, or Alpa-S.

Alpa-S had clashed with Mr Lee in the past as they drew his ire over wage disputes with SIA.

But yesterday, pilots on their day off opted to pay homage to Mr Lee. They and their family members lined the road near One Marina Boulevard and OUE Bayfront buildings in Collyer Quay.

Holding umbrellas, instead of seeking shelter in nearby buildings, they waited for the state funeral procession of Singapore's founding Prime Minister. When the cortege approached, they put away their umbrellas and saluted in the pouring rain as a mark of respect.

Mr Lee had in 1980 taken the pilots' union to task for staging an unofficial work-to-rule protest in November, to demand a 30 per cent basic pay rise, among other things. After 10 days, Mr Lee, who was then Prime Minister, stepped in on Dec 1.

He summoned the union officials to the Istana and told them bluntly he would ground SIA, sack all the pilots and build a new national carrier unless all flight operations returned to normal and the airline's image, restored.

In 2003, Mr Lee spoke at a public forum and warned SIA management and pilots that there would be "broken heads" if tensions over wages continued to escalate.

Yesterday, Captain Tan said: "Mr Lee did what he had to do, the pilots then did what they felt was right. It was the past. Let bygones be bygones."

Added the 51-year-old Boeing 777 pilot as he removed his spectacles to wipe away tears: "Today, we are here to pay our respects to Mr Lee. Without him, there would be no SIA and no Singapore."

Muslim groups wait at 'meaningful' spot
By Joanna SeowThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

They were some of the first to arrive at Shenton Way at around 8am, and stood outside the Singapore Conference Hall for more than four hours to wait to witness Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey.

About 100 officials, staff and residents of welfare homes under Muslim voluntary welfare organisation Jamiyah braved the rain under dark green umbrellas.

"Even the sky is crying," said Mr Osman Sapawi, 39, a resident at one of the homes, who said he was glad to have the chance to say farewell to Mr Lee.

Dr H. M. Saleem, a Jamiyah vice-president, said: "We wanted to select a space where we can all be together to see the moment."

"We are very grateful for what Mr Lee has done for Singapore. He is a world-renowned visionary and leader," he added.

They were joined by several Indian Muslim community leaders at around 10.30am. Mr Farihullah A.W. Safiullah, president of the Federation of Indian Muslims (FIM), said the community was thankful for the peaceful society Mr Lee helped to form.

"Mr Lee has done a lot to help us build racial and religious harmony in Singapore, where the minority group of Indian Muslims can live and integrate with all Singaporeans peacefully," he said.

FIM deputy president K.M. Deen said the location they chose was particularly meaningful for the occasion, as the former Trade Union House was a counting centre during the elections when Mr Lee was Prime Minister.

As the rain grew into a downpour and the number of bystanders swelled, the group offered this reporter a poncho.

Dr Deen, his eyes reddening, said he was moved by the crowd that had gathered.

"Whatever rain, whatever storm we have to stand in, it's nothing compared to what he has done for the nation," he said.

Tanjong Pagar keeps faith with its MP Lee Kuan Yew till the end
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor and Lim Yan LiangThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

In 1959, an 11-year-old Peter Gan peered out of the second-floor window of his house in Neil Road at jubilant crowds below.

They were carrying a man named Lee Kuan Yew on their shoulders in electoral victory back to the People's Action Party headquarters at 140 Neil Road.

On that heady Election Day of 1959, Lee Kuan Yew had not just been returned as MP for Tanjong Pagar, but had also become Prime Minister of Singapore.

Yesterday, 67-year-old Peter Gan, now slightly stooped, stood in the crowd as Mr Lee was carried once more through the streets.

This time, raindrops mixed with tears, and it was grief rather than triumph that broke through the shouts of "Lee Kuan Yew! Lee Kuan Yew!"

"We respect him very much," said the retired Singapore Armed Forces officer, just before Mr Lee's cortege passed through his political stronghold. "We supported him all the way."

Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was just weeks shy of his 60th anniversary as Tanjong Pagar's political representative when he died on March 23.

From the day he came to Tanjong Pagar in 1955 - chosen because he wanted to represent the common man and the worker, not the landlords or merchants over at Tanglin - he had their hearts.

They gave him landslide electoral victories from Day 1. And while they did not see their MP as much as other constituencies saw theirs, they knew, and he knew they knew, that it was an unbreakable bond.

In 1989, Mr Lee penned the foreword for a coffee-table book on the area's history.

Thanking the people of Tanjong Pagar for their "simple and abiding loyalties", he said: "They never changed their mind about supporting me because I never broke faith with them."

Many of those lining the Tanjong Pagar streets yesterday in the torrential rain to witness the passing of Mr Lee's cortege were residents of The Pinnacle@Duxton, including Mr Gan.

Some stood by the road while others watched from its 50th-floor Sky Garden - just one of the features that have made the estate the most enviable HDB address in town.

It was a fitting congregation, for the Pinnacle is the realisation of a promise Mr Lee made first to Tanjong Pagar residents - and then to the nation as a whole.

In the 1963 elections, he stood on stage at the very site, next to two half-finished blocks - the first Housing Board blocks in Tanjong Pagar - and promised that if he was re-elected, they would be completed.

He was, and they were.

Forty years later, the old blocks were torn down and in their place rose the Pinnacle, a grand monument to a vision that was delivered many times over.

Office manager and Pinnacle resident Sandy Ng, 36, wept as Mr Lee's cortege passed by yesterday.

"My biggest regret is never meeting him personally," she said. "I'm glad I stay in his constituency and managed to pay my last tribute to him."

After Mr Lee's cortege passed through Tanjong Pagar, many among the crowd retreated to the Community Club steps away to watch his funeral service.

The hall is not air-conditioned, a growing rarity among CCs. The grassroots leaders are proud that their CC has remained modest over the years. Its frugality fitting their MP.

The filled hall watched on big screens as the cortege wound its way west and reached the University Cultural Centre.

As the military guard began removing the coffin from its glass case to be transported into the hall, all were silent.

Then a small, white-haired 84-year-old woman named Chua Ah Poh soundlessly and slowly rose to her feet.

One by one, the rest of the crowd followed suit.

In death as in life, the people of Tanjong Pagar rose in respect for their forever-MP.

Constituents bid farewell to their MP
By Tham Yuen-c And Chong Zi LiangThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

In the eyes of Madam Goh Boon Keow, 73, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was always her Member of Parliament.

The long-time resident of Tanjong Pagar moved out of the area in 1992, but, every year, she would dutifully attend the constituency's National Day dinner just to see him and hear him speak.

At these dinners, residents always started eating without waiting for Mr Lee, who would slip in during the second or third course, said Madam Goh, adding: "He had no airs about him."

But yesterday, Madam Goh and thousands of Tanjong Pagar residents who lined Cantonment Road, did the waiting.

They did not move even when the skies opened, soaking many to the skin.

The moment was historic. They were bidding farewell not just to their MP, but Singapore's first Prime Minister, a founding father who led a team that brought Singapore from Third World to First.

Mr Lee first set eyes on Tanjong Pagar in 1955 because it "represented the heart of the economic and social problems of Singapore of the time", and he wanted to turn things around.

He had represented the area since then.

Retiree Low Ming, 80, who has lived in Tanjong Pagar all his life, met Mr Lee when he was campaigning for the legislative assembly general election in 1959.

"He kept his promises to us. He said he would clean up the area, and he did. There used to be triads here who would collect protection money from us. When Mr Lee came along, he got rid of them. I have always voted for him," said the former hawker.

His wife Chim Kow Chye, 71, tears welling up, added: "He is a very, very good man."

Others, like Ms Ranjeet Kaur, 45, agreed. The former teacher, who has a flat in Cantonment, said her mother and two brothers all chose to live in Tanjong Pagar "because of Mr Lee".

Ms Kaur, who is doing a distance learning course to become a behavioural analyst, pointed to the Pinnacle@Duxton as an example of how Mr Lee had delivered on his promises.

Yesterday, many like her lined Cantonment Road, undeterred by the heavy downpour.

As the cortege drove by, they waved their flags and chanted "thank you" to their MP.

Over at the Police Cantonment Complex, a short walk from the Pinnacle, five women police bagpipers played Auld Lang Syne as the cortege neared.

Said Station Inspector Normawati Mohd Nor, before she took up her position: "I feel emotional, but we have to keep our feelings in check and produce the best quality of sound to give Mr Lee a fitting send-off."

As the strains of music filled the air, a line of Home Team officers, thoroughly drenched, snapped to attention and saluted the passing gun carriage bearing Mr Lee's flag-draped coffin.

Honouring his Pinnacle achievement
By Lim Yan LiangThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

For businessman Laurence Ooi, 59, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the reason he moved to Tanjong Pagar.

Mr Ooi moved from Jurong West five years ago, buying a unit in the iconic public housing development, The Pinnacle@Duxton.

The 50-storey complex has won design awards, and made headlines in January when a five-room unit sold for more than $1 million.

Mr Ooi said he paid around $450,000 for his four-room unit.

Speaking at the Tanjong Pagar Community Club's tribute site, where he had just watched the 10 eulogies delivered at Mr Lee's funeral service, Mr Ooi said: "Mr Lee is the reason I chose to move here. This was his first constituency, and his last, his legacy." Mr Lee represented Tanjong Pagar for six decades.

Mr Ooi held up the Pinnacle as lasting proof of how far Singapore has come in his generation. "I grew up in an attap house, in a kampung near Thomson Road, behind the old Chequers Hotel.

"The wooden toilet we had was unforgettable: there were huge 'commando' houseflies, mosquitoes, big lizards crawling around.

"Today, friends who visit from overseas cannot believe the flat I'm living in is public housing."

The grateful resident has, in the past week, visited various community tribute sites, attended a night vigil and queued up at the Padang with his family to pay their respects at the lying-in- state at Parliament House, as well as seeing off Mr Lee's cortege.

Mr Ooi said Mr Lee's passing was a momentous occasion worth remembering and passing down through the generations.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew had diplomacy, foresight, wisdom - he had the Midas touch," said Mr Ooi. "Whether it was defence, water, Garden City or incorruptibility, he was all of these policies. No politician will ever have this kind of overwhelming support again."

Mr Lee Kuan Yew 'gave our families the life we have today'
S'poreans and immigrants alike pay tribute to his vision and conviction
By John LuiThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

She is wearing a home-made black ribbon on her chest. She has been standing in the rain for three hours, waiting for the man who was Singapore's Prime Minister for much of her youth.

Ms Mary Koh, 42, is comfortably middle class now, but from where we stand on Jalan Bukit Merah, through the rain, we can see the Redhill Estate block where she spent all her early years, in a three-room flat shared with five siblings and her parents. Her father was a driver; her mother, a housewife.

The former financial analyst and now full-time housewife is here to thank Mr Lee for her education in schools such as Nanyang Technological University.

"Without him, I don't think I would have what I have today," she says, dabbing her eyes.

"My husband's parents were hawkers. They had no education. But two of their children went to university. They didn't need special connections - just hard work," she says, surrounded by her three boys, Henry, nine, Walter, 10, and Bryan, 14, and husband Simon Ong, 42, an auditor.

They have had a rough week.

Henry is in a wheelchair because he broke his ankle after a fall. The cast is wrapped in plastic to protect it against the rain.

Pushing him through the crowd has been awkward, but Ms Koh wants her sons to know how important this moment is.

"They grew up without Lee Kuan Yew. I don't know if they appreciate everything we have. I hope they do," she says, before emotion overcomes her again.

Around the time she was growing up in Redhill, not far away, Mr Ijas Ali, 57, was moving in.

The immigrant from South India became a citizen 18 years ago.

The businessman is here with his family to see the procession and, like Ms Koh, finds it hard to talk about the former Prime Minister without tearing up.

"This country provided me with everything. The sky is the limit here," he says.

He exports tyres from China to Africa and, to him, Mr Lee was the "prophet" who foresaw that China would become the world's factory.

"Where did he get his ideas? Where did he get his intelligence? He surprised people again and again. He was one in a million," says Mr Ijas. "I don't just admire his intelligence - I worship it."

His son came at 9am to stake out a spot along Jalan Bukit Merah. He has been here since 10.30am, waiting for the procession, expected to pass at 1pm.

He is here today because he never met Mr Lee in the flesh. His daughter Nabeelah Sahen, 19, a retail assistant, is by his side.

"Person to person, man to man, I want to give him a salute. Just a salute," he says.

Restaurant gives 100kg of flowers to crowds for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral procession
By Priscilla GoyThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Yellow jasmine petals - thousands of them - made a striking tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, thrown on the road as his cortege passed along a stretch of Jalan Bukit Merah.

The brilliant-coloured petals covered about 30m of the 3.5km road.

They were handed out for free to crowds lining the road near Indian restaurant Brinda's, located at Block 162, Bukit Merah Central. Restaurant staff gave out about 100kg of the fresh flowers, specially flown in from India.

Many threw the petals as Mr Lee's cortege passed by at 1.20pm; others left stalks of flowers on a grass patch nearby.

Managing director S. Veera, who paid $1,500 for the flowers, which were delivered the night before, said: "In Indian custom, throwing flower petals is a sign of showing respect and gratitude."

His shop, usually open 24 hours, also stopped its operations from noon to 4pm as a mark of respect to Mr Lee.

"We opened here in 2003, and this area used to be part of Tanjong Pagar GRC (where Mr Lee was an MP)," said Mr Veera.

"But giving these flowers is not about me or our shop; this is for the country. Mr Lee has laid the foundations and done a lot for Singapore."

Bukit Merah Central is part of the Radin Mas constituency, which was carved out from Tanjong Pagar GRC in 2011.

Early birds get plum kerbside spots
By Aaron Low, Deputy News EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Heartlanders came from all corners of Singapore yesterday to line the streets of Bukit Merah and Queensway to bid a final farewell to the man they may not have met personally but whose policies had a direct impact on them and their families.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew led a team that, many said, helped provide a roof over their heads, built schools to educate their children, and grew the economy to create jobs.

So Ms Yew Poh Yock, 58, and her sister, Ms Yew Poh Har, 54, came as early as 6am to get a plum kerbside spot to wait for the cortege to pass at around 1pm. The older Ms Yew, who lives in Commonwealth Drive, said in Mandarin: "I was expecting a huge crowd and did not want to be too late."

Others like Mrs Heng Xin Yi, 34, and her young daughter made their way from Ang Mo Kio and found a spot near Commonwealth MRT station. "It's no sacrifice. Rain or shine, we want to be here to say thank you for what he had done for us. Without him, how many of us can own our home?" said Mrs Heng, her eyes red from crying.

As the hours passed, the crowd grew five-deep in some places as thousands lined the 8km route from Jalan Bukit Merah all the way to Commonwealth Avenue.

As the cortege turned into Jalan Bukit Merah, one of Singapore's oldest HDB estates, at about 1.15pm, there was a surge of emotions among residents, whose well-being had always been a priority with Mr Lee.

They waved small Singapore flags, clapped loudly and shouted Mr Lee's name as the state funeral procession rolled by, passing Housing Board flats, schools, shops and light industrial estates.

Hougang resident Heng Liang Yeow, 59, said he arrived in Bukit Merah at 9am to say goodbye to Mr Lee on behalf of his late father Heng Kim Wah, who was a People's Action Party (PAP) activist.

The factory worker had with him his father's PAP membership card: "I want to pay my respects on behalf of my father who passed away at age 49. I know he would have wanted to be here."

The ceremonial gun carriage with Mr Lee's casket also passed by several places of worship - the Silat Road Sikh Temple, the Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple, the Blessed Sacrament Church, Sri Muneeswaran Temple and Masjid Mujahidin.

The close proximity of these different places of worship was not lost on residents. Many paid tribute to Mr Lee for helping ensure harmony among different races and religions here.

Tanglin Halt resident Sayuti Dahlan, 82, recalls how as a young man in his 20s, he would cycle from Pasir Panjang to Tanjong Pagar to attend rallies where Mr Lee would give powerful speeches.

"Standing on a stationary, open-topped lorry, he would shout: 'The British think we are stupid. But I will show them that the people of Singapore can and will have merdeka (freedom).'"

He added: "Mr Lee never used the words Chinese or Malay or Indian to describe us. He always said Singaporeans."

Regional manager Lim Boon Hwa, 56, said Mr Lee's most profound impact was his creation of a multiracial society.

"We had the chance to live in a meritocratic and an equal-opportunity society because of him," said Mr Lim, as he waited along Queensway.

As the procession moved past Commonwealth, where the HDB built some of the earliest public flats in the 1960s, many long- time residents were tearful as they waved goodbye.

Mr Seah Chew Chan, 91, has lived in Tanglin Halt since the flats were built. He was discharged from hospital on Saturday but wanted to be out waiting for the cortege: "Gratitude is the only thing I have for Mr Lee."

Additional reporting by Priscilla Goy, Aw Cheng Wei, Marissa Lee, Rachel Au-Yong and Miranda Yeo

30 members, 3 generations, one family, one purpose
By Marissa LeeThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

More than 30 members of the Chua family, spanning three generations, turned up at Bukit Merah yesterday to hold up a banner they had printed in honour of Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

They started gathering in Bukit Merah at about 8.30am, more than four hours before the funeral procession was due to pass through, on its way from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre.

"Behind this road is Jalan Bukit Ho Swee, where a lot of homes were burnt down during a big fire that was a dark moment in the history of Singapore," said Mr Patrick Chua, 47, who works in the oil and gas industry.

He was referring to the 1961 fire that razed a squatter settlement, costing 16,000 their homes.

Mr Lee, Singapore's first Prime Minister, salvaged many lives with his public housing initiative, added Mr Chua.

The clan, waiting with their banner, stood stoically for hours in the pouring rain to pay their respects. Among them was Mr Chua's nephew Sng Yin Jun, a 12-year-old from Tao Nan School.

Yin Jun said he would salute Mr Lee when the cortege passed. "We have to respect our founding father, and coming here is a form of respect," said the Primary 6 pupil.

His grand aunt, Madam Tan Siyu Lian, 67, said it was important to teach the younger generation to be grateful to Mr Lee, and to always remember him. "Because of him, we all have roofs over our heads and our children all have good jobs," she said in Mandarin.

The idea of the banner, thanking Mr Lee for leaving them a living legacy, came about during a family chat, when 15 second-generation members spoke about their experiences visiting Parliament House, where Mr Lee's body was lying in state, over the last few days. On Friday, it was a mad rush to find a printer to deliver at such short notice.

Said Mr Chua: "We will keep this banner and display it every National Day, starting at my cousin's house this year."

A very Singaporean send-off for Mr Lee Kuan Yew
It took days of planning, camping out early to get good spot to say goodbye
By Melody Zaccheus And Mathew PereiraThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Whether it was to secure a good spot to view the funeral procession, or make the crowds that lined the roads along Commonwealth Avenue West feel more comfortable, planning was needed.

Private school teacher Alice Ng made a mental note of a spot along Commonwealth Avenue West as soon as she got confirmation of the procession route.

It was on the divider under a stretch of the overhead MRT track between Buona Vista and Dover MRT stations.

The 48-year-old said: "Every time I took the bus home the past few days, I would look at the place and say, 'it is perfect'."

Ms Ng came down at 9.30am with two chairs - one for herself, the other for daughter Shermaine Lam, 16. The wait was nothing.

"What is this compared to what Mr Lee has done for Singapore," said Ms Ng, tearfully.

New Creation Church had a lot more people to think about.

It started assembling an army of volunteers several days ago. Anticipating a large crowd lining the streets, the church ordered 13,500 bottles of water, 4,000 packets of biscuits, 1,000 buns and 70 umbrellas to shield off the sun.

But the volunteers did not expect the rain, and some ran to stores to purchase ponchos.

The mood of the crowd along the stretch of road which ran beside the Singapore Polytechnic, opened by the late Mr Lee in 1979, was sombre.

Some arrived as early as 9am. Carrying flags, they found spots on slopes around the hilly estate, and camped out on foldable chairs and mats. Others travelled from neighbourhoods beyond the west of Singapore. They included a husband-and-wife pair, storeman Mohamad Lamin, 66, and housewife Sukati Mustaffa, 62, who live in Sembawang.

Squeezed under an umbrella as the rain poured, the couple, whose 36th wedding anniversary fell on the same day as Mr Lee's funeral, said they admired the late statesman's love for his wife.

"He was a loving father and husband and so dedicated to us as a nation... and we in return joined him on the streets to show our love," said Mr Mohamad.

Friends Aseling M., 75, and Asothai Samy, 68, both housewives, took cover under Commonwealth MRT's tracks.

When asked which of Mr Lee's policies impacted them the most, Ms Aseling teared up. She said: "We loved everything he did for us. It's so important for us to be here to bid him farewell."

Emotions run high in Clementi
By Abdul Hafiz And Melissa LinThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

On this short stretch of Clementi Road, after Commonwealth Avenue West and towards Dover Road, it was fitting that many who defied the downpour for a final goodbye to Mr Lee Kuan Yew spoke of his push to make education a cornerstone of nation-building.

A short distance away is the National University of Singapore (NUS). Even closer is Singapore Polytechnic's Dover Road campus which Mr Lee officially opened in 1979.

Mr Sim Lye Hock, a 58-year- old facility officer who waited for Mr Lee's funeral procession with his wife and daughter, said: "I could go to school because he pushed for it. If not for him, I don't know where I'd be now."

Ms Chloe Lee, third-year chemistry student at NUS, was there with four schoolmates.

"We didn't experience Singapore's transformation, but that doesn't mean that we don't appreciate it. Like the fact that we are female but can get an education, unlike in other countries," the 21-year-old said.

Crowds there started gathering at 10am yesterday.

A group of more than 30 from Pioneer Zone 6 Residents' Committee sat on mats waving mini flags.

RC chairman Salim Ali, 54, said: "I met Mr Lee 10 years ago at a conference. I waved to him, he waved back."

Many like him cherished their meetings with Singapore's first Prime Minister, no matter how brief. Said senior research engineer Krishnamoorthy Baskaran, 42: "I met him once at a garden party at the Istana in 2012. I shook his hand."

The fickle skies drizzled, then poured, and repeated the cycle. But the people stayed - in ponchos, and under umbrellas and mats which became emergency shelters.

As news filtered through that the procession was nearing, those on the other side of Clementi Road surged forward along the stretch, turning the central road divider into a makeshift barrier.

A hush fell around 1.40pm.

Then came the roar.

"Lee Kuan Yew! Lee Kuan Yew!" they shouted.

Taxi driver Yeow Bee Hock, 54, who was with his 19-year-old daughter, Petrina, was emotional when he spoke of his regret after the procession.

"When I was younger, I thought very differently about Mr Lee. After he died, I had the chance to watch old documentaries of him. I came to apologise to him."

Retired oil field consultant Gunasingan Thambiraja, 69, said: "I wish more had recognised Mr Lee and all that he did when he was alive, instead of having to be reminded.

"They said he was too aggressive, too hot-tempered. Whatever they said about him, he had a plan for this country."

Madam Nayagam, a 77-year- old who lives in Clementi, was asked what seeing Mr Lee for the last time meant.

"It was very sad. He was a very nice man, a very good man, he did everything for us."

Her voice breaking, she added: "I want to say so many things, but I cannot say anything now."

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's politeness stood out
By Melody ZaccheusThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Former Singapore Airlines stewardess Sharon Chong has fond memories of her brief encounter serving the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew on a flight to Bali, Indonesia.

It was 1977 and Ms Chong had been specially selected to be part of the crew flying with Mr Lee, who was then Singapore's Prime Minister.

Mr Lee was travelling on government business with then Deputy Prime Minister Goh Keng Swee and a delegation of doctors, reporters and security crew.

Ms Chong's interaction with Mr Lee on the Boeing 737 flight was brief as Mr Lee had been deep in conversation with Dr Goh, she said.

But what struck her about the late statesman was his politeness towards the airplane crew - like when she served him his lunch.

"He stopped his conversation, looked up and thanked me sincerely after I laid the food before him.

"His acknowledgement meant a lot to me because I was very nervous and 'blur'... I was fresh out of National Junior College and just 19," said the retired air stewardess.

Ms Chong was among the thousands who parked themselves along Commonwealth Avenue yesterday as the cortege carrying the late Mr Lee travelled through the west of Singapore.

She said: "It was important for me to go out into the streets to say goodbye to Mr Lee. I want him to know I'm grateful to him.

"We're the silent, sleeping ones who have kept quiet all these years. We are awakened now that he has passed on. We feel ashamed that we have not done much for the nation and never bothered with his contributions until now."

Happy to learn three languages
By Melissa LinThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Sree Harin Baskaran may be only 12, but he is bilingual and on the way to becoming trilingual. He knows English and his mother tongue Tamil, and started picking up Chinese earlier this year.

That he is able to study three languages is something the first-year student at National University of Singapore High School of Mathematics and Science is thankful to Mr Lee Kuan Yew for.

"He's the reason I can have a good education and he also encouraged bilingualism," Sree Harin said.

He was among the throngs who braved the downpour along Clementi Road yesterday to bid Mr Lee a final farewell.

He picked Chinese as a third language because "China has the largest population in the world and I want to be able to interact with the people in Chinese".

"I wasn't able to go to Parliament House (for the lying in state), so this is the least I could do for Mr Lee," said Sree Harin, who started waiting by the road with his family at 10.45am, holding mini-flags that he waved as Mr Lee's cortege passed by three hours later.

Sounding wise beyond his years, he added: "Waiting three hours was nothing compared to being able to pay my last respects to Singapore's first Prime Minister."

National grief: Why such an outpouring?
Gratitude just one of many reasons, national grieving also about release
By Clarissa Oon, Deputy Life! EditorThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

The guestbook spoke volumes: the entry from the young girl who thanked Mr Lee Kuan Yew for giving her safe streets at night and "the luxury of deciding what and where to study"; the scrawl of the Indian gentleman beside her expressing gratitude for this "great country".

Invocations of "Allah" and "God", declarations like "I love you", as well as Malay phrases and Chinese characters peppered other entries on the facing page.

Standing at the East Coast and Joo Chiat Community Tribute Centre yesterday afternoon, I who make my living from words was at a loss for them. Finally I wrote, simply: "My condolences to you, PM Lee Hsien Loong and family, on the loss of your father and our first Prime Minister."

One of the big questions of the past seven days must surely be what accounted for the emotional outpouring among usually reticent Singaporeans in reaction to Mr Lee's death at age 91.

Veteran opposition politician Chiam See Tong provided part of the answer when he likened the man who was arguably his fiercest political opponent to the country's Churchill.

"He was there at the time when Singapore was swamped with numerous problems, ranging from domestic to international issues. He was there, just as Britain needed Winston Churchill during World War II - always taking a strategic and long-term view of Singapore," said Mr Chiam, 80, now almost bent double from old age and illness but with the clarity that sometimes comes from a rival rather than a friend.

In a nutshell, many Singaporeans felt they owed something to Mr Lee, and this cut across age, gender, race and religion. This was their last chance to express it to the strongman leader whose tough love had mobilised a nation and carved out a place for it in the sun; the arch-pragmatist whose devastating, take-no-prisoners brand of oratory had a way of bringing all political debates down to earth.

He did not leave anything to faith or chance, but believed in being two steps ahead of the competition. To improve Singapore's chances of success, he retooled everything from the languages we spoke to the number of babies we had. We lived with the rapid economic growth, legislated multiracialism, bilingual education policy and overarching state control that were his imprints, internalising these to no small extent even if we disagreed with some policies.

Crowd psychology is a complex affair, of course, and gratitude is only one of the elements fuelling the overwhelming turnout to say a final goodbye.

One can discern group solidarity - the cheers of the crowd along the route of yesterday's funeral procession and the shouts of "Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Kuan Yew!" evoked a National Day Parade or post-election victory parade, rather than a state funeral.

The most bandied-about question of the past week, "Are you going?", carried with it a fear of missing out on a historic moment and even peer pressure. Mr Lee's body had lain in state at Parliament House until Saturday, and several hundred thousand people formed snaking queues to pay their last respects to him there.

Finally, the public mourning carries with it nostalgia for an earlier era when Singapore faced a crisis of survival and needed forceful leadership.

Today that survival is taken for granted, but the aspirations of Singaporeans are more complex, the hunger for alternative voices is greater and the divisions in society no less deep. In that sense, Mr Lee was a product of his time and it is debatable if a young man cut from the same cloth as him would succeed as spectacularly in today's political arena.

In a 1986 parliamentary debate, Mr Chiam once likened Mr Lee's dominance to that of a banyan tree with roots so well spread out that nothing else can grow under it.

In a sense then, the national grieving over the past week has also been about release, much in the same way that the death of an elderly parent allows one finally to find oneself.

In the years ahead, the country will look to new leaders across the political spectrum to fill the void. Until then, the collective mourning is akin to that last great imagined huddle under the banyan's shade, before new shoots spring up to take its place.

At PM Lee Hsien Loong's constituency, tears and a standing ovation
By Charissa YongThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Ms Siva Pillai, 41, stationed herself along Jalan Bukit Merah to catch a glimpse of the gun carriage bearing Mr Lee Kuan Yew's casket as it passed by at 1.20pm.

Then, barely an hour later, she was at the community tribute centre about 15km away in Ang Mo Kio watching Mr Lee's funeral service being screened live.

Ms Pillai's long hair and black clothes were still damp from the pouring rain.

But she said she rushed back to Ang Mo Kio, where she lives, to be with her fellow Singaporeans to observe the moment of silence, sing the national anthem, and recite the national pledge.

"Mr Lee's legacy will live on," she said, tearing up. "This week, he's done what we could not do on our own. He brought us all together."

In Ang Mo Kio GRC where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is an MP, more than 1,400 people gathered to watch a live feed of the funeral service and to mourn together.

All the 900 seats there were taken, with dozens of people standing at the back, craning their necks to watch the service on a large screen on a stage.

Several cried, dabbing at their eyes and damp cheeks with tissue as PM Lee delivered his eulogy to his father.

They gave their MP a standing ovation when he finished and, later, rose again to observe the national moment of silence.

Ms Anita Chia, 57, said: "This is a time for community.

"I could've watched the funeral service at home. But being here as part of a group is what Mr Lee would've wanted. Regardless of the rain, we are here to say goodbye to our national leader," the lecturer added.

She said she chose to go to the Ang Mo Kio site to support PM Lee. It was the last chance for residents - the only chance, for many - to pay their respects to Mr Lee.

Retiree Lai Tsun Yuen, 74, said: "I came here to honour Mr Lee because I can't go to the city centre to pay my respects (at Parliament House).

"There were too many people there. I'm an old man, I can't stand in line for hours," he said.

Mr Lai had no trouble at all in Ang Mo Kio, as the front rows of chairs were reserved for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Student Haikal Hirman, 15, was perched on his bicycle near the stage, next to three friends he had come with to pay his respects. When it was the moment of silence, one by one, the four friends stood, removed their caps and bowed their heads.

Administrative assistant Lu Ying, 39, said in Mandarin that she was touched by the events.

Said the permanent resident, who moved to Singapore 13 years ago and is married to a Singaporean: "Even though I'm not a citizen, I felt like I was going to cry. This week, I found out how united Singaporeans truly are."

All over Singapore, a minute of silence for a lifetime of dedication
By May Chen, Aw Cheng Wei, Joanna Seow and Charissa YongThe Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

From MRT stations to bus interchanges, homes and community centres, Singaporeans acted as one yesterday evening, when they observed a minute of silence to honour the country's founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

A siren sounding across the island linked those who were not watching Mr Lee's state funeral service to the 2,200 gathered at the University Cultural Centre, where it was taking place.

Others followed the live broadcast on television and online.

As those at the funeral service bowed their heads, a lone bugler from the SAF Military Band sounded the Last Post - a final salute to the deceased - and people across the island also bowed their heads as a mark of respect for Singapore's first Prime Minister, who died last Monday aged 91.

Many stopped in their tracks - some with bags in hand outside shopping malls like Raffles City, while others at work, including SBS Transit staff at the Toa Payoh bus interchange, put what they were doing aside for that moment of silence.

Even the MRT train service stopped for the minute of silence.

At the Junction 8 mall in Bishan, the usual stream of people came to a standstill in front of a big screen outside the MRT exit.

Part-time florist Sharon Chew, 58, had tears in her eyes as she said: "It's such a pity that we lost such a talented and great man. I'm deeply pained because he's left us. I've been watching his life history on television and I really feel very moved."

Said Mr Jason Lee, 29, an assistant banquet manager who was watching the eulogies on his phone: "It was a show of respect ... for a man who gave his life to the nation. The minute was the least we could have done."

Tears flow as Singaporeans abroad gather to watch Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral
From Beijing to Bangkok, they came together to bid Mr Lee final farewell
The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Singaporeans across Asia yesterday gathered to bid farewell to the man who put Singapore on the world stage.

Away from home, it was their chance to honour and thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who had made a difference in their lives and made them feel proud to be Singaporean.

Mr Lee 'sacrificed so much'

BEIJING - No flight delay or cancellation could stop China-based businessman Raymond Lim, 66, from travelling to Beijing, where he joined some 300 Singaporeans to watch the live telecast of Mr Lee's state funeral.

Emotions ran high in the ballroom of the Shangri-La China World Summit Wing hotel, with many sobbing or hugging their loved ones as they followed the live coverage of the funeral procession back home.

"Mr Lee had sacrificed so much for Singaporeans. I'm just sacrificing a few hours of sleep and rest to see him through the last phase as a form of my respect for his leadership," said Mr Lim, who runs a seafood processing company in coastal Weihai city.

After his flight from Weihai was cancelled after a long delay on Saturday night, he drove two hours to nearby Yantai city from where he flew to Beijing.

The telecast was organised by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China. Similar events took place in Shanghai, Suzhou and Xiamen.

Mr Stanley Loh, Singapore's Ambassador to China, told the audience that many Singaporeans were enjoying good opportunities in China because Singapore was regarded as a country that is successful and has a reputation for zero tolerance of corruption.

Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and former premiers Li Peng and Zhu Rongji had sent personal letters of condolences, he told reporters.

More than 5,000 Singaporeans and foreigners paid their respects at the embassy and in consulates in China, he added.

In Hong Kong, over 1,000 Singaporeans gathered to view the live telecast at the consulate. The Consul-General of Singapore, Mr Jacky Foo, led the tributes, saying: "He gave us the security umbrella. He gave us economic opportunities. And he built a social framework, for Singapore to thrive and Singaporeans to pursue their dreams."'The least we can do'

BANGKOK - For Singaporean friends Lulu Seah, Aileen Ang and Nicholas Ng, who are in their 50s and live in Bangkok, it was the first time they got together not to celebrate but to mourn the man who "made them proud to be Singaporean".

They were some of the 300 people who gathered at the Singapore Embassy yesterday. Among them were Thai nationals like Ms Sunee Vivatakron, 83, who made a three-hour journey, taking three buses and a motorcycle taxi, to get here.

She did not know Mr Lee personally, but two of her grandchildren were schooled in Singapore. "He was a good man, and I admire him," she said.

Singapore Ambassador to Thailand Chua Siew San said over 1,000 people had come to sign Mr Lee's condolence book in the past week.

"It's been overwhelming, the response," she said, adding that three Singaporeans, in their late 50s at least, took a nine-hour bus ride from Chiang Mai because "it's the least we can do".

Tears for 'guiding light'

KUALA LUMPUR - There was no holding back the tears, for some of the 100 people at the Singapore High Commission as they listened to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's eulogy for Singapore's "guiding light" Mr Lee.

"Fifty years ago, we were abandoned just like that. Without him, we wouldn't be where we are today," said Ms Adelene Bek, 42, referring to the 1965 Separation.

Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Vanu Gopala Menon, said more than 2,000 had signed the condolence book in the past week, including Malaysians.

Bound by same name

JAKARTA - Mr Jason Ting Kuan Yew, 32, was among the 70 people who were at the Singapore Embassy here yesterday to pay their last respects and watch the telecast.

"My father is an admirer of Lee Kuan Yew and even though I'm Malaysian, I was named after him," said Mr Ting, who was with his Indonesian wife Dewiani Muljadi and baby son. "We feel moved by the ceremony."

Singapore's Ambassador to Indonesia Anil Kumar Nayar said large numbers of people had signed the condolence book at the embassy. "Not just Singaporeans, not just political office-holders in Indonesia, but also ordinary Indonesians, Malaysians, other foreigners," he said.

Don't want to grieve alone

NEW DELHI - Some held hands, others comforted each other as tears fell when more than 40 Singaporeans met at the Singapore High Commission here yesterday.

Some said they came because they did not want to watch Mr Lee's last journey alone.

"I think watching by yourself and together with other Singaporeans is different. You don't want to grieve alone," said Mr Yeoh Phee Teik, chief executive of Vistara, the joint venture airline between Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons. The Malaysian is a Singapore permanent resident.

Indian flags flew at half-mast yesterday as the South Asian country marked a day of national mourning in honour of Mr Lee.

Said Mr Lim Thuan Kuan, Singapore's High Commissioner to India: "The response has been emotional from Singaporeans of all ages, even the younger ones. You see people crying as they sign the book."

Missing home

MANILA - Solemn and silent, nearly 100 people were at the Singapore Embassy in the heart of Manila's financial district to watch Mr Lee's final journey.

"When you're stuck in heavy traffic at 6pm, you miss home. You miss the Singapore that Lee Kuan Yew built," said Mr Christopher Tan, 23, who has been in the Philippines for six months to help with his father's fish trading business.

Mr Peter Tay, 60, president of the Singapore Philippine Association, said he would have queued for eight hours himself to pay his respects to Mr Lee had he been in Singapore.

Reports by Kor Kian Beng, Tan Hui Yee, Shannon Teoh, Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Nirmala Ganapathy and Raul Dancel

A coming of age for 'good life kids'
By Janice Heng, The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

An hour before Mr Lee Kuan Yew's body left Parliament House, the hipster cafes of Tanjong Pagar were busy with the usual young crowd, though the flowing tops and short-sleeved shirts were in more sombre shades than usual.

Later, I recognised some of those same 20-somethings nearby as we stood in the rain at the junction of Cantonment Road and Neil Road, waiting for the arrival of a man most of us had never met.

Our generation are the lucky ones. We are the "good life kids", as our elders remind us in dialects that the late Mr Lee did not quite manage to eradicate.

We knew this well before the past week, of course. We had Social Studies lessons and the stories of our parents, stories so distant that we imagined them in sepia: night-soil carriers, kampung games, a life before television.

But perhaps it was only with Mr Lee's death that that history has become real to us.

"When he was still around, you just didn't grasp what he had done," said researcher Raymond Khoo, 29, who was also at the same rain-lashed junction.

"His passing made us more curious about him, and made us realise how much he did."

Like other 20-somethings to whom I had spoken, while Mr Khoo was sad about Mr Lee's death, grief was not his greatest reaction: "It's more that we're grateful that he has contributed so much."

In a sense, we grew up in a post-Lee Kuan Yew age. I was two years old when the prime ministership passed to Mr Goh Chok Tong in 1990. The improvements we have seen in our lifetime are small in comparison: the disappearance of non-air-conditioned buses, say, or the rise of Marina Bay Sands.

As 29-year-old Lin Wei Liang, who works in human resources, said: "I haven't been through the tough times. What we understand is really from the books, from the news, from our parents."

But precisely because my generation do not know - cannot know - the vast changes which Mr Lee wrought, we can only marvel at them in retrospect.

What were we trying to do, this past week, with our mourning Facebook statuses?

For a generation whose life experiences feel more like current affairs than history, perhaps there was some selfishness under all that emotion and reflection.

In our own way, we strove to become part of this historical moment, to stake a claim on a chapter of the Singapore story that we had always thought about in the past tense.

And so we gathered, yesterday morning, on that rain-swept corner.

The crowd perked up as the first police motorcycles sped past. As the cortege drew into view, flags rustled urgently.

A cry went up - "Lee Kuan Yew! Lee Kuan Yew!" - but then the coffin passed, just like that, and silence fell in its wake.

Even before the vehicles were out of sight, people began to peel away from the barricades: Old men shaking the rain off their sandals, families in matching raincoats.

But a few of us lingered a little longer. There was Mr Lin, sharing an umbrella with his girlfriend. There was a young man with a stylish quiff, staring ahead, smartphone forgotten in his hand.

We kept peering down the road, watching as the procession disappeared into the distance, as if still unsure what exactly we had come to bid farewell to.

Something far greater than us had come and gone, and was even now fading into the rain.

But perhaps in bearing witness to its passing, we too became part of something greater. This was history, right before us, and for once - for perhaps the first time - it was a history we could call our own.

PM Lee Hsien Loong thanks all who attended Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral service
By Jalelah Abu Baker, The Straits Times, 30 Mar 2015

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong late on Sunday night thanked all the guests who attended the state funeral service held for his father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

"Our heartfelt thanks to our guests, especially those who travelled miles to attend today's service," PM Lee said on his Facebook page, addressing the 2,200 people who attended the ceremony on Sunday, March 29.

Referring to the funeral procession that took the late Mr Lee's body through Singapore on his final journey, PM Lee said: "As the procession made its way from Parliament House to the State Funeral Service at the University Cultural Centre, 100,000 lined the streets in heavy rain, to bid farewell to my father. My family and I are deeply touched."

Today’s ceremonies were an emotional farewell to my father. But they also honoured his life, and what he has achieved in...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, March 29, 2015

PM Lee also shared five photos accompanying his post on Facebook.

The first was of his father lying in state in Parliament. He explained that when Mr S. Rajaratnam, one of Singapore's founding fathers, died in 2006 and was lying in state at the Istana, the elder Mr Lee said that felt Parliament was a "much more appropriate" place. PM Lee said he had no doubt that his father was also thinking of himself when he said that.

"It is where MPs, the representatives of the people, meet; and the people are the source of the government's legitimacy and power," he said.

His other photos were of him having a "last few quiet moments" with his father before the ceremonies began, of the 100,000 people who lined the streets to send Singapore's founding father off, of the rainy weather, and of everyone at the service singing the national anthem Majulah Singapura.

He later shared a video of his eulogy at Mandai, where his family had a private cremation for the late Mr Lee.

PM Lee on Monday also changed his Facebook profile picture to that of him looking over the Kallang Basin.

Last week was a difficult time for all Singaporeans as we came together to mourn the passing of our founding Prime...
Posted by The People's Association on Monday, March 30, 2015

<<As he did in life, Lee Kuan Yew’s death transformed Singapore>> It has been more than just a week of mourning for...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen - Defence Minister on Sunday, March 29, 2015

DPM Teo thanks public servants for efforts
Their hard work allowed many S'poreans to pay tribute to Mr Lee
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 1 Apr 2015

IN THE early hours of Monday morning last week, after former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died at 3.18am, officers from various agencies swung into action.

Throughout the week of national mourning that followed, many more public servants worked long hours with little rest to let more than 1.5 million Singaporeans pay their last respects to Mr Lee.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean thanked the officers, saying their efforts "exemplified the very values that Mr Lee had shown throughout his life - commitment, dedication and personal sacrifice".

In a note sent to 141,000 public servants from 16 ministries and more than 50 statutory boards, he said that last week had been a difficult one for Singapore. "The Public Service lost a visionary leader who made a profound impact on our ethos, policies and culture," said Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister and minister- in-charge of the civil service.

DPM Teo Chee Hean, Minister in charge of the Civil Service, has written a note to thank public officers for tending to...
Posted by PSD Singapore on Monday, March 30, 2015

He praised officers for responding swiftly to ground conditions. For example, officers from the Transport Ministry and Land Transport Authority worked seamlessly to extend public transport hours through the night to cater to the unexpectedly huge crowds streaming to Parliament House where Mr Lee's body lay in state.

The Traffic Police worked to coordinate road closures, while officers at the National Library Board, National Heritage Board, National Museum and National Parks Board organised exhibitions and tributes dedicated to Mr Lee.

Officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Trade and Industry facilitated visits by foreign dignitaries and industry leaders who travelled to Singapore to pay respects to Mr Lee, while overseas missions opened their doors to Singaporeans abroad who wanted to pay tribute and pen condolences.

Many more worked tirelessly behind the scenes coordinating plans from different agencies, said Mr Teo.

On Sunday, when Mr Lee's cortege travelled 15.4km from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre, "the downpour brought us all closer together", he said. "Our officers, with their families, stood together with fellow Singaporeans steadfastly in the rain to bid Mr Lee a dignified and memorable farewell."

He added that throughout the week, younger officers in particular said they had a deeper appreciation of how their work was closely tied to Mr Lee's vision for a better Singapore. "The stories shared by many of you have inspired other colleagues, and helped renew a deep sense of purpose in public service," Mr Teo said.

He ended his note by telling officers: "For every one of us, the best tribute we can give to honour Mr Lee is to sustain his legacy, and to rededicate ourselves to creating a better Singapore for all."

Two days after Mr Lee's funeral and the end of the week of national mourning, tributes and remembrances continued to be posted online yesterday.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared a post by blogger Mr Brown on his Facebook page.

The black-and-white photo essay of the rainy wait for Mr Lee's cortege to pass through the streets on Sunday was "beautifully captured and narrated", said PM Lee.

Beautifully captured and narrated. Thank you mrbrown. – LHL
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday, March 31, 2015

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