Sunday 29 March 2015

Lee Kuan Yew: Lying in State & Community Tributes

Final journey through Singapore for Mr Lee today
Crowds gone, Padang cleared last night for funeral procession
By Zakir Hussain, Deputy Political Editor and Tham Yuen-C, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

The endless queue of visitors lining up to pay their respects to the country's founding Prime Minister was finally closed last night, setting the stage for Singapore to give Mr Lee Kuan Yew a final farewell today.

Some 1,000 Singapore Armed Forces servicemen were deployed to clear the Padang. Their task was to work through the night to dismantle 360 tents and shift 2,000 barricades so that four ceremonial 25-pounder Howitzer guns can be moved onto the Padang for a 21-gun salute.

The Padang and City Hall provide a fitting stage for the nation to give a solemn send-off to Mr Lee, who died on Monday, aged 91.

It is the site of many a historic event in this nation's past - the declaration of self-government in 1959, the introduction of the national flag, anthem and state crest later that year, the announcement of Singapore's independence in 1965 and the first National Day Parade a year later.

Mr Lee himself was instrumental in those moments.

Over the past four days, some 450,000 people queued for up to 10 hours to pay their respects in person to Mr Lee.

Another million people had visited 18 community tribute sites islandwide by 9pm yesterday.

Today, many will line the streets around the Padang and down Shenton Way to Tanjong Pagar, Bukit Merah, Queenstown and Commonwealth as a ceremonial gun carriage makes its journey to the University Cultural Centre (UCC) in Clementi for Mr Lee's state funeral service.

Mr Lee's funeral will also be marked abroad, with India and New Zealand flying their flags at half-mast today.

The state funeral procession will begin at 12.30pm, when Mr Lee's casket will be carried onto a ceremonial gun carriage and transported out of Parliament House in a solemn procession.

The cortege will make its way to Parliament Place, and as it journeys around the Padang, the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Black Knights will do an aerial salute.

Two navy patrol vessels will conduct a ceremonial sailpast at sea off Marina Barrage and sound three prolonged horn blasts as the procession passes the Padang.

The cortege will then travel past the new and old National Trades Union Congress buildings, where thousands of workers will gather to bid farewell to Mr Lee, who began his career fighting for trade unions.

Mr Gary Haris, 40, of the Union of Security Employees, plans to line the route alongside other unionists from 9am. "Mr Lee's leadership and dedication have touched many of us and given us better living and working conditions. This is the least we can do for him," he said.

Many in Mr Lee's Tanjong Pagar constituency plan to line the streets there, and Singapore Police Force bagpipers will play Auld Lang Syne as the procession passes by the Police Cantonment Complex.

The 15.4km procession is expected to take under an hour, and will be broadcast live on national TV, online, as well as at all community centres and tribute sites.

The procession will arrive at the UCC shortly before 2pm for the funeral service, which top leaders from more than 20 countries will attend alongside family members and 2,000 invited guests.

Mr Lee's son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, will be the first of 10 people who will deliver eulogies. At the end of the service, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will sound a siren islandwide for everyone to observe a minute of silence, before the pledge is recited and the national anthem sung.

"This rallying call is befitting of members of the public to mark our deepest respect for a remarkable leader," said Colonel Abdul Razak Raheem of the SCDF.

The one-minute silence will also be observed at border checkpoints, and on departing buses and trains.

PM Lee yesterday thanked the last visitors queueing at the Padang and said of today's procession and service: "We have a ceremony which will be a fitting tribute and a fitting mourning and celebration of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life."

Parliament House queue closes at 8pm, more than 1.2m pay last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew
By Tham Yuen-C, Yeo Sam Jo and Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

More than 1.2 million people have paid their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House and community tribute sites islandwide, as the public mourning period comes to an end on Saturday evening.

About 415,000 people have done so at Parliament House where the queue for mourners officially closed at 8pm, Saturday, as scheduled. Some 850,000 people have also paid tribute to Singapore's founding father at the various community sites, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"It has been a tremendous experience this week since Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away. I think the response from all segments of our society, everybody, has been overwhelming," PM Lee told reporters on Saturday evening at the Padang, the starting point of the queue.

"We need to have some time to clear the queue because the queue is still eight, nine hours long and then prepare the Padang for tomorrow's state funeral," he said.

After the procession, the funeral service will be held at the University Cultural Centre at the National University of Singapore from 2pm to 5.15pm. 

"I hope that we will focus ourselves on that ceremony, which is a very important one, and I hope that we will share the moment together, particularly when we have the minute of silence at the end of the speeches and eulogies, when we're going to sound the civil defence sirens, then we'll have the minute of silence, then the sirens sound again."

"We'll say the pledge and sing the national anthem together... so I think we work towards that and make sure that tomorrow, we have a ceremony which will be a fitting tribute and a fitting mourning and celebration of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life."

As part of the State funeral, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will be sounding the “All-Clear” signal twice, through its network of Public Warning System sirens, as a rallying call for the nation to observe a minute of silence. This will be a first by the SCDF and signifies the nation’s deepest respect for Singapore's founding father. Upon the first sounding of the signal, members of the public are encouraged to begin observing the one minute of silence. The second sounding will signify the end of the minute of silence.

At the two land checkpoints, all individuals and vehicle checks will come to a halt to observe the minute of silence. Prior to the moment, all MRT trains will pull to a stop at stations and open their doors. Similarly, buses scheduled to depart from bus interchanges or terminals will be held back during the minute of silence.

At the Padang on Saturday, some people were seen dashing towards the starting point of the queue minutes before 8pm.

Madam Eliza Wong was the last person to make it to the line. Madam Wong, who is self-employed and in her 50s, said she had paid her last respects to Mr Lee on Thursday night but decided to make another trip. She said: "Mr Lee means so much to all of us, he is the father of Singapore."

Others, like housewife Charmaine Tan, 54, did not make it in time. "I'm very disappointed that I missed the opportunity. But I am trying to stay positive. I can still wait along the funeral procession route tomorrow."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who also visited mourners at the Padang on Saturday evening, thanked everyone who paid tribute to the late Mr Lee. 

“This is a number which we never really expected to be so large, just the huge outpouring of emotion from Singapore people for Mr Lee,” Mr Teo told reporters. “We want to thank everyone who came for their patience and understanding, and their spirit was really a Singapore spirit.”

Mr Teo said Singaporeans who wish to pay their last respects to Mr Lee can still do so at community tribute sites which will stay open round the clock until after the funeral on Sunday.

“In fact I've been there myself to several of the sites, it's a very moving experience as well because three-generation families are there, grandparents, parents and children, and they spend time talking to each other, sharing their experiences and some of them personal anecdotes about Mr Lee himself, how Mr Lee helped them,” he said. “Sometimes the children themselves didn't even know that from the grandparents, so it's a very moving experience.”

The queue at Parliament House earlier in the day appeared to be shorter. As at 5pm, the waiting time was up to five hours. Some people, who took the priority queue meant for the elderly, the disabled and the very young, said the wait was about an hour on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday evening and the early hours of Saturday, the wait was as long as 10 hours at one point. Due to the overwhelming crowd, the authorities had to turn people away from joining the line for safety reasons during the early hours of Saturday. The queue was reopened at 6.15am, after it was closed for eight hours.

Ms Zhou Xin Jie, 32, a marketing executive, joined the line at 2am at the Singapore Recreation Club with boyfriend Yap Wei Jie, 32. Four hours later, she was relieved when the line started moving.

"We want to do it regardless how long it'll take," she said.

Added Mr Yap: "We decided to stay since we're already here. We came to pay our last respects. It's the least we can do, for so much he's done."

The final journey
The procession from Parliament House to the state funeral service will pass through key landmarks and areas of special significance for Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Janice Heng and Zakir Hussain report.
The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015


The procession starts at 12.30pm and will arrive at the UCC before 2pm. Lines are expected to be longer nearer Parliament and in town.


There are several MRT stations along or close to the route: Clarke Quay, City Hall, Esplanade, Raffles Place, Downtown, Telok Ayer, Tanjong Pagar, Outram Park, Commonwealth, Buona Vista and Dover.

- Some good spots to observe the procession are roads near the Padang, Raffles Quay, and outside the NTUC building and Singapore Conference Hall, though these are likely to be more crowded.
- Those living along Jalan Bukit Merah, part of Queensway and Commonwealth Avenue, and Commonwealth Avenue West can also observe the procession from their blocks.
- Members of the public are advised to stay on public footpaths for their own safety.
Go to, and for details on bus service diversions.

1 & 2 Parliament House and Old Parliament House
- In the final sitting in the old Parliament House, before the adjacent new one opened in 1999, then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew said: “The importance of this Chamber did not, and does not, depend upon its size and its grandeur, but upon the quality of the men and women who occupy it as representatives of the people.”
- Built in 1827, the old Parliament House served for many years as the colonial government’s courthouse.
It was repurposed by the Legislative Assembly, to which Mr Lee Kuan Yew was elected as an opposition assemblyman in 1955.

After independence in 1965, it became Parliament House.

3 City Hall and the Padang

The funeral procession will travel the length of the Padang, where audiences heard many a historical speech delivered by Mr Lee from the steps of City Hall.

It was here that he spoke to Singaporeans celebrating the start of self-government on June 3, 1959, and where he read the Malaysia Proclamation on Sept 16, 1963.

The Padang was where Mr Lee saw Singapore’s first National Day Parade in 1966. It returns there this year.

4 Marina Bay

Mr Lee’s vision to build a dam and create a freshwater reservoir in the heart of the city saw the construction of Marina Barrage, which opened in 2008, and the creation of Marina Reservoir, part of his goal of making Singapore self-sufficient in water.

Both were only possible with the clean-up of the Singapore River in the late 1970s under Mr Lee’s leadership. Gardens by the Bay has also been built, and can trace its origins to Mr Lee’s tree-planting campaign.

5 NTUC Centre and Singapore Conference Hall

Mr Lee began his political life by representing trade unions. As a lawyer in 1952, he won a case for postal workers who had gone on strike. He was soon appointed adviser to more than 50 unions, which became his support base in his first election.

The Singapore Conference Hall was originally Trade Union House, completed in 1965 to fulfil the PAP’s election promise of building a headquarters for the trade union movement, and remained the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) headquarters until 2000.

The NTUC Centre is now at One Marina Boulevard.

6 Tanjong Pagar

Mr Lee was first elected assemblyman for Tanjong Pagar on April 2, 1955, and continued representing the area until his death, an unsurpassed record of 60 years.

In 1991, it became part of Tanjong Pagar GRC, which has not been contested since.

The procession will drive past part of the Port of Singapore and the Central Business District.

It will also pass by the award-winning public housing project Pinnacle@Duxton.

7 Bukit Merah and Queenstown

Bukit Merah and Queenstown are home to some of the earliest public flats in Singapore, built both by the colonial-era Singapore Improvement Trust and its successor, the Housing Board. Queenstown is where the first HDB flats were sold under the Home Ownership For The People scheme, introduced in 1964.

Mr Lee sought to turn Singapore into a nation of home-owners as a way to give citizens a stake in the country. “It is the foundation upon which nationhood was forged,” he said.

8 CPIB Headquarters

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau was set up in 1952 by the British, but it was Mr Lee who gave it greater powers and tightened laws against corruption when he took over in 1959. Known for his fierce defence of integrity in the public service, Mr Lee set up systems and processes to ensure that every dollar was properly accounted for, and any wrongdoing was swiftly addressed.

9 Schools and Singapore Poly

The funeral procession will pass educational institutions, including Gan Eng Seng Primary, Henderson Secondary, Bukit Merah Secondary and Singapore Polytechnic, before entering the National University of Singapore campus for the state funeral. Mr Lee saw an educated workforce as key to Singapore’s future. As he put it in a speech on the eve of National Day in 1967: “It is the quality of our youth that will determine our future. And we have to invest in them more than any other sector.”

10 University Cultural Centre

The University Cultural Centre was the venue for the Prime Minister’s annual National Day Rally speech from 2001 to 2012, and although the late Mr Lee did not deliver any rally speeches here, he spoke at students’ forums and other events.

The funeral service will take place from 2pm to 5.15pm.

Civil service head Peter Ong is the master of ceremony and 10 eulogies will be delivered. Among those who will be delivering the eulogies are Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

SAF's highest honours
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

THE Singapore Armed Forces will give Mr Lee Kuan Yew the highest honours on land, air and sea.

In a Facebook post, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said four ceremonial 25-pound guns at the Padang will fire the 21-gun salute at the start of the funeral procession.

At the same time, four F-16 fighter jets from the Republic of Singapore Air Force aerial display team, the Black Knights, will fly in a "missing man" formation, an aerial salute to honour dignitaries who have died or fallen soldiers.

The aircraft will fly in a "V" formation and, as they approach City Hall, one jet will leave and head west, signifying a final flight towards the setting sun. The gap it leaves symbolises the missing man. This is only the second time that the team will perform this tribute. It did so at the 2008 Singapore Airshow to honour a teammate who had died of cancer.

<< SAF’s final farewell to Mr Lee Kuan Yew>> The outpouring of love and respect for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, our...
Posted by Ng Eng Hen - Defence Minister on Friday, March 27, 2015

As Mr Lee's body crosses the Esplanade Bridge, naval patrol vessels RSS Dauntless and RSS Resilience will perform a ceremonial sailpast off the Marina Barrage. Referring to a Chinese poem Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had shared with him, Dr Ng said: "Mr Lee Kuan Yew would encourage us to continue to live life to its fullest, to take Singapore further and make the world proud of what more we can accomplish from what he had started."

Sirens will sound for nation to observe a minute's silence
Funeral procession will pass landmarks that represent Mr Lee's lasting legacy for Singapore
By Zakir Hussain, Deputy Political Editor, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

SINGAPOREANS are expected to line the streets in large numbers tomorrow afternoon as the country bids a solemn final farewell to its founding Prime Minister after a week of mourning.

Sirens will also sound nationwide at about 4pm to signal the start and end of a minute of silence for Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who died on Monday at age 91.

The 15.4km-long state funeral procession route will pass by several historic, as well as more recent, defining landmarks of the country Mr Lee had shaped in his career.

These include the NTUC Centre and Trade Union House, which reflect Mr Lee's 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, the State Funeral Organising Committee said.

A rehearsal for the funeral procession was also held early yesterday morning.

The casket bearing Mr Lee will be lifted from its catafalque at Parliament House, where his body has been lying in state since Wednesday, by eight officers from the army, air force, navy and the police shortly before 12.30pm.

They will place the casket on a gun carriage that consists of a 25-pounder howitzer gun on which a tempered glass case is mounted, in which the casket will rest. The carriage will be driven by a ceremonial Land Rover.

As it leaves the Parliament porch, eight former and serving MPs will be in this group of pallbearers to send him off, including NTUC's first chairman, Mr Mahmud Awang, former Government Whip Chan Chee Seng and former opposition MP Chiam See Tong.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo, Minister of State for National Development and Defence Maliki Osman and Nominated MP K. Karthikeyan will also be pallbearers.

The cortege will be led by four guard-of-honour contingents from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Singapore Police Force (SPF). The SAF Military Band will play a funeral march.

As the gun carriage leaves the Parliament driveway, some 48 men from the SAF and SPF in ceremonial military trucks will escort it.

The procession will then turn into Parliament Place as the first round of a 21-gun salute is fired from four ceremonial howitzers on the Padang.

The vehicle will make its way to St Andrew's Road and past City Hall, from whose steps Mr Lee once spoke on many a historic occasion.

As the procession passes City Hall, the Republic of Singapore Air Force's Black Knights will fly a Missing Man Formation - with one aircraft leaving the group - as an aerial salute for Mr Lee.

Two Navy vessels will do a sailpast in the waters off Marina Barrage.

About 1,700 students from various secondary schools and junior colleges will line the procession route.

The 21st volley will be fired as the procession travels out of sight of the Padang and heads to the University Cultural Centre (UCC) for the funeral service.

The procession will travel at around 25kmh, and take about 37 minutes to cover the route. It is expected to reach UCC by 1.45pm, where the casket will be carried in a slow march to the tune of Dead March From Saul, performed by the SAF Military Band.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and family members will follow the procession into the UCC Hall, where the casket will be placed on a bier for the service.

At the end of the service, a lone bugler from the SAF band will sound the Last Post, and the Singapore Civil Defence Force Public Warning System siren will sound nationwide for 15 seconds to rally everyone in Singapore to observe a minute of silence.

The Rouse, a symbolic callback to duty, will then be sounded, and all citizens are encouraged to join in the recitation of the Pledge and the National Anthem.

The funeral procession will then make its final journey to Mandai Crematorium for a private cremation service.

Massive crowds at Padang, so queue temporarily halted
Safety concerns led organisers to call for suspension to clear backlog
By Rachel Chang Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

Public urged to pay tribute at community sites

AS PEOPLE continued to arrive at the Padang through the day to endure waits of up to 10 hours for their turn to pay their last respects to founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in person, the crowds swelled beyond control last night.

At about 10pm, the organisers announced that they were "temporarily suspending" the queue to clear the backlog of people who were even spilling over into the MRT station at City Hall.

Policemen at City Hall MRT Station told the crowd: "The Padang is full. Please go home."

A statement from the organising committee said that the decision was made "to ensure safety of individuals due to the large crowds, and to limit the physical discomfort of the long wait, especially for the elderly and young children".

"We would like to accommodate as many as possible in this overwhelming outpouring of respect and love for Mr Lee Kuan Yew," the statement said.

"We are appealing for patience and understanding as we work to ease the situation. We will inform the public when the queue is open again."

As of press-time, the queue had not been reopened.

Mr Jeremy Ng was trapped with his wheelchair-bound mother Lee Khar Lee outside the Padang, as people did not heed calls to exit the line.

"We can't go forward, neither can we go backwards," he said.

Others, like Dr Tang Yao Liang, 31, decided not to join the queue at all, once the suspension was announced.

"We decided to cut our losses. We really wanted to show our respect as it's quite a historical moment, so I'm disappointed. But we tried our best," he said.

Mr Lee's body is scheduled to lie in state until 8pm today.

But since Wednesday, the number of people streaming in has defied expectations and forced organisers to expand the scope of their plans repeatedly.

More than 290,000 people have visited Parliament House in the last three days.

Mr Lee, who was Singapore's Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990, died on Monday at age 91.

Throughout the day yesterday, the organisers issued advisories asking members of the public not to join the queue at the Padang. Instead, they were told to visit one of the 18 community tribute sites across the island.

Meanwhile, a live-stream of proceedings at Parliament House began broadcasting at noon yesterday, and people were encouraged to watch it.

But few seemed to have heeded the call to stay away.

Organisers are bracing themselves for another surge today - the last time that visitors can file past Mr Lee's casket with a bow, a prayer or a silent word of farewell - as the final hours tick by and the weekend begins.

Even after the suspension is lifted, it is unclear what time the organisers will close the queue to Parliament House today.

They declined to confirm whether those arriving at the queue's start point after 8pm will be turned away.

Mr Lee's funeral procession is to start at 12.30pm tomorrow, and the set-up for the 15.4km procession to the University Cultural Centre, where his funeral is to be held, will require a substantial amount of time.

"I knew they were telling us not to come," said Singapore Polytechnic lecturer Fan Ay Deng, 34. "But there is only one chance to see his casket, it's as simple as that. And I think a long wait is worth it to pay my respects to the founding father."

The sight of hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans, taking time off from work to stand in line for up to 10 hours, for a few fleeting moments next to Mr Lee's casket, is one that will likely never be witnessed again in Singapore's history.

From 10am on Wednesday, the first day of the lying in state, the authorities have had to change their plans in reaction to the unceasing flow of people.

Originally scheduled to end at 8pm, the viewing became a round-the-clock affair, and public transport services were extended as well.

Organised groups were no longer allowed to skip the queue, and mourners were asked to speed up past the casket instead of stopping. Priority lines birthed priority lines as the elderly, disabled and the very young showed up in force.

But the sheer numbers meant that there was inevitable chaos, especially in the priority queue on Thursday night.

By early yesterday morning, barricades had extended the priority queue to six times its length to aid the flow, and a new filter was created for those in wheelchairs and strollers.

The line abated in the late morning but swelled again from the late afternoon yesterday and through the night.

Inside Parliament House, former Indonesian presidents Megawati Sukarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono numbered among the mourners.

Opposition veteran Chiam See Tong came and, despite his political differences with Mr Lee, he said: "Singapore is very lucky to have Mr Lee as her first Prime Minister."

Additional reporting by Chong Ziliang and Lim Yan Liang

11-hour wait - yet they kept coming
Organisers warn people about long wait but they persevere anyway
By Tham Yuen-c, Andrea Ng And Chong ZiliangBy Rachel Chang Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

TOLD to stay away, they came anyway.

People continued to turn up from midnight yesterday into the day to queue outside Parliament House to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

This was despite the fact that from Thursday night, the state funeral organising committee advised people not to join the queue until further updates, warning the wait could get as long as 11 hours.

However, most of those on the ground reported waiting a much shorter time - although this was before the crowds surged again last night.

Engineer Veron Koh, 37, who was there at 4am yesterday because she was "scared of the sun" and had to work, but still wanted to pay her respects, was told that she would be waiting for eight hours. But she was done in four.

She said: "I was prepared to take urgent leave if I had to but they were very organised, and I waited only a while at the Padang, then our whole group walked straight to Parliament House."

The difference between the estimated and actual times was due to the different organisation of the queue system yesterday compared with the first two days of public mourning on Wednesday and Thursday. Instead of one long queue around the Padang, people were broken up into groups, with each group assigned a holding area at the Padang.

The groups could expand or contract, depending on the number of people. When there were fewer people, each group moved quicker.

For some, the faster flow of the general queues was still not fast enough - financial analyst Dawn Huang, 32, left the Padang at around 8am, after waiting about two hours.

"I have to go to work but I plan to come back later," she said as she hurried off.

On the other hand, retiree James Chan, 64, was undaunted when he arrived at midnight yesterday and was told that it would be an eight-hour wait.

He decided to stay, saying: "That's the least I can do to repay the debt of gratitude that generations in Singapore owe to Mr Lee."

Others who had gone there at around the same time gained a small respite in the end - the waiting time was more like seven hours.

Nanyang Technological University student Lee Jing Shen, 23, was one, emerging from Parliament House at 6.45am.

Asked why he waited, he said pragmatically: "The MRT and buses had already stopped running when we got here and found out how long it would take."

However, university mate Kee Han Chong, 23, said: "Based on my calculations, the queueing times would only get longer from Friday, so I had to do it. Mr Lee is a very important part of our history."

Those who arrived not long before daybreak yesterday persevered for the same reason.

Counsellor Diane Choo, 31, who got there at 5.30am, said she got into the hall where Mr Lee's body lay in state after a wait of "only" five hours.

"It was only right that I had to put in that energy and effort to say thank you," she said.

Amid the large turnout in the wee hours yesterday, there was confusion about where to start queueing. Some joined in at Raffles City to make their way to the Padang, while others did so at Esplanade Park, unwittingly cutting the queue.

Meanwhile, those in the priority queue - for the elderly, disabled, pregnant and those with children below six years of age - had a much shorter wait, after the system was changed on Thursday night so only parents could go with their children, and just one adult could accompany an elderly person.

Childcare centre principal Angela Ang, 57, who was there at 6am with her 77-year-old mother Nancy Wu, "breezed through" in about 45 minutes. She said: "I would've come even if the queue was long because I'm a beneficiary of his legacy."

For teacher Sally Chew, 37, in the priority queue with her husband and sons aged five and 11, it was her second try.

The first time, she had to go and pick up her children from school, and was not allowed to rejoin the queue where her husband was waiting.

Just to be safe, her husband took leave yesterday and her children skipped school.

She said: "I came mainly for the education of the kids. They can read a lot about Lee Kuan Yew but it's nothing like going through (this)."

Throughout the day, people continued to stream into the area, even when it rained for a spell in the afternoon, and with the sun beating down afterwards.

Ms Joyce Khoo, 30, got there at around noon with her husband, just as it started to drizzle.

The Singaporean pilates instructor, who now lives in Jakarta, had flown back yesterday for a day, specially to pay her respects to Mr Lee.

"Living overseas makes you very conscious of how lucky we are as Singapore citizens... It's all due to the dogged determination of Mr Lee and the first generation of Singaporeans. I would have regretted it if I hadn't come back," she said.

As night fell again, the crowd grew larger, backing up to Raffles City. Public transport operators extended their hours yesterday, with buses and MRT trains to operate overnight.

Father-and-son pair Albert and Alex Lim were among those who arrived by public transport.

The older Mr Lim, 54, and his son, 24, came prepared to wait through the night. They said they "will be here as long as it takes".

S'pore lucky to have Mr Lee, says Chiam
His contributions to S'pore outweighed the criticisms made by the opposition
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

MR LEE Kuan Yew's contributions to Singapore outweighed the criticisms made by the opposition, said old adversary Chiam See Tong in a touching tribute yesterday afternoon.

"Singapore is very lucky to have Mr Lee as her first Prime Minister," the leader of the Singapore People's Party told reporters, after paying his last respects to Mr Lee, who is lying in state at Parliament House.

Recounting the first time he met Mr Lee, Mr Chiam said he was struck by how stern he was.

"He said, 'Who is this oppositionist?' I don't think he knew me at that time. And he said, 'Mr Chiam, I'll see you in Parliament.'

"But the way he said it, it was as if he said, 'I'll see you in the boxing ring.' "

An emotional Mr Chiam also acknowledged that Mr Lee was a "great debater", but one who never humiliated him, even during their frequent clashes in the House. "In Parliament, he clobbered me. But... I never lost my dignity or decorum."

Looking back into the hall, where several hundred people were filing past Mr Lee's casket, Mr Chiam murmured: "This is where he worked."

Earlier in the hall, Mr Chiam, who celebrated his 80th birthday two weeks ago, got out of his wheelchair and walked slowly towards Mr Lee's casket.

Supported by his wife, Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam, and Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, he climbed a few steps towards the casket to bid Mr Lee a final farewell.

Dr Balakrishnan later said in a Facebook post that Mr Chiam insisted on climbing the steps, although he was physically infirm. "They had mutual respect for each other's integrity, gumption and unflagging passion."

Mr Chiam's daughter Camilla had also accompanied him to Parliament House.

The family were later received by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching, who clasped Mr Chiam's hand throughout the exchange.

Mr Chiam, the longest-serving opposition MP until 2011, had earlier this week penned a heartfelt condolence letter to PM Lee on his father's death.

In the letter, he said the late Mr Lee was to Singapore what former British prime minister Winston Churchill was to his country. "He was there, just as Britain needed Winston Churchill during World War II - always taking a strategic and long-term view of Singapore."

India declares day of mourning
By Ravi Velloor, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

INDIA announced a day of national mourning for Mr Lee Kuan Yew in an unprecedented gesture of appreciation for his life and work.

The Indian flag will be lowered to half-mast tomorrow across the country and there will be no official entertainment on the day, New Delhi announced yesterday as Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepared to travel to Singapore for the state funeral.

"We deeply valued his conviction in India's role in Asia's future and to the success of India's 'Look East' policy," said External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

Analysts say it is unusual for India to honour a person who had retired from national leadership for nearly a quarter-century. The last time India accorded a foreign leader this recognition was in January, when Saudi king Abdullah bin Abdulaziz passed away.

"This is a special gesture. The Saudi king was in power, Lee Kuan Yew was not," said Professor S.D. Muni, a South Asia expert. "This is a compliment to Singapore's contribution in promoting ties between India and the Asia-Pacific."

People familiar with Indian government thinking said India was signalling its recognition of Mr Lee's ties with its leadership, starting from pre-independence days.

Mr Lee had known India's founding prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi, Mrs Gandhi's son Rajiv, who succeeded her as prime minister, and Rajiv's son Rahul Gandhi, currently vice-president of the Congress Party. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh also sought his counsel on global issues.

"This is as much in recognition of his contribution to wider Asia as for the future of India-Singapore ties," said a senior official.

Additional reporting by Nirmala Ganapathy

Gratitude: From a small village in India as they weep for our Founding Father Mr Lee Kuan Yew who helped changed their lives and those of their family. Very touching.
Posted by Best Viral Videos on Friday, March 27, 2015

Indonesian dignitaries pay respects
By Rachel Au-Yong, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

TWO former presidents of Indonesia were among several Indonesian dignitaries who paid their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew yesterday.

They were Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of the country's first president Sukarno, and Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was succeeded by current President Joko Widodo.

Ms Megawati told reporters that Mr Lee was her mentor.

"Personally, I have a good relationship with him, and also his family," she said in Bahasa Indonesia.

She added that she was in Singapore as head of her party, the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P), as well as the Sukarno family.

Ms Megawati was received by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching.

Dr Yudhoyono arrived with his wife. A former general, he saluted Mr Lee before bowing.

Earlier this week, he said in a condolence message that Mr Lee was a close personal friend as well as "a true friend of Indonesia".

"I have always benefited from my conversations with him," he added. "In every one of those meetings, he always gave me valuable motivation and advice for the success of Indonesia."

He also said Mr Lee would be "sorely missed, not just by Singaporeans, but by Indonesians and South-east Asians".

The daughters of Indonesia's second president, the late Suharto, also came to pay their respects. They were Ms Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana "Tutut" Suharto, Ms Siti Hediati Hariyadi "Titiek" Suharto, and Ms Siti Hutami Endang "Mamiek" Suharto.

Mr Lee and Mr Suharto had worked closely while in power, setting the stage for a relationship that helped stabilise the region.

President Joko will attend Mr Lee's funeral tomorrow.

Football fraternity pays tribute
By Afiq RoslanThe Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

AS SINGAPORE basked in the glory of the 1977 Malaysia Cup win after beating Penang 3-2, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew met and congratulated the victorious national football team at the Istana.

The reception is etched vividly in the mind of striker Ho Kwang Hock. The 58-year-old recalled yesterday: "He came in, clad in golf attire, shorts and all, and went around shaking our hands.

"The Prime Minister was coming to each and every one of us to shake our hands, not us to him."

Mr Ho's anecdote is just one of many recollections as Singapore's football fraternity turned up in force at Toa Payoh Central Community Club to pay their respects to Mr Lee yesterday morning.

Led by Football Association of Singapore (FAS) president Zainudin Nordin, more than 200 players and officials from the FAS and local Great Eastern-Yeo's S-League clubs, as well as players from the LionsXII, Courts Young Lions and various Centre of Excellence and National Football Academy age-group teams, bowed before Mr Lee's portrait and wrote their condolence messages.

Said Mr Zainudin: "The footballers are all part of Singapore's history and we came together to remember the great man and his contributions to Singapore's sports and all that he had done for our country."

He also remembers an inquisitive Mr Lee: "He continued to learn, wanting me to explain to him about Formula One, even at his age. Even as Singapore went through changes, he wanted to see how it developed."

Former national defender Lim Teng Sai, also from the triumphant 1977 team, paid his own tribute by standing in line for 31/2 hours on Wednesday at Parliament House. The 61-year-old said: "I am grateful to Mr Lee for having fought off the communists, and building a community that is fair to everybody.

"I don't mind standing in the sun for the man who contributed so much to my country."

Attended a community tribute organised jointly by Malay, Indian, Eurasian and Chinese organisations yesterday...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Friday, March 27, 2015

Tough love meant Mr Lee put interests of workers first
Union leaders praise former PM for his firmness, foresight, mentorship
By Amelia Tan And Joanna SeowThe Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

MR LEE Kuan Yew was not afraid of taking the unions to task if he felt they were doing things that were harmful to Singapore.

But even if he practised tough love, it was because he put the interests of the workers first, said union leaders at a two hour-long memorial service last night.

Government, union and corporate leaders, past and present, praised Mr Lee, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, for his vision and foresight in ensuring industrial harmony, promoting productivity and enhancing the life of workers here.

He died on Monday morning, at the age of 91.

One of the clearest memories former labour chief Lim Boon Heng had of Mr Lee was that he was not afraid to put unions in their place, if they "went astray".

He told the 800-strong audience at the Singapore Conference Hall that they were in the same venue where Mr Lee held a tense meeting in 1981 with a group of Singapore Airlines (SIA) pilots.

Among other things, the pilots were unhappy with their pay.

"(He told the pilots and the management that) if the nonsense did not stop, he would not hesitate to close down SIA and start a new airline," said Mr Lim. The pilots backed down.

For former President S R Nathan, who served as pioneer director of NTUC's administration and research unit from 1962 to 1966, Mr Lee's firmness in dealing with the trade unions was crucial in the turbulent days after independence.

"There were occasions he admonished us and addressed our destructive ways," said Mr Nathan.

"Only to return to the management the right to manage their enterprises successfully, which in turn benefited us, the worker, with better incomes and working conditions."

Many of the 14 speakers in the service also lauded Mr Lee's foresight in anticipating problems and finding solutions to them.

One problem he anticipated clearly was the ageing workforce.

Former manpower minister Lee Boon Yang, said that soon after the Retirement Age Act was passed in 1993, Mr Lee was already asking him to raise the retirement age to beyond 60.

"We had barely taken the first step and he was already thinking of the next step. That is a measure of the man he was," said Mr Lee, who is also chairman of Singapore Press Holdings and Keppel Corporation.

Singapore National Employers Federation's former president Stephen Lee agreed.

"He could see the outcome of a declining birth rate. He was already thinking of retirement age beyond 60. Today, we are looking at re-employment at 67," he said.

But for National Trades Union Congress secretary-general Lim Swee Say, Mr Lee was more than a just a leader; he was a mentor.

Once, when Mr Lim told Mr Lee that a foreign leader said that Singapore's method was difficult to learn, Mr Lee replied that countries should adapt good ideas and "come up with their own solution in an eclectic way".

He looked at Mr Lim and asked if he knew what that meant. Mr Lim said no, so Mr Lee gave him a dictionary.

"After a second or two, he asked, 'Do you know how to spell eclectic?'" he said to laughter.

"He then turned the pages and showed me the meaning of eclectic, which is taking the best features from various systems and putting them together in a smart way that will work better for us."

Mr Lee also gave him personal advice when he took on the role as the NTUC secretary-general back in 2007, something that future union leaders will not have, said Mr Lim.

Choking back the tears, Mr Lim said: "Mr Lee spent his whole life ensuring Singapore's survival and the livelihood of the people. We are forever grateful for his devotion."

A 'Singaporean Singapore' right from the start
DPM Teo tells of founding father's 'hard-fought gift' of multiracialism
By Charissa Yong And Melody ZaccheusThe Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

MR LEE Kuan Yew and his colleagues refused to appeal to exclusive racial and religious identities in Singapore's early days, choosing instead the more difficult path of creating a "Singaporean Singapore", said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

Today, Singapore is a harmonious, multiracial country in large part because of Mr Lee's determination to weave multiracialism into its very foundation, said Mr Teo yesterday.

Singapore's first Prime Minister understood the need to inculcate a sense "that we are all Singaporeans, first and foremost, regardless of race", he told 2,000 people at a memorial organised by community groups.

Those present included leaders of community groups, representatives from the business sector as well as teachers and students.

Also present were Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his wife Ho Ching and Cabinet members.

The event was held at Kallang Theatre, where Mr Lee gave his last National Day Rally speech as Prime Minister in 1990.

Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister, paid tribute to Mr Lee's legacy and "hard-fought gift" of multiracialism, which Singapore must never take for granted. The late Mr Lee valued the contributions each community could make, and recognised their uniqueness and differences, he said.

But Mr Lee was "conscious of the real dangers of chauvinism, whether (based on) language, race or religion", said Mr Teo.

He added that Mr Lee had seen how these differences were exploited during Singapore's early years as an independent state, which led to conflict.

"He knew that if each community pushed for more and more, others would similarly push back. And each community and our entire country would end up with less," said Mr Teo.

Mr Lee recognised that harmony rested on a delicate balance based on give and take, mutual trust and understanding, and treating everyone fairly, regardless of race, religion or creed, added Mr Teo.

He enshrined it in policies such as having national schools not segregated by race, and bringing people together through public housing rather than have them living separately in ethnic enclaves.

He also encouraged the spirit of community self-help, now seen in groups such as the Chinese Development Assistance Council, Mendaki, the Association of Muslim Professionals, Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda) and the Eurasian Association.

Leaders from the Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian communities also spoke of how Mr Lee's policies helped strengthen their communities and Singapore's multicultural fabric.

Speaking in Malay, former Singapore mufti Shaikh Syed Isa Semait said the Malay/Muslim community has benefited from the establishment of institutions such as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis), the Syariah Court and the Registry of Muslim Marriages.

Sinda's Dr N. Varaprasad said the Indian community, itself an amalgam of many sub-communities, is indebted to Mr Lee for giving them equal opportunity, something they did not have even in their homeland.

The Eurasian Association's president, Mr Benett Theseira, paid tribute to how Mr Lee and several Eurasian pioneers worked together to build Singapore's world-class civil service.

Chinese community leader Chua Thian Poh said he was touched by Mr Lee's interest in setting up a fund to strengthen bilingual education.

Mr Lee even personally donated $12 million to the Lee Kuan Yew Bilingual Fund.

Tearing up, Mr Chua said in Mandarin that Mr Lee was already in his 80s when he approached him with the idea to set up the fund.

The ceremony ended with representatives from each ethnic group presenting condolence letters to PM Lee and his wife.


Speaking in Malay, on the Mosque Building Fund scheme proposed by Mr Lee Kuan Yew:

"I was invited with leaders of the Malay-Muslim community to the Istana in 1974, at a time when Singapore was undergoing rapid urbanisation.

We had a frank discussion with then Prime Minister Lee and other Malay Members of Parliament.

Mr Lee expressed concern about the ability of the Malay-Muslim community to raise funds to build mosques in new housing estates without a stable source of income.

He then proposed that every Muslim worker contribute to mosque development through the deduction of their pay using the CPF mechanism. The result is an effective system of fund-raising. Today we are able to build our mosques on our own.

I am grateful that besides meeting the needs of our religious life, our mosques have also helped to raise the good name of Singapore - they are often cited as an exemplary model (for) fostering racial harmony."


On Mr Lee's advice that people of all races should have equal opportunities:

"His motivation is perhaps summed up in his advice to his son Lee Hsien Loong when he became Prime Minister.

Mr Lee reminded him of the situation that existed in Malaysia before Singapore became an independent state: 'Never do to the minorities in Singapore that which happened to us when we were a minority in Malaysia.

'Always make sure that the Malays, the Indians, have their space, can live their way of life, and have full equal opportunities and are not discriminated against. And at the same time, help them to upgrade, improve and move forward'."


On how Mr Lee wanted a multiracial Singapore, unlike other countries:

"One of Mr Lee's greatest gifts to us was his firm belief in treating all races fairly and giving them a sense that Singapore belonged to all of us - Chinese, Malays, Indians, Eurasians and others - and not any one race in particular.

He was committed to the idea of building a model multiracial society, unlike what he had seen in other countries or experienced as a student in the United Kingdom, or growing up in pre-independence Singapore.

He was a pragmatic person who was able to understand the challenges that minority groups faced and yet the value that their diversity could bring to Singapore."


Speaking in Mandarin, on how Mr Lee wanted to give each ethnic group space to develop:

"He implemented the bilingual education policy, and ensured that while we mastered the English language, we were able to learn our respective mother tongue languages to retain our core values. This policy gave Singaporeans a unique competitive edge in the global economy.

Mr Lee was always concerned about the development of the Chinese community. He fostered close ties and maintained frequent interactions with the Chinese community and the Chinese business community.

He encouraged the clans to pursue renewal and keep pace with the times.

He urged the Chinese community to assist the less fortunate, with the aim of promoting inclusive growth.

He spurred local Chinese businesses to expand overseas and to capitalise on new opportunities.

Reflect on Mr Lee's legacy and do good, Muslims urged
By Zakir Hussain Deputy Political EditorThe Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

MUSLIMS in Singapore were reminded of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's contributions to the community and nation in a Friday sermon prepared by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) for the 68 mosques.

The sermon was on the theme of how Muslims should use their limited time on earth to do good deeds.

It called on worshippers to reflect on Mr Lee's legacy and contributions, and think about what they could do that will leave an impact on others, as Mr Lee had.

"The passing of Singapore's first Prime Minister has touched the hearts of many Singaporeans, including members of the Muslim community.

"He played a huge role in our multiracial and multi-religious society," said Ustaz Irwan Hadi Mohd Shuhaimy, reading the sermon yesterday at Toa Payoh's Muhajirin Mosque.

"He led a team of leaders who worked with him to develop Singapore to become a prosperous country that is envied by many. This was achieved, among other things, through the harmonious relationship between people of different races, economic development and an excellent education system."

The sermon added: "Let us think of the contributions that we have made and the impact of our actions on those whom we will eventually leave behind."

Mr Iskandar Kastari, 92, a retired driver who was born in Central Java and came to Singapore in 1943, welcomed the sermon's theme, and said Mr Lee was "a good man who helped improve the lives of the poor".

Mosque vice-chairman Hamri Hunar, 76, recalls having to go door-to-door to raise funds to build a new mosque in Toa Payoh in the early 1970s.

But funds were still short, and Mr Lee mooted a Mosque Building Fund, where, since 1975, deductions have been made from the salaries of Muslims through the Central Provident Fund mechanism every month, enabling the mosque to be completed - and another 23 to be built since then.

"(Mr Lee) has done a lot for the Muslim community in Singapore," he said.

Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, who was at the mosque, told reporters: "At the end of the day, it's really for us to reflect on how we can learn from his example and the example of other pioneers on how we can contribute to make Singapore a better place for all."

Mr Lee, he added, was deeply concerned about the community: "He was always wanting to know more about the community, always asking, 'Is everything okay? What more can be done? Is this the better way of doing things?' "

'Time to move on from Marxist conspiracy'
Returning to dark period won't help in nation-building: Archbishop Goh
By Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

THE late Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a man of conviction who did what he thought was best for the country, said the Catholic Church's Archbishop William Goh yesterday.

He was a dedicated father who cared for the country as if the people were part of his own family, said Archbishop Goh at a mass for Singapore's first Prime Minister.

Still, while he was a leader who helped to give Singaporeans education, medical care and jobs, the archbishop said there are many people who do not agree with certain policies that Mr Lee introduced.

These included family planning policies such as the "Stop At Two" programme and the legalisation of abortion, the legalisation of casinos and his eugenics theory, which supports the idea that educated Singaporeans marry in order to produce brighter offspring.

The Catholic Church had arranged for a special memorial mass for Mr Lee, who died on Monday morning at the age of 91. During the mass, they prayed for his soul and for his family. Worshippers also penned about 1,000 prayer messages in his memory.

Addressing the congregation that spilled out of St Joseph's Church in Victoria Street into its surrounding carpark grounds, the archbishop said Mr Lee was a man who stood by his beliefs and had the vision and wisdom to turn Singapore into what it is today.

"He has left behind all those fundamental values that are necessary for the governance of Singapore: integrity, honesty, equality, justice," he said.

"We are not canonising Mr Lee because although he was a man of many achievements... he had his flaws."

In particular, he said the 1987 Marxist conspiracy was a "dark period" in the Church's history here.

In May and June that year, 22 people - who included many with links to the Catholic Church - were arrested under the Internal Security Act. They were accused of planning to overthrow the Government under the cover of the Catholic Church.

"We can disagree with him but the point remains... If he had been harsh with his political opponents, I gathered (this was) because this man would do everything to protect the existence of Singapore and the people," said the archbishop.

Archbishop Goh later told the media that many people were "wounded and hurt" by the 1987 incident.

"I think it is important for us to move on and to forgive and, most of all, to continue to build the country," he said.

"There's no point to go back to the past, trying to lick our wounds because it will not help in nation-building... And, as Christians, all the more we should forgive and forget."

Mr Lee, said Archbishop Goh, did not oppose religion and in fact promoted it.

What Mr Lee did not tolerate were people who used religion for political purposes.

"When you start mixing religion with politics, you have crossed the line. Either you get involved in politics or you get involved in religion but not under the guise of religion," said Archbishop Goh.

Mr James Galvin Loh, 60, a retired foreign exchange broker, described the archbishop's message as "truthful and balanced".

He was among the thousands who stood listening to the mass outside the church building, as all 1,200 seats for the 1.15pm mass had been filled by 11am.

He said: "The Marxist incident happened so long ago. There's no point hanging on to it. What's important is that the existing cordial relationship between the Church and the state continues. It's a new era now."

Ms Adrianne Desker, 52, a software developer, said she also appreciated the archbishop's homily.

"We're all here to celebrate a life well-lived," she said.

NEE SOON REMEMBERS MR LEE KUAN YEWNee Soon remembered Mr #LeeKuanYew in a special memorial tonight attended by over...
Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Friday, March 27, 2015

A frugal man who brought discipline into government
Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam yesterday paid tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew in a memorial event held at the hard court beside Yishun MRT station. This is an excerpt of his speech.
The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

MR LEE was a very frugal man, and I explain that because that's the way he ran the country.

Once, I was on a trip with him to the United States. I was at his table for dinner. At the end of dinner, we were given dessert. I asked for ice cream, and we were given ice cream.

This was the United States - they gave me three large scoops. I hadn't expected it. I don't eat much dessert, so I took one scoop and I left the rest behind.

He saw that. He told me off. He said, you are wasting food.

I told him, this is what they served. I didn't ask for this. He said: You should have found out how much they would serve and should have ordered only what you could have eaten.

He said that - even though we were being hosted by the United States, and it didn't matter to him that it was the Americans who were paying for it.

It was not a question of money. He believed as a principle that there should not be waste.

It's a simple illustration. But this was central to the way he thought. Both in his personal life and in government.

His exercise shorts, for example. For 17 years, he wore the same shorts. And when it broke or tore - he patched it up, or his wife patched it up for him.

And he was very careful with government money in the same way. Because it is your money.

Every week, we have a Cabinet meeting. Every week. Even this week, Prime Minister (Lee Hsien Loong) called for a Cabinet meeting.

We meet first for lunch. Sometimes not, but almost always, we meet for lunch. And this is not a social lunch, we discuss government business. Cabinet meeting is after the lunch.

Mr Lee does not attend the lunch. But his rules are, because you have to eat lunch anyway, he says you have to pay for the lunch even though you are coming to Cabinet to discuss Cabinet (matters). You have lunch, you pay for the lunch. The Government doesn't pay for the lunch.

We must be the only Cabinet in the world that does that, when we meet to discuss government (business).

But it is good, because in every way, we are reminded every day that public money should be carefully spent.

Many of you know he was strict about his exercise. Again, I say this not because I want to tell you about his exercise routine, but because of his iron discipline.

My friend, who was 30 years younger than Mr Lee, was in a foreign country on a trip with

Mr Lee. At about 6am in the morning, on the day they got in, my friend was jet lagged and very tired.

If my friend was jet lagged, 30 years younger than Mr Lee, it would have been far worse for Mr Lee. But at 6am, he heard some sounds in the courtyard below. So he went to the window to look, and Mr Lee was in his exercise gear running around, with his security officers next to him.

That was the discipline he brought in politics, in government, in everything that he did.

He gave me advice, and he was a mentor to many. Let me share two pieces of advice he gave me about becoming a minister.

He asked me, when I was in my 30s, what career I was thinking about. I told him I saw myself as a lawyer. I told him I didn't see myself as a full-time politician. I saw myself going the usual route that lawyers take.

He told me this very seriously. "I know you," he said. "You are a good lawyer. You are successful, and you will be even more successful. But you should serve Singapore."

He told me: "Don't spend all your time staying purely in the law. You can help your clients, you can make more money. But you can do much more for your country. If everyone stays outside, who is going to work in the public service?You should serve the people in a broader way."

And he told me: "You can do it. As a minister, you can make a bigger difference to the lives of the people." I remembered it.

When I was in my early 40s, the question of becoming a minister came up again more seriously.

He asked me if I was concerned about taking a big pay cut in becoming a minister. He was very direct, he didn't beat about the bush. I told him I did think about the pay cut. But I was prepared to take a pay cut.

But I think he sensed that while I had decided to agree to a pay cut, it was not easy for me when I was 41, 42. He said: "You are still young. You should stay in law practice a bit longer. You can come later into Government."

That was how he was: practical, direct, honest - he understood people.

He made the world a better place: Kissinger
Ex-top US diplomat says his friend of more than 40 years was an amazing phenomenon
By Ravi Velloor Associate Editor, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

Prime ministers and potentates from some two dozen nations, joined by close friends of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, gathered last night to bid a final farewell to the man who often was called upon to step in to explain Asia to a global audience confounded by its complexities.

"The world is a better place because of Lee Kuan Yew," said Dr Henry Kissinger, former United States secretary of state and Mr Lee's friend of more than four decades.

"He taught us about the way Asians think about problems and explained to us what development meant in a practical sense. But he also told us, 'We can do that much, and beyond that, somebody else has to do certain things.'"

The former Harvard professor, four months older than Mr Lee, fashioned late US president Richard Nixon's diplomatic breakthrough with China. He was speaking to local media about his long friendship with Mr Lee, whom he first met in 1967.

Describing Mr Lee as "an amazing phenomenon", Dr Kissinger said theirs was not a friendship based on doing things for each other, but one based on learning from each other.

There, he acknowledged Mr Lee's role in helping to shape the US approach to China, which continues to evolve.

"He never came and said, 'You have to do this or that.' He was never a lobbyist," said Dr Kissinger.

"He would say, 'Here is a situation and you have to understand it if you want to succeed.' He explained what the Chinese were doing in their internal politics, their economic policies. I found his advice extremely helpful and so did a succession of presidents and others in practically every American administration."

The 91-year-old Dr Kissinger is in Singapore as part of the US presidential delegation led by former president Bill Clinton, the popular elder statesman of the Democratic Party. Dr Kissinger is the oldest among the overseas dignitaries attending the funeral.

Whether from tiny Bhutan, with a population of less than a million, or China, the world's biggest nation by population, leaders of 24 nations have travelled to the Republic, including the President of Kazakhstan and the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia.

Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck paid his respects to Mr Lee at the wake yesterday, accompanied by his wife, Queen Jetsun Pema.

Other rulers who will be at the funeral include Malaysia's monarch, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani.

Every Asean head of government or state is also here, with the exception of the Philippines, which sent President of the Senate Franklin Drilon. Of Asia's big powers - China, Japan and India - the latter two are represented by their prime ministers, while China sent Vice-President Li Yuanchao.

A stream of other dignitaries have also paid respects at Mr Lee's bier. Yesterday, they included former Malaysian finance minister Daim Zainuddin, a man respected by Mr Lee for his savvy.

Condolences from global leaders have also poured in. Egyptian President Fattah al-Sisi called Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last Friday to offer condolences, paying tribute to the "architect of Singapore's economy", according to his spokesman Alaa Youssef.

Dignitaries pay their respects, hail Mr Lee's legacies
They praise the Govt's succession planning, education system and corruption-free society
By Tham Yuen-C and Charissa Yong, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

Dignitaries singled out Singapore's corruption-free society, education system and the Government's succession planning for praise yesterday, saying these were the legacies of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

They were speaking to reporters at Parliament House, after paying their respects to Mr Lee yesterday, the last day of the lying in state.

Mr Lee, 91, died last Monday at the Singapore General Hospital, after 47 days in intensive care.

Yesterday, former Indonesian general Prabowo Subianto said Mr Lee had left behind a country that would thrive even without him.

"His greatest legacy... was creating a system that had succeeded in creating a meritocracy, and in grooming two, three generations of good leaders. So that's his great legacy, and Singapore will thrive with what he had achieved," he said.

Mr Prabowo was replying to questions from Indonesian journalists, who had asked if Singapore would survive without Mr Lee.

He was also asked about Singapore-Indonesia relations.

He said he was confident nothing would change. He and the other Indonesian leaders were all acquainted with the current generation of Singapore leaders so "there's nothing to worry about".

He added: "I admire Mr Lee Kuan Yew and I think he was a great leader of South-east Asia. He was a good friend of Indonesia, he was a tough leader, and I think that we have a lot to learn from his leadership style and from his thinking."

Afghanistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, who was also at Parliament House, said: "A country like Afghanistan which has gone through so much conflict and (faces) a lot of the problems... there are so many lessons Afghanistan can take from his vision, his ideas."

Quoting from Mr Lee's books, he said Singapore's first Prime Minister had brought Singapore from Third World to First in 50 years, and Afghanistan could try to "reach similar success", through learning from Singapore's and Mr Lee's experiences.

The most important lesson for him, he said, is the need to stamp out corruption.

"He created a society, a country, that is corruption-free. And corruption is a problem that is a major issue for the people and the government, and... the mechanism that he established, the initiative that he embarked on, is something we can truly benefit from," he added.

National University of Singapore president Tan Chorh Chuan, who was part of a vigil group at Mr Lee's lying in state yesterday, paid tribute to his contributions to education and talent development.

Mr Lee believed that every student should be given a chance to develop to his full potential, including the personal aspect, he said.

"Over time he's spoken about character, resilience, ability to overcome. It's shaped the thinking and culture of our educational institutions," Professor Tan said.

Other dignitaries who paid their respects were former US president Bill Clinton, former US national security adviser Tom Donilon, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former US ambassador to Singapore Steven Green, former Taiwanese leader Hau Pei-tsun, former Malaysian finance minister Daim Zainuddin, Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippines Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and former Indonesian coordinating minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono.

The list also includes Mr Jack Ma, head of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Professor Pieter Winsemius and Mrs Aeyelts Averink Winsemius - children of the late Dr Albert Winsemius who was economic adviser to Singapore for about 20 years.

Mr Lee fostered region's ties with world: Xi
By Esther Teo China Correspondent, In Beijing, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday credited Singapore founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew for his "outstanding contributions" to peace and development in Asia, and for fostering the region's ties with the rest of the world.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a strategist and statesman who has the respect of the international society," Mr Xi said in a keynote speech at the annual Boao Forum for Asia in southern Hainan province.

"He has made outstanding contributions to peace and development in Asia, and to fostering the region's ties and cooperation with the rest of the world.

"I would like to take this opportunity to express my highest respect to all the distinguished people who have come before us, including Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who have made contributions to the peaceful development of Asia."

The two men met in November 2007 in the Great Hall of the People when Mr Lee was on a visit to Beijing.

In his book, One Man's View Of The World, Mr Lee had said that while he had not asked to see Mr Xi, Chinese officials arranged for him to meet Mr Xi anyway - a sign that he was considered high on the priority list.

It was Mr Xi's first meeting with any foreign leader after being promoted to the Politburo Standing Committee, China's apex decision-making body, a move that indicated to the world he had been slated to take over from then President Hu Jintao, Mr Lee wrote.

Mr Xi struck him as a man of great breadth, he added.

"He is not narrow-minded. He thinks through a problem deeply and does not want to show off his knowledge. He lacks the bonhomie of Jiang Zemin and is not as formalistic as Hu Jintao. But he has gravitas. That was my first impression," Mr Lee said.

China is sending Vice-President Li Yuanchao to attend today's funeral service for Mr Lee.

Many Chinese leaders, including Executive Vice-Premier Zhang Gaoli and State Councillor Yang Jiechi, have paid tribute to Mr Lee over the past few days.

Tribute by Indranee Rajah,Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Grassroots Adviser to Tanjong Pagar Grassroots...
Posted by Indranee Rajah on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tribute events held on eve of state funeral
Grassroots groups and business communities hold ceremonies to remember Mr Lee
By Chong Zi Liang, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

On the eve of the state funeral of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, groups gathered at ceremonies across the island for a common purpose: to pay tribute to Singapore's first Prime Minister.

Ministers eulogised him and Singaporeans placed flowers at his portraits as the country continued to mourn Mr Lee, who died on Monday at the age of 91.

At the Tanjong Pagar Community Club, Mr Chan Chun Sing, an MP in the Tanjong Pagar GRC, where Mr Lee served for 60 years, said that building on the solid foundation that Mr Lee laid would be a good way to honour him.

Fighting back tears, Mr Chan, who is Minister for Social and Family Development, said the last time he cried was some years ago, in 2013, at a National Day dinner, which Mr Lee attended despite falling ill.

"He was very frail. But not only did he keep his promise to turn up, he delivered a speech - not just from where he was seated, but up on the stage... (where he) ran up the stairs, stood there unaided and delivered a speech. And not just in English, but also in Chinese."

Fellow Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Indranee Rajah recounted how she made matching batik shirts for Tanjong Pagar GRC MPs to wear on Tree Planting Day in 2004.

But Mr Lee had forgotten and arrived in a white shirt. Upon seeing his fellow MPs all dressed in the pre-arranged attire, he immediately sent a security officer on motorcycle to fetch his shirt from his home.

She said she was touched by his move to not disappoint a young MP. She had been elected in 2001.

After eulogies, including from People's Action Party Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru branch secretary Freddy Ang, those present observed a minute of silence. They also took turns to bow before his portrait and wrote condolence messages.

"I am very sad I could not see Mr Lee in person, so I've tried to make it up by paying my respects to him here every day," said long-time resident Wong Ah Mui, 79.

At Tampines Community Plaza, where about 9,000 residents gathered for a memorial, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat spoke of his personal dealings with Mr Lee.

He recounted his days as Mr Lee's principal private secretary from 1997 to 2000, and his interactions with him after becoming Education Minister in 2011.

Mr Heng said that a few months ago, he showed Mr Lee the ministry's work on bilingualism, and Mr Lee asked many questions about the materials and whether they were effective for students and teachers.

"At the end of it, I was about to take the materials back, and he said 'Leave it there. I will read it again.'"

Mr Heng, who could not hold back tears when he spoke, said Mr Lee's death was "especially painful" for him as the chairman of the SG50 Steering Committee.

"I wanted Mr Lee to see for himself how we are able to come together after all his hard work," he said.

"I think many Singaporeans wanted to see Mr Lee at the National Day Parade this year."

At Hong Lim Park, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew said that Mr Lee's illness and death had "drawn us together in a way that nobody, alive or dead, can ever do".

He lauded the patience, graciousness and care that Singaporeans had shown to one another over the past few days as they stood in line for hours to pay their final respects to Mr Lee, whose body has been lying in state at Parliament House since Wednesday.

"I hope that what we have seen in these past days will continue to linger, will continue to deepen, because that is the best way to honour Mr Lee," he said.

Whampoa MP Heng Chee How sang verses from the Mandarin love duet Xuan Ze, which means "choice", as he had earlier spoken about how Mr Lee chose a life in politics to serve Singapore and never gave up despite setbacks such as the separation from Malaysia.

At the end of the event, many of the 1,000 who were present went on stage to lay flowers at Mr Lee's portrait while a lone bagpiper played Auld Lang Syne.

Not all the tributes yesterday were at grassroots events.

Some 1,500 members of the business community paid tribute to Mr Lee at a memorial event at the Raffles City Convention Centre, which was attended by Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang and leaders of different chambers of commerce.

Mr Lim reminded the audience that Mr Lee often said that no one owed Singapore a living, and that he was confident the Republic would survive "on our resourcefulness and hard work of our people".

Mr Lee also had faith in smaller groups such as the Malay business community, noted Mr Zahidi Abdul Rahman, president of the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"As an example, Mr Lee said we are the chilli padi of the business world - small but super spicy," Mr Zahidi said.

Additional reporting by Rachel Au Yong, Amelia Teng and Rachael Boon

Indian community lauds racial tolerance
By Lim Yan Liang, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

Indian Singaporeans gathered to pay tribute to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew yesterday, highlighting his steadfast belief in meritocracy and multiculturalism.

Six community leaders spoke at the event organised by self-help group Sinda and held at the P. Govindasamy Pillai Hall in Serangoon.

Ambassador-at-large Gopinath Pillai, who lived in Malaysia in the 1960s, recalled the 1969 race riots in Kuala Lumpur that proved to be "one of the most traumatic events" of his life.

It was a turning point that saw him return to Singapore, a place where his family would be judged on merit, not race.

"Mr Lee was not oblivious to the racial differences of the people of Singapore. He understood them. All he wanted was the different races to keep their culture, build on their culture, but develop a strong sense of tolerance for other cultures," he said.

Sinda life trustee Sat Pal Khattar recalled a lunch where Mr Lee expressed doubts as to whether India would succeed.

"Fifteen years later, he was not afraid to say he was wrong about India," he said. "This is the firmament of Mr Lee Kuan Yew."

Sikh community leader Charanjit Singh thanked Mr Lee for his unflinching belief in equality, which translated into policies that ensured that even the Sikhs - a "minority within a minority" - would feel every bit a part of Singapore.

"As a result of this, the Sikhs have always felt at home in Singapore," said the president of the Singapore Khalsa Association.

About 650 people from 150 In-dian organisations attended the event. Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S. Iswaran, as well as current and former MPs, were also present.

'Carry on forging racial harmony'
Religious groups offer prayers and foreign workers pay respects at various locations
By Amelia Tan, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

Singapore's special brand of religious and racial harmony owes much to the vision of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

And Singaporeans must now ensure that even greater understanding is forged through education and continuing dialogue between the different groups.

This was the call from religious leaders who attended yesterday's memorial service organised by the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO).

IRO president Gurmit Singh said Mr Lee had long encouraged religious groups to interact with one another, since Singapore became independent in 1965.

"By constantly communicating and working together, the different groups have developed close ties. We must continue to educate the young and build on these ties," he said.

At the service at the IRO's Palmer Road office, Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad said Mr Lee's emphasis on treating Singaporeans fairly regardless of race and religion was key to nation-building.

The service was attended by about 300 members of the public and representatives of the 10 major religions. They observed a minute of silence and penned tributes in a book - just one of a host of events for Singapore's founding father.

Separately, some 30 Bangladeshi workers chose to show their respect by reciting poems and singing songs in his memory yesterday evening. They gathered in a Little India shophouse which serves as the office of the Bangladeshi newspaper, Banglar Kantha, which organised the hour-long service.

Banglar Kantha editor A.K.M Mohsin, 52, said many Bangladeshis have a deep respect for Mr Lee. He developed Singapore, which in turn provided them with jobs.

Shipyard worker Rajib Shil Jibon, 29, penned his own poem simply called Lee Kuan Yew.

"I was filled with so much emotion as I thought of him. He has made Singapore successful and helped foreign workers get good jobs and improved our lives. I will be thankful forever," he said.

At the Tuas View Dormitory for foreign workers, a tribute corner was set up in Mr Lee's memory. Around 3,000 foreign workers visited the site, signed a condolence book and observed a few moments of silence as a mark of respect.

At another event, leaders and members of Sikh institutions visited the Ang Mo Kio community tribute site and were received by Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh. The group, who was accompanied by a priest, offered a prayer.

Prayers were also said at Sikh temples across Singapore in Mr Lee's honour and Central Sikh Gurdwara Board president Gurcharan Singh offered a eulogy at the Central Sikh Temple. A video of Mr Lee's visits to Sikh institutions over the years was also screened.

Yesterday, 5,000 students, teachers, parents and alumni from the Methodist Schools' Foundation dedicated a 4km walk to Mr Lee. The biennial event is part of a fund-raising drive for the 16 schools under the foundation. Organisers decided to use the walk to pay tribute to Mr Lee's memory.

"My parents tell me Mr Lee was an influential leader and a good role model. He believed a lot in education. It is thanks to him that I have such good teachers," said Fairfield Methodist School (Secondary) student Joshua Ho, 13.

This morning, the Singapore Jain Religious Society will hold a prayer meeting in memory of Mr Lee on its Jalan Yasin premises.

Retired Gurkhas honour Mr Lee
By Chong Zi Liang, The Sunday Times, 29 Mar 2015

About 150 retired Gurkhas and their family members paid homage to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew in Kathmandu on Friday at a ceremony where they garlanded a portrait of Singapore's founding Prime Minister and observed a minute's silence in honour of him.

The ceremony was organised by the Singapore Gurkha Pensioners' Association, which noted Mr Lee's contributions to Singapore in a statement: "All of us - as members of the Gurkha Contingent serving in Singapore, as wives who in daily life exchanged chit-chat with Singaporeans and as school children who learnt of Lee Kuan Yew in school - know Lee Kuan Yew as the man who made Singapore the country it is today."

The Gurkhas are an elite force plucked from the foothills of Nepal to serve in foreign militaries. In Singapore, they belong to the police force's Gurkha Contingent, which was formed in 1949.

"Lee Kuan Yew's hard work was enjoyed not just by Singaporeans, but also by all of us who have lived in Singapore. He was like a father to us all," the statement added.

The Gurkhas also gave their condolences to Mr Lee's three children and "to the nation of Singapore".

The association's chairman Bhogendra Gurung, who retired as an inspector in 2005, said he would salute Mr Lee when he left or returned home by car. Having spent many years standing guard at the Oxley Road residence, Mr Gurung observed: "The light in his study room was always on until 2am or even 3am. He was a very hard-working man who worked late into the night for Singapore."

No to flag displays on home fronts, okay to carry it at procession
By Kash Cheong, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

IT IS no go for a call to allow Singaporeans to display the national flag in front of their homes tomorrow, when the state funeral of Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is held.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, has turned down the suggestion from a group of East Coast GRC grassroots volunteers, following public feedback that the move may not set "the right tone" for the day of the state funeral.

But members of the public can carry the flag along the procession route, said Mr Wong, noting that this was allowed under current rules.

Displays of the Singapore flag in front of homes are allowed only during the National Day period, from July 1 to Sept 30, according to guidelines in the Singapore statutes and the National Heritage Board's website. At other times, the national flag must be flown from a flagpole and illuminated at night. The Straits Times understands that the guidelines are to protect the integrity of the flag, a national symbol, and make sure it is cared for.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Wong commended the spirit of the grassroots volunteers who had suggested displaying flags in front of homes tomorrow to express national unity and confidence in Singapore's future. "I think it's very good to have such ground-up initiatives and I strongly encourage this spirit of expression to pay tribute to Mr Lee," he said. "At the same time, I've received feedback from several members of the public that having flags displayed all over our HDB blocks may not be the right tone for the day of the state funeral."

Academic Yusuf Ali, 36, one of the grassroots leaders who mooted the initiative, was disappointed, but "respected the decision".

"The funeral procession will not pass by many places like East Coast or the north. It would have been nice to express confidence in the future by flying the flag all over Singapore and everybody gets involved," he said. "At the same time, there are those who think that this might be inappropriate and that view needs to be considered too."

IT services manager Calin Tan, 34, thought the long lines at Parliament House already said it all.

"Expressing grief and unity is important. But look at the queues for Parliament House, that is the ultimate expression of our appreciation for Mr Lee," said Ms Tan, who will be standing along the procession route tomorrow.

As for wearing black or white tomorrow, a matter of some discussion online, Mr Wong said: "We all express our emotions in different ways. And we all want to say our final farewells to a great man in our own ways. So I encourage Singaporeans to be inclusive and embrace these different actions. Amid our diversity, let us all come together as one to honour Mr Lee's spirit and legacy."

A growing tribute fit for a visionary
By Calvin Yang, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

MR LEE Kuan Yew was scheduled to plant a young tree at Gardens by the Bay earlier this year. But the former Prime Minister, who was hospitalised for severe pneumonia on Feb 5, was unable to do so.

Yesterday, as a tribute to the visionary behind Singapore's transformation into a Garden City, around 100 staff members of the Gardens took part in a ceremony to plant a 13m-tall young tree.

Dr Tan Wee Kiat, chief executive officer of the attraction, said: "Mr Lee spearheaded the Garden City movement and he did it by planting the first tree.

"He was supposed to plant this tree here, and so, we felt it was appropriate to finish this proposed act."

A plaque acknowledging Mr Lee as the father of Singapore's Garden City was also unveiled at yesterday's ceremony.

Mr Lee began planting trees 52 years ago as part of his efforts to keep Singapore green, and every year since then, he never failed in carrying out the annual tradition.

The Sepetir daun tebal, a timber tree of a species native to primary forests here, was planted at the Golden Garden, near the main entrance to the attraction.

This species is known to have grown to more than 76m, the equivalent of 25 storeys. This is higher than Gardens by the Bay's tallest man-made supertree, which stands at 50m.

The attraction also has a rain tree planted by Mr Lee at the former Marina City Park in 1986. It was kept even with the development of the Gardens.

Mr Ng Boon Gee, director of Gardens operations, said a team spent three days preparing for yesterday's tree planting.

They brought the tree from a nursery to the site, prepared the ground and also produced the plaque.

Mr Ng said: "Mr Lee has contributed so much to Singapore. We wanted to do something to remember him by."

Banker remembers 'helpful, open-minded' man
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

IN THE early 2000s, a push by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew to consolidate Singapore's banking sector put the former Overseas Union Bank (OUB) in a tough position, said Mr Peter Seah, who was the bank's president at the time.

Mr Lee had wanted the banks to merge and grow larger so they could compete better globally.

Although it had been the fastest-growing local bank in the 1990s, OUB was still the smallest and thus a "potential victim" to be acquired by its larger competitors, recalled Mr Seah yesterday.

"I had my own views then: OUB was a bank worth preserving, so I actually reached out to (Mr Lee)," said Mr Seah. "I wrote him a letter, never expecting any response. But he called me up, and grilled me over my thoughts, over my arguments."

Mr Lee also gave him some advice - do something or the bank would be taken over - said Mr Seah, speaking to reporters at Parliament House yesterday after paying his last respects to Mr Lee.

"I always remembered him as somebody who I least expected (to do so) but who reached out, was helpful, was understanding, was open-minded and was warm," said Mr Seah.

While OUB was eventually acquired by UOB, Mr Lee's prediction proved prescient: The consolidation of the banking scene left those standing in better shape to compete with their foreign peers.

"Today we have three of the world's strongest and safest banks, (which are among) the largest banks in Asia, able to withstand - no, compete - with all the global banks," said Mr Seah, who is now chairman of DBS Bank.

"DBS, for example, is in the top 50 banks in the world in terms of market capitalisation. Coming from a small island, I think that's a great achievement." 

Besides Mr Seah, other visitors who paid their respects to Mr Lee yesterday included Nepal's Honorary Deputy Prime Minister Prakash Man Singh, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

MNCs laud business-friendly policies
Corporate leaders voice confidence and commitment to Singapore
By Mok Fei Fei, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

A VISIONARY leader, an exemplary statesman and a strategic thinker.

Tributes for Mr Lee Kuan Yew continued to pour in as head honchos of multinational corporations (MNCs) sent their condolences. Many lauded him for transforming Singapore into a prosperous metropolis, with a far-sighted plan to modernise the country through urban industrialisation.

"Singapore's founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee, was a visionary leader whose life's work laid the foundation of what Singapore is today; a thriving global city with people who are talented, hardworking and diligent," said Rolls- Royce chief executive officer John Rishton.

Mr Lee made the decision to open up Singapore's economy to foreign companies in the 1960s, at a time in the post-colonial era when there was widespread suspicion over the exploitation of local resources.

Such fears were not well founded as large-scale capital investments by MNCs contributed to providing employment to citizens, while the companies themselves also achieved success.

Companies were willing to sink their money into Singapore, in large part because of the pro-business policies put in place by Mr Lee and his team, noted the executives.

Procter & Gamble chief A. G. Lafley highlighted Mr Lee's emphasis on building long-term partnerships with corporations.

"He made Singapore into a global economic power, and a great place for international companies to invest and conduct business."

IBM chief executive Ginni Rometty also spoke of the business-friendly policies Mr Lee institutionalised, such as having an open market, ensuring free trade and putting in place a clean and efficient government.

"Mr Lee passed this legacy to his successors, which is why Singapore continues to flourish as it approaches the 50th anniversary of its independence."

Firms took the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to the Republic and express their confidence in its economy.

Mr Anshu Jain, co-chief executive officer of German banking giant Deutsche Bank, attended the wake yesterday.

He said: "Mr Lee was a visionary global leader who, through his inspiring lifelong commitment to the economic development of Singapore and the welfare of its citizens, leaves behind a towering achievement - that of a dynamic and prosperous country with an assured future."

MasterCard chief executive Ajay Banga also weighed in, saying: "MasterCard believes that the infrastructure and business climate in Singapore are very business friendly and, going forward, is committed to continue to invest significantly in Singapore as a country and as a regional hub."

The outpouring of tributes by global corporate leaders underscores the impact Mr Lee had on the business community and the level of respect they had for him, said Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Beh Swan Gin. Recounting the meetings that Mr Lee held with top business leaders, Dr Beh observed that many wanted to tap Mr Lee's views on financial and geopolitical matters.

"All these CEOs, each time they were sitting there - either as a note-taker or in those roundtables - they were all like schoolboys, they all listened with rapt attention," said Dr Beh.

Aside from being a highly regarded statesman, he said, Mr Lee was also a remarkable salesman in pushing the corporate interests of the nation.

"For many EDB officers, we would remember Mr Lee as a passionate supporter of the work that we do. He helped us market Singapore," he said.

"In fact, I would say that the opportunity of CEOs to meet him often made the difference in their decision-making about whether or not to make an investment in Singapore."

A lasting legacy that Mr Lee left to EDB, noted Dr Beh, was his pragmatism in dealing with various issues.

Even as the EDB paints a bold economic vision for the nation, it stands ready to fine-tune its strategies if the operating environment changes - an approach that reflects Mr Lee's own outlook.

"This mix of clarity and purposefulness of what we are doing for the long term, with this ability to be nimble and to adapt to changing circumstances, I think this combination is actually a very powerful one.

"I believe that this does reflect Mr Lee himself and this certainly has made a difference to our ability to operate as an economic development agency."

Sembawang Shipyard staff recall CNY visits
The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

WHEN Sembawang Shipyard was publishing its first book in 1998, Mr Lee Kuan Yew wrote in its foreword thus: "The history of Sembawang Shipyard, like the history of Singapore, shows how a determined people were able to overcome the odds because management and workers were prepared to meet new challenges in an intelligent manner." When the book was to be launched in December that same year, Mr Lee attended even though he had his heart stent operation just a few days earlier.

These and several other anecdotes were shared by top officials of Sembcorp Marine yesterday as the company held a tribute for Mr Lee.

"For Sembawang Shipyard, we had the double privilege of Mr Lee visiting us not once or twice but on every second day of Chinese New Year for many years," said Ms Wong Lee-Lin, executive director of Sembcorp Marine's subsidiary Sembawang Shipyard.

"He would visit unannounced - just driving through the shipyard. Why he did that every year is not known to us but perhaps he just wanted to remember the roots of his political career when he was the legal adviser of the Naval Base Labour Union."

The tribute ceremony, attended by 400 people, was witnessed by Sembcorp Marine chairman Mohd Hassan Marican and president & CEO Wong Weng Sun.

Overseas S'poreans to mark funeral
By Ravi Velloor, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

THOUSANDS of overseas Singaporeans are preparing to mentally walk the last journey with Mr Lee Kuan Yew tomorrow at community gatherings where they can watch the telecast live.

In overseas communities big and small, Singaporeans were still coming to grips with Mr Lee's passing, even though he had been severely ailing for nearly two months.

In the United Kingdom, which hosts one of the largest expatriate Singapore communities, today was long ago dedicated to the launch of the SG50 celebrations in Britain, with the staging of a charity marathon run through London's Hyde Park.

The run, which has raised $25,000 of sponsorship for the Community Chest, is going ahead, but will be preceded by a commemoration ceremony for Mr Lee at the High Commission.

Waiting times earlier this week for signing the condolence book were up to an hour, said Singapore High Commissioner Foo Chi Hsia.

In cities with smaller Singaporean populations, people looked to one another's company for comfort. "Talking about it makes us cry. We are all quite surprised by how much it has affected us," said Ms Chua Pei Chi, president of the informal Singapore Club Seoul, which is supported by the Singapore Embassy there.

About 60 to 70 Singaporeans will gather tomorrow from 1pm at Somerset Place Seoul serviced apartments to watch the telecast.

In Australia, which like the UK also hosts a substantial Singaporean community, Singaporeans have been flocking to the High Commission and government offices to sign condolence books and have organised weekend memorial services across the country.

"We thank the many Singaporeans and friends of Singapore who came to sign the Condolence Book in Canberra," the High Commission in Canberra said yesterday. "Some were as young as seven years old. Some had driven more than three hours to get to Canberra. Others flew in from Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth."

In Melbourne, four Singapore associations are coming together tomorrow, led by Melbourne SG Kampong. Organisers expect 500 people to attend.

Likewise, 550 Singaporeans visiting and living in Thailand showed up at the embassy this week to pen their condolences, including members of the Singapore-Thai Chamber of Commerce and students from the Singapore International School of Bangkok and Anglo Singapore International School. Many Singaporeans could not hold back their tears.

Some had travelled from provinces such as Chiang Mai, in some cases taking a nine-hour coach ride each way, to sign the condolence book.

Others said they intended to return to Singapore to pay their last respects to Mr Lee.

In China, at least two associations are making plans to mark the funeral day. The Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China will hold its event at the Shangri-La China World Summit Wing in Beijing while the Shanghai-Singapore Business Association's event will be at the Pudong Shangri-La Hotel. Both are expected to draw hundreds of people each, including Singapore diplomats.

In Kuala Lumpur, there will be a live screening of the funeral procession at the Singapore High Commission. The screening will begin at noon and is open to the public. Those who want to sign the condolence book can do so today and tomorrow from 9am to 6pm.

Additional reporting by Jonathan Eyal, Chang May Choon, Jonathan Pearlman, Tan Hui Yee, Kor Kian Beng and Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

A soft spot for Britain, but never a 'colonial nostalgic'
By Jonathan Eyal, Europe Correspondent In London, The Straits Times, 28 Mar 2015

IT IS by now largely forgotten that the first electorate Lee Kuan Yew ever had to face and the first votes he ever canvassed were not, as one may expect, in Singapore but in Britain.

Soon after graduation from Cambridge, Mr Lee and his wife volunteered to help a university friend who was then standing as parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party in Totnes, a charming, rural part of western England. The fight was hopeless: The constituency had been a bastion of the Conservatives for at least one century, and remains so to this day.

Still, the young Mr Lee plunged into the electoral campaign with gusto and, although "voters were intrigued to see a Chinese speaking" - as Mr Lee subsequently recorded in his memoirs - they listened to him intently. Mr Lee and his parliamentary candidate friend were duly defeated, but the British sense of fair play and Britain's openness to foreigners were qualities which Mr Lee always praised about the British.

That first parliamentary battle also showcased his other side: a willingness - some would say even an irresistible desire - to criticise the British whenever he thought they were erring.

Mr Lee always regarded such criticism as just friendly advice to a close friend, and he shrugged off warnings that many British politicians did not relish the experience. Yet few of his British critics - of which there were many - were ever aware of how deeply personal and how enduring his links with Britain really were.

It was British education which fashioned his adult life, a conscious choice he made despite the availability of many other options, and one repeated by both his sons.

It was in Britain that he tied the knot with his lifelong partner, Madam Kwa Geok Choo; their decision to marry at the registry office in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace, was a tacit acknowledgment of their love for British literature.

Throughout their adult lives, they came back to Britain to relax, and to be photographed in the same spot, on the same bridge in Cambridge, recalling that black- and-white picture taken in the first, carefree year of their married life.

Notwithstanding all these extraordinary links, Mr Lee was never a "colonial nostalgic", if only because, as veteran commentator Philip Bowring noted, "he saw enough of British failures not to want to ape them".

He admired Britain's National Health Service, the prototype of a state-funded welfare system co-pied by most other industrial nations, and recounted his surprise when, during his Cambridge days, he was given a pair of spectacles and dental treatment for free. But he also swiftly concluded the system was unaffordable, and that it discouraged economic enterprise.

Yet one of the most important lessons which he drew from the British - and one which, sadly, is seldom recalled today - is that independence neither required a complete break with the old colonial power, nor was it an automatic ticket to prosperity.

"The choice lies between a communist republic of Malaya and a Malaya within the British Commonwealth led by people who, despite their opposition to imperialism, still share certain ideals in common with the Commonwealth," he told a group of fellow student members of the Malayan Forum in London in 1950.

The overwhelming majority of the British politicians who coincided with Mr Lee's tenure in power are now gone: Out of the 10 prime ministers who governed Britain since Mr Lee was first swept into office in 1959, only four are alive today, and all took power after he stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990.

Yet one relationship stands out as unique: that between Lady Margaret Thatcher and Mr Lee.

"Prime Minister, an hour's talk with you is itself worth a journey halfway round the world and farther still," she said at an Istana banquet held in her honour in April 1985. "There is no other world leader I have met in my time in office whom I have admired more for the strength of his convictions, the clarity of his views, the directness of his speech and for his vision of the way ahead."

Both leaders fervently believed in the creativity of market economies, and both knew good governance cannot be accomplished by doing only what is popular.

After she resigned as prime minister, Mr Lee was one of the first foreign leaders to pay her tribute. "I admired and respected her combativeness. There's a certain willingness to rough it out with the toughest around the place and to take on all corners," he said.

And, again, fate added a strange twist. For different reasons and circumstances, both stepped down from office on exactly the same day - Nov 28, 1990. He was the world's longest-serving Prime Minister; she was Britain's longest-serving premier of the 20th century. They remained close friends for life.

Britain honoured Mr Lee in every official way. Queen Elizabeth II undertook no fewer than three state visits to Singapore: in 1972, 1989 and 2006, a rare honour bestowed on only a few other countries.

But it is also true that, as the decades since independence went by, fewer and fewer of Britain's politicians knew of their links with Singapore, or of the enormous contributions Mr Lee personally made to nurturing them.

British knowledge of Singapore remains poor. As British newspapers marked Mr Lee's departure, they recycled all the usual cliches about Singapore, such as the "banning" of chewing gum or the allegedly draconian fines.

But in all the obituaries published on Mr Lee, only one mentioned Britain's decision to break a promise and pull back its forces from Singapore, exposing the island-state to economic and security problems. For the Brits, this "East of Suez" withdrawal is history best forgotten; to Mr Lee, this rankled for long.

Still, as Singapore's founding father embarked on his last journey this week, all the ceremonials - the gun carriage, the music, the troops, the lone bagpiper playing Auld Lang Syne and the lying in state - were British-inspired. Mr Lee would have approved, for he believed that the best example of a secure nation is one which does not run away from its history.

Nor can one forget an episode back in the late 1960s when, during a garden party, Mr Lee started criticising the rotten state of modern Britain before the visiting British Foreign Secretary.

Mr George Brown listened with an amused grin and, when Mr Lee finished, he turned to him, saying: "Harry, you're the finest Englishman east of Suez." For one of the rare moments in his life, Mr Lee was stumped for words.

Vigil guards for Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Sixty vigil guards have been taking turns, working round the clock to guard founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's casket during the lying in state period at the Parliament House
By Leong Wai Kit, Channel NewsAsia, 28 Mar 2015

For hours, they stand still, guarding the casket of Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew as he lies in state at Parliament House.

The vigil guards, made up of uniformed officers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police, solemnly stand in formation - four on each corner of the casket, and one senior officer at the head of it facing inwards - is the nation's highest form of respect.

Every 30 minutes, the four guards near the casket will change shifts. There are 60 vigil guards in total. The vigil guards on duty keep their heads bowed and maintain no eye contact with anyone.

“I was standing outwards facing the public's legs, so I can actually see people, even the physically disabled, dragging their feet in, sometimes on crutches, sometimes in a wheelchair, and they really made this effort to really queue under the hot sun,” said Captain Damien Pek. “And when they came in, they were so emotional, some of them were sobbing."

"There were individuals who shouted 'Mr Lee Kuan Yew, founding father, rest in peace'. These are periods which really get us a bit emotional - not just me, but my other teammates," said Military Expert 6 Toh Tee Yang.

"But after a while, you start to realise that everyone is in it together, and even the public - a lot of them are coming in, a lot of them are very emotional, so it's quite comforting in a sense, to know that everybody is grieving together," added Captain Abu Bakar Alkatib.

While Mr Lee's body was still at Sri Temasek, the guards trained for two days, eight hours each day, to ensure they execute their duties to perfection.

“During the rehearsals, it's all about trying to simulate the scenario but when it came to our first duty when we mounted, the casket was actually there, reality actually hit all of us that, okay, this is actually happening. That was quite an emotional point for us,” said Captain Abu Bakar.

The vigil guards Channel NewsAsia spoke to expressed admiration for Singapore's founding father.

"One of his greatest policies is to really allow us - even the ones from poor families to have an opportunity to succeed in life so coming from a not so well-to-do family, I'm given sufficient opportunities to be in the civil service so that's one of things I'm grateful to him for," said Captain Pek. “I feel very comforted that I managed to be a part of this and I'm really honoured to be close by. I really feel very fulfilled at the end of the day that I'm able to do my little part.”

The Lee Kuan Yew I remember
Tributes to Lee Kuan Yew
Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

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