Thursday 26 March 2015

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's Final Trip to Parliament

Mr Lee leaves Istana for the last time
People line streets to watch as gun carriage takes casket to Parliament
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

OUTSIDE, thronging the roads, the public were waiting. But inside Sri Temasek on the grounds of the Istana, the family of Mr Lee Kuan Yew gathered after sunrise as the private wake for their patriarch drew to a close.

Just an hour later, the casket containing Mr Lee would leave the two-storey house for the journey to Parliament House and four days of lying in state.

But for now, in quiet moments away from the public eye, the extended families of Mr Lee and his late wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, paid their respects.

After them, Mr Lee's immediate family members stepped forward to say individual goodbyes, all dressed in white shirts and black trousers or long skirts.

The first was younger son Lee Hsien Yang, followed by his wife Lee Suet Fern, and their sons Shengwu, Huanwu and Shaowu.

Mr Lee's daughter Wei Ling, who had lived with her late parents in the family home in Oxley Road, went next.

Last of all came Mr Lee's elder son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his wife Ho Ching, and children Xiuqi, Yipeng, Hongyi and Haoyi.

Over Monday and Tuesday, they had received and hosted more than 5,200 visitors at the private wake held at the official residence of the Prime Minister in the Istana grounds. Mr Lee died early on Monday at the age of 91.

Too soon, 9am came - the hour when the gun carriage waiting in the driveway outside would carry Mr Lee away.

Inside, the Lee family watched solemnly as a team of white-jacketed pallbearers from the defence services and police draped the Singapore flag over the casket. As the officers - their headgear removed as a mark of respect - carried the casket onto the gun carriage, and the strains of Beethoven's Funeral March No. 1 filled the air, the family filed out of the hall and into the public eye.

Among the group of at least 20 people were grandsons Yipeng and Huanwu bearing a portrait of their grandfather, with Yipeng's left arm resting at times on his cousin's shoulder in solidarity.

The ceremonial procession on foot behind the carriage was led by PM Lee, the chief mourner.

Slowly, slowly, the family trailed the carriage to the beat of a military drum, as it descended the hill, for about 70m.

Mr Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Suet Fern walked hand-in-hand, their heads frequently bowed. Behind them, Mr Lee's grandchildren walked together, hands at their sides. Daughter Wei Ling was not in the procession as she was unwell.

Along the way, through the grounds of the Istana, they passed a military line of honour and representatives from Tanjong Pagar GRC, the constituency where the late Mr Lee was an MP, and the Teck Ghee ward in Ang Mo Kio GRC, where PM Lee is an MP.

The gun carriage then went past the main Istana building, where President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and staff paid their respects, while a bagpiper from the Singapore Gurkha Contingent played Auld Lang Syne.

As the first part of the ceremonial procession ended, still within the grounds of the Istana, the Lee family proceeded separately by vehicle to Parliament House, where Mr Lee's casket will lie in state until 8pm on Saturday.

They were there to receive the casket when it arrived just before 10am, bearing silent witness as it was transferred from the gun carriage to its bier. As the pallbearers removed the national flag from Mr Lee's casket and marched off, the family was ushered forward.

PM Lee stood front and centre, his wife beside him. The grandsons placed Mr Lee's portrait on a pedestal before the casket.

Then, as one, the Lee family bowed once in front of the head of their family before departing.

We brought my father’s body to Parliament House this morning. Was moved by the huge crowds who came. Thank you for queuing so many hours in the hot sun to say goodbye to Mr Lee. - LHL
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

They came simply to say 'Thank you, Mr Lee'
From all walks of life they came, Singaporeans sharing a common grief and message
By Rohit Brijnath And Rachel Au-yong, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

THIS street has never known such silence. This city of perpetual motion, but for a solemn breeze brushing the leaves, is strangely still. This area in Orchard Road, outside the Istana, usually filled with the sound of hissing buses and a thousand conversations is now a mute gathering. Even the phone, that Singapore accessory, does not dare to ring. Remembrance has its own appropriate hush.

Long before the gun carriage emerges from the Istana grounds at 9.37am, people are in anxious attendance. Businesswoman Angela Tan, 54, arrives in the darkness at 5.30am. "I didn't get to see him come to the Istana," she says. "So I must see him leave it for the last time or I will regret this all my life." Mr Fikri Omar, 63, has shrugged off tiredness after a night shift as a security guard to be here by 7.20am.

Under a blue sky speckled with clouds, mourning is in the air. Beneath a kind canopy of trees near the gate, where police officers gently marshal foot traffic, a solitary flag flutters behind a barricade. It is a small flag on a stick, the type you might wave at a sporting event or at a parade. Yet, in keeping with the moment, even this one held up by a man in the crowd deliberately flies at half-mast.

When first light comes, the crowd between the Istana and Plaza Singapura is a trickle, then a stream, then a river of a thousand people. Mr Lee Kuan Yew stood for all Singaporeans, now Singaporeans of all races and religions and types and dress come to stand for him. Three sweaty runners arrive, a doctor in scrubs appears, women in wheelchairs make their way through. A monk stops by as does part-time taxi driver Tajuddin Mohd Isa, 39, with his wife and young son in tow. A group sings a song in praise, women carry flowers and others just hold on to a contained grief.

On one side of the Istana gate, under small white tents, are tables to write condolence messages. On the ground, bouquets cover the earth, white lilies wrapped in plastic, yellow carnations in a bunch, all bringing colourful life to a sombre day. Aleusheya Singh, nine, is here to leave her own scribbled message. "I like his policy on bilingualism best because now everyone speaks two languages," she earnestly says. She is late for school but her father is a willing accomplice in this act: perhaps he appreciates this is a history lesson of its own.

A nation reserved in speech and reticent in expressing itself has made an exception these past few days for an exceptional man. Emotion has been expressed widely, but more through quiet gratitude than gushy sentimentality. On the numerous handwritten notes left here - for a man their writers may have never met but whose death they take personally - two words repeatedly stand out: "Thank you."

People want to write what they feel, they want to speak, as if words are their only form of respectful repayment. A city proud of its present and fixated on its future is pausing to remember this man from its past and it is an admiration that is conveyed through every medium.

Mr Robert Lai Tien Kean, 46 and shy, articulates it on a typed note which he hands to reporters, part of which reads: "He was mighty in thought, courageous in decisiveness and swift in action immediately taken."

A child's unbiased opinion is revealed through a drawing of a crayoned figure, below which is scrawled the words: "Mr Lee You Are a Superhero." But most people just mine their memories to talk freely of this man, a nation constructed and a self-esteem built.

Madam Rathika Ravindran, 45, remembers growing up in a kampung in the 1970s. "It used to have just a public toilet out in the open. It was very scary, very smelly. But in no time at all, Singapore has developed so much. I believe we can thank him for that."

Madam Toh Bok Hua, closing in on 70, describes her childhood during the time of Mr Lim Yew Hock, Singapore's second chief minister, when she helped her family sell kueh by the roadside.

"I used to sit on a milk crate - we were illegal hawkers and the policemen would come and we would run." Sometimes, she says, the kueh was kicked into the drain. "They weren't very compassionate then. But then Mr Lee Kuan Yew came along and things changed, and we got a stall to sell kueh."

Then suddenly it is time and the motorcycle engines of the outriders, waiting outside, start to hum. First a police car appears, then the stately gun carriage carrying the flag-draped coffin, and the hush cannot be held any more. For a brief while, grief breaks its chains as if silence is both inappropriate now and unbearable.

The eruption of noise is spontaneous and diverse. A few clap and then the applause rises. A chant of "MM Lee, we love you!" begins, because to some he is still Minister Mentor, and a few join in. From across the street comes the yell "Majulah Singapura!", from behind comes the cry "Grandfather of Singapore". One man says nothing at all: he only bows.

As the gun carriage travels from the shade of the Istana into the sun of the street, citizens offer a digital salute: arms raised with smartphones in hand, filming every second, photographing every movement. Yet through the clicking symphony of cameras can be heard the convulsive sounds of stifled sobs.

A tear trails down a woman's cheek and old men wipe their tear-stained spectacles. A photographer simply weeps and works. Only the soldiers in the following trucks, young men on duty, rigid in their seats, disguise any loss with stoicism. A once-silent street is now just a sad one.

Some have waited for hours but, in just over a minute, the funeral cortege has passed. It winds its dignified way to Parliament House where cries of "Lee Kuan Yew!" will rent the air. Here, outside the Istana, buses reclaim the street and noise returns to the morning. Their leader has gone and people begin to disperse. Many of them presumably returning to work. Just as Mr Lee would have liked it.

Huge crowds to bid Mr Lee farewell
Nearly 40,000 had paid respects by last night and more continued through the night
By Zakir Hussain, Deputy Political Editor, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

THOUSANDS braved the sun and waited patiently in line for over eight hours in queues that snaked 3km along various streets around Parliament in order to file past the nation's founding Prime Minister as he lies in state.

It was a scene never before seen in Singapore, and the overwhelming response prompted government officials to extend visiting times not once, but twice, just hours after the casket bearing Mr Lee Kuan Yew's body arrived at Parliament House.

Instead of getting to pay their respects for 10 hours a day, till Saturday evening, visitors will now be allowed to do so round the clock till Saturday evening.

Also, starting 7am today, the queue to enter Parliament will start at the Padang.

Mr Lee, who was Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990, died on Monday, aged 91.

By the time the first ordinary visitors were allowed into Parliament shortly after 10am, several thousand people had formed queues behind them, across and along the Singapore River and outside the Supreme Court.

They waited for hours in the sweltering sun, and as their numbers grew, the state funeral organising committee extended visiting hours till midnight.

Inside Parliament House, ushers asked visitors to file past the casket rather than form up groups before bowing, to try to speed up the flow.

Members of the public were also advised not to join the queue then. But the notice made little difference as the lines kept growing, and soon after, visiting times were again extended, this time to round the clock, until 8pm on Saturday.

One line extended for some 3km along the banks of the Singapore River and nearby streets by mid-afternoon, with an estimated waiting time of eight hours.

Few left the queue, and operators of coffee shops and cafes along the line pitched in voluntarily to distribute bottled water to those in line.

Last night, the queues to enter Parliament remained long, but the waiting time had gone down to three hours at midnight.

Over 37,000 visitors had paid their last respects by 10pm.

Public transport operators SMRT and SBS Transit extended train services and 41 feeder bus services past normal hours to operate round the clock last night, with many more expected to pay their respects overnight.

The Land Transport Authority will also work with them to monitor demand and see whether to extend operating hours for the next two nights.

Once inside Parliament House, many visitors teared up readily as they paid their last respects to a man they had hardly or never met, but who they said they were forever grateful to for the standard of living and opportunities they enjoy today.

Among those who arrived early was business owner Lorraine Low Diaz, 37, who came with her mother and six-year-old son at 8.30am and waited four hours to pay her respects to Mr Lee.

"I really appreciated the bilingual education I got here only when I travelled overseas," she said. "Four hours of waiting in the queue is nothing in exchange for Mr Lee's years of toil on our behalf. I'd camp here for a week if that's what it took to pay my last respects to him."

Mr Mohammed Fareed, 38, director of training company PowerEdge, came with six of his staff members with a banner that read: "Without your leadership and policies, SMEs like us would not have existed and we are reminded that the harmony and prosperity that we have, had been engineered by your passion to build a better Singapore."

Many also began queueing up after lunch, among them former healthcare support officer Nalaayini Thambiah, 65, who was asked to join a shorter queue for the elderly. She said of Mr Lee: "He made sure everyone had a home and that we were multiracial. As a minority, I never felt disadvantaged. I watch the news about conflicts overseas and I am relieved I was born here."

Bosses gave employees the day off or organised trips to pay tribute, shop owners closed their shutters for the day so they could visit, and a number of Malaysians even drove down from Kuala Lumpur to file past a man many said they did not know personally, but who they admired and respected for leading Singapore "from Third World to First".

The first to pay their respects had begun waiting outside Parliament House in the wee hours of the morning. Mr Edward Ho, 39, area manager of a healthcare company, in fact came by at 11pm with his cousin, but officials were still setting up barricades, so they walked around and returned at 3am to start queueing.

He had a 1pm flight to Cambodia for a business trip, and wanted to pay his last respects, he said.

By the time the sun rose, several thousand workers, students and others had also lined Orchard Road, Bras Basah Road and North Bridge Road to catch a glimpse of the funeral procession bearing Mr Lee's casket from the Istana to Parliament House.

Shortly after 9am, a ceremonial gun carriage carried the casket in a brief foot procession from Sri Temasek, the official residence of the prime minister, led by PM Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching, and family members.

The procession then drove past the Istana building where President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong paid their respects and a bagpiper from the Singapore Gurkha Contingent played Auld Lang Syne.

The gun carriage then travelled past the streets to Parliament, where many shouted "Lee Kuan Yew" and "thank you" as it entered the Parliament driveway.

There, the Chief of Defence, Commissioner of Police, and Speaker of Parliament, as well as PM Lee and family members, received the casket.

Key dignitaries who paid their respects yesterday included Asean secretary-general Le Luong Minh, who said Mr Lee's vision made Singapore a modern, vibrant country and saw him play an important role in the formation of the regional grouping in 1967.

Sultan Ibrahim of Johor and Sultan Muhammad of Kelantan also paid their respects.

In the afternoon, PM Lee also visited several of those waiting in line, to thank people for coming and waiting patiently.

"The mood was sorrowful but not downcast. We are in good spirits!" PM Lee said on Facebook.

Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing also visited well-wishers, and said in a Facebook post he was touched to see the entire nation united in this moment, and coming together to help others in line.

Today, Parliament will hold a special sitting at 4pm where MPs will pay tribute to Mr Lee's contributions to Singapore.

Visitors can continue to pay respects during the sitting, which is open only to invited guests.

As at 1100hrs on 27 Mar 15, the estimated waiting time is 8 hours.Members of the public are strongly advised not to...
Posted by Remembering Lee Kuan Yew on Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Silent farewell, broken by sobs
Members of the public queue for hours to pay their last respects
By Tham Yuen-C, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

PEOPLE queued for as long as five hours yesterday morning to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House.

But inside the hall where his casket lay, they had just minutes to say their goodbyes.

An unexpected surge close to lunchtime meant that organisers had to keep a tighter rein on time.

This later prompted a change in the hours people could go to Parliament to pay their respects. They can now do so any time, day or night, until Saturday, when the gates will close at 8pm.

Yesterday's early birds, some of whom started queueing before daybreak, entered the hall in groups to pay homage to Singapore's first Prime Minister, who died on Monday at age 91.

Ordinary Singaporeans, contingents of schoolchildren and representatives of ministries, self-help organisations and uniformed groups were able to stand about 4m from the casket and bow. Although they could not see Mr Lee's body, many were overcome with emotion and tears rolled down their cheeks.

The older folk were particularly overwhelmed, as quiet sobbing filled the hall.

Some dignitaries had more time and could walk right up to the casket.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife, Ms Ho Ching, emerged from an adjacent room on occasion to receive some of the guests and later even went outside to greet those who were waiting in the queue.

As the crowd built up outside, those in the line who entered the hall from around 1.30pm were asked to pick up the pace when they filed past the casket.

By this time, the queues stretched around Clarke Quay and the surrounding areas, including Raffles Place and Fort Canning.

Among those in the queue were Malaysian Au Kean Hoe, 61, who flew in yesterday morning from Kuala Lumpur specially to pay his respects, and legal executive Vivi Erina, 31, who started queueing from UOB Building at about 10.30am and waited four hours. The firm she works at, Clifford Law, gave its staff time off to go to Parliament House.

Long, slow queue to history
It took hours, but for some it was important to be part of this occasion
By Rachel Chang Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

WE QUEUED - the old, the infirm, the famous, the nameless.

We lined up - the native, the foreigner, the glorious rich, the huddled poor.

The admirer, the critic, the silver-haired who remember when Singapore was just an idea, the later-born who know nothing but - we came.

On the first day that Mr Lee Kuan Yew's body lay in state at Parliament House, tens of thousands of people queued for up to eight hours under a blazing sky to see him.

At about 10am, I joined the line near Elgin Bridge in North Bridge Road, one among thousands streaming in from all parts of the country.

Some were carrying flowers, others umbrellas - and every single one of us had the same look of dismay and self-doubt on our faces when we discovered how long the line already was.

Fifteen minutes in, the gentleman next to me left.

Two hours in, policemen began putting barricades in place to separate the snaking queue. One of them informed us that it would be six more hours. At this, a middle- aged woman named Janet peeled off. She had to start her work shift at 5pm, she said.

The rest of us tried to stay strong. Mr Geoffrey Low, a 63- year-old retired policeman, valiantly insisted it would pass quickly: "We're almost at UOB Plaza."

We were fortified by cold water and orange punch that a kind- hearted shop owner in Canton Street left out for us.

My fellow queuers and I were a band of brothers. We shared umbrellas and tissue packets, and urged one another to use the toilet and get lunch while we held the places.

I fell in with the Ho family. Mr and Mrs Ho had taken the day off, and Xingda, a 20-year-old Singapore Polytechnic graduate, was there as "I'm quite free nowadays, just waiting for national service, so I came along".

I asked him what he knew of Mr Lee and he said the usual, phrases like "he built the country", repeated so often lately that they sounded almost rote.

Did he know about any of the more controversial things that Mr Lee did? I asked.

"He locked up some people for, like, 20 years, right? I know he was quite hard on the opposition."

Satisfied that our young people are alive to the complexities of his legacy, I told Xingda about some of Mr Lee's lieutenants, like Dr Goh Keng Swee and Mr S. Rajaratnam, who also built the nation.

Mr Lee always credited the importance of a good team, I said. He would not have wanted anyone to think he did it alone.

They are all gone now. With Mr Lee, the last leaf has fallen. In a way, we are orphans now.

I sensed Xingda losing interest when he said, pointing at a lavender-haired pint-sized woman up ahead: "Eh look, there's Xiaxue!" The local celebrity blogger was in line with about 50 friends.

The wait became easier when we reached UOB Plaza. The cool river breeze and wide open vista were a welcome change from being stared at by the office lunch crowds over their mee goreng.

But I began to lose heart around 2pm, about four hours in. "Why are we doing this? I'm so tired and I think I'm getting a sunburn," I complained to Geoffrey.

He gave me a pep talk that, to my surprise, had little to do with how much Mr Lee sacrificed for Singapore. "You'll never get a chance like this again," he told me. "This is history. It's like when Mao Zedong died.

"There won't be another like him. So we should be here."

It reminded me of that Shakespearean quote, when Cassius calls Julius Caesar a Colossus who "bestrides the narrow world".

"We petty men/Walk under his huge legs and peep about," goes the line.

Transformative leaders like Mr Lee come around once in a lifetime, maybe less. A life like his is out of the reach of us ordinary folk. But we can be a passing part of the great acts of an extraordinary journey. To be here, to bear witness at the final moment - this is important, somehow. Perhaps more important than anything else we will do in our lives.

I went to use the toilet at one of the office buildings while Geoffrey held my place in the line.

As the sliding doors whooshed open and air-conditioned air caressed my face like the hands of an angel, I remembered that Mr Lee once called air-conditioning the greatest invention in history.

It changed life in the tropics, he said, and he once inquired after the possibility of air-conditioned underwear.

Back at the queue, we passed by a bust of Deng Xiaoping outside the Asian Civilisations Museum. Deng admired Mr Lee and saw Singapore's success as one reason to embark on his epochal reform and opening up of China.

Mr Lee had called him the exception to the rule that great leaders are of tall stature. He always told it like it was, I thought to myself. Mr Lee drummed it into Singaporeans that we were small and vulnerable and yet he was never cowed or bullied by any larger nation. Stature is about more than literal size.

Once we crossed Cavenagh Bridge, the line moved briskly. Soon we were at the tentage.

Geoffrey let on that this was far from the longest he had ever queued for anything. He once lined up overnight for Bee Gees concert tickets.

After we passed through security screening, all the flowers that people had brought as final gifts for Mr Lee were rather unceremoniously taken by a young full- time national serviceman. We walked into the air-conditioned Parliament House and everyone tensed up. I don't know what I expected, but the moment happened almost as if by accident.

Later, Ilearnt that because of the unexpectedly massive crowd, the authorities changed the system to get people to pass through more quickly. We were supposed to have stood in a group and bowed. But instead, we started walking through the hall and before we knew it, we were passing by a flag-draped coffin, and then were past it and out the hall.

All the while, the guards told us to "please keep moving".

We exited the building and everyone looked a bit disoriented at how fast that happened, after the hours of build-up.

As we rounded the back, people were stopping in front of a tinted window. It was almost completely opaque, but if you looked closely, you could make out the lines of Mr Lee's coffin and the stars on the flag that covered it.

Without the opportunity to linger in front of his coffin, people resorted to bowing, weeping and saying their prayers for Mr Lee to that tinted window.

There was a loosening in my chest. It felt like I had done something important and necessary, even if all I did was stand in line for five hours. I said to Geoffrey: "Well, we were there." I was aiming for a note of sarcasm at the anti-climax of it all, but my voice came out a little strained.

He nodded in full understanding, replying: "That's all that matters."

Steady stream of mourners long into the night
More expected to visit Parliament House overnight
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

THE LONG queues that snaked along the Singapore River yesterday afternoon continued through the evening, with the after-work crowd adding to the lines waiting to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

At 10pm yesterday, the waiting time was estimated to be four hours, down from about eight hours at its peak. Lines had also formed along the Supreme Court, The Adelphi shopping mall and stretched all the way to the Padang. With bus and train services extended throughout the night, more people were expected to stream into Parliament overnight.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked those who came, in a Facebook post that drew 40,000 likes in three hours: "(I) was moved by the huge crowds who came. Thank you for queuing so many hours in the hot sun to say goodbye to Mr Lee."

Among those who came to say their final farewells were members of the ruling party's Old Guard, who formed a group that kept vigil for half an hour. Mr Ng Kah Ting, 75, who was MP for Punggol from 1963 to 1991, said: "My mind was going through all the years that I had shared with him, sometimes in his office in the Istana or in City Hall in the earlier days."

Former politician and diplomat Lee Khoon Choy, 91, said: "Mr Lee was a very special person. He had courage, he was resolute in his actions, and he was very frank."

Foreign visitors also paid tribute to Mr Lee. The choir of St John's College in Cambridge University, in town for a show, performed a rendition of the National Day song, Home, which PM Lee called "beautiful".

"My parents studied in Cambridge. They were not in St John's, but they had friends there, and one of their favourite places was the Bridge of Sighs, which is in St John's College.

"They took a picture together at the bridge when they were students, and went back over the years to visit," he said.

About 70 foreign dignitaries attended the first day of the public wake yesterday. They included the Sultan of Johor and the Sultan of Kelantan, as well as Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh.

Said Mr Minh: "He has left us a lasting legacy and for that, the people of the Asean community will forever remember him."

Continue to work hard for a better tomorrow: PM Lee
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

FORMER Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew had taken Singapore from Third World to First, but the work is not done yet, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said last night at a ceremony to pay tribute to the late leader.

While Singapore has surmounted many challenges and should rightly celebrate its golden jubilee this year, Singaporeans need to keep on working hard to honour the memory of Mr Lee, said the Prime Minister.

"We are sad, we are sorrowful, our founding father has left us.

"But he has prepared us for this day, because he knew that to build well, Singapore must stand long after he's gone. And he has been preparing for that for many, many years."

PM Lee was speaking in both English and Mandarin to 2,500 residents and grassroots leaders of Ang Mo Kio GRC, for which he is an MP, and Sengkang West.

In urging people to work hard for a better tomorrow, he quoted Sun Yat-Sen, father of modern China, who said: "The revolution has not yet succeeded, comrades, let us give our best efforts."

Similarly, as Singapore celebrates its golden jubilee this year, he asked in Mandarin: "But are we a success? Not yet. Is there still much to be done? Of course."

He added: "We still need to work hard so tomorrow will be better, and our children will have a brighter future. If we work hard together, I think this little red dot can become a brilliant, bright little red dot."

PM Lee thanked Singaporeans for their love and support for his father: "Speaking as his son, speaking on behalf of his family, to you and to all the many others who have expressed their sentiments, their sorrow, their love over the last few days, I say, thank you."

Find the Community Tribute Sites closest to you here. For their comfort and safety, the public is encouraged to visit...
Posted by Remembering Lee Kuan Yew on Thursday, March 26, 2015

Thousands continue to stream into tribute centres
One resident tells of how she had received help in applying for a flat
By Miranda Yeo, The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

WHEN Madam Ramairthan Muthukrishnan's house and provision shop in Kampong Eunos had to make way for new Housing Board flats some 40 years ago, she and her husband were caught in the lurch.

They had married in a traditional Indian wedding ceremony and did not get an official marriage certificate. This meant that they could not apply for a new flat.

Desperate, they sought help from former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew during a Meet-the-People Session.

"Mr Lee understood that it was embarrassing for us to apply with the Registry of Marriages because we were already married with children," the 73-year-old said.

"He told us not to worry and wrote a letter for us, so we could apply for a four-room flat in Hougang."

Mr Lee also helped the family get financial aid to tide them over the period.

"I feel like I have lost a father," she said, with tears in her eyes.

She was among the thousands who continued to stream into community tribute centres yesterday to pay their respects to Mr Lee, who died on Monday morning. He was 91.

Long queues formed at tribute sites such as those in Tanjong Pagar and Kovan, as residents waited in line to write condolence notes.

Madam Chen Xin Ying, 66, was one of those at Kovan Hub Tribute Centre. She fondly recalled her earliest meeting with Mr Lee in her family's kampung near Bukit Timah Hill.

She visited the tribute centre with her husband and her granddaughter, who had just finished school that afternoon.

"I was about 10 years old then, and he was visiting all the kampung to get to know the situation in each and every one of them," said Madam Chen.

"I remember that his way of speaking was very forceful and powerful."

She also remembered staying up late on the night of the 1955 elections to hear the results of the Tanjong Pagar seat that Mr Lee was contesting.

"My entire family leapt in excitement on hearing PAP had won the seat. It was just so important to us because it was Mr Lee Kuan Yew's victory," she said.

Over at Tanjong Pagar, there were residents like Ms Daisy Yew, 51, who works in a hotel.

She was not always a fan of Mr Lee's leadership.

"In the past, I thought he was a dictator; I couldn't understand what he was doing," she said, referring to Mr Lee's resorting to detentions without trial under the Internal Security Act.

But she said a year of overseas travel in her late 20s opened her eyes.

"You see that the facilities in other countries are built for the elite and not the masses; you also realise just how safe it is here," she said.

"And you know he made those tough decisions for the good of the people."

Mr Lee's last trip to Parliament today
Public can pay last respects while body is lying in state
By Zakir Hussain Deputy Political Editor, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

THE casket of Singapore's founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, will be moved from the Istana to Parliament House this morning for the start of four days of lying in state, with thousands expected to pay their respects to the former prime minister.

In the highest honour accorded to a leader, the State flag will be draped over the casket, with the crescent and stars lying over the head and close to the heart of Mr Lee, who died on Monday, aged 91. Eight officers will then transfer the casket onto a gun carriage.

A ceremonial foot procession will be led by Mr Lee's elder son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and his wife, Ms Ho Ching; daughter Lee Wei Ling; younger son Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, Ms Lim Suet Fern; and seven grandchildren, for about 70m.

The gun carriage procession will travel the 2km route from Orchard Road to Parliament House, passing through Bras Basah Road and North Bridge Road.

The Chief of Defence Force, Commissioner of Police, Speaker of Parliament, as well as PM Lee and the family will then receive the casket before it is transferred onto the bier for the lying in state.

Members of the public can pay their respects from 10am to 8pm from today to Saturday.

Queues will start at the promenade along the Singapore River, next to Parliament House.

Condolence cards will also be available for well-wishers to pen tributes, and those with flowers may lay them at condolence boards along the promenade.

Yesterday, some 4,000 visitors paid their respects at Sri Temasek, the official residence of the Prime Minister in the Istana grounds, where a private wake had been held since Monday.

PM Lee was also presented with a new orchid, named the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew, by NParks chief executive Kenneth Er and National Orchid Gardens nursery manager David Lim.

Outside the Istana gates in Orchard Road, more than 21,000 people turned up to leave flowers and cards, and pen messages in Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English on condolence cards that were then displayed on memorial boards.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam dropped by at around 12.30pm to thank well-wishers, and PM Lee stepped out briefly at around 2pm to view the messages and thank those who were there.

Businessman R. Veerappan, 54, who left a Singapore flag and a condolence message from his family, said: "I brought the flag here because the flag only means something today, thanks to the country that Mr Lee built."

Mr Jailani Sanwor signed a condolence card in Malay with the message: "May God have mercy on his soul and place him among the ranks of the righteous."

Some could not hold back tears, like student Wong Si Min, 17, who had to be consoled by a friend. "I've never met Mr Lee but learnt about him through history classes. He is a role model and we wouldn't have a comfortable life without Mr Lee," she said.

Thousands of well-wishers also turned up at 10 community sites set up by the People's Association across Singapore. Another eight tribute sites will be operating from today.

Many expressed thanks to Mr Lee for shaping various aspects of life in Singapore, from the healthcare system to well-looked-after public housing estates.

Grassroots leader Jefferson Neo, who was at a Choa Chu Kang tribute site, recalled how he was a Secondary 2 student in 1976 when Mr Lee came to his school, Tiong Bahru Secondary, as part of the Keep Singapore Clean campaign and demonstrated leadership by example.

"He visited the school, and not only that, he picked up a broom and swept alongside us students as well," he said.

Former opposition MP Chiam See Tong said Mr Lee always took a strategic, long-term view of Singapore and added: "He will live on in history, remaining for future generations the symbol of Singapore's success. His absence from our 50th National Day Parade later this year will be particularly poignant to us."

Two key organisations Mr Lee set up and shaped - the People's Association and the National Trades Union Congress - held ceremonies to honour Mr Lee at their headquarters.

Tributes continued to pour in from world leaders, and United States President Barack Obama spoke with PM Lee to express his condolences.

The White House said: "The President recognised founding Prime Minister Lee's remarkable leadership and lasting contributions, not just to Singapore's development, but also to the region's dynamism."

The state funeral for Mr Lee will be held on Sunday afternoon.

Last night, PM Lee posted a photo of Sri Temasek on Facebook saying: "We never lived here, but my parents spent many happy evenings here with the children and grandchildren. Tomorrow, my father's body will leave Sri Temasek for the last time."

He added: "On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all who have paid their last respects to my father, whether at Sri Temasek, at the tribute centres all over the island or online."

Sri Temasek tonight. It is the official residence of the PM. We never lived here, but my parents spent many happy...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PM, President visit tribute site at Istana gates
They read condolence cards, speak to visitors paying tribute to Mr Lee
By Chong Zi Liang And Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

SEPARATELY, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam visited the tribute site near the Istana's main gates yesterday afternoon, to peruse the condolence messages left by Singaporeans.

They also spoke to the people queueing to pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

By 9pm yesterday, 21,000 messages had been placed there during the day, and there were 3,200 more outside the gates of Parliament.

PM Lee, accompanied by his wife Ho Ching, spent about 10 minutes looking at the messages, cards and flowers.

He shook hands with some of the well-wishers, who expressed their sorrow at his father's death.

A few called out in his direction: "Be strong, Mr Lee."

He replied: "Thank you."

Madam Hiap Cheng Lay, 71, who shook his hand, told The Straits Times later: "When I saw him, all the feelings about Mr Lee Kuan Yew just welled up and I couldn't speak."

Madam Hiap, who sells drinks at a hawker centre, had arrived at the Istana at 11am to lay flowers and waited three hours to see PM Lee after she heard he would be at the tribute site.

President Tan, who came earlier, spoke to security guard Low Kok Wai, among others.

The 54-year-old, who had travelled more than an hour by bus from Boon Lay, said: "I told the President that without Mr Lee Kuan Yew, we wouldn't be enjoying the high standard of living that we have today."

Dr Tan later updated his Facebook page with photos of his lunchtime visit.

People from all walks of life, including foreigners, continued to pay tribute to Mr Lee, who died on Monday.

Some recalled their personal encounters with Singapore's first Prime Minister.

Mrs Jenny Fleming, 57, brought a photograph taken on a flight to the Maldives in 1991 that shows herself with Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his late wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo.

The former Singapore Airlines flight attendant said Mr Lee had no airs and she joked with him like she did with any other passenger.

He had asked for warm beer, she recalled.

"I replied, 'We don't have warm beer but maybe I could send the chief steward to 7 Eleven to buy a can.' He cracked up.

"I'm nobody but he could laugh along with me. It was just such an honour being able to serve him, to be so close to him."

Retiree Woo Sing Yuen's interaction with Mr Lee was at age five. He was accompanying his hawker father, who was plying the streets with a pushcart carrying dim sum and char kway teow.

They had run into Mr Lee in Chinatown.

Mr Woo recalled being asked: "Are you a good Singaporean?"

And he replied: "Yes, sir."

That commitment to Mr Lee has been a driving force in his life, said Mr Woo, who was a regular blood donor and at age 63, is still a marathon runner.

New orchid Aranda Lee Kuan Yew in honour of 'Chief Gardener'
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

A NEW specimen of orchid has been christened the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew in honour of the late former Prime Minister.

The bright golden yellow flower, with a green tinge, is from the same line that yielded one named for his beloved wife, the Vanda Kwa Geok Choo.

The new orchid was presented to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday in honour of Mr Lee by NParks chief executive Kenneth Er and National Orchid Gardens nursery manager David Lim.

Thanks to NParks for naming a new orchid in honour of my father. Transforming Singapore into a Garden City was an...
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

NParks staff have been looking for some time for a suitable orchid hybrid to name after Mr Lee, that would fit his tastes and befit the man who National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan called Singapore's "Chief Gardener".

Mr Khaw wrote on his blog: "It would have been wonderful if we had the opportunity to present the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew to Mr Lee himself. It was not meant to be. I am certain Mr Lee would have loved the flowers."

He added: "Ironically, Aranda Lee Kuan Yew has just flowered and will remain in flower for the next two to three weeks."

The public can view it in Parliament House when Mr Lee's body lies in state until Saturday.

The hybrid is a cross between a native orchid, the arachnis hookeriana, and an orchid from Hawaii - from the same line as that named after Mr Lee's wife, who died in 2010.

The Aranda Lee Kuan Yew's petals are bright greenish golden yellow with light tessellations and a tinge of white at the base. Each bloom is complemented by a contrasting light brown waxy lip.

Singapore Botanic Gardens manager Teo Chan Seng, 62, said yesterday that Mr Lee had often visited in the evenings, and liked the fragrant flowers the best.

Every so often, Mr Lee would bring his Chinese language tutor to chat about the flower names in Mandarin. The last time Mr Teo saw him was in early 2012, he said.

Family, friends and old colleagues gather at the Istana to share memories
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

AS THEY gathered to pay their respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, retired politicians reminisced about what it had been like to work with Singapore's founding father.

Several who were MPs when Mr Lee was Prime Minister said that though he looked stern, he was a good listener and unafraid to change his mind after hearing a convincing, rational argument.

They were among the 4,000 visitors who paid their respects yesterday at a private family wake for Mr Lee, who died on Monday at the age of 91. Yesterday was the last day of the private wake at the Istana's Sri Temasek, official residence of the Prime Minister.

Mr Chng Hee Kok, an MP from 1984 to 2001, recalled a time he disagreed with Mr Lee over the pace of telecommunications development in developing countries like Vietnam. "He listened to me and then he just kept a bit quiet. I think he was running through his head what I was saying. He accepted it," said Mr Chng.

Mr Lee never let things rest, he added. "When you raise an issue (over lunch with Mr Lee) about the civil service, about the Government, don't be surprised if, a few weeks later, you get a letter from the civil service trying to defend its position and elaborating on what you raised.

"That's what I admired most about him: He listened," he said.

Mr Yatiman Yusof, an MP from 1984 to 2006 and a former senior parliamentary secretary, said Mr Lee was an incisive Prime Minister who asked robust questions.

"He appreciated honesty and frankness no matter how painful, how hard the facts were," he said.

Recalling a time he, Mr Lee, Mrs Lee and staff shared a lodge in New Zealand and went fishing, Mr Yatiman said they talked of issues Singapore faced. "He listened to you very closely and asked questions until he was satisfied... We were able to give our feedback and our viewpoints."

Former Housing Board chief executive Liu Thai Ker said Mr Lee was a "worrier" who could anticipate problems. He recalled Mr Lee noting certain types of walls would allow heat from sunlight to build up in homes, worrying too much energy would be consumed to cool homes. This, at a time when global warming was not a prominent issue, he noted.

He was good with both the little details and the big picture, said Mr Liu, adding that he was a big thinker and great strategist.

But above all, the MPs said, Mr Lee's mind was always on Singapore.

The wake was attended by more than 5,200 people over two days. Many of yesterday's visitors were delegations from local organisations, including statutory boards such as HDB and the People's Association. Also represented were sovereign wealth fund GIC and Temasek Holdings.

Other past MPs at the wake included former Finance Minister Richard Hu and parliamentary secretary Tang Guan Seng.

Last night was the final night Mr Lee's casket would rest in Sri Temasek. Today, his body will be taken to Parliament House, where it will lie in state until Saturday.

But before the journey, the ceremonial gun carriage bearing the hearse will be driven around the Istana grounds, giving Mr Lee a final tour of the place that had been such a big part of his life.

Finding their own way to remember Mr Lee
People stream to sites islandwide to grieve quietly and express their thanks
By John Lui, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

IT IS not easy to sum up a life. Madam Imro'ah Dasuki tries. She wants to leave, embarrassed by the tears that come so easily to her. She somehow thinks it is not proper to show emotion.

But she also wants to tell me something, about how one life changed hers.

Born 58 years ago, she grew up poor, in Kampong Darat Nanas, close to Changi Prison. Her father died young.

"My mother had a hard life," she says, with urgency in her voice. Food was scarce, and they scraped a living selling kueh.

Mdm Imro'ah, now a housewife, got to Secondary 4. She wanted her two daughters to go further, to live lives that were easier.

Today, both are graduates of the National University of Singapore and work in major corporations.

She came yesterday to thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew, she says. I ask what for, and like everyone I interviewed, her answer could be summed up as: Look at my life. Look around you.

She had come to the condolence site in Bedok Central with her granddaughter Natasha Nadira Imran.

On a piece of POSB stationery, in very neat handwriting, the nine-year-old has prepared the few lines she would copy into the commemoration book.

In her best voice, she reads: "He was a giant of a leader when Singapore needed one…. Our successful Singapore is his legacy. He shall be remembered."

Madam Imro'ah seizes her chance to leave, her hand clutching her granddaughter's, so she can remember, and shed her tears in private.

In this white tent, in a scene replayed at several other sites around the island, people are laying flowers, sitting, remembering. Here in Bedok, a few weep openly, but for the most part, people are composed.

They speak of Mr Lee in familiar terms - that he lifted a country by its economic bootstraps, crushed corruption, made the streets safe and clean and green, and forged a nation out of diverse peoples. One man from China respects Mr Lee for helping his country walk the path to prosperity in the 1980s.

Ms Koh Kit Meng, 63, a retired senior secretary, remembers a few key images. Such as when he passed a kiss from his hand to his late wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, at her funeral in 2010. She was also glad when he stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990 to take on an advisory role as Senior Minister.

"He was always worried for Singapore, always thinking of Singapore. I wanted him to take life a bit easy," she says.

Everyone has his or her way of remembering. For Ms Shirley Tin, 43, a designer, it was to go online. She is here with husband Kong Chee Hoe, a photographer, and two children. She dabs at her eyes.

"Last night I watched the YouTube videos. Of him, speaking, to students, to everyone," she says.

In the book, she writes: "Love and respect, for you, beyond words. Chee Hoe, Shirley, Oliver, Sonya."

I see and meet people wearing Panasonic uniforms, from the nearby factory. There are managers on a lunch break from Land Transport Authority. There is a Japanese woman with two children in line to sign the book. There are three mainland Chinese engineers and a public relations executive from India.

Then there are the men and women who hang back outside the tent, looking on, a few with red-rimmed eyes, not wanting to fully participate, but desiring the company of others, united and grieving quietly.

'He cared for the people and gave us a better life'
By Pearl Lee, Miranda Yeo And Samantha Boh, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

MADAM Koh Choo Neo had three children, was 20 years old and struggling to make ends meet when she decided to see her MP for help.

She lived in Tanjong Pagar, so she went to see Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

"I had no education and no job prospects. He could not give me financial help but he told me to endure, work hard and look forward," said Madam Koh, now 77.

"His words gave me the courage to go on, and that reminder to work hard guided me through the ups and downs in my life."

She was at Tampines Community Plaza yesterday morning and stood in line with other Tampines residents to leave flowers and messages for Singapore's first Prime Minister, who died on Monday.

When her turn came, Madam Koh bowed her head in prayer and then placed a bouquet of lilies on a table in front of Mr Lee's portrait.

"With his effort, all Singaporeans have a home and clean water to drink. I pray that his spirit and soul will rest in heaven," she said.

By mid-afternoon, more than 2,500 people had visited the tribute centre and more than 800 handwritten notes were left on a large board with a portrait of Mr Lee.

Over at Parliament House, sales manager Tafline Tay, 40, showed up in the afternoon, despite having her injured right leg in a cast. Like hundreds of other working adults, she wanted to pen a note to express her feelings.

"Mr Lee did what he had to do for us to enjoy a First World city now," said Madam Tay.

She said she did not always agree with Mr Lee's style of running Singapore.

She studied in an Australian university and read books that were banned here when she took political science classes.

"I felt at the time that Singapore had many restrictions on freedom that I did not fully agree with," she said. But she changed her mind when she started working and had to worry about bread-and-butter issues.

"I realised that there were sacrifices that had to be made for the many things that I now appreciate, like the safety of our streets, accommodation for the poor and retirement savings through the Central Provident Fund scheme," she said.

Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh said his mother had cried on learning of Mr Lee's death.

"She said he is a giver: He gave us Singapore, he gave us comfort and he gave us peace. She came to Singapore before independence and she said no one cared, but he cared for us. So I think we should remember him as someone who cared for us and changed our lives," he said.

He was at Ang Mo Kio Central Stage, where a tribute site for Mr Lee was set up for residents.

Health attendant Teng Poh Geok, 57, said she had never interacted with Mr Lee but knew he was a great man from listening to stories her father, a long-time grassroots leader, had told her.

"My father told me he was strict and fierce but only because he did what he thought was right, even if others were against him," said Madam Teng, fighting back tears.

Telok Kurau Primary pupils learn about founding father's legacy
By Kash Cheong, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

A MAN who kept his promises, played a key role in making Singapore clean and green and was a loving husband.

Some 1,300 pupils from Telok Kurau Primary, aged seven to 12, were taught about Mr Lee Kuan Yew's legacy during an hour-long slide show yesterday.

Teachers from the school - Mr Lee's alma mater - impressed upon pupils the influence of the former Prime Minister.

They recounted, for instance, how he delivered on his bold promises - such as in 1961, when a fire swept through Bukit Ho Swee and he promised distraught residents new flats to live in within nine months. Together with his team, he made it happen.

"He was a man of his word," said Madam Marliana Rashid, 32, national education coordinator at the school, who delivered the slide show on Mr Lee's life.

Pupils were also told how Mr Lee played a key role in all aspects of the country's development, from housing to economics to defence policies.

Principals at schools across the nation delivered speeches about Singapore's founding father at assemblies yesterday, drawing on a note Education Minister Heng Swee Keat had posted on Facebook.

Mrs Charis Wong, principal of Telok Kurau Primary, said: "People often say Lee Kuan Yew has four children. The fourth was Singapore and he was always speaking about her, thinking about her."

The pupils read out tributes to Mr Lee that they had written on heart-shaped cards. Others folded origami flowers, which will be gathered into bouquets and delivered to Parliament House when the school community pay their last respects there.

On Sunday, Primary Six pupil Lim Yu Li, 12, wanted to travel to Singapore General Hospital to place a card at the well-wishers' corner, but her uncle's car broke down en route. "I just want to thank Mr Lee - he did not give up on the dream of Singapore," she said.

At Raffles Institution, Mr Lee's other alma mater, the mood was sombre. "I am grateful to Mr Lee for emphasising meritocracy... so that we all have the chance to make a living for ourselves," RI student Rachel Koh, 17, said.

Mr Lee studied at RI from 1936 to 1940, but was never quite the model student, with his "mischievous, playful streak". As a student, he was always a late riser, "an owl, more than a lark", he wrote in his memoirs. When he was late for a third time in a term in 1938, then-headmaster D.W. McLeod gave him "three of the best with his trousers on", Mr Lee added.

Student Isaac Leong, 17, felt such anecdotes made Mr Lee, the politician and towering statesman, more relatable. "Still, it takes a special person to achieve what he did," he said.

At Crest Secondary, which specialises in the Normal (Technical) curriculum, 14-year-old Daniel Ismadir said: "He and his team cleaned up the Singapore River, Without him, we would not have the clean and green city that we do now."

Flags in all schools are flying at half-mast. Many also observed a minute of silence yesterday.

Memorial exhibition opens today at National Museum
By Melody Zaccheus, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

A NEW memorial exhibition on the life of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew has been put together by a team from the National Museum of Singapore.

Called In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew, the showcase chronicles his life and political career, and highlights the ideals and convictions that shaped him.

It opens today and will run daily from 10am to 8pm till April 26. The memorial showcase will be held at the Stamford Road museum's glass atrium on level 2. Admission is free.

Visitors from all walks of life, of different ages, of different generations visited In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew, remembering his legacy. #rememberinglky
Posted by National Museum of Singapore on Friday, March 27, 2015

Highlights on display include Mr Lee's personal artefacts such as a barrister wig he wore for his admission to the Bar, a Rolex watch that the Singapore Union of Postal and Telecommunications Workers gave to him after he successfully represented it in arbitration proceedings over a wage dispute, and the rosewood rostrum he used to deliver his National Day Rally speeches from the 1970s.

Featuring seven panels, the exhibition examines Mr Lee's early formative years as a law student at Cambridge and his involvement in the anti-colonial struggle. It then goes on to cover his political career - from being a key figure in forming the People's Action Party and later, as Singapore's Prime Minister, to his final years as Senior Minister and Minister Mentor.

The museum's director, Ms Angelita Teo, said it is fitting that the museum, as the main institution that showcases Singapore's history to the public, presents a memorial exhibition in tribute to Mr Lee. "The objective is for people to appreciate and reflect on the magnitude of Mr Lee's contributions to the nation and the legacy he has left behind," she said.

The National Library Board in Victoria Street will also be holding an exhibition on the late elder statesman's public life at its lobby. It will feature his most notable quotes drawn from speeches dating back to the 1950s.

Events axed or postponed during week of national mourning
By Melissa Lin, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

ACTIVITIES and events have been cancelled or postponed islandwide, in a mark of respect for Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, 91, who died on Monday morning.

This includes a visit by a foreign leader, sporting events and a travel fair, as the country observes seven days of national mourning, which ends on Sunday.

The People's Association has cancelled its Chingay parade at Nee Soon GRC this Saturday. It was the last of five satellite parades meant to take the annual Chinese New Year street procession to the heartland.

Meanwhile, the inaugural Travel Revolution fair meant to be held this weekend - organised by a group of travel agencies that broke away from the annual Natas (National Association of Travel Agents Singapore) fair - has been pushed back by a week.

Ms Alicia Seah, a spokesman for the fair, said: "The postponement will definitely affect overseas exhibitors and partners around the world, but we felt the need to postpone the event as a mark of respect for Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Singapore is what it is because of this one great man."

And the 77th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships, originally scheduled for this weekend, will take place on April 4 and 5 at the National Stadium.

Free sports activities at the Singapore Sports Hub, part of its Experience Sports community outreach programme, will be cancelled this week, as well as all activities at its library.

Likewise, the Esplanade has cancelled all its free performances at its concourse and outdoor theatre this week.

A Chinese classical music concert at the venue on Sunday has also been cancelled, and those who bought tickets will be given a full refund.

Elsewhere, Resorts World Sentosa has toned down its programming, cancelling its nightly shows and street shows in Universal Studios Singapore, while Marina Bay Sands has cancelled its nightly multimedia light and water show.

Thailand's Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was supposed to make his first visit to Singapore yesterday, has postponed his trip, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"Both sides will work on resuming the visit and the Singapore-Thailand Leaders' Retreat at a mutually convenient time," it said in a statement.

World leaders continue to hail Mr Lee's legacy
Many praise model of governance and express gratitude for his counsel
By Ravi Velloor Associate Editor, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

THE tributes continued to flow yesterday for Mr Lee Kuan Yew as the world pondered his contribution to regional peace and his models of governance and development that were often held as a beacon to leaders in many parts of the globe.

United States President Barack Obama phoned Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to express condolences and convey "his appreciation for founding Prime Minister Lee's wise counsel and strong support for US-Singapore relations".

Several world figures have confirmed their attendance for Sunday's funeral, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Myanmar President Thein Sein, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, South Korean President Park Geun Hye and Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha.

"He laid a concrete foundation for the development of every aspect of Singapore, based on good governance and morality. He put public interest above self," General Prayut said in an interview yesterday with The Straits Times and Channel News Asia, expressing his condolences to Singaporeans.

More names are expected to be added to the list of dignitaries travelling to Singapore, as Asia shows its respect for the last of the titans who helped deliver their people from European colonial rule and set the region on course for rapid development.

Yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were at the respective Singapore missions in their countries to sign condolence books, one of which is set to be opened in Washington's Capitol Hill today.

Former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called Mr Lee a close personal friend as well as "a true friend of Indonesia".

"I have always benefited from my conversations with him," he said in a clip posted on his Twitter account. "In every one of those meetings, he always gave me valuable motivation and advice for the success of Indonesia."

Dr Yudhoyono also noted that Mr Lee was one of the founding fathers of Asean.

"Mr Lee had been a key figure in the remarkable transformation of South-east Asia into the peaceful, dynamic community that it has become today. He will be sorely missed, not just by Singaporeans but by Indonesians and South-east Asians."

Asean also bowed in respect to Mr Lee, who helped guide it through its formative years.

In a letter to PM Lee, Asean secretary-general Le Luong Minh acknowledged Mr Lee as one of those "instrumental in the establishment of the Association of South-east Asian Nations" in 1967.

Singapore is one of Asean's five founding members and, together with the other leaders, he guided the grouping in its formative years, the letter noted, going on to add that he "has left a lasting legacy not only for Singapore but also for Asean and he will be greatly missed". The other founding members are Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam joined later.

In Laos, the first to send condolences was Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong when the Singapore embassy opened a condolence book within hours of Mr Lee's passing. Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith drove to the embassy to record his government's condolences. In the Philippines, Finance Minister Cesar Purisima and dozens of diplomats signed the condolence book.

Mr Lee's impact reached into some of the unlikeliest spots of Asia, one of which was the hinterland district of Tiruvarur in southern India's Tamil Nadu state, which has sent many workers to Singapore. Condolence banners to mourn him were put up on streets and small meetings were held.

"Lee is like the Himalayas. He is a tall leader who eradicated poverty from many Tamil families. Our deepest condolences," read one banner, while another called him "the real protector of Singapore".

In Kuala Lumpur, Democratic Action Party chief Lim Guan Eng drove to the Singapore High Commission to record his respect for Mr Lee. He was accompanied by a host of senior party figures.

"Lee Kuan Yew is the legend who started the model of transformation from an undeveloped country to a developed country by relying solely on human capital," said Mr Lim. "I think his sheer willpower, some say through iron and blood, transformed Singapore from a Third World to First World nation."

Singapore's model of development has often been sought for replication. For instance, many consider Dubai's Jebel Ali Free Zone, which opened in 1985, as having been deeply influenced by Singapore's port and industrial parks.

Yesterday, Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al Maktoum, the development-focused emir of Dubai and Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, hailed Mr Lee as a "truly great leader" and "my dear friend".

"The strength of his fighting spirit and the depth of his wisdom charted a new path for his country," Sheikh Mohammed said in a condolence message. "Lee Kuan Yew will be deeply missed."

Regional newspapers pay homage to 'the sage and giant of South-east Asia'
By Lee Seok Hwai, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2015

REGIONAL media continued to cover the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew extensively, with newspapers devoting front-page headlines and entire sections to the life and achievements of Singapore's founding father.

Malaysia's top English-language paper, The Star, ran eight pages across various sections yesterday. One headline was "Malaysians share the grief".

Calling Mr Lee "a steely man", the newspaper said: "He found himself as Prime Minister of a tiny nation with little resources but dragged it, whether its citizens liked it or not, through the decades and moulded it into the modern-day metropolis it now is.

"Rest in peace, Mr Lee."

The New Straits Times (NST), Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia ran black-and-white photos of Mr Lee on their front pages.

The NST said on its cover he "had transformed the Republic from an island trading post into an economic powerhouse" and dedicated six pages to reactions and commentaries on his death.

Malay-language newspapers such as Berita Harian, often critical of Singapore and its leaders, had several pages in honour of the "architect of modern Singapore". The Chinese-language Sin Chew Jit Poh said Mr Lee spent his life "embracing Singapore".

In Indonesia, at least six papers, including Kompas, Jakarta Globe and Jakarta Post, gave front-page treatment to news of Mr Lee's death.

Jakarta Post eulogised Mr Lee with a commentary headlined "Lee Kuan Yew, the sage and giant of South-east Asia" as well as an editorial headlined "Lessons from a neighbour". The latter lauded Mr Lee's policies to curb terrorism and foster harmony among its different religious groups.

Jakarta Globe bade "Farewell to a Giant of the 20th Century" and said Indonesia will remember Mr Lee as an "inspiration".

Thai newspaper The Nation published an editorial which called strong rule of law Mr Lee's legacy.

"Justice and a vision for multiracial harmony are what set Lee Kuan Yew apart in South-east Asia," it said.

In the Philippines, the three major dailies - the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star and Manila Bulletin - covered the news on their front pages.

Several media outlets, including Star, ran editorials describing how Mr Lee transformed Singapore from a backwater into one of the world's economic powerhouses, and saying what the Philippines can learn from it.

Mr Lee's death was also the cover story on online news sites Rappler and Interaksyon.

In China, some media outlets cited Mr Lee's legacy to justify Beijing's model of development and foreign policy.

In an editorial yesterday headlined "Lee Kuan Yew's legacy meaningful for China", the China Daily said Mr Lee's governance style of integrating Western and Eastern cultures bears lessons for China.

"Reviewing what this man has done for his own country, we should have more confidence in sticking to our own culture and philosophy. But we should also never forget that he had the vision to learn from the advanced cultures," it added.

The Global Times tabloid - an offshoot of the People's Daily, mouthpiece of the Communist Party - hailed China's "maturity" in maintaining good ties with Singapore though the latter is also courted by major powers and neighbouring countries, a reference to the Republic's close ties to Western countries, especially the United States.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun ran a commentary on "The man who cultivated the pearl of the East", while The Japan Times looked back on Mr Lee's quotes.

The Times of India carried the news of Mr Lee's death on the top right corner on its front page. It also ran stories inside, describing Mr Lee as "a tall statesman, one who was probably too big for Singapore".

Newspapers in Australia paid tribute to Mr Lee's success in transforming Singapore into a modern economic powerhouse but criticised his "ruthless" approach to cracking down on political opponents and restricting free speech.

Ancestral home to be turned into tourist spot
The Straits Times, 26 Mar 2015

DABU (Guangdong) - The authorities in a county in southern China are spending 40 million yuan (S$8.8 million) to turn Mr Lee Kuan Yew's ancestral home into a tourist attraction, reported Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po daily.

The plan is to transform the site in Dabu county, Guangdong province, into an international rural tourist destination infused with Chinese Hakka cultural characteristics, the report said.

Work on the project officially began last year, it said, and the first phase, which comprises a Lee Kuan Yew Memorial Hall, will be completed by the end of this year.

Mr Lee's great-grandfather Li Muwen built the ancestral home, named Zhonghandi, in 1884 with money he had earned in Singapore.

Between 2007 and 2008, the house and its surroundings were refurbished by the local authorities, Wen Wei Po said.

They also set up exhibitions detailing the Lee family genealogy, Mr Lee's family and political life as well as an introduction of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the report added.

It cited an unnamed Dabu county official as saying that many local and foreign tourists visit the area every year to understand the life of Mr Lee.

No comments:

Post a Comment