leekuanyew

A very Singaporean send-off for Mr Lee Kuan Yew

It took days of planning, camping out early to get good spot to say goodbye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

melodyz@sph.com.sg

matt@sph.com.sg


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AN INSPIRATION

"I came to Singapore with just a suitcase but now I have a home and my family is here. I travel often but I don't have to worry about my family because I know they are safe.

Even my son in kindergarten is inspired by the late Mr Lee. He told me about the things he did and about the one minute of silence they observed in school.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew is an inspiration to me and my son."

- Mr Muraleedharan A.P.K., 42, an engineer at Makino who was at Dover

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WITNESS TO CHANGE

"I have too many reasons to be here. I grew up in a kampung when I was young and I have seen all the changes."

- Mr Abdul Majid Mohamed Eusopp, 52, who works in a logistics firm and was at Dover with his daughter

SHARING HIS LEGACY

"When I was growing up, my grandparents told me about the changes made by Mr Lee and I am really grateful and want to show my gratitude.

I hope to share this with my students, too. Even though they did not know him, I want them to know that he brought the nation together. I am here to send him off in high spirits."

- Mr Abdul Majid's 25-year-old daughter Nasihah Abdul Majid (above), who is a teacher

FAMILY PRIDE

"I brought my children to show them why we're all so proud to be Singaporeans. I really hope they can learn from Mr Lee and the various lessons of good governance."

- Mrs Nungki Yeo, 36, housewife, with her children Yeo Su Jin, seven, and Yeo Su Jay, six. Mrs Yeo is Indonesian, while her husband and children are Singaporean

 SHARING IN THE LOSS

"My little girl says she wants to meet Mr Lee in heaven. (My children) understand the loss that the nation feels and wanted to come out here to send him off."

- Mrs Clare Low, 29, with her children Paige, 11, and Raeann, six. Mrs Low is a teacher

FOREIGN SUPPORT

"He's one of the greatest leaders that have ever existed. We've been in Singapore for seven years. I felt it was important to show our support."

- American expatriate Anne Duncan, 40, an administrator at the Singapore American School. She had lifted her daughter Martha, 10, onto her shoulders so she could see the procession

SENSE OF CLOSURE

"There was a sense of closure for all of us Singaporeans as his cortege passed. We did what we could to show appreciation and add layers of gratitude to a solemn occasion."

- Mr Kelvin Tan, 50, a part-time lecturer

LUCKY TO HAVE HIM

"We don't have a figure to respect like that from where I come. Singaporeans are lucky that Mr Lee has changed it from a poor country to a great one like it is today."

- General worker Rahman Anisur, 33, from Bangladesh who was clearing the barricades after the procession left Commonwealth Avenue. He said he clapped as the cortege went past