Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Community tribute sites for Mr Lee Kuan Yew remain popular even as thousands throng Parliament House

SINGAPORE - A steady stream of residents continued flowing into community tribute centres on Wednesday, even as large crowds waited outside the Parliament House to pay respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Long queues formed at tribute sites such as Tanjong Pagar and Kovan, as residents waited in line to write condolences to Singapore's first prime minister who died on Monday.

Less accessible sites such as those at the Botanic Gardens and Marina Barrage had fewer visitors.

For Madam Ramairthan Muthukrishnan, 72, Mr Lee Kuan Yew was more than just the nation's founding father - he was also the man who helped her family own a home of their own.

The retiree had wanted to join the queue at Parliament House, but could not as she is physically frail.

She was one of the thousands of residents who visited the Kovan Hub tribute centre.

She wept as she recounted how their house and provision shop business in Kampong Eunos had to make way for new flats 40 years ago.

The mother of three and her husband - who were married through a traditional Indian ceremony - could not apply for a flat because they did not have an official marriage certificate.

Desperate, they sought help from Mr Lee during a Meet-the-People's session.

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

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

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.

Among the visitors at Kovan were 40 students and staff members from Bedok Town Secondary School, who were initially headed to the Parliament House too.

Its principal, Mr Chia Chor Yann, said: "The queue at the Parliament House is too long but we felt it was still important for our students to understand the sacrifice that Mr Lee made for our nation."

miranday@sph.com.sg