Crowd forms at Raffles Place as people wait for special LKY editions of newspapers

SINGAPORE - A queue snaked across Raffles Place green on Monday morning as more than 100 office workers waited in line to purchase special newspaper editions on former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died at 3.18am on Monday.

Among them was sales manager Robin Chan, 63, who started queuing at 10.45 am despite not knowing which papers are putting out special editions.

"He's our hero. I just want to keep the papers," he said. Like many Singaporeans, Mr Chan had heard of Mr Lee's death this morning when he woke up for work and was saddened by the news.

"I heard from some friends through WhatsApp. He turned Singapore around. I grew up in the 50s and 60s so I know what I'm talking about," he told The Straits Times.

Foreigners, too, were in the queue. Indian IT professional Raj Kumar, 42, who has been in Singapore for 14 years and is now a permanent resident, said Mr Lee was a special person and he wanted a copy of The Straits Times special edition as a memento.

"I want to know more about him," he said.

Mr Kumar's friend, Mr Baskara Setupathy, 40, chimed in: "I think the great future Singapore is enjoying is all because of Mr Lee Kuan Yew."

Behind him in the queue, accountant Yolanda Tan, 47, thanked Mr Setupathy - who got his citizenship in 2011 - for thinking so highly of Mr Lee.

"I always tell my children that it's not easy to manage a family, but he managed a country," she said.

As the queue grew to more than 200-people long at 11.30am even before the papers arrive, some such as Ms Tan worried she might not get her hands on the papers.

Raffles Place newspaper stand owner, Mr Chan, who gave only his surname, said he was expecting to get 200 to 300 copies and looked antsy as the crowd which formed around 10.30am kept growing.

kxinghui@sph.com.sg