leekuanyew

Lee Kuan Yew: One queue, 82 hours, almost half a million undaunted mourners

It was a queue never seen before in Singapore and likely never to be seen again.

Starting on the morning of March 25, when Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s casket was moved from the Istana to Parliament House, Singaporeans lined up to pay their last respects to the nation’s founding prime minister.

Being told that the wait would stretch up to 10 or 11 hours did nothing to deter the masses. Instead, it seemed only to increase their determination to file past Mr Lee’s casket in a final farewell.

Visiting hours were extended twice – first to midnight and then round the clock. Priority queues for the elderly, the infirm and young children were created.

Organisers worked without sleep to set up barricades and tents to marshal the mammoth crowd. Volunteers – from corporations that donated thousands of umbrellas and restaurants that handed out snacks, to individuals who picked up trash – helped make the wait more pleasant.

Despite a suspension of the line last Friday night as the number of people at the Padang exceeded safety limits, Singaporeans continued to join the line until 8pm on Saturday.

In 82 hours, over four days, 454,687 people flowed through the queue to pay their last respects to Mr Lee.