Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's body lies in state at Parliament House

SINGAPORE - In an emotional journey, the body of Mr Lee Kuan Yew was conveyed via a gun carriage from the Istana to Parliament House on Wednesday morning, where Singaporeans can pay their last respects till Saturday.

Thousands lined the streets along the route from about 7.30am for the ceremony that started at 9am at Sri Temasek at the Istana.

As his coffin emerged from the Istana gate, cheers of "We love you Mr Lee" erupted from the crowd that had gathered there. All along the streets, people clapped, craned their necks for a better look and took photographs of the procession.

At the entrance of Parliament House, the thousands that lined the road there chanted "Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Kuan Yew".

Mr Lee, 91, died at the Singapore General Hospital on March 23. He had been warded there for severe pneumonia on Feb 5.

The morning's events started at 9am, when the casket, which was draped with the state flag, was carried by the coffin bearer party onto the gun carriage.

A foot procession led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his wife Ho Ching and other family members walked behind the gun carriage. Also present were the late Mr Lee’s only daughter, Dr Lee Wei Ling, his youngest son Lee Hsien Yang and his wife Lee Suet Fern, and grandchildren XiuQi, Yipeng, Hongyi, Haoyi, Shengwu, Huanwu and Shaowu. Mrs Lee had died in 2010.

The Singapore Armed Forces Band played Beethoven's Funeral March No 1 as they walked slowly down the tree-lined road where Mr Lee had travelled many times before, first as Singapore's prime minister, then Senior Minister and Minister Mentor.

The gun carriage passed a military Line of Honour made up of 48 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces Military Police Command. Also present were 20 representatives from Tanjong Pagar - a constituency the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew represented as MP since 1955 - and Teck Ghee, which is PM Lee's ward.

The procession passed The Lawn, an English-styled garden with beautiful and stately Yellow Flames. There, 12 Istana landscape technicians and horticulturalists led by Istana’s curator, Koh Soon Kiong lined up along the entrance to the garden. The greening of Singapore was a passion of Mr Lee.

As the carriage came to a stop, a bagpiper from the Singapore Gurkha Contingent played Auld Lang Syne.

Saying their goodbyes at the Istana Plaza were President Tony Tan and his wife Mary, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and other Istana staff.

The carriage then made its way to the entrance, where people cheered "Lee Kuan Yew" and "MM Lee, we love you". Someone was heard calling out "Grandfather of Singapore" as the gun carriage made its way out of the Istana main gate. Some were sobbing.

People lined Orchard Road past Plaza Singapura and the Singapore Art Museum all the way up to the Parliament House.

People along North Bridge Road clapped respectfully as the gun carriage and procession passed.

At Parliament House, crowds had swelled since early in the morning. The first in line were Mr Edward Ho, 39, and his cousin Alvin Loh, 40.

They had reached there at 11pm on Tuesday, but were only allowed to start queuing at 3am. They came early as Mr Ho has a flight to catch at 1pm on Wednesday and they wanted to make sure they could pay their respects to Mr Lee.

"Mr Lee did what he had to do in difficult times, to make Singapore what it is today. He gave us stability and security that gives us the peace of mind to bring up our children here. Because of him and the system he has put in place, there is certainty that Singapore is resilient enough to continue without him," said Mr Loh.

Mr Ho is regional area manager of a healthcare company and Mr Loh does regional sales in an IT company.

The gun carriage arrived at about 9.50am.

The eight pallbearers represented the three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. 

PM Lee - Mr Lee's elder son - Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, the Chief of Defence Ng Chee Meng and Commissioner of Police Hoong Wee Teck received the casket.

The coffin bearer party transferred the casket of the late Mr Lee onto the bier for the lying in state at the Parliament House.

Mr Lee's body will lie in state till Saturday. On Sunday, it will make its final journey around key parts of the city before it goes to Mandai Crematorium.

The public can pay their last respects at Parliament House, which will be open 24 hours till 8pm on Saturday.

For an interactive map of the route of the procession, click HERE.