Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's last trip to Parliament today

Public can pay last respects while body is lying in state

The casket of Singapore's founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, will be moved from the Istana to Parliament House this morning for the start of four days of lying in state, with thousands expected to pay their respects to the former prime minister.

In the highest honour accorded to a leader, the State flag will be draped over the casket, with the crescent and stars lying over the head and close to the heart of Mr Lee, who died on Monday, aged 91. Eight officers will then transfer the casket onto a gun carriage.

A ceremonial foot procession will be led by Mr Lee's elder son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, and his wife, Ms Ho Ching; daughter Lee Wei Ling; younger son Lee Hsien Yang and his wife, Ms Lim Suet Fern; and seven grandchildren, for about 70m.

The gun carriage procession will travel the 2km route from Orchard Road to Parliament House, passing through Bras Basah Road and North Bridge Road.

The Chief of Defence Force, Commissioner of Police, Speaker of Parliament, as well as PM Lee and the family will then receive the casket before it is transferred onto the bier for the lying in state.

Members of the public can pay their respects from 10am to 8pm from today to Saturday.

Queues will start at the promenade along the Singapore River, next to Parliament House.

Condolence cards will also be available for well-wishers to pen tributes, and those with flowers may lay them at condolence boards along the promenade.

Yesterday, some 4,000 visitors paid their respects at Sri Temasek, the official residence of the Prime Minister in the Istana grounds, where a private wake had been held since Monday.

PM Lee was also presented with a new orchid, named the Aranda Lee Kuan Yew, by NParks chief executive Kenneth Er and National Orchid Gardens nursery manager David Lim.

Outside the Istana gates in Orchard Road, more than 21,000 people turned up to leave flowers and cards, and pen messages in Malay, Mandarin, Tamil and English on condolence cards that were then displayed on memorial boards.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam dropped by at around 12.30pm to thank well-wishers, and PM Lee stepped out briefly at around 2pm to view the messages and thank those who were there.

Businessman R. Veerappan, 54, who left a Singapore flag and a condolence message from his family, said: "I brought the flag here because the flag only means something today, thanks to the country that Mr Lee built."

Mr Jailani Sanwor signed a condolence card in Malay with the message: "May God have mercy on his soul and place him among the ranks of the righteous."

Some could not hold back tears, like student Wong Si Min, 17, who had to be consoled by a friend. "I've never met Mr Lee but learnt about him through history classes. He is a role model and we wouldn't have a comfortable life without Mr Lee," she said.

Thousands of well-wishers also turned up at 10 community sites set up by the People's Association across Singapore. Another eight tribute sites will be operating from today.

Many expressed thanks to Mr Lee for shaping various aspects of life in Singapore, from the healthcare system to well-looked-after public housing estates.

Grassroots leader Jefferson Neo, who was at a Choa Chu Kang tribute site, recalled how he was a Secondary 2 student in 1976 when Mr Lee came to his school, Tiong Bahru Secondary, as part of the Keep Singapore Clean campaign and demonstrated leadership by example.

"He visited the school, and not only that, he picked up a broom and swept alongside us students as well," he said.

Former opposition MP Chiam See Tong said Mr Lee always took a strategic, long-term view of Singapore and added: "He will live on in history, remaining for future generations the symbol of Singapore's success. His absence from our 50th National Day Parade later this year will be particularly poignant to us."

Two key organisations Mr Lee set up and shaped - the People's Association and the National Trades Union Congress - held ceremonies to honour Mr Lee at their headquarters.

Tributes continued to pour in from world leaders, and United States President Barack Obama spoke with PM Lee to express his condolences.

The White House said: "The President recognised founding Prime Minister Lee's remarkable leadership and lasting contributions, not just to Singapore's development, but also to the region's dynamism."

The state funeral for Mr Lee will be held on Sunday afternoon.

Last night, PM Lee posted a photo of Sri Temasek on Facebook saying: "We never lived here, but my parents spent many happy evenings here with the children and grandchildren. Tomorrow, my father's body will leave Sri Temasek for the last time."

He added: "On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all who have paid their last respects to my father, whether at Sri Temasek, at the tribute centres all over the island or online."

zakirh@sph.com.sg