leekuanyew

Muslim groups wait at 'meaningful' spot

They were some of the first to arrive at Shenton Way at around 8am, and stood outside the Singapore Conference Hall for more than four hours to wait to witness Mr Lee Kuan Yew's final journey.

About 100 officials, staff and residents of welfare homes under Muslim voluntary welfare organisation Jamiyah braved the rain under dark green umbrellas.

"Even the sky is crying," said Mr Osman Sapawi, 39, a resident at one of the homes, who said he was glad to have the chance to say farewell to Mr Lee.

Dr H. M. Saleem, a Jamiyah vice-president, said: "We wanted to select a space where we can all be together to see the moment."

"We are very grateful for what Mr Lee has done for Singapore. He is a world-renowned visionary and leader," he added.

They were joined by several Indian Muslim community leaders at around 10.30am. Mr Farihullah A.W. Safiullah, president of the Federation of Indian Muslims (FIM), said the community was thankful for the peaceful society Mr Lee helped to form.

"Mr Lee has done a lot to help us build racial and religious harmony in Singapore, where the minority group of Indian Muslims can live and integrate with all Singaporeans peacefully," he said.

FIM deputy president K.M. Deen said the location they chose was particularly meaningful for the occasion, as the former Trade Union House was a counting centre during the elections when Mr Lee was Prime Minister.

As the rain grew into a downpour and the number of bystanders swelled, the group offered this reporter a poncho.

Dr Deen, his eyes reddening, said he was moved by the crowd that had gathered.

"Whatever rain, whatever storm we have to stand in, it's nothing compared to what he has done for the nation," he said.

JOANNA SEOW