Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Overseas citizens prepare to watch live telecast of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral

Singaporeans around the world braced themselves to watch their founding father pass into history, calling loved ones at home and arranging community gatherings to watch the live telecast of today's funeral.

The Singapore High Commission in London had never seen so many visitors at its Belgravia building as yesterday morning, when about 500 Singaporeans turned up for a memorial service for Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Many could not enter the building and had to stand outside as High Commissioner Foo Chi Hsia and six other Singaporeans living in the United Kingdom paid tribute to Mr Lee.

One of them, Ms Azra Moiz, 52, who runs her own consultancy and training company in London, spoke fondly of having found a black-and-white photograph last year of her family and her with Mr Lee and his family taken in 1964 at Mount Faber.

Ms Foo said she believes "there is a bit of Mr Lee's DNA in all of us", and encouraged Singaporeans to continue nurturing those qualities - among them, staying inclusive and multiracial.

Yesterday's memorial service preceded a charity walk at London's famed Hyde Park. The Singapore UK Association and the UK-Singapore Students' Council had organised the walk, SG50 March for Charity, in aid of the Community Chest in Singapore.

Since Mr Lee's passing last Monday, the number of people who registered had surged from 250 to more than 700.

Mr Bernard Sin, 47, a Singaporean based in Geneva, Switzerland, took an early morning flight to London with his wife and 16-year-old son to join the 5km walk through Hyde Park. Mr Lee's death has made the charity walk more poignant, said Mr Sin.

In Calgary, Canada, Mrs Kala Pillay said: "About 8,000 miles away I will be keeping vigil and following the funeral of our beloved Singaporean. Engraved in my mind is the picture of him sweeping my classroom floor with us during the Use Your Hands campaign in 1975."

In Seoul, Mr David Lim, 56, an adviser to a South Korean shipping company, planned to join 80 fellow nationals at Singapore Club Seoul. "As a young boy I witnessed the 1964 riots and had to hide indoors. I cannot say how deeply indebted I am for the security he has given me," he said.

dawntan@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Chang May Choon