Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Queues of people waiting to pay last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew continue to swell

SINGAPORE - People continued to turn up overnight to join the queues outside Parliament House to pay their last respects to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

As at 7am, they were told to expect a wait of about seven hours.

Despite advice from the state funeral organising committee at about 2am asking people not to join the queue until further updates, the turnout continued to swell.

At 7am, the committee issued another statement, advising people not to join the queue for the moment.

Overnight, the queue split into several queues, stretching to Raffles City and also Monument Park.

Retiree James Chan, 64, who joined the queue at midnight even though it was an eight-hour wait, said: "Because that's the least I can do to repay the debt of gratitude that generations in Singapore owe to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. My late father respected and admired what he has done for Singapore too. My generation has experienced the transformation of Singapore in our life time and we are grateful."

Others, who had started waiting around the same time as him only emerged from the Parliament House at about 6.45am.

Nanyang Technological University student Kee Han Chong, 23, was one of them.

He had taken an MRT from Bedok to Raffles City with two friends, despite hearing about the long wait.

He said: "Based on my calculations, the queuing times would only get longer from Friday, so I decided I had to do it. Mr Lee is a very important part of our history, and I didn't want to miss the chance to pay my respects."

Many of those who turned up before daybreak on Friday morning were spurred to persevere for the same reason.

Meanwhile, those in the priority queue had a much shorter wait, after new rules were put in place last night to manage the crowd.

The wait in the priority queue - meant for the elderly, disabled, pregnant women and those with children below six years old - had gone up to 8 hours last night, prompting the change.

Now, only parents are allowed to go in with their child under six years old, and only one adult can accompany an elderly person.

Childcare centre pincipal Angela Ang, 57, who joined the priority queue with her 77-year-old mother Nancy Wu at 540am was done by 6.45am.

"It was very fast, but I would've come even if the queue was long, because I'm a beneficiary of his legacy."

Ever since Wednesday, when Mr Lee's casket has been lying in state at the Parliament House, people have turned up in the thousands to pay their last respects.

The state funeral organizing committee has had to change its arrangements several times, moving the queue from along the singapore River to the Padang, for one thing.

It has also extended the hours for people to pay respects, from the original 8am to 10pm to round the clock until 8pm on Saturday.

As of 2pm on Friday, the number of visitors to the Lying-in-State was 250,000.

The number of visitors to PA’s 18 community sites was 510,000.

Mr Lee, 91, died at the Singapore General Hospital on Monday. He had been in intensive care there for severe pneumonia since Feb 5.