Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Singaporeans in India comfort one another as they mourn the death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew

It was an emotional moment for more than 40 Singaporeans who gathered at the Singapore High Commission in Delhi on Sunday to watch the last journey of Mr Lee Kuan Yew on TV.

Some held hands. Others comforted each other. Still others had tears in their eyes as they watched the live screening of Mr Lee's funeral.

Mrs Sushil Muttreja, a 53-year-old housewife who grew up in Singapore and has been living in Delhi for two decades, said the death of Mr Lee hit home hardest while she was watching the funeral procession.

"He was the Prime Minister under which I was born in Singapore. A lot of my life is shaped by his policies. Honestly my generation feels Singapore was Lee Kuan Yew," said Mrs Muttreja, a Singaporean.

"When I am watching it is nostalgic and sad. It hit me badly today as I am watching the funeral.''

Some of the mourners said they came to the Singapore High Commission because they did not want to watch the last journey of Mr Lee alone.

"I think watching by yourself and together with other Singaporeans is different. You don't want to grieve alone,'' said Mr Yeoh Phee Teik, the CEO of Vistara, the joint venture airline between Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons. He is a Malaysian as well as a Singapore Permanent Resident.

Across India, flags flew at half mast as the country marked a day of national mourning for Mr Lee. The government announced on Friday that India would observe a day of mourning with all official entertainment scrapped.

A steady stream of Indians and Singaporeans have visited the High Commission in the Indian capital to sign the condolence book since Monday, when Mr Lee died at the age of 91, said Mr Lim Thuan Kuan, Singapore's High Commissioner to India.

"The response has been emotional from Singaporeans of all ages even younger ones who would not have been familiar or had first hand experience. You see people crying as they sign the book. There is an invisible link between Singaporeans whether living in Singapore or overseas that connects them to Singapore," said Mr Lim.

He said the response from Indians has also been "gratifying".

"The connection and the debt we owe to him is a huge one, It is the passing of an era," said Mr Lim.

gnirmala@sph.com.sg