Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Singaporeans struggle to contain emotions during funeral procession of Mr Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE - Crowds that had lined the streets hours before Mr Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral procession was scheduled to begin, braving the heavy downpour, struggled to contain their emotions as the cortege passed them by.

They cheered, clapped and chanted the name of Singapore's first Prime Minister as the procession went by.

At the Supreme Court, Madam Ang Quee Whuay, 83, and her two daughters, Ms Georgina Lee, 60, and Ms Sharon Lee, 58, could not hold back their tears as they paid tribute to the late Mr Lee.

The younger Ms Lee said her father passed away when she was just six, and she and her four siblings would not have been able to attend school if not for the monthly $30 bursaries given by Mr Lee then.

In tears, she said: "We were living in a kampong and with dogs and pigs running around. If not for (Mr Lee), we would not be here today."

Added Madam Ang: "I'm just too thankful." The elderly lady had queued for five hours to pay her last respects at Parliament House on Wednesday, despite having just had two knee implants. She continued to tear even after the cortege had passed them by, and had to be taken home by her two daughters.

Most areas began to clear out soon after the cortege passed, with the crowds seeking shelter after they were drenched by the rain.

While some were disappointed that the cortege had passed by too swiftly, many turned to their mobile devices to follow the procession online after seeing the cortege pass by.

Ms Sandy Ng, a 36-year-old office manager and resident at The Pinnacle@Duxton at Tanjong Pagar also cried as the cortege passed by. She was there with nine other extended family members who made their way there from around the island.

She said: "I am sad. It's a painful loss. My biggest regret is never meeting him personally. I'm glad I live in his constituency and managed to pay my last respects to him."

Many lining the streets around the Tanjong Pagar area made their way to the community centre, to watch the rest of the state funeral on the large screen there.

The crowd at the centre rose to their feet, as Mr Lee's coffin was removed from the gun carriage. The mood is sombre, as some bowed their heads. Many cried.

Some people at Tanjong Pagar crowded around a dental clinic, craning their necks to watch the funeral ceremony that is being screened on the TV inside.

Crowds gathered around large screens at the open field by Suntec City, as well as at Raffles Place to watch the proceedings.

The large volume of people at the Padang area also resulted in a jam at City Hall MRT station, with people being stopped at the entrance.

As the daughter of an RSAF pilot, the 21-gun salute to send off Mr Lee had special significance for Mystica Bangar. The 50-year-old had been unwell this past week but was determined to make it to the Padang, raising her hand to salute Mr Lee as his cortege went by.

Despite being soaked, Ms Mystica, who was there with her 50-year-old husband Brian and 15-year-old daughter Inez, said she was thankful for the last chance to see Mr Lee.

She said: "It was very emotional to see him go past. I almost couldn't control myself. I think this is the first time this week it rained like this but I guess it's fitting and symbolic. The whole country is crying today at the loss of our father."