leekuanyew

Steady stream of mourners long into the night

More expected to visit Parliament House overnight

The long queues that snaked along the Singapore River yesterday afternoon continued through the evening, with the after-work crowd adding to the lines waiting to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

At 10pm yesterday, the waiting time was estimated to be four hours, down from about eight hours at its peak. Lines had also formed along the Supreme Court, The Adelphi shopping mall and stretched all the way to the Padang. With bus and train services extended throughout the night, more people were expected to stream into Parliament overnight.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked those who came, in a Facebook post that drew 40,000 likes in three hours: "(I) was moved by the huge crowds who came. Thank you for queuing so many hours in the hot sun to say goodbye to Mr Lee."

Among those who came to say their final farewells were members of the ruling party's Old Guard, who formed a group that kept vigil for half an hour. Mr Ng Kah Ting, 75, who was MP for Punggol from 1963 to 1991, said: "My mind was going through all the years that I had shared with him, sometimes in his office in the Istana or in City Hall in the earlier days."

Former politician and diplomat Lee Khoon Choy, 91, said: "Mr Lee was a very special person. He had courage, he was resolute in his actions, and he was very frank."

Foreign visitors also paid tribute to Mr Lee. The choir of St John's College in Cambridge University, in town for a show, performed a rendition of the National Day song, Home, which PM Lee called "beautiful".

"My parents studied in Cambridge. They were not in St John's, but they had friends there, and one of their favourite places was the Bridge of Sighs, which is in St John's College.

"They took a picture together at the bridge when they were students, and went back over the years to visit," he said.

About 70 foreign dignitaries attended the first day of the public wake yesterday. They included the Sultan of Johor and the Sultan of Kelantan, as well as Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh.

Said Mr Minh: "He has left us a lasting legacy and for that, the people of the Asean community will forever remember him."

waltsim@sph.com.sg


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'I'M NOT AFRAID OF THE SUN'

"I saw him when I was a child. I was about seven at that time. It was during one of the election rallies and he came by my house. I was living in an old walk-up apartment in Jalan Besar. Over the years, we now have Housing Board flats to live in and it's thanks to him.

I decided to come down to pay my respects to Mr Lee today as the weather is good and sunny. I'm not afraid of hot weather, because I'm used to standing and working under the sun. If it rains, that'll be worse and I won't be able to come."

- Mr Leong Ying Wai, 58, who works as a gardener in a condominium and had been standing in line for four hours by 9.30pm

'I'LL WAIT, I'M NOT HUNGRY'

"I'm not tired. No problem. You tell me eight hours also I stand, because I want to see him. I'm not going to see him any more after this. My daughter asked me if I'm hungry. I said I'm not hungry, I need to see him first."

- Madam Ambarasi B. Rajagoopal, 49, a service assistant, was in the queue with her daughter Uganeswari Chandar, 20, a nursing student at Nanyang Polytechnic

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HE CAME FROM JOHOR

"I've been working here for five years and I really appreciate that this is a society where all the different races are treated equally, and no one is given preferential treatment based on their race.

Coming from Malaysia, I really see the difference and I appreciate what he has done for Singapore."

- Mr Forest Tham, 32, a credit controller in the finance industry. He lives in Johor Baru and booked a budget hotel for the night so he could queue overnight to pay tribute to Mr Lee

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'THE WAIT IS WORTH IT'

"The wait is definitely worth it, we would have waited longer. This is nothing compared to what Mr Lee did for us.

In particular, what he has done for the minority races is very important. I mean, we are given equal rights. That's the main thing we are very thankful for.

The queue is very systematic.

Mr Lee's presence can still be felt in all the buildings around us, we see him everywhere."

- Mr R. Vijayakumar, 50, who closed his barber shop for the day. He was there with his whole family, including daughter Chandralekha, 20, a polytechnic student. His mother-in-law is due to undergo knee surgery tomorrow but insisted on paying her last respects to Mr Lee

MR LEE WAS 'THE MAN'

"Lee Kuan Yew, he's the man. My grandfather came to Singapore from India in the 1950s with nothing. He had to start from scratch.

Today, my family is living comfortably, we have some assets, Singapore is our home and we are proud of it."

- Mr Manoj Nanwani, 40, sales executive in the real estate industry, who was in the queue with a friend from his army days, engineer Tay Wee Chin, 41

'I WAS A GUARD AT ISTANA'

"When I was serving in the army in 1971, I was a guard stationed at the Istana. Every day at 5pm, I would see Mr Lee, dressed in a white shirt and white shorts, jogging or cycling. Sometimes he would be with the president, who was Dr Benjamin Sheares at that time.

On Sunday night, I had gone to Singapore General Hospital with flowers for him, and the next morning I read that he had passed away. It's very sad."

- Mr Anthony Loke, 63, a chef who joined the queue outside Liang Court at 4pm after work