Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Tears flow as S'poreans abroad gather to watch Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral

From Beijing to Bangkok, they came together to bid Mr Lee final farewell

Singaporeans across Asia yesterday gathered to bid farewell to the man who put Singapore on the world stage.

Away from home, it was their chance to honour and thank Mr Lee Kuan Yew, who had made a difference in their lives and made them feel proud to be Singaporean.

Mr Lee 'sacrificed so much'

BEIJING - No flight delay or cancellation could stop China-based businessman Raymond Lim, 66, from travelling to Beijing, where he joined some 300 Singaporeans to watch the live telecast of Mr Lee's state funeral.

Emotions ran high in the ballroom of the Shangri-La China World Summit Wing hotel, with many sobbing or hugging their loved ones as they followed the live coverage of the funeral procession back home.

"Mr Lee had sacrificed so much for Singaporeans. I'm just sacrificing a few hours of sleep and rest to see him through the last phase as a form of my respect for his leadership," said Mr Lim, who runs a seafood processing company in coastal Weihai city.

After his flight from Weihai was cancelled after a long delay on Saturday night, he drove two hours to nearby Yantai city from where he flew to Beijing.

The telecast was organised by the Singapore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China. Similar events took place in Shanghai, Suzhou and Xiamen.

Mr Stanley Loh, Singapore's Ambassador to China, told the audience that many Singaporeans were enjoying good opportunities in China because Singapore was regarded as a country that is successful and has a reputation for zero tolerance of corruption.

Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin and former premiers Li Peng and Zhu Rongji had sent personal letters of condolences, he told reporters.

More than 5,000 Singaporeans and foreigners paid their respects at the embassy and in consulates in China, he added.

In Hong Kong, over 1,000 Singaporeans gathered to view the live telecast at the consulate. The Consul-General of Singapore, Mr Jacky Foo, led the tributes, saying: "He gave us the security umbrella. He gave us economic opportunities. And he built a social framework, for Singapore to thrive and Singaporeans to pursue their dreams."'The least we can do'

BANGKOK - For Singaporean friends Lulu Seah, Aileen Ang and Nicholas Ng, who are in their 50s and live in Bangkok, it was the first time they got together not to celebrate but to mourn the man who "made them proud to be Singaporean".

They were some of the 300 people who gathered at the Singapore Embassy yesterday. Among them were Thai nationals like Ms Sunee Vivatakron, 83, who made a three-hour journey, taking three buses and a motorcycle taxi, to get here.

She did not know Mr Lee personally, but two of her grandchildren were schooled in Singapore. "He was a good man, and I admire him," she said.

Singapore Ambassador to Thailand Chua Siew San said over 1,000 people had come to sign Mr Lee's condolence book in the past week.

"It's been overwhelming, the response," she said, adding that three Singaporeans, in their late 50s at least, took a nine-hour bus ride from Chiang Mai because "it's the least we can do".

Tears for 'guiding light'

KUALA LUMPUR - There was no holding back the tears, for some of the 100 people at the Singapore High Commission as they listened to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's eulogy for Singapore's "guiding light" Mr Lee.

"Fifty years ago, we were abandoned just like that. Without him, we wouldn't be where we are today," said Ms Adelene Bek, 42, referring to the 1965 Separation.

Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Vanu Gopala Menon, said more than 2,000 had signed the condolence book in the past week, including Malaysians.

Bound by same name

JAKARTA - Mr Jason Ting Kuan Yew, 32, was among the 70 people who were at the Singapore Embassy here yesterday to pay their last respects and watch the telecast.

"My father is an admirer of Lee Kuan Yew and even though I'm Malaysian, I was named after him," said Mr Ting, who was with his Indonesian wife Dewiani Muljadi and baby son. "We feel moved by the ceremony."

Singapore's Ambassador to Indonesia Anil Kumar Nayar said large numbers of people had signed the condolence book at the embassy. "Not just Singaporeans, not just political office-holders in Indonesia, but also ordinary Indonesians, Malaysians, other foreigners," he said.

Don't want to grieve alone

NEW DELHI - Some held hands, others comforted each other as tears fell when more than 40 Singaporeans met at the Singapore High Commission here yesterday.

Some said they came because they did not want to watch Mr Lee's last journey 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, chief executive of Vistara, the joint venture airline between Singapore Airlines and Tata Sons. The Malaysian is a Singapore permanent resident.

Indian flags flew at half-mast yesterday as the South Asian country marked a day of national mourning in honour of Mr Lee.

Said Mr Lim Thuan Kuan, Singapore's High Commissioner to India: "The response has been emotional from Singaporeans of all ages, even the younger ones. You see people crying as they sign the book."

Missing home

MANILA - Solemn and silent, nearly 100 people were at the Singapore Embassy in the heart of Manila's financial district to watch Mr Lee's final journey.

"When you're stuck in heavy traffic at 6pm, you miss home. You miss the Singapore that Lee Kuan Yew built," said Mr Christopher Tan, 23, who has been in the Philippines for six months to help with his father's fish trading business.

Mr Peter Tay, 60, president of the Singapore Philippine Association, said he would have queued for eight hours himself to pay his respects to Mr Lee had he been in Singapore.

Reports by Kor Kian Beng, Tan Hui Yee, Shannon Teoh, Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Nirmala Ganapathy and Raul Dancel