The crowds that turned up in the tens of thousands to bid Mr Lee Kuan Yew a final goodbye were far bigger than expected, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday.
About 147,800 people have paid their last respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House in the last two days, with people waiting in long queues round the clock.
"When we planned this one week of national mourning, we of course expected a tremendous outpouring of emotions. But the reality exceeded our expectations," Mr Khaw said at a tribute to Mr Lee held by People's Action Party activists last night.
"We thought we would just close at 8pm. But very quickly, we found that we were wrong. And now even with 24 hours, we are afraid that we will not be able to fully fulfil the wishes of Singaporeans. But we will do our best."
What was reassuring was that despite the long wait, people were calm, Mr Khaw said.
"People are sad, yes, but there isn't this fear or worry that the great man has passed on and Singapore will collapse," he said.
"That shows the great achievement of this man. He made sure that a post-Lee Kuan Yew society will continue to be sustainable and continue to be successful."
People have until 8pm tomorrowto pay homage to Mr Lee who is lying in state.