SINGAPORE - As Singaporeans mourned the passing of their founding father, Malaysians based here shared their grief, expressing comforting words.
An estimated 500,000 Malaysians work and study here.
In the shopping hub of Orchard Road where many Malaysians are employed in the retail sector, messages of sympathy were exchanged just as stores opened for business.
Although it seemed very much like business as usual, the deep sense of sadness was evident as people paid tribute "to LKY (Lee Kuan Yew), the man who gave us a better life".
Honorary secretary of the Malaysian Association in Singapore, Shawn Lourdesamy, who has lived in the republic for two decades, said although many had expected Lee's death, it was still hard to accept the reality of it.
"Many of us Malaysians were not here when Lee ruled Singapore. Now, we are enjoying the fruits of his labour.
"Some may want to question his tough and firm style of governance but there is no denying that he made Singapore into what it is today," said Lourdesamy, the founder of the Causeway Exchange, an arts grouping between Malaysia and Singapore.
Mike Liew, a Malaysian who runs a PR agency, said LKY would be irreplaceable.
"What Lee has done for Singapore has been amazing. The expatriate community here recognises that," he added.
At the gates of the Istana presidential palace, huge groups of mourners - many of them young Singaporeans - came as early as 8am to lay wreaths and bouquets as well as to pen messages of sympathy.
Lee's coffin is being kept at Sri Temasek, the Prime Minister's official residence within the Istana grounds.
"Thank you for all that you have done for Singapore. Please rest in peace," wrote Diana Kwok.
Another message read: "Our beloved leader, the Lion in our hearts you will always remain."
Among those who came to pay their respects were Singapore tour guide Lily Ying and her 12-year-old daughter Jaycey.
"My daughter wanted to follow me here. Such is the greatness of LKY," said Lily.
Japanese couple Shin and Miku Akiyama, who work and live here, said the expatriate community felt safe here.
"We owe it to Lee for laying the foundation for Singapore's success," added Shin.