SINGAPORE - More than 330,000 people, equivalent to 10 per cent of Singapore's citizen population, have visited the city-state's parliament to pay their respects to late prime minister Lee Kuan Yew ahead of his cremation this weekend, officials said Saturday.
The surge of mourners was so great that the government had to temporarily suspend access to parliament late Friday for the sake of crowd safety.
At peak periods, mourners could only spend a few seconds in front of Lee's closed casket, many bowing quickly before being ushered to the exit.
The queue was reopened before dawn Saturday after the backlog was cleared. Lee's body has been lying in state in parliament since Wednesday after he died on Monday at the age of 91.
The city-state has a population of 5.5 million, but only 3.34 million are citizens. The rest are guest workers, expatriates and their families.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post Friday he was "deeply moved by the overwhelming response" of people wanting to pay respects to his father's lying in state.
But as many might not be able to do so because of the long queues, the government has set up a YouTube link for people to follow the events live, he said.
Lee, who died after a long illness, is credited with the rise of the former British colony into one of the world's wealthiest societies after he served as prime minister for 31 years, followed by another 20 years as cabinet adviser.
There has been a widespread show of grief - accompanied by tributes from world leaders - over the passing of the patriarch.
Lee is to be given full state honours before being cremated Sunday, including a 21-gun salute and a flypast by fighter jets.
Former US President Bill Clinton, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian King Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah are among the confirmed state representatives attending the funeral.