IN THE early hours of Monday morning last week, after former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew died at 3.18am, officers from various agencies swung into action.
Throughout the week of national mourning that followed, many more public servants worked long hours with little rest to let more than 1.5 million Singaporeans pay their last respects to Mr Lee.
Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean thanked the officers, saying their efforts "exemplified the very values that Mr Lee had shown throughout his life - commitment, dedication and personal sacrifice".
In a note sent to 141,000 public servants from 16 ministries and more than 50 statutory boards, he said that last week had been a difficult one for Singapore. "The Public Service lost a visionary leader who made a profound impact on our ethos, policies and culture," said Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister and minister- in-charge of the civil service.
He praised officers for responding swiftly to ground conditions. For example, officers from the Transport Ministry and Land Transport Authority worked seamlessly to extend public transport hours through the night to cater to the unexpectedly huge crowds streaming to Parliament House where Mr Lee's body lay in state.
The Traffic Police worked to coordinate road closures, while officers at the National Library Board, National Heritage Board, National Museum and National Parks Board organised exhibitions and tributes dedicated to Mr Lee.
Officers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Trade and Industry facilitated visits by foreign dignitaries and industry leaders who travelled to Singapore to pay respects to Mr Lee, while overseas missions opened their doors to Singaporeans abroad who wanted to pay tribute and pen condolences.
Many more worked tirelessly behind the scenes coordinating plans from different agencies, said Mr Teo.
On Sunday, when Mr Lee's cortege travelled 15.4km from Parliament House to the University Cultural Centre, "the downpour brought us all closer together", he said. "Our officers, with their families, stood together with fellow Singaporeans steadfastly in the rain to bid Mr Lee a dignified and memorable farewell."
He added that throughout the week, younger officers in particular said they had a deeper appreciation of how their work was closely tied to Mr Lee's vision for a better Singapore. "The stories shared by many of you have inspired other colleagues, and helped renew a deep sense of purpose in public service," Mr Teo said.
He ended his note by telling officers: "For every one of us, the best tribute we can give to honour Mr Lee is to sustain his legacy, and to rededicate ourselves to creating a better Singapore for all."
Two days after Mr Lee's funeral and the end of the week of national mourning, tributes and remembrances continued to be posted online yesterday.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared a post by blogger Mr Brown on his Facebook page.
The black-and-white photo essay of the rainy wait for Mr Lee's cortege to pass through the streets on Sunday was "beautifully captured and narrated", said PM Lee.
This article was first published on Apr 1, 2015.
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