His body rests near the Istana lawns he loved

His body rests near the Istana lawns he loved
Minister Ng Eng Hen and his wife Ivy Ng paying their respects.

IT WAS a fitting resting place for the body of Singapore's founding Prime Minister.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's casket was laid out in a simple room on the ground floor of Sri Temasek, the official residence of the Prime Minister in the Istana grounds.

In life, he had spent many happy moments taking strolls on the Istana's green lawns with his wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo.

Yesterday, at a private family wake, the casket rested on a bed of white orchids in the two-storey detached terrace house.

More than 1,200 people paid their respects to Mr Lee, who died yesterday at the age of 91.

The mood at Sri Temasek was sombre. Staff members were dressed in crisp white shirts and black trousers, and wore a black band around their left elbow that signified mourning.

Several visitors, including political leaders past and present, also had black ribbons pinned to their shirts.

They were received by Mr Lee's elder son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Like many of his family members, PM Lee wore a white polo shirt, dark-coloured trousers and formal black shoes.

He moved among the guests, accepting their condolences and asking after them in turn.

Most Cabinet ministers and MPs were accompanied by their spouses. Others, like Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean, also took their children along.

Mostly in silence, they filed past Mr Lee's immediate family members, who stood at the entrance to the hall.

What caught their eye was a black-and-white portrait of Mr Lee. Dressed in a dark suit with a mandarin collar, he gazed to the side, hands clasped contemplatively together.

As they approached the casket, some bowed their heads. Others said a simple prayer.

Several, like Dr Lily Neo, who was Mr Lee's fellow MP in Tanjong Pagar GRC, could not hold back their tears as they left the hall.

Mrs Lee Suet Fern, who is married to Mr Lee's son, Hsien Yang, comforted her.

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