Steady stream of mourners long into the night

Steady stream of mourners long into the night
Members of the public exiting the Parliament House at 9.45pm, after paying their respect to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

The long queues that snaked along the Singapore River yesterday afternoon continued through the evening, with the after-work crowd adding to the lines waiting to pay their last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

At 10pm yesterday, the waiting time was estimated to be four hours, down from about eight hours at its peak.

Lines had also formed along the Supreme Court, The Adelphi shopping mall and stretched all the way to the Padang.

With bus and train services extended throughout the night, more people were expected to stream into Parliament overnight.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong thanked those who came, in a Facebook post that drew 40,000 likes in three hours: "(I) was moved by the huge crowds who came.

"Thank you for queuing so many hours in the hot sun to say goodbye to Mr Lee."

Among those who came to say their final farewells were members of the ruling party's Old Guard, who formed a group that kept vigil for half an hour.

Mr Ng Kah Ting, 75, who was MP for Punggol from 1963 to 1991, said: "My mind was going through all the years that I had shared with him, sometimes in his office in the Istana or in City Hall in the earlier days."

Former politician and diplomat Lee Khoon Choy, 91, said: "Mr Lee was a very special person. He had courage, he was resolute in his actions, and he was very frank."

Foreign visitors also paid tribute to Mr Lee. The choir of St John's College in Cambridge University, in town for a show, performed a rendition of the National Day song, Home, which PM Lee called "beautiful".

"My parents studied in Cambridge. They were not in St John's, but they had friends there, and one of their favourite places was the Bridge of Sighs, which is in St John's College.

"They took a picture together at the bridge when they were students, and went back over the years to visit," he said.

About 70 foreign dignitaries attended the first day of the public wake yesterday. They included the Sultan of Johor and the Sultan of Kelantan, as well as ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh.

Said Mr Minh: "He has left us a lasting legacy and for that, the people of the ASEAN community will forever remember him."

waltsim@sph.com.sg

 


This article was first published on March 26, 2015.
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