Tanjong Pagar mourns Lee

Tanjong Pagar mourns Lee
Mr Seow Cheong Choon, 80, wept yesterday as he described how his faith in Singapore's first Prime Minister grew over the years.

SINGAPORE - All of Singapore was his stage, but Lee Kuan Yew reserved a special place in his heart for Tanjong Pagar and its residents.

Yesterday, the outpouring of grief in the post-Lee era was most evident in Tanjong Pagar, where he served as MP until his last breath.

Lee was first elected Tanjong Pagar MP in 1955.

When he was hospitalised on Feb 5, the residents dedicated a special "get well corner" for him at the Tanjong Pagar Community Club, where they would usually meet him.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was so touched by the gesture that he went to personally thank them last week, as his ailing father lay in critical condition at the Singapore General Hospital.

The senior Lee passed away at the hospital at 3.18am on Monday. He was 91.

Thousands of people have turned up at the club - one of 18 community sites opened across the country for the public to pay their last respects to Singapore's founding father.

Many wrote "Goodbye, Papa" in their condolence messages, while others quietly reminisced about his deeds.

Ng Kim Khai, 77, paralysed by a stroke for over two decades, said he came to remember Kuan Yew's spirit and his 60 years of sacrifices.

"He delivered on his promise to give us a better life. He did not give us false hopes," said Ng.

Tanjong Pagar Citizens Consultation Committee chairman Charles Ho said although Lee had been ill for several years, it did not stop him from caring for his constituents.

"Two years ago, we were informed that he was sick and would not be able to attend the 48th National Day celebrations at the club.

"But he surprised everyone by coming and managing a speech in English and Chinese, although it was just a short one due to his weak condition," said Ho.

William Tan, a community leader in the area, said a tree-planting event last November was one of Lee's final events in Tanjong Pagar.

"He looked pale but he still came. Such was his dedication," he said.

Over at the Ang Mo Kio Central Stage community centre, long queues began forming as early as 8am.

The area is under the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency, which is led by Hsien Loong.

Resident Patricia Low, 76, said she and her husband cried after learning of Lee's death.

"Hsien Loong has done very well as PM but as he himself said, Singapore will never see another Lee Kuan Yew," she added.

Lee's body will lie in state at Parliament House until Saturday (10am to 8pm) before a state funeral service at the University Cultural Centre at 2pm on Sunday.

This will be followed by a private cremation service at the Mandai Crematorium.

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