A very Singaporean send-off for Mr Lee

A very Singaporean send-off for Mr Lee
Despite the heavy downpour, members of the public along Commonwealth Avenue did not let up on shouting “Lee Kuan Yew” while waiting for the cortege to pass by.

WHETHER it was to secure a good spot to view the funeral procession, or make the crowds that lined the roads along Commonwealth Avenue West feel more comfortable, planning was needed.

Private school teacher Alice Ng made a mental note of a spot along Commonwealth Avenue West as soon as she got confirmation of the procession route.

It was on the divider under a stretch of the overhead MRT track between Buona Vista and Dover MRT stations.

The 48-year-old said: "Every time I took the bus home the past few days, I would look at the place and say, 'it is perfect'."

Ms Ng came down at 9.30am with two chairs - one for herself, the other for daughter Shermaine Lam, 16. The wait was nothing.

"What is this compared to what Mr Lee has done for Singapore," said Ms Ng, tearfully.

New Creation Church had a lot more people to think about.

It started assembling an army of volunteers several days ago. Anticipating a large crowd lining the streets, the church ordered 13,500 bottles of water, 4,000 packets of biscuits, 1,000 buns and 70 umbrellas to shield off the sun.

But the volunteers did not expect the rain, and some ran to stores to purchase ponchos.

The mood of the crowd along the stretch of road which ran beside the Singapore Polytechnic, opened by the late Mr Lee in 1979, was sombre.

Some arrived as early as 9am. Carrying flags, they found spots on slopes around the hilly estate, and camped out on foldable chairs and mats. Others travelled from neighbourhoods beyond the west of Singapore.

They included a husband-and-wife pair, storeman Mohamad Lamin, 66, and housewife Sukati Mustaffa, 62, who live in Sembawang.

Squeezed under an umbrella as the rain poured, the couple, whose 36th wedding anniversary fell on the same day as Mr Lee's funeral, said they admired the late statesman's love for his wife.

"He was a loving father and husband and so dedicated to us as a nation... and we in return joined him on the streets to show our love," said Mr Mohamad.

Friends Aseling M., 75, and Asothai Samy, 68, both housewives, took cover under Commonwealth MRT's tracks.

When asked which of Mr Lee's policies impacted them the most, Ms Aseling teared up. She said: "We loved everything he did for us. It's so important for us to be here to bid him farewell."

melodyz@sph.com.sg

matt@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 30, 2015.
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