Thousands Pay Tribute to Lee on Singapore's Streets

Gurdip Singh/Singapore
Thousands Pay Tribute to Lee on Singapore's Streets

Thousands of people today queued up outside Singapore's Parliament House to have a glimpse of the country's founding father Lee Kuan Yew lying in state as his casket was taken there for public viewing.

Singaporeans in huge numbers chanting "We love you, Lee Kuan Yew!" lined Singapore's streets earlier in the day to pay tribute to Lee and later outside the country's legislature where they had to wait for nearly eight hours to see the demised leader who transformed their lives.

The coffin, wrapped in the Singaporean flag, was taken in a slow motorcade on a gun carriage as people wept on the streets, mourning the loss of the 91-year-old patriarch who passed away on Monday.

People in large numbers lined the route from the Istana government complex, Lee's workplace for decades as prime minister and cabinet advisor, to the Parliament House and chanted the name of modern Singapore's first premier.

An open-topped military truck pulled the gun carriage carrying the dark brown wooden coffin in a glass case as shouts of "We love you!" and "Lee Kuan Yew!" filled the air.

"Auld Lang Syne" played on bagpipes as the hour-long procession started from the Istana.

Singaporeans will be able to pay their last respects to the founding premier round the clock till Saturday.

Officials said in a statement they were taken aback by the "overwhelming response" from the public and are discouraging people from joining the queue. The viewing was meant to end at 8pm local time but has since been extended twice.

The funeral is on Sunday and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian premier Tony Abbott will be among Southeast Asian heads of state present.

Other leaders scheduled to attend the funeral are Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, South Korea's President Park Geun Hye, Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Myanmar's President Thein Sein and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The procession carrying the body of Mr Lee will make its final journey around key parts of the city-state before it goes to Mandai Crematorium, on the outskirts for cremation.

"Due to overwhelming response from members of the public, the lying in state at Parliament House will be open 24 hours daily from today until 28 Mar 2015, 8pm," according to latest information on the Remembering Lee Kuan Yew website.

Condolence cards will also be available for them to pen their tributes. Those with flowers can also lay them at the condolence boards, it said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is also Lee's eldest son and Singapore's third Premier, has declared a period of national mourning from March 23 to 29. Singapore plunged into mourning following the death of Lee, who was respected globally for having directed the city-state's development during 30 years as Prime Minister and later as a senior minister as well as mentor minister.

Singapore's economic success and infrastructure development is attributed to Lee's government policies, which at times were hard but yielded the most out of an island city- state with no natural resources.

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