Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister when the country gained Independence in 1965, died on Monday (23rd March) at the age of 91. He had been in hospital for several weeks with severe pneumonia and while he was hospitalised, people left tributes and messages of goodwill at the hospital as his condition deteriorated.
A private family wake was held in the past 2 days (23rd and 24th March) at Sri Temasek. After which, a gun carriage brought Mr Lee’s body from Sri Temasek in the Istana compound to the Parliament House, where the public can pay their last respects.
The funeral procession was witnessed by President Tony Tan, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family, as well as the public who lined the streets to view the procession.
Starting today, Mr Lee’s body will lie in state at Parliament House from 25th March (Wednesday) to 28th March (Saturday), for the public to pay their respects. Those who wish to pay their last respects at Parliament House can do so 24 hours daily until 8pm on Saturday.
CNA reported that some companies and public sector organisations in Singapore are giving their employees time off to pay their respects:
- Telco StarHub will allow their staff time off to express their condolences or pay their last respects to the late Mr Lee from 11am to 2pm or be released early from 4:30pm, subject to supervisors’ approval.
- Singtel has sent a circular to their staff members, saying those who wish to pay their respects will be given 4 hours off.
- CapitaLand is organising a remembrance event for the board, management and staff on Friday, after which they will walk to Parliament House to pay their respects to the late Mr Lee. For those unable to join, flexibility for time off will be granted.
- Tyre manufacturer Goodyear is arranging for buses to transport staff to the Parliament House on Thursday so they can pay their respects too.
- Bank of Singapore is organising 2 visits to the Parliament House on Wednesday and Thursday. Interested employees are to gather at 5:30pm on each of both days before walking over.
Other financial organisations such as Citibank Singapore, UOB, and accounting firm EY are also allowing staff to take time off, with some even providing shuttle buses to the Parliament House.
As for public sector organisations, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is also giving staff time off to pay their respects. Channel NewsAsia understands they will go in batches between 3pm to 5pm, and will wear self-made brooches in the image of the late Mr Lee.
According to CNA, as of 11am on Wednesday (25th March), the queue stretched all the way from Parliament House to the Fullerton. By noon, the queue stretched past Boat Quay to Circular Road and the police closed off Circular Road to vehicles. There’s even a separate express queue for the elderly, handicapped, and pregnant women, who should go direct to Parliament House for priority access.
Members of the public have been advised to remain ordely, be patient and follow the directions of the marshals on the ground. Those wanting to join the queue should exit at Clarke Quay MRT station. Singapore government officials have said that those joining the queue as of 2pm should expect to wait at least 8 hours.
As queues to Parliament House continue to grow, some eateries along the way are putting business interests aside to offer liquid respite for those waiting in the hot, humid weather.
Shortly after Mr Lee’s body was moved from the Istana to Parliament House for the public to pay their last respects, the New Alam Shah Restaurant at Circular Road started to offer free water and canned drinks to those in the queue. Japanese restaurant Takumen along the same road also put out a table with an offer of free iced water. Free water was also being given out at the Fullerton Hotel, as well as in front of UOB Plaza.
Along Clarke Quay, another restaurant, Crazy Elephant, opened up its premises for people looking to get hydrated with free iced water.
A state funeral service will be held on Sunday afternoon at the National University of Singapore’s University Cultural Centre. For more updates from the 7-day funeral service and public homage, visit the official Remembering Lee Kuan Yew Facebook page.
In case you missed it, watch the full video from the gun carriage funeral procession which took place just this morning: