Lee Kuan Yew eulogised as architect of Singapore

2015-03-29 12:58
(Picture: AP)

(Picture: AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Singapore - Singaporeans bid farewell to longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew with an elaborate procession on Sunday and a three-hour state funeral where his son, the current prime minister, eulogised the statesman and declared that the wealthy Southeast Asian city state he helped build is his monument.

Tens of thousands of people undeterred by heavy rains lined a 15km route through the city to catch a glimpse of the funeral cortege. Lee's coffin, draped in Singapore's red and white flag and protected from the downpour by a glass casing, lay atop a ceremonial gun carriage that was solemnly led past city landmarks from parliament to a cultural centre where the state funeral was under way.

Walking slowly in the coffin's wake as it exited parliament were Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, other Lee family members and government officials.

Along the way, crowds of people chanted "Lee Kuan Yew," snapped photos with smartphones and waved Singapore's flag.

Four howitzers fired a 21-gun salute, air force fighter jets streaked over the island, with one peeling off in a "missing man" formation, and navy patrol ships blasted horns.

"To those who seek Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's monument, Singaporeans can reply proudly: Look around you," Lee Hsien Loong said at a funeral service attended by more than 2 000 people including schoolchildren, Singapore's elite, world leaders and royalty.

During a week of national mourning that began Monday after Lee's death at age 91, about 450 000 people queued for hours for a glimpse of the statesman's coffin at Parliament House. A million people visited tribute sites at community centres around the city.

The expansive show of emotion is a rare event for Singapore and its 5.5 million people. The island nation about four times the size of Washington DC is known around the world as a wealthy trade and finance centre with a strict social order including a ban on chewing gum and caning for some crimes.

Special sitting

Lee was Singapore's prime minister for more than three decades, ruling with an iron grip until 1990. He is regarded by Singaporeans as the architect of their nation's prosperity and harmonious relations among ethnic Chinese, Malay and Indian populations.

But his authoritarian rule and crushing of dissent has also left a legacy of restrictions on free speech, a tame media and a stunted democracy.

"He did everything for us Singaporeans regardless of race, language or religion," said Jennie Yeo, a teacher who arrived at 07:00 to stake out front row positions with two friends.

"Education, housing, everything you can think of, he's taken care of for us," she said.

Leaders and dignitaries from more than two dozen countries are attending the funeral. The US delegation is led by former president Bill Clinton. Others included the prime ministers of India, Narendra Modi, Japan's Shinzo Abe and Australia's Tony Abbott.

Earlier this week, lawmakers paid a teary tribute to Lee in a special sitting of parliament. Low Thia Khiang, the leader of Singapore's tiny political opposition, acknowledged Lee's role in nation-building in a brief speech but said he did not believe one-party rule was the key to the country's economic development.

"Many Singaporeans were sacrificed during the process of nation-building and policymaking and our society has paid a price for it," he said. "This is why Mr Lee is also a controversial figure in some people's eyes."

Abroad, India has declared a national day of mourning and in New Zealand, the government is flying flags at half-staff.

During the funeral service, civil defence sirens will blare across the island to begin a minute's silence.

Read more on:    lee kuan yew  |  singapore

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.