الأحد , يونيو 7 2020

Singapore holds Lee Kuan Yew funeral

Singapore is bidding farewell to its founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died on Monday aged 91.

Despite torrential rain, thousands lined the streets to view the funeral procession carrying Mr Lee’s coffin from parliament, where it has been lying in state, across the city.

A state funeral attended by world leaders is now taking place, ahead of a private family cremation ceremony.

One million people have visited tribute sites this week, say local media.

More than half a million people – 12% of Singaporean citizens – visited Parliament House to see Mr Lee’s coffin, while at least 850,000 others went to community sites to pay tribute.

In his eulogy, Mr Lee’s son and the current Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong, said his father had “lived and breathed Singapore all his life”.

“The light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished,” he said.

People line funeral route in Singapore (29 March 2015)

Many people secured their spot along the route early on Sunday morning

People in the rain watching funeral procession

There were both tears and cheering as the procession came in to view

Guns in rain at parliament

The guns for the salute were barely visible through the rain

The funeral procession began on Sunday at 12:30 (04:30 GMT) as Mr Lee’s body was taken from Parliament House on a gun carriage.

A 21-gun salute sounded, echoing across the city, as the procession moved on into the business district and Tanjong Pagar, the docklands constituency Mr Lee represented for his whole political life.

Military jets flew overhead while two Singaporean navy vessels conducted a sail-past of the Marina Bay barrage – the massive water conservation project spearheaded by Mr Lee.

Funeral procession in Singapore

Crowds lined the entire funeral route through the city despite pouring rain

The BBC’s Tessa Wong said the crowds lining the route occasionally broke into chants of “Majulah Singapore” – meaning Forward Singapore in Malay, one of the official languages.

As the funeral procession rolled into view the chants grew louder, she adds, in scenes that practical-minded Singapore has not seen in decades.

‘Deeply moving’

The funeral procession arrived at a cultural centre in the west of the country at around 13:30 for the state funeral. Foreign leaders including former US President Bill Clinton, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and UK House of Commons leader William Hague are attending.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe arrives at the funeral

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is among the scores of dignitaries and world leaders attending the funeral

Australian PM Tony Abbott and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the funeral

Australian PM Tony Abbott and Indonesian President Joko Widodo – who have been involved in recent diplomatic spats – shook hands as they arrived for the funeral

The country will also observe a minute’s silence in the afternoon before singing the national anthem. The private cremation is taking place at the Mandai crematorium.

Map of funeral route
line

At the scene: Jonathan Head, BBC South East Asia correspondent

At Tanjong Pagar, the constituency where Lee Kuan Yew was MP for 60 years, until shortly before his death, large TV screens have been put up at the sides of an area where bouquets of flowers have been laid by local people and businesses.

The screens, like every other media outlet, are replaying over and over speeches and highlights of Mr Lee’s long career, and tributes not just to him, but also his family, some of whom occupy senior government positions.

This relentless publicity has the feel now of a sustained propaganda drive to ensure Singaporeans remember Mr Lee’s incomparable contribution to the nation – at times it comes close to a personality cult.

But the sense of loss many Singaporeans feel is genuine and heartfelt. This is a tightly choreographed funeral, with a huge organisational effort visible even in this neighbourhood to ensure the event passes off smoothly, and that as much of the city-state’s population as possible can witness it.

Which direction will Singapore take now?

line
Pictures and flowers are seen in front of a memorial area for Singapore's late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew outside the parliament building where he lies in state ahead of his funeral in Singapore, 28 March 2015

Lee Kuan Yew was hugely respected in Singapore and across the region

Queues around Parliament House (29 March 2015)

Local media say nearly half a million people queued to see Mr Lee lying in state

Mr Lee was Singapore’s prime minister for 31 years. He stepped down in 1990 but remained hugely influential in political life and was held in deep affection by Singaporeans.

He oversaw Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia. He was widely respected as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity – the city-state’s GNP per capita increased 15-fold between 1960 and 1980.

However, Mr Lee also introduced tight controls. Under him, freedom of speech and the press was tightly restricted and political opponents were targeted by the courts.

Speaking about his legacy to the New York Times in 2010, Mr Lee said: “I’m not saying that everything I did was right, but everything I did was for an honourable purpose.”

line

Are you attending Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral procession or service? Tell us about your experience by emailing

Send your pictures and videos to

Read our terms and conditions.

شاهد أيضاً

COPTIC SOLIDARITY LAUNCHES URGENT CALL TO END CRIME OF FORCED DISAPPEARANCE OF COPTIC WOMEN IN EGYPT

A Coptic woman, Ranya Abd al-Masih (“servant of Christ”), 39, disappeared in Egypt on April 22, 2020, …