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SINGAPORE (UPDATED)– A giant of global politics was laid to rest on Sunday, March 29, as Singapore bade its founding father Lee Kuan Yew a final farewell.
Lee, 91, died Monday, March 23, after a prolonged bout of illness. Singapore was plunged into 7 days of mourning, with thousands of citizens and VIPs from around the world lining up to pay their last respects.
Tens of thousands of mourners braved torrential rain, howitzers fired a 21-gun salute and jet fighters screamed across the sky Sunday, as Singapore staged a grand funeral for its founding leader Lee Kuan Yew.
“The light that has guided us all this years has been extinguished,” his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said in a state funeral at the National University of Singapore attended by Asia-Pacific leaders.
Lee’s coffin, draped in the red-and-white national flag and protected by a glass case atop a two-wheeled gun carriage, was earlier taken in a procession from parliament pulled by a ceremonial Land Rover as a rain-soaked crowd chanted his name.
Four F-16 fighters from the air force’s Black Knights aerobatic team performed a fly-past – with one peeling off to symbolize a “missing man” – as the cortege made its way through a square where Lee was first sworn in as prime minister in 1959.
A 21-gun salute is normally reserved for sitting heads of state but an exception was made for Lee.
Officials said more than 450,000 people – in a nation with just 3.34 million citizens – had paid their last respects to Lee by the time his public wake ended in parliament on Saturday night, March 28.
Strangers huddled together under umbrellas as they waited patiently along the 15-kilometer (10-mile) procession route.
Families including babies and grandparents turned up early to secure choice spots, bringing umbrellas and plastic ponchos in anticipation of rain.
After the eulogies ended at the state funeral, civil defense sirens sounded across the island to signal the beginning and end of one minute of silence.
The funeral ended with the singing of the Malay-language national anthem “Majulah Singapura” (Onwards Singapore).
The state funeral was broadcast live on this page, starting at 12 nn Manila time (same timezone as Singapore). The live feed was courtesy of Channel NewsAsia. – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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