Lee Kuan Yew lies in state as Singaporeans bid farewell

AP News
Posted: Mar 25, 2015 8:30 AM
Lee Kuan Yew lies in state as Singaporeans bid farewell

SINGAPORE (AP) — Singaporeans stood in silence Wednesday as Lee Kuan Yew's coffin traveled on a ceremonial gun carriage a short distance from the presidential palace to Parliament, where thousands waited for hours to pay respects to the city-state's founder before a funeral this weekend.

Lee, 91, died Monday at Singapore General Hospital after more than a month of battling severe pneumonia. The government declared a week of mourning for the leader who is credited with transforming the resource-poor island into a wealthy finance and trade hub with low crime and corruption in a region saddled with graft, instability and poverty.

Hundreds of mourners lined the street outside the presidential palace, where Lee's remains lay at a two-day private wake, as the carriage with his coffin draped with a Singapore flag in a glass case was escorted by Singapore's prime minister and his eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, and other children.

Many raised smartphones to record the procession and some were heard chanting Lee's name quietly and others applauded. Roads nearby were closed despite peak-hour traffic.

Outside Parliament, people formed a line several kilometers (miles) long to view Lee's body, some carrying umbrellas to protect against the tropical sun. Many waited several hours for a chance to get in.

"He has contributed all his life for the country and we respect him for what he has done. Look at Singapore now, without him, we are not here today," said Irene Kang, who came to pay her respect.

Lee will lie in state ahead of a state funeral at the National University of Singapore on Sunday.

Among those attending will be Southeast Asian heads of state and Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Tony Abbott of Australia.