News

He has given us...

...a national spirit

The Singapore spirit, once expressed vocally in the Kallang Roar, is alive and well in Ms Amy Lee's family.

The multigenerational family expressed it not by raising their voices but by getting people to wave the flag.

Yesterday, the 16 family members, aged 11 to 82, distributed 10,000 flags outside Raffles City Shopping Centre.

Ms Lee, 43, especially wanted the children in her family to get involved.

"I wanted them to know that they should always come back to Singapore even if they study overseas.

"I wanted them to remember their roots," Ms Lee, who runs party shop Heartlink Trading told The New Paper .

The storms that hit the City Hall area at about 11am did not deter Ms Lee and her family, who started giving out the flags at 9am.

"We told the kids to take shelter and let the adults do it but they insisted that they could do it," she said.

TNP later learnt that this plan was hatched only last Saturday night, after Ms Lee's mother, Madam Tan Hwee Poon, came home from a community tribute centre.

She had wanted to do something more for Mr Lee, and the mother and daughter thought of the National Day flags on the party shop's inventory list.

The 68-year-old said: "I wanted Mr Lee to be sent off in a sea of red and white."

It took 2½ hours before all 10,000 flags were distributed. By then, Ms Lee and her family members were drenched, but happy.


...a delivered promise

Mr Lee Kuan Yew made promises and he delivered on them.

That is what motivated Mr Mohammed Arsad Khamidto go to the Padang for the state funeral procession.

"I'm 61 years old, so I lived through Singapore's hard times," said the canteen operator.

"I lived through the riots and now when I look around, I see for myself how far Singapore has progressed."

He and his wife, Madam Hannidah Hanim, 51, a housewife, and their two children arrived at St Andrew's Road at 7.30am yesterday.

They stayed on to watch the state funeral cortege pass by in the torrential downpour.

"He has done a lot for Singapore to ensure our growth. So even though we got wet, we feel the need to stay on," said Madam Hannidah.


...a nation transformed

The rain and wind in the Central Business District was relentless.

But as well-wishers sought shelter, Mr Soh Swan Fong stood his ground opposite his workplace, the NTUC Centre, with a flag at half-mast in hand.

He had arrived at about 7am and took up his position at the junction of Collyer Quay and Marina Boulevard at 9.30am.

The 65-year-old head of facilities has seen Singapore's transformation under Mr Lee's guidance with his own eyes.

"We had nothing, we were a nation under threat," said a tearful Mr Soh, his voice quaking with emotion.

"We are a people now, a nation. There's nothing I can do now but stand here for Mr Lee, rain or shine, to pay my respects."


...homes of our own

For 60 years, Mr Lee Kuan Yew served as their MP.

Yesterday, residents of Tanjong Pagar GRC flocked to the streets and braved the rain to thank him for giving them a roof over their heads.

One of them was Mr Mok Ah Lai (below), 76, a part-time cleaner who has lived at Silat Road for more than 30 years.

"We used to live in attap houses in kampungs. Now, we own and live in sturdy HDB flats. From nothing, we now have everything," he said.

When Mr Lee became Prime Minister in 1959, his government embarked on a massive and urgent building programme.

Today, 90 per cent of HDB dwellers own their homes.

Mr Marcus Yeo (top), 36, a project manager who lives near the Pinnacle@Duxton, also camped by the road below his block with his wife Nicole Chew, 34, an accounts executive.

"He brought us forward with his leadership and vision, and united us as a country," he said.


...a multicultural society

Outside the Bukit Merah Community Library yesterday, Singapore's multiculturalism was on show.

Dressed in their bright orange outfits, 20 members of the Nam Sieng Dragon And Lion Dance Activity Centre were there since 9am to pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew with 11 lions, said founder Lim Chew Seng, 50.

"In the past two decades, we've performed for Mr Lee four times, so we wanted a final gesture to see him off," Mr Lim told The New Paper in Mandarin.

Next to the colourful group sat housewife Letchumy Nallappan, clutching a single white lily.

She had bought the lily on Thursday, but it bloomed only on Saturday night - just in time for the funeral procession.

Looking up at the overcast skies, Madam Letchumy who had been waiting since 10.30am, said: "In Hindu culture, it's good to have rain at a funeral, because it means that the heavens are crying for the dead."

At about 1.30pm, Madam Letchumy held on to her lily as 11 yellow, orange-and-white lions bowed with their eyes closed as Mr Lee's casket on a gun carriage rolled past in the pouring rain.


...a clean country

Although she lives in Sembawang, retiree Ng Mui Yong, 69, was at Queensway by 9.30am.

Together with 49 residents from Canberra Zone 6 Residents' Committee, she was there to pay her last respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

She said in Mandarin: "Life is much better now - we don't have to struggle like in the past."

Ms Ng (above, in black trousers, holding an umbrella) lived in the kampung when she was young and life was hard.

She added: "My parents were very poor. We planted vegetables, reared chickens and ducks, but there's no demand for our vegetables.

"Our lives improved only after independence."

Ms Ng noted how Singapore has changed over the years under Mr Lee's leadership: Singapore now has clean tap water, clean streets and hygienic sewerage systems - things we often take for granted.

She said: "The Singapore River used to be very smelly. But now, it is so clean. Mr Lee made sure it is clean."


...a father figure

Cleaners Masliyati, 54, and Shanti Sankaran, 46, were overcome with grief when they heard of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's passing.

Madam Masliyati said: "We were crying so hard we could hardly work."

The women, who were at Commonwealth MRT station, respect Mr Lee so much "for everything he has done" that they call him their "big father".

Madam Shanti said: "We wanted to see 'father' one last time to thank him."

Retiree Lee Ah Ai, 75, showed her respect for Mr Lee by buying a black blouse for $20. She had worn a colourful top, but her church friends said she should wear black.

She had queued for hours to pay her respects at Parliament House and had also attended a community tribute.

For her, it was all worth it because "he took great care of the country".


...a sense of community

They had been at Commonwealth Avenue West as early as 6.30am, and despite the torrential rain, they were undeterred.

Madam Priscilla Mon, 40, and her friend Madam Sally Chen, 44, were among a group of 20 who paid their final respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

The group comprised of parents and their children, who had graduated from the same kindergarten.

Madam Mon said: "We wanted to pay our last respects. We wanted to thank him for our lives and our kids' lives too."

Madam Chen was so driven to say her goodbyes that for three days in a row - Thursday, Friday and Saturday - she queued up and paid her respects at Parliament House.

Madam Mon also went down to queue up on Wednesday, but she failed to get in. On her second attempt on Thursday morning, she managed to pay her respects.


...a first-class education

Retiree Chua Hoe Neo has seven children, the eldest being 62.

They have all received "first-class education in Singapore", she said. It is something Madam Chua, 83, is grateful to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew for.

Madam Chua travelled from Bukit Batok East where she lives to Dover MRT station at 9am yesterday to catch a glimpse of Mr Lee's funeral procession.

She told The New Paper in Hokkien: "Thanks to Mr Lee and his emphasis on education, all my children are educated and speak two languages fluently."

Madam Chua recalled the years before Mr Lee became the first Prime Minister of Singapore when she lived in an attap house with no electricity.

"We led very tough lives then, but Mr Lee told us: 'Don't worry, I will make your lives better'," she said.

"He did."


...a love for my country

It poured.

And the rain soaked this family who had been waiting since lunchtime to say their last goodbye to Mr Lee Kuan Yew outside University Cultural Centre (UCC).

But they were happy to get wet.

Civil servant Asnida Daud, 42, said: "I'm glad it rained.

"The kids can feel what it was like in 1966 (when it rained during Singapore's first National Day Parade), when people did not flinch despite the downpour."

She and husband Jeffrey Zauhari, 41, had brought their four children, aged five to 13, from their Pasir Panjang home.

As the funeral procession turned into UCC, chants of "Lee Kuan Yew" and "Majulah Singapura" broke out.

Just like how Mr Lee loved Singapore, Madam Asnida said: "I hope that my children will learn what it's like to love Singapore, through this great man."


THE NEW PAPER TEAM: Azim Azman, Chai Hung Yin, Jonathan Choo, Gavin Foo, Foo Jie Ying, Heather Humphries, Koh Hui Theng, Elizabeth Law, Jocelyn Lee, Ronald Loh, Gregory Loo, Ken Lu, Benjamin Seetor, David Sun, Judith Tan, Phyllicia Wang, Yeoh Wee Teck

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