No matter what, they will be there for him
With his trusty walking stick and the support of his wife, he made his way on Thursday morning to Parliament House, where Mr Lee Kuan Yew is lying in state.
But the mood was so sombre that visually handicapped Khoo Kong Ngian, who relies on his hearing to discern what is happening, became confused.
"I didn't know what was going on, but I prayed and chanted for him. I felt closer to him even though I cannot see," the 67-year-old retiree recalls.
He spent more than an hour in the priority queue, but had been fully prepared to queue for longer than that.
"It's quite problematic for me to take the bus to get there and I always need to trouble someone to be my guide," says the former army captain.
Mr Khoo developed an eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa in 2000 which resulted in him becoming blind over the years.
The wait on Thursday was made worse when the couple accidentally joined the queue of people exiting Parliament House.
This meant that they had to join the priority queue all over again, but thankfully, it was short at that time.
Mr Khoo wants to be at the roadside to observe the funeral procession today. It is because of one memory he has of Mr Lee on the Istana lawn in the early 70s, when he was an officer at the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute (Safti).
Singapore had separated from Malaysia a few years back and its military, established by then Prime Minister Lee, was still at its infancy.
Mr Khoo was there to prepare for a passing out parade by Safti cadets when he bumped into Mr Lee.
"I said 'Good morning, Sir' and saluted him. It turned out that I was heading in the same direction as him, so we walked side by side. I was absolutely terrified."
As they walked together quietly, a teenage cadet appeared in front of them.
Recalls Mr Khoo: "The cadet was his elder son Lee Hsien Loong. He was also there to prepare for the parade and was rushing past us."
Then PM Lee stopped his son and chided him. Mr Khoo says: "He said, 'Cadet, you didn't respect your officer.' He was stern and didn't refer to (Lee Hsien Loong) by name or 'son'."
The cadet saluted Mr Khoo immediately.
"I returned the salute and remember being quite shocked. I've always regarded him as a strict and impartial man."
Now, he wants to return the favour to Mr Lee by being there for the final farewell, however difficult it might be.
His son, an army captain, is one of the vigil guards at Parliament House guarding Mr Lee's coffin and is showing his superior the same respect Mr Lee demanded from his son, says Mr Khoo.
"Even if I can't understand what's happening, I don't mind taking the extra effort to be there."
He's going... even though he is ill
"They say I'm old and there'll be thousands of people there. They are afraid I can't stand it as I get tired easily. But I can still walk. I can still cycle. I'm not bedridden. I want to go." - Mr Joe Oh (above), who suffers from cancer - TNP FILE PHOTO
Beset by cancer and poor health, Mr Joe Oh still wants to bid his final farewell to Mr Lee Kuan Yew today.
"If I don't go to see him, I'll regret it for the rest of my life," says Mr Oh, 80, a retiree.
"I want to be there to say my last goodbye."
He does not know how much time he has left, only that he is "counting down the number of years".
He is not even sure what type of cancer he has. All he knows is that he was diagnosed with it in 2013 and had to have his right lung and right kidney removed.
A growth in his bladder also made life difficult and painful for him, he adds.
Because of his condition, his children do not want him to join the crowd lining the route of the funeral procession.
Says Mr Oh: "They say I'm old and there'll be thousands of people there. They are afraid I can't stand it as I get tired easily. But I can still walk. I can still cycle. I'm not bedridden. I want to go."
He says catching a last glimpse of Mr Lee will bring back fond memories.
In his youth, Mr Oh used to follow the then prime minister around at his political rallies to "listen to his words and the way he speaks".
HE REPRESENTED US
Mr Oh recounts fondly: "I can remember very well the merger days in the 60s.
"There were many talks between the two countries (of Singapore and Malaya), but most importantly, it was Mr Lee who represented us Singaporeans."
Some 50 years later, he can still recall the impact of Mr Lee's speeches, especially those in the turbulent days after Singapore separated from Malaysia.
"They (Malaysia) wanted bumiputera-style policies, but Mr Lee wanted meritocracy.
"Mr Lee didn't cave in. He fought for where we are today. He is our fighter."
Today will mark the last time the public can see Mr Lee before the coffin departs the National University of Singapore's University Cultural Centre for a private service at Mandai Crematorium.
Mr Oh, who is unsure where he will station himself during the procession, says he will not stop trying to "convince" his family to let him to join the crowd.
"Eventually, they'll relent. I have to pay my respects to Mr Lee," he adds.
She's going... even though she can't walk
"I wish I could stand up to get a better view. He worked so tirelessly for us in the past. It can't be compared to the effort I need to be there for the procession." - Miss Dawn Ng Wee Ling (above), who has been wheelchair-bound since she tore her tendon in a football match two months ago - TNP PHOTO: NG JUN SEN
She has been wheelchair-bound since she tore a tendon in a football match two months ago.
But Miss Dawn Ng Wee Ling, 36, says she will watch the funeral procession.
"I will be there, even if I have to crawl," says Miss Ng.
The procession will go past her block in Jalan Bukit Merah, in Tanjong Pagar GRC which Mr Lee represented in Parliament.
She has lived there with her mother, Madam Tay Chong Kiang, 62, all her life.
Says the quantity surveyor: "I have never met Mr Lee, but I know that he is our founding father and I have to pay my respects no matter what it takes."
To do so, she also joined an hour-long queue at the Padang on Thursday morning.
She had expected to queue for hours and enlisted her mother's help.
"It wasn't easy moving around, there were many kerbs to get past and it was hard on my mother. Luckily, there were many marshals helping out and one stranger volunteered to push me all the way," she said.
Today, she intends to be a part of the massive crowd hoping to see Mr Lee for the last time.
Says Miss Ng: "I wish I could stand up to get a better view.
"He worked so tirelessly for us in the past. It can't be compared to the effort I need to be there for the procession."