Yesterday (27 Mar 2015), I went to pay my last respects to MM Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House in Singapore.
This blog post is dedicated to the organisers and volunteers who tirelessly helped us ordinary folks pay our last respects to MM Lee in a comfortable and dignified way.
This was the closest I ever got to MM Lee physically.
As there were many thousands of people paying their last respects at the same time, organising the public wake in such an orderly manner is no mean feat at all. Kudos to the Singapore Armed Forces, Singapore Police, volunteer organisations and everyone who made this possible.
8:00pm - Once we arrived at City Hall MRT station, there were clear signs and friendly ushers leading people to the Padang, which was the main holding area.
8:30pm - After the 20-minute walk from City Hall MRT station, queueing starts here just outside the Padang.
9:00pm: People filing into the holding tents on the Padang.
We waited at these tents from 9:00pm to 4:00am the next morning. Volunteers kept us well hydrated with water and handed out food regularly.
SAF soldiers regularly updated us on the queue situation. Everybody understood and appreciated the efforts of the organisers and volunteers. (In the background is Singapore's Central Business District.)
View of the holding tents looking in the direction of Suntec City.
Thankfully the weather was great. Dry with a light cooling breeze. It did threaten to rain at one point but the drizzle fizzled out quickly.
Between the holding tents there were clear "green lanes" which were safety and service lanes.
Organisers and volunteers used these lanes to serve drinks and food as well as to take away rubbish. Volunteers and SAF soldiers also regularly came and engaged us in banter to help keep our spirits up.
People can also use the "green lanes" to leave the holding tents temporarily to use the toilets and rejoin their queue position afterwards.
Thank you organisers for being so thoughtful.
At one point, a soldier briefed us that we will be here for another 5 hours. My heart sank a little.
I can go without food and drink, or sleep, but at my age, my bladder and bowels ain't that resilient anymore. But, any thought of bugging out was quickly banished. In these old bones, there is still a bit of that gung-ho and stubbornness which Mr Lee instilled in many Singaporeans.
Don't know how am I going to make it, but never quit once my mind is made.
4:00am: We left the holding tents after 7 hours here and started our walk to the Parliament House. Another group of people will fill and hold at the tents.
5:00am - We arrived at the floating platform holding area.
5:30am - We turned around and head towards Parliament House along Singapore River on our left through Esplanade and Clark Quay.
5:45am - Walking past the theatre at The Esplanade.
6:00am - At Clark Quay. By this time, we had been in the queue for over 9 hours. People were tired, solemn and stoic yet good spirited. Everything was orderly and respectful. Strangers were looking out for each other as we made the journey together. Actually, we realised that we ain't strangers after all. Just fellow Singaporeans whom we haven't met.
In the background were Fullerton Hotel and Fullerton Bridge. Fullerton Hotel is previously our old General Post Office building where I spent a lot of time as a stamp collector during my childhood.
6:15am - Almost there. Final security checks before entering Parliament House. The checks were quick as there were over a dozen scanning machines.
Thank you Bob Lee for permission to share this photo of MM Lee
6:30am: Paid my last respects to MM Lee Kuan Yew. I wished I could stay a moment longer but am satisfied with a quick bow and a military salute as I filed along without stopping. My mind was also on the many thousands queueing behind me who were also here to pay their last respects.
6:45am: People leaving Parliament House after paying their respects. I felt good and at peace that my wish to pay my last respects to MM Lee was fulfilled. I believe the others here felt the same too.
Good bye, thank you, and Rest in Peace MM Lee Kuan Yew, Sir.
Thank you also to the organisers, volunteers and sponsors for helping us fulfil our last respects to MM Lee in a comfortable and dignified manner.
We are grateful.
(Afternote: When the public wake closed at 8:00pm on 28 Mar, 454,687 people had been through this same journey.)
Date: 27 - 28 Mar 2015
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