'Father of Singapore, we love you!'
EMOTIONS were raw for many Singaporeans who visited Parliament House yesterday to pay their last respects to former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Many of the thousands who queued to enter were teary eyed and downcast after they bid farewell to Singapore's founding father, who died on Monday morning.
While some would have liked to have more time to pay their respects when they were ushered to Mr Lee's casket, others cherished the brief time they had.
Aw San San, 43, said she began queueing from Boat Quay and it was only three hours later that she finally entered Parliament House.
Even though she was given just a minute inside, "it's worth it, even though I didn't (give) a proper bow and give him (my) full respect", Madam Aw, who is self-employed, told My Paper.
"Just look at the way everybody has turned up for him," said Madam Aw, whose eyes and nose were red.
As of 6pm yesterday, 26,055 visitors had paid their respects to Mr Lee at Parliament House. The number of condolence cards issued there was 29,500.
The queues of visitors were so long that they stretched from City Hall MRT Station to as far as Chinatown.
As of 8pm, the waiting time for the queue was eight hours. The authorities announced that the waiting time to pay respects to Mr Lee was about five hours on average last evening, The Straits Times reported. At one point, the Remembering Lee Kuan Yew website advised the public not to join the queues.
People began queueing as early as 12am, reported Shin Min Daily News yesterday. This was way before Mr Lee's casket arrived at Parliament House close to 10am from the Istana, where it was previously resting for a private family wake. The casket will lie in state at Parliament House until Saturday. A state funeral will be held on Sunday at 2pm, followed by a private cremation.
Originally, the lying-in-state was open from 10am to 8pm daily. But due to the "overwhelming response" from the public, the opening hours were extended to 24 hours daily until 8pm on Saturday, said the Remembering Lee Kuan Yew website.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Facebook that he was moved by the huge crowds who turned up yesterday to bid goodbye to his father, Mr Lee.
"Thank you for queueing so many hours in the hot sun to say goodbye to Mr Lee," he wrote.
Besides the long queues to enter Parliament House, thousands of people lined the streets from the Istana to Parliament House to see the funeral cortege yesterday morning.
About 5,000 people gathered on both sides of a 200m-long stretch of road, with some arriving as early as 5.30am, Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.
The crowd waited in silence, but when they saw Mr Lee's casket conveyed by a gun carriage after 9am, they chanted spontaneously: "Lee Kuan Yew, Lee Kuan Yew!"
Others in the crowd shouted: "Father of Singapore, we love you!"
Some onlookers clapped respectfully while others wept.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LYDIA LAM