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Rediff.com  » News » Thousands queue up to view Singapore's Lee lying in state

Thousands queue up to view Singapore's Lee lying in state

March 25, 2015 18:42 IST

Image: People watch as a gun carriage conveys the body of the late first Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, from the Istana to the Parliament House, where he will lie in state until Saturday in Singapore. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Thousands of people on Wednesday queued up outside Singapore's Parliament House to have a glimpse of the country's founding father Lee Kuan Yew lying in state as his casket was taken there for public viewing.

Singaporeans in huge numbers chanting "We love you, Lee Kuan Yew!" lined Singapore's streets earlier in the day to pay tribute to Lee and later outside the country's legislature where they had to wait for nearly eight hours to see the demised leader who transformed their lives.

The coffin, wrapped in the Singaporean flag, was taken in a slow motorcade on a gun carriage as people wept on the streets, mourning the loss of the 91-year-old patriarch who passed away on Monday.

Image: The Guard of honour drapes the Singapore's national flag over the coffin of the late first minister Lee Kuan Yew in the Istana before he is conveyed to the Parliament House. Photograph: Reuters

People in large numbers lined the route from the Istana government complex, Lee's workplace for decades as prime minister and cabinet advisor, to the Parliament House and chanted the name of modern Singapore's first premier.

An open-topped military truck pulled the gun carriage carrying the dark brown wooden coffin in a glass case as shouts of "We love you!" and "Lee Kuan Yew!" filled the air.

"Auld Lang Syne" played on bagpipes as the hour-long procession started from the Istana.

Image: People queue to pay their respects to the late Singapore former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, lying in state at the Parliament House in Singapore. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters

Singaporeans will be able to pay their last respects to the founding premier round the clock till Saturday.

Officials said in a statement they were taken aback by the "overwhelming response" from the public and are discouraging people from joining the queue. The viewing was meant to end at 8pm local time but has since been extended twice.

The funeral is on Sunday and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian premier Tony Abbott will be among Southeast Asian heads of state present.

Other leaders scheduled to attend the funeral are Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, South Korea's President Park Geun Hye, Thailand's Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Myanmar's President Thein Sein and Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Image: A bagpiper standing in front of Singapore's Presidential Standard plays "Auld Lang Syne" as the gun carriage conveying Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew to the Parliament House leaves the Istana grounds in Singapore. Photograph: Reuters

The procession carrying the body of Lee will make its final journey around key parts of the city-state before it goes to Mandai Crematorium, on the outskirts for cremation.

"Due to overwhelming response from members of the public, the lying in state at Parliament House will be open 24 hours daily from today until 28 Mar 2015, 8pm," according to latest information on the Remembering Lee Kuan Yew website.

Image: Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching pay their respects to his father, the first prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, at the Istana before Lee Kuan Yew is conveyed to the Parliament House in Singapore. Photograph: Reuters

Condolence cards will also be available for them to pen their tributes. Those with flowers can also lay them at the condolence boards, it said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is also Lee's eldest son and Singapore's third premier, has declared a period of national mourning from March 23 to 29. Singapore plunged into mourning following the death of Lee, who was respected globally for having directed the city-state's development during 30 years as Prime Minister and later as a senior minister as well as mentor minister.

Image: A vigil guard stands by the coffin of the first prime minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew at the Parliament House. Photograph: Reuters

Singapore's economic success and infrastructure development is attributed to Lee's government policies, which at times were hard but yielded the most out of an island city-state with no natural resources.

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