Singapore: Global leaders today joined over a million Singaporeans in paying respects to the city-state’s founder prime minister Lee Kuan Yew who died on Monday leaving a legacy of an economic powerhouse that won global admiration.
A visibly emotional former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was among those who paid tributes to Lee at Parliament House this afternoon. Kissinger and Lee had been longtime friends.
Tomorrow, world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Premier Tony Abbott and former US President Bill Clinton, will attend a state funeral service for Lee who was prime minister of Singapore for nearly three decades since its independence in 1965 till he quit in 1990, thereafter wielding influence as a senior minister and mentor.
Among international businessmen paying respects to the late Singapore leader was Chinese billionaire and founder of the Alibaba Group, Jack Ma.
Lee’s body has been lying in state in parliament’s main lobby since Wednesday after he died on March 23 aged 91.
News reports said 371,784 people from Singapore have paid their last respects to Lee at Parliament House since the public were given access, and another 700,000 had honoured him at 18 community sites set up across the island state.
But people have still been lining up for up to eight to 10 hours a day to pay respects to Lee at Parliament House.
Officials managing the crowd around the House had stopped access last night for safety reasons, but resumed it this morning, as today is the last day for public access. The queue was reopened before dawn today after the backlog was cleared.
Tomorrow, Singaporeans are expected to line the streets to bid a final farewell to the country’s founding father.
The state funeral procession will commence at about 12.30 pm and cover a distance of 15.4 kms to the National University of Singapore, where a funeral service will be held from 2 pm.
The procession would pass through old parliament house and other iconic places while the armed forces will accord a 21-gun salute, an air force fly-past and a patrol boat sail-past in honour of Lee.
Lee is widely credited with transforming Singapore from an impoverished third-world nation into an advanced first-world economy within just a generation, shaping the city-state’s present status as a global financial and commercial hub.
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