Lee Kuan Yew eulogized at funeral as architect of Singapore

2015-03-29 11:07:00 GMT2015-03-29 19:07:00(Beijing Time)  China Daily
Pallbearers adjust the national flag of Singapore covering the coffin of the late Lee Kuan Yew during a state funeral held at the University Cultural Center, March 29, 2015, in Singapore. [Photo/IC]Pallbearers adjust the national flag of Singapore covering the coffin of the late Lee Kuan Yew during a state funeral held at the University Cultural Center, March 29, 2015, in Singapore. [Photo/IC]

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans bid farewell to longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew with an elaborate procession Sunday and a three-hour state funeral where his son, the current prime minister, eulogized the statesman and declared that the wealthy Southeast Asian city state he helped build is his monument.

Undeterred by heavy rain, tens of thousands of people lined a 15-kilometer (9-mile) route through the city to catch a glimpse of the funeral cortege. Lee's coffin, draped in Singapore's red and white flag and protected from the downpour by a glass casing, lay atop a ceremonial gun carriage that was solemnly led past city landmarks from Parliament to a cultural center where the state funeral was held.

Along the way, crowds of people chanted "Lee Kuan Yew," snapped photos with smartphones and waved Singapore's flag.

"To those who seek Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's monument, Singaporeans can reply proudly: Look around you," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in the first of 10 eulogies at the funeral, which was attended by more than 2,000 people, including schoolchildren, Singapore's elite, world dignitaries and royalty.

Occasionally drawing tears and laughter, Lee said an important part of his father's legacy is that "Singapore's voice is heard and we enjoy far more influence on the international stage than we have any reason to expect."

As the service neared its conclusion, civil defense sirens blared across the island to signal a minute's silence. The government had asked public transport to stand still.

During a week of national mourning that began last Monday after Lee's death at age 91, some 450,000 people lined up for hours to briefly view the statesman's coffin at Parliament House. A million people visited tribute sites at community centers around the city.

The expansive show of emotion is a rare event for Singapore and its 5.5 million people. The island nation, about four times the size of Washington, D.C., is known around the world as a wealthy trade and finance center with a strict social order that includes a ban on chewing gum and caning for some crimes.

Lee was Singapore's prime minister for more than three decades, ruling with an iron grip until 1990. He is regarded by Singaporeans as the architect of their nation's prosperity and harmonious relations among ethnic Chinese, Malay and Indian populations. But his authoritarian rule and crushing of dissent has also left a legacy of restrictions on free speech, a tame media and a stunted democracy.

Leaders and dignitaries from more than two dozen countries attended the funeral. The US delegation was led by former President Bill Clinton. Others included the prime ministers of India, Japan and Australia.

Abroad, India declared a national day of mourning and New Zealand's government was flying flags at half-staff.

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