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Sunday, March 29, 2015


I've been in Singapore for about 13 months till date.
This week was my first time seeing this little red dot in a different light.
Yes, today is Singapore's founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew's State Funeral Service.

Mr Lee passed away early morning on Monday, and was since national mourning week.
His face and name was everywhere. My goosebumps came up each time I saw them.
Community Centres throughout the country was set up for his tribute.
Parliament House was open to public to pay their last respect.

Of course, the queue was insane. Last I heard was up to 12 hours!
An acquaintance of mine actually queued from 8pm before he could bow at 4am.
Singaporeans love to queue for anything and everything.
If they could queue hours for food and Hello Kitty, they could do the same for Mr Lee.
MRT lines were running for 24 hours, of cos with timings were slower than usual.

I didn't join the queue to bow to Mr Lee as I heard it was less than 10 seconds encounter.
And you could go no where near the coffin to say your prayers.
You will just follow and move along with the crowd. 
They provide free umbrellas and water due to the scorching heat throughout the day too.
Mr Lee was a great leader indeed, but not someone close enough for me go through these.

Colleagues and patients spoke highly of him, asking if I went to queue and telling me tips.
My appointment books this week were half of those I usually have, and got to leave work early.
There were pros and cons of his passing. Singaporeans were different to what I knew.

Was I sad of his passing? Of course I was, but not all teary and wailing kinda sad.
Then I saw his funeral procession route yesterday, it would pass by near where I live.
So I thought it would be good to bid this great man a farewell.

I think despite Mr Lee being an atheist, God is by his side.
The sky was gloomy when I woke up close to 11am, it was meant to be a sleep-in Sunday for me.
It drizzled at first, I wore black and we grabbed a quick bite at the neighbourhood market.
Closer to the 12.30pm when the procession was to start, it was pouring cats and dogs.

I looked over the shoulder of an uncle, who was watching the live telecast on his phone.
He and his friends invited me to watch with them and was explaining what was happening.
The store owner who we bought food from told us where the procession would pass by.
We told them we were heading there after this, they wished us well and to be careful.
Outside was like going through waterfalls, got drenched despite an umbrella over my head.

Seeing the crowd lining up along the route despite the very heavy rain, no doubt they love him.
Young and old, families, couples, friends, locals and foreigners of all races were there.
With umbrellas, rain coats and some even drenched. They lined up along the route.
Home owners were kind to share their TV on live telecast to strangers through their windows.
Every floor of the shop lots and HDBs along the area were filled with people.
They were carrying the Singapore flags, banners of Mr Lee, flowers etc.
Reporters and TV crew were at the best spot - the overhead pedestrian bridge.

I was under the rain for a whole solid hour, no idea how long the others have been there.
It's a feat as never in my life have I done that for any reason, I hated the rain you see.
But watching these people brave through the rain and not complaining, I didn't mind it.
Just like how Mr Lee and his people did so during Singapore's very first National Day Parade.

We were standing at the opposite side of the road from the direction the procession was.
Moments before the procession was due to arrive, some people started climbing over the barricades.
They ran across the road without looking at on coming traffic, more people followed the suit.
Mind you, the road on our direction was not blocked, vehicles were still moving.
It was a very chaotic scene, they were like uncontrolled beasts, screw the rules!

The few policemen on duty were trying to stop the crowd, of course with their effort in vain.
All they could do, was to ensure the human traffic's safety and slow down the vehicle traffic.
In a matter of minutes, thousands of people have crossed the barricades and ran across the road.
Hogging the tiny plot of land separating the roads of different directions.
I would call them unreasonably kiasu - afraid of losing in the Hokkien dialect.
Right now, they have totally blocked my view of the opposite side of the road.
I barely moved an inch, still behind the barricade but at least not sardined among the crowd.
The stretch of humans I could see was about 1km on both sides!

From afar, we could see siren lights, police cars and uniformed men transported in trucks.
Mr Lee's cortege was coming closer to our direction along Jalan Bukit Merah.
The crowd started to chant "Lee Kuan Yew" and throwing flower petals.
Very few were wailing, the chant got louder and louder as his cortege approached.
So loud that you could no longer hear the heavy downpour or the movements of the vehicles.

As I was saying my prayers to Mr Lee, I could feel my eyes tearing up.
It wasn't sad tears that he left for the afterworld, but because I was moved even as a foreigner.
I could feel their patriotism, their love and respect for Mr Lee in those short moments.
Never have I experienced such a thing before, or seen a funeral service at such grand scale.
I don't know if I would ever have another similar experience in my lifetime.
Not of someone's passing but of a nation so united and its people's patriotism.

The crowd started to disperse as his cortege continue its journey towards NUS.
Along the way back, I saw young and old, locals and foreigners partially or fully drenched.
It was a sombre mode. But they were back into being law abiding citizens.
Waiting for the green lights before using the zebra crossings.
Volunteers were giving out drinks just in case you are dehydrated.
I have never seen so many people on the streets when it rained, but it gradually subsided.
The crowd along Jalan Bukit Merah today was comparable to Orchard Road in its peak!

If the nation cries for a man, he must have built the nation.
No matter what the world says about him, the people really do love Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Thank you for building and guiding Singapore to what it is today.
It may not be the place I call home, but definitely it has fed me well the past year and more to come.
May you rest in peace, Mr Lee.

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