You are here

LEE KUAN YEW 1923 - 2015

India makes Sunday national day of mourning for Mr Lee

As world leaders confirm attendance at funeral, SAF says send-off will include 21-gun salute and salute by Black Knights

MEMORIAL AT KALLANG: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching with leaders of the four ethnic groups - Indian, Chinese, Malay and Eurasian - who took turns to express their gratitude to the elder Mr Lee at a memorial in Kallang Theatre on Friday.


INDIA, Asia's third-largest economy, has declared Sunday a day of national mourning as a mark of respect for Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

In a surprise statement on Friday, the Indian government said the country's national flag will be flown at half-mast across the land, and that there would be no official entertainment through the day.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the many world leaders flying into Singapore to attend the state funeral of Mr Lee, who died on Monday at the age of 91.

China, meanwhile, announced that it would send vice-president Li Yuanchao to attend Sunday's service at the University Cultural Centre (UCC) of the National University of Singapore.

Mr Modi and Mr Li will be joined by premiers Tony Abbott, Shinzo Abe, Prayut Chan-o-cha and Nguyen Tan Dung of Australia, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam respectively, as well as presidents Park Geun-hye, Joko Widodo and Thein Sein of South Korea, Indonesia and Myanmar, among others.

The United States will be represented by a high-level delegation led by former president Bill Clinton; the entourage includes former secretary of state Henry Kissinger, one of Mr Lee's closest friends.

The United Kingdom confirmed that its Leader of the House of Commons and First Secretary of State William Hague would travel to the Republic. Hong Kong's former chief executive Tung Chee Hwa will also be present.

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed more details about Sunday's funeral procession, a 15.4km-journey from Parliament House, where Mr Lee's body is lying in state, to the UCC in Kent Ridge. As the gun carriage bears Mr Lee's body around the Padang at the start of the procession, a 21-gun salute will be fired from four ceremonial 25-pounder guns.

Four Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knight jets will also salute Mr Lee as his body passes City Hall; they will be in a "missing man" formation, in which one Black Knight breaks off, said Dr Ng, adding that the Singapore Armed Forces will bid Mr Lee a "final farewell with the highest honours".

As Mr Lee's body crosses the Esplanade Bridge, two patrol vessels will conduct a ceremonial sailpast off the Marina Barrage as a final salute.

Much of Singapore will come to a standstill on Sunday afternoon. Both integrated resorts, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, said they will shut their casinos from 2pm to 6pm - the first time they have done so since they first opened in 2010.

Singapore Pools will close all its branches, authorised retail outlets and Livewire venues for the day, although it will still conduct the usual Sunday 4D draw at 6.30pm.

Many shops and retail malls have announced full or partial closures on Sunday as a mark of respect. Major department stores Tangs and Metro will shut all day, as will all 14 Mothercare stores islandwide. Ya Kun Kaya Toast, which runs 48 outlets here, will not operate from 2pm to 4pm.

Tributes and condolences continued to stream in on the fifth day of the week-long national mourning period.

More than 2,000 people from all walks of life, including representatives from eight community organisations, the business community and schools, gathered at the Kallang Theatre on Friday to pay homage to the elder statesman. Mr Lee's eldest son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, along with his wife Ho Ching and several Cabinet ministers, were among the guests at the event.

After a one-minute silence was observed, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean was the first of five people to speak. He gave his take on how Mr Lee saw the importance of inculcating a sense of belonging and ownership in every citizen. "He recognised that harmony rested on a delicate balance based on give-and-take, mutual trust and understanding, and treating everyone fairly, regardless of race, religion or creed," he said.

Leaders from the Malay, Indian, Eurasian and Chinese communities took turns to thank Mr Lee for his hard work over the decades in bringing Singaporeans together, while allowing them the chance to maintain their respective heritages. Each of them later handed a condolence letter to PM Lee.

In a moving speech, Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations president Chua Thian Poh told the tale of how Mr Lee had wanted to establish a fund to improve bilingualism in Singapore.

In 2011, the Lee Kuan Yew Bilingual Fund was set up, and Mr Lee made a personal donation of S$12 million to it, said a tearful Mr Chua.

"He remained deeply concerned about Singapore's long-term development, a reflection of his abiding passion for Singapore and its people," he said.

The Catholic Church organised a special mass at St Joseph's Church on Victoria Street, a session attended by some 5,000 worshippers, including 40 priests.

Archbishop William Goh told the congregation that Mr Lee - a self-described agnostic - did not oppose religion and in fact helped promote it. But Mr Lee did not tolerate those who used religion for political reasons, he said.

"When you start mixing religion with politics, you have crossed the line. Either you get involved in politics or you get involved in religion, but not under the guise of religion." The archbishop added that Mr Lee also did not tolerate fundamentalism, when a religion tries to impose its beliefs on others. In the evening, the labour movement held its own tribute for Mr Lee at the Singapore Conference Hall, which PM Lee also attended. Fourteen people spoke at the service, including former Singapore president S R Nathan, labour chief Lim Swee Say and former Cabinet minister Lee Boon Yang.

There will be a live telecast of the funeral procession on national television and online at from 12.30pm.