Lee Kuan Yew: Singapore holds funeral procession

SINGAPORE, March 29: Singapore is bidding farewell to its founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died on Monday aged 91.

Despite torrential rain, thousands lined the streets to view the funeral procession carrying Mr Lee’s coffin from parliament, where it has been lying in state, across the city.

A state funeral attended by world leaders is now taking place, ahead of a private family cremation ceremony.

One million people have visited tribute sites this week, say local media.

More than half a million people – 12% of Singaporean citizens – visited Parliament House to see Mr Lee’s coffin, while at least 850,000 others went to community sites to pay tribute.

In his eulogy, Mr Lee’s son and the current Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong, said his father had “lived and breathed Singapore all his life”.

“The light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished,” he said.

The funeral procession began on Sunday at 12:30 (04:30 GMT) as Mr Lee’s body was taken from Parliament House on a gun carriage.

A 21-gun salute sounded, echoing across the city, as the procession moved on into the business district and Tanjong Pagar, the docklands constituency Mr Lee represented for his whole political life.

Military jets flew overhead while two Singaporean navy vessels conducted a sail-past of the Marina Bay barrage – the massive water conservation project spearheaded by Mr Lee.

The BBC’s Tessa Wong said the crowds lining the route occasionally broke into chants of “Majulah Singapore” – meaning Forward Singapore in Malay, one of the official languages.

As the funeral procession rolled into view the chants grew louder, she adds, in scenes that practical-minded Singapore has not seen in decades.