Singaporeans from ”Third World to First’, emotional farewell to Lee Kuan Yew

‘From third world to first’: Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy in charts

Lee Kuan Yew, who has died aged 91, presided over a turnround in the economic fortunes of his nation, taking it from a colonial backwater to its status as one of the richest places on the planet — a journey ‘from
third world to first’, as Lee titled his memoir.
From ease of doing business to concentration of millionaires, 21st-century Singapore consistently ranks among the world’s most economically developed nations.
Charts: Economic freedom and dollar millionaires

But Lee’s legacy goes beyond wealth-creators. Since he came to power just about every aspect of Singapore has been transformed, and along with it the fortunes of ordinary Singaporeans. The population has, of course, grown.

Singaporeans have become much better educated and crime has dropped, partly as a result of Lee’s authoritarian influence.

An enormous public housing programme in the 1960s and 1970s has allowed more than 80 per cent of citizens to live in
government-subsidised apartments. But an ageing population raises challenges for the years ahead.

Emotional farewell for Singaporeans

Thousands wait in long queue for hours to pay last respects to Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans wept on the streets and queued in their thousands to pay tribute to founding lea­der Lee Kuan Yew as his flag-draped coffin was taken on a gun carriage to parliament for public viewing.

After a two-day private wake for the family, the coffin was taken in a slow motorcade from the Istana government complex, Lee’s workplace for decades as prime minister and cabinet adviser, to the legislature yesterday. It will lie in state there until Sunday.

The 91-year-old patriarch died on Mon­day after half a century in government, during which Singapore was transformed from a poor British colonial outpost into one of the world’s richest societies.

The government led by his son Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, apparently taken by surprise at the heavy early turnout, announced that Parliament House would stay open for 24 hours a day until Saturday night “due to overwhelming res­­ponse from the public”.

Lee will be cremated on Sunday after a state funeral expected to be attended by several Asia-Pacific leaders even though he was just an MP when he died.

Applause and shouts of “We love you!” and “Lee Kuan Yew!” broke out as the dark brown wooden coffin, draped in the red-and-white Singapore flag, emerged from the Istana housed in a tempered glass case on a gun carriage pulled by an open-topped military truck.

Earlier, in scenes that evoked Singapore’s colonial past, the carriage stopped in front of the main Istana building, where British administrators once worked, as a bag­­piper from Singapore’s Gurkha Contingent – the city-state’s special guard force – played Auld Lang Syne.

After the motorcade emerged from the palace, many in the crowd waiting behind barricades along the route were in tears as they raised cameras and mobile phones to record the historic event.

Some threw flowers on the path of the carriage, while office workers watched from high-rise buildings.

President Tony Tan and his wife Mary were the first to pay their respects in the parliament’s foyer.

By mid-afternoon Singaporeans were waiting for up to eight hours in queues that snaked around the central business district, many using umbrellas against the 33°C heat.

In true Singaporean fashion the crowds were orderly, with free drinking water and portable toilets set up for mourners.

Police helped direct traffic flow and priority queues were created for the elderly, pregnant women and the disabled.

People from all walks of life turned up to honour the authoritarian former leader popularly known by his initials “LKY”.

“These are amazing scenes. I have not seen anything like this in my lifetime,” said bank executive Zhang Wei Jie, 36.

“LKY is the founder of our country. It is a no-brainer that we have to pay respect. We have taken some time off from work, my supervisor is also here somewhere in the crowd.”

R. Tamilselvi, 77, brought two of her granddaughters, each clutching flowers.

“Lee Kuan Yew has done so much for us,” she said. “We used to live in squatter (colonies) in Sembawang, my husband was a bus driver. Now my three sons have good jobs and nice houses. The children all go to school. What will we be without Lee Kuan Yew?” — AFP

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