Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our 10-Hour Journey For Paying Respect to Mr Lee Kuan Yew

From 23 to 28 March 2015, the Parliament House was opened for public to pay their respect for Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, for the last time. The initial opening hour was from 10am to 8 pm daily. However, it had already attracted a very large crowd since its very first day when the State funeral procession was carried out from Sri Temasek at the Istana at 9am.

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew 1923-2015

Many people came and created an extremely long queue from Parliament House to as far as Clarke Quay area, even under the scorching sun. The estimated waiting time that afternoon was 8 hours, but it didn't deter them from queuing. Our Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong was moved by the overwhelming response from the public. He thanked everyone for queuing and with such effect, the opening hours had been extended to 24 hours daily up to Saturday, at 8pm. Other than that, the MRT opening hours were extended too to open 24 hours on Wednesday and Friday.

Map to direct public where to start their queue - Photo source: Channelnewsasia.com

On Thursday early morning, the army started arranging tents in Padang, the large open field located near to City Hall MRT. This time, they planned it in a more proper way as to provide a systematic queue and convenience for public. The water, snacks, umbrellas were provided for free as to ensure they were safe, in good health, and to protect them from sun and rain. Portable toilets were also provided adequately.

View of the Padang in the afternoon (Photo source: unknown)

The crowd were coming non stop. Some came at wee hours to avoid a long queue time, complete with their office and school uniforms so that they could still go to office and school once they finished. Some companies gave time-off to their staffs to pay their respect. Some even provided them with bus and meals. The waiting time varied with the longest waiting time of 10 hours.

On Thursday night I almost wanted to join my sister-in-laws to queue starting at 11pm, since the night before, it's reported that the queuing time at midnight was only about 2.5 hours. But since I had to work (and no time-off provided by the company plus we were still lack of staff and busy preparing for month-end closing), I decided not to. I was feeling tired too and thought of visiting early in the morning. Luckily I didn't join them as they only finished at 5.30am or equivalent to 6.5 hours of queuing time!!!

View of Padang at night (Photo courtesy: Ian Tan)

On Friday morning, I had prepared myself to take the first MRT from Punggol at 5.25am. However, the train never came and it would only arrive 12 minutes after. While waiting, I was asking the situation there to my sister-in-law and she sent me an update from Channel News Asia that the current waiting time as per 5am was 8 hours!!! I almost couldn't believe it!! But with the delay of the upcoming MRT and knowing the fact of their real 6.5 hours waiting time, I decided to trust my gut to cancel my visit and walk back home to catch some sleep.

During lunch time at office, my Indonesian colleague asked me if i wanted to queue. Her husband planned to go on Friday night. If I was interested, he would come and fetch me, then we would queue together. Her husband, who was a former Indonesian, just like me, had been wanting to queue since the very first day. However, due to work required at office, he couldn't take time off nor day off, and could only go on Friday night. We both were at the same boat. I agreed to her almost immediately.

Crowd at City Hall MRT on Friday, 27 March 2015 at 10pm

So, yesterday night, we went to City Hall and met up with his two Singaporean colleagues. We started walking from City Hall MRT at 10pm. It was very crowded. Expected waiting time was 10 hours. However, it didn't deter us from queuing as we had set our mind to go for it no matter how long it would take.

Slowly walking to Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

From City Hall MRT we were directed slowly to Padang area. Many people were assigned to regulate the traffic and to ensure our safety. We were lucky going there early as the crowd had come non-stop. At 10.41pm, the police at City Hall MRT had to announce the temporary suspension by stopping public to queue and asking them to disperse.

Sea of people occupied Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

The other side of Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

We had to stand up all the way for about 3 hours until we were requested to sit and take a rest while waiting for some empty tents for us to stay for the night. While standing up and waiting, water, biscuits, sweets, bread, and apple were passed on from the front to the back. Whoever required it, just took it at no cost. Many people came and volunteer to ensure people were in good shape. At 1am we were finally able to rest our feet and look at the Singapore night view and sky.
 
Finally sitting down after 3 hours queuing on Saturday 1am, 28 March 2015

Half an hour later we were directed into the tents provided. We entered into the Row 6 tents. Everyone found their own comfortable space as we would stay there for at least for the next four  hours until the rest of the tents were cleared. Some brought their own folding chairs. Many were not. They relied on the mineral water empty cardboard to sit on the grass. Some were sleeping on top of the grass just like that.

View in some other tent at Padang on Friday, 27 March 2015

Our tiring faces - Queuing at Padang - Saturday morning, 28 March 2015

I brought only one mat to be shared for four of us. We were sitting and waiting there under the tent. At 2.20 am, it started drizzling. Luckily it lasted only for a while. Perhaps they knew we were there and needed to stay for some time. It didn't affect most of us. We continued sitting, talking, and finally resting for a while.

Portable toilets available near the entrance to Padang

As Padang was closed from outside, literally we were quite free to roam around the area as we had to visit the portable toilets located near the starting point. Despite that freedom, most people didn't have an intention to sneak around to other tents in order for them to go in faster, or to move to an earlier side of the tent. People queue for the toilet and in their lines properly and in good manner too.
 
Tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Padang

Flowers and well wishes for Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Padang

As I browsed around the area, I found the space above where people gave their flowers, cards, drawings, well-wishes and gratitude messages.

Feeling like inside the refugee camp at Padang on Saturday morning, 28 March 2015

The army was around guarding the place, cleaning up the empty tents from rubbish, passing the water and snacks around, and helping us with direction and anything else that we required. Staying inside the tent, I felt just like being a refugee, but a very safe refugee in a very safe country. That's something that many country was unable to provide and that's one of the reasons why I decided to stay in Singapore.

Padang early morning on Saturday, 28 March 2015

At 5.50am the place has emptied slowly at Padang - Saturday, 28 March 2015

People who were there coming from different races, places, nationalities, ages, background. Some came alone. Some came with friends, colleagues, family members, and so on. But all shared the same purpose to be there. We all determined to pay respect to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, in front of his coffin, for the last time, as well as to convey our heartfelt gratitude for his contribution, his vision, his leadership, and most importantly, his LIFE.

Morning walk to the Floating at Marina Bay at 6.20am - Saturday, 28 March 2015

At 6.10 am we were awoken by the claps. It's time for us to continue walking. We were led to the floating platform at the Marina Bay and return, walking through the snake-lines. It took us about 45 minutes and from Esplanade theater onwards, we started walking slowly, went through the underpass into the Parliament building, which took us another 45 minutes. We went through the security check before entering the Parliament House.

At about 7am in the morning - Good morning Singapore!!! :)

Brisk morning walk into the Parliament House - Saturday, 28 March 2015

20 minutes to the Parliament House - Saturday, 28 March 2015

Heartfelt cards tribute to Mr. Lee Kuan Yew - on our way to Parliament House

Finally reached the Parliament House at 7.45am

One by one entered the highly secured building. It was peaceful and serene. It was divided into two rows. We were led into the back row, which contained less people. I stood up right in front of his coffin, bowed three times with two hands joined together in front of my chest, and conveyed silence prayers and gratitude representing my whole family members. Before leaving the place, I took a look at the overall scene inside and it was exactly same with what I usually saw from the photo posted in newspaper. However this time, was in real.

Scene inside the Parliament House - RIP Lee Kuan Yew (Photo source: Channel News Asia)

The coffin was covered in most part using the Singapore flag (except the top part) with four vigil guards standing at each corner of the casket with their head bowed, back turned away, and ceremonial sword inverted, with a senior officer standing at the head of the casket facing inwards.

Bhutan King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and wife Jetsun Pema were at Parliament House later in the afternoon (Photo source: Channel News Asia.com)

It passed so fast. The whole 10-hour waiting and queuing lasted only for a while but we were happy being able to accomplish our goal and mission for the night. My heart was warmed as we left the building. I was touched and amazed with everything that happened to me that night, one of the incredible moments I ever experienced in my life. I would always remember this moment and thank you SB for making this all happened smoothly. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

And last, let me post this touching video shared by PAP Facebook page for you to have a picture of what kind of wonderful and great person he was, worth it for respect and love from all of us!!!

video

In case the above video is not working at this page, please click here to watch.

12 comments:

Merlyn Rahardja said...

it is truly super duper great magnificent beautiful well-managed "event". Cant find anymore amazing word to describe. Salute to all the people who managed and who was in line properly. I bet no other could do this. Hugsss Ciao. U r superb. ����������

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you for going through Ling! They organized it in the best possible way as they could. Thank you for sponsors who give out water and food too!

Just like you, I salute everyone too for being there despite the long queue and facing any kind of weather conditions. Some were even fainted while waiting under the scorching sun.

Rekha Monger said...

It’s truly incredible for Singapore to have organized it so well and most importantly, kudos to you and all the people there for enduring the long hours to pay respect.
Just reading this post wells me up with tears, a historic moment for Singapore, I suppose and you documented it so well. Thanks for sharing this with us.

You look so tired yet so fulfilled. RIP Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

Kipchu Namgyel said...

I read it in a newspaper on Singapore being the fastest country to have risen from rags to riches and then I read this post where you have described the event of paying respect, including your account on how you; yourself made it to pay your homage.Everything made a big sense and things were just mind-blowing.
I couldn't help, but imagine your founding Prime Minister blessing the whole island with rainfall to nourish the seeds sown by every Singaporean and the time has come for harvest, where every citizen returns to offer their first harvest.Can you imagine(literally), every citizen holding a bowl full of their own harvest?
Besides, I was also touched by your tired face in the photograph, ashim!Beautiful post and very sorry for the loss!

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you Rekha for going through and pen down your comment here. It's my pleasure sharing this moment with you on this blog.

One day when I have a chance to grow old, I'd be able to look back and reminisce the past. This shall be one of my greatest experience in my life.

Hope you are doing well and take care!

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you for going through and your valuable comment Kipchu! We thank him for all what he'd done for this country, and learn many valuable things based on his experience in life. He deserved our love and respect til the end.

Take care!

Flora said...

Well done Singapore! Well done charo! RIP mr.Lee Kuan. ������

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you Charo! :)

amrithdiary said...

I share your pain of loss and grief. It's a huge loss not only to Singapore but to all of us. Mr. Lee was an inspiration to many leaders in the world. As our beloved king has said during an interview with Asia News Channel that his physical manifestation has ended but his legacy shall continue to live through Singaporeans and the success of Singapore. Rest in peace, Mr. Lee Quan Yew! Here's an article on Kuensel about our king's visit to Singapore to pay respect to Mr. Lee:
Click here

Rima Reyka said...

Thank you so much Amrith Sir for your comment and to your Majesty and his wife who had come down to Singapore to pay respect and attend Mr Lee state funeral. Indeed, Mr Lee was an inspiration to many people. May he rest in peace la.

putra said...

Singaporean sayang dan hormat yah ama LKY, rim....pas Soeharto meninggal, rakyat indo gak pd antri spt ini kayanya. Btw dah gak pake FB lg?

Rima Reyka said...

Iya Put, kaya papa n akong sendiri...

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