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Singapore mourns the loss of Lee Kuan Yew

Update: March, 30/2015 - 09:24
The body of Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is transferred atop a gun carriage as they leave Parliament House during a funeral procession in Singapore on March 29, 2015. — Photo AFP

SINGAPORE (VNS) — Tens of thousands of Singaporeans undeterred by heavy rains lined a 15- kilometre route through the Southeast Asian city-state to witness an elaborate funeral procession yesterday for long-time leader Lee Kuan Yew.

PM attends funeral

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung joined fellow leaders from other countries at the State funeral for former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew yesterday.

PM Dung extended his deepest sympathy to the People's Action Party, state, government and people of Singapore, and the former PM's family.

He said Lee Kuan Yew was a prominent leader and strategist, and a close friend of the Vietnamese people.

The Vietnamese leader expressed his hope that Lee's legacy would be preserved by generations of Singaporean people.

Later on in the day, PM Dung met briefly with Singaporean President Tony Tan and leaders of ASEAN countries and other nations who were in Singapore for the funeral.

Lee's coffin, protected from the downpour by a glass casing, lay atop a ceremonial gun carriage led solemnly past city landmarks from parliament to a cultural centre where the state funeral will be held.

Walking slowly in the coffin's wake as it exited parliament were Lee's son, the current prime minister Lee Hsien Loong, other family members and government officials.

Singaporeans, many dressed in the mourning colours of black and white, waited for hours to watch the procession, chanting "Lee Kuan Yew" as it passed.

Four howitzers fired a 21-gun salute, air force fighter jets streaked over the island, with one peeling off in a "missing man" formation, and navy patrol ships blasted horns.

Leaders and dignitaries from more than two dozen countries are attending the state funeral. The US delegation is led by former President Bill Clinton.

Prime ministers attending from Singapore's Asian neighbours included Viet Nam's Nguyen Tan Dung, India's Narendra Modi, Japan's Shinzo Abe and Indonesia's Joko Widodo.

Abroad, India has declared a national day of mourning and in New Zealand, the government is flying flags at half-staff.

During the funeral service, civil defence sirens will blare across the island to begin a minute's silence.

Lee, who ruled Singapore from 1959 to 1990, is credited with transforming the tiny island nation from a poor British colonial trading port into one of the world's wealthiest countries.

His death, less than five months before the city-state's 50th anniversary of independence, has prompted an unprecedented show of grief among its population of 5.4 million people.

During a week of national mourning that began last Monday after Lee's death at age 91, some 450,000 people queued for hours for a glimpse of the statesman's coffin at Parliament House. A million people visited tribute sites at community centers around the city. — AP/REUTERS

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