Singapore gives Lee Kuan Yew a hero's funeral

08:28 PM | 29 Mar, 2015
Singapore gives Lee Kuan Yew a hero's funeral
SINGAPORE (APP) - More than 100,000 people lined Singapore's streets to bid farewell to its founding father Lee Kuan Yew on Sunday, officials said as a week of mourning ended in the city-state he led to prosperity.

Torrential rain soaked the crowds as howitzers fired a 21-gun salute to the country's first prime minister and jet fighters screamed across the sky in a grand farewell normally reserved for a head of state.

"The light that has guided us all these years has been extinguished," his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, told a state funeral attended by 2,200 people including Asia-Pacific leaders at the National University of Singapore.

Lee's coffin, draped in the red-and-white national flag and protected by a glass case atop a two-wheeled gun carriage, was taken in a procession from parliament to the university with close to 2,000 police officers ensuring security.

Officials said 454,687 people -- in a nation with just 3.34 million citizens -- had paid their last respects to Lee, 91, before his wake ended in parliament on Saturday.

People chanting Lee's name wept openly, waved miniature flags and threw flowers on the street as the motorcade drove through districts associated with his 60-year political career.

Four air force F-16 jets staged a fly-past as the cortege made its way through a square where Lee was first sworn in as prime minister in 1959.

He kept the position for 31 years, ruling with an iron fist to transform Singapore from a sleepy British colonial outpost into a gleaming metropolis that now enjoys one of the world's highest standards of living.

Singapore became a republic in 1965 after a brief and stormy union with Malaysia.

Lee died less than five months before the island celebrates its 50th anniversary as a nation on August 9.