Singaporeans, foreigners sign condolence book for Mr Lee Kuan Yew in China

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Ambassadors, Singaporeans and foreigners of various nationalities turned up at the Singapore embassy in Beijing on Monday (March 23) to sign the condolence book for Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Among the first to do so were several ambassadors to China from Asean nations including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei and Laos.

Indonesian envoy Soegeng Rahardjo wrote that while Singapore and Singaporeans have lost their founding father and a great leader, others who have “come to know and work with Mr Lee have lost a dear friend and fine colleague”.

Philippine ambassador Erlinda Basilio described Mr Lee as “a visionary and great statesman” and said the Philippines will always remember him “as not only a leader of Singapore but also as a founder of Asean who nurtured the grouping into what it has become”.

A sombre mood hung in the air in a hall that was open to the public, with some people bearing flowers and others looking misty-eyed.

One of them was Mr Prabu Naidu, a 58-year-old Singaporean who arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a two-week business trip.

Sign the book

When he heard the news of Mr Lee’s passing, the first thing he wanted to do was to sign the condolence book, he told The Straits Times.

He was at the Singapore embassy at noon but was told that it would only open at 2pm.

He returned after lunch and was the first person in the queue.  By 3.30pm, more than 100 people had turned up at the embassy.

Said Mr Naidu: “I never spoke to him personally but I remember when I was at Queenstown Secondary school that he gave a speech at the opening of Queenstown Library where he talked about the importance of education.

“Having grown up in the system, I feel a personal connection to him. Even today I never miss his speeches.”

Mr Jonathan Ng, 27, was in the vicinity of the embassy and decided to stop by.

Said Mr Ng, who works for Air China Cargo: “He has dedicated his whole life to the country, for all the effort he has given, this is the least I can do.”

Source: The Straits Times

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