SINGAPORE - Singaporeans bid farewell to longtime leader Lee Kuan Yew on Sunday with an elaborate procession and a three-hour state funeral at which his son, the current prime minister, eulogized the statesman and declared that the wealthy city-state he helped build is his monument.
Undeterred by heavy rain, about 100,000 people lined a nine-mile route through the city to catch a glimpse of the funeral cortege. Lee's coffin, draped in Singapore's red and white flag and protected from the downpour by a glass casing, lay atop a ceremonial gun carriage that was solemnly led past city landmarks from Parliament to a cultural center where the state funeral was held.
Along the way, crowds chanted "Lee Kuan Yew," snapped photos with cellphones, and waved Singapore's flag. Four howitzers were fired in a nearby field; air force fighter jets streaked over the island, with one peeling off in a "missing man" formation; and navy patrol ships blasted horns.
"To those who seek Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's monument, Singaporeans can reply proudly: Look around you," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in the first of 10 eulogies at the funeral, which was attended by more than 2,000 people, including schoolchildren, Singapore's elite, world leaders, and royalty.
Occasionally drawing tears and laughter, Lee said an important part of his father's legacy is that "Singapore's voice is heard and we enjoy far more influence on the international stage than we have any reason to expect."
As the service neared its conclusion, civil defense sirens blared across the island to signal a minute's silence. The government had asked trains and buses to stand still. People flocked to a crematorium, where a private cremation will be held, for a final glimpse of the cortege.
Leaders and dignitaries from more than two dozen countries attended the funeral. The U.S. delegation was led by former President Bill Clinton. During a week of national mourning that began last Monday after Lee's death at age 91, about 450,000 people lined up for hours to view the statesman's coffin at Parliament House. A million people visited tribute sites at community centers around the city.
The expansive show of emotion is a rare event for Singapore and its 5.5 million people. The island nation is known around the world as a wealthy trade and finance center with a strict social order that includes a ban on chewing gum and caning for some crimes.
Lee was Singapore's prime minister for more than three decades, ruling with an iron grip until 1990. He is regarded by Singaporeans as the architect of their nation's prosperity and harmonious relations among ethnic Chinese, Malay, and Indian populations. But his authoritarian rule and crushing of dissent has also left a legacy of restrictions on free speech, a tame media, and a stunted democracy.