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Growing lines to pay respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew prompt acts of kindness

SINGAPORE — The sight of thousands sweating in the midday heat as they patiently waited their turn to pay their respects to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House prompted businesses and others working in the Central Business District offer them a bit of respite.

SINGAPORE — The sight of thousands sweating in the midday heat as they patiently waited their turn to pay their respects to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew at Parliament House prompted businesses and others working in the Central Business District offer them a bit of respite.

The authorities had set up water points in the area to hand out bottled water, but some businesses also took it upon themselves to do their bit.

Staff of the Grand Park City Hall hotel, noticing that the crowd gathering outside the Supreme Court area was getting bigger as the day grew warmer, hauled boxes of bottled water onto trolleys and wheeled them out to the Supreme Court, before making another trip to the crowd gathering outside The Adelphi mall.

Said hotel manager Cheong Hai Poh: “This is part and parcel of our thank you an appreciation to Mr Lee. ... At least we can do something for Singaporeans.”

Fullerton Hotel also set up tables and water dispensers outside the hotel, and distributed cups of water to those passing. UOB set up two water points in front of UOB Plaza building. Distribution started at about 1pm, and a spokesperson said they would continue to do so the next day if needed. 

Artisan des Fleurs, a florist at Raffles Xchange, was giving out white roses to the public for free for them to pay their respects to Mr Lee. The owner of the shop declined to be identified and would only say: “Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a great man and we’re doing this to show our respect.”

At Clarke Quay, at least six eateries and bars — Fern and Kiwi, Hooters and Crazy Elephant — were giving out free drinks as well as snacks, to those in line. Staff from steamboat restaurant Hai Di Lao were also giving out cold herbal tea. On New Bridge Road, staff at the OCBC Mortgage Specialist Centre could be seen setting out packet drinks for the people in line passing their office. When approached, they declined to be interviewed.

At the underpass along the Singapore River, three staff members from the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) were giving out fans to those in line. The museum had gathered some 600 plastic fans that were left over from a past exhibition.

Said a spokesperson from ACM: “Everyone is standing in the sun and it’s really very hot. This is something for them to use. We’re working here so we know how hot it is. The queue was originally outside our museum but when we realised it was diverted here (Clarke Quay), we came over too.”

Some of those in line also kept an eye out for each other. Mr Ricky Cheong, 50, was on his way to join the queue, when he saw Mr Joseph Wong, 68, seated and looking very tired, and decided to offer him a massage. “I saw this man sitting down and overheard him telling his wife that he feels his right shoulder cramping up. I decided to stop to help massage him because I knew that there’s a risk of him getting a stroke and a massage might help. I massage my own mother all the time so am quite good at it.”

Mr Wong, a financial consultant, said: “I queued for almost five hours and just came out. I was feeling very weak and tired from standing in line so long. Thank god for this kind gentleman who stopped to help me. He might have saved my life.”

Later in the evening, members from the National Taxi Association were still seen hard at work distributing potato chips, drinks, sandwiches and biscuits to the unrelenting crowds. The items had been bought with money they had pooled together. Taxi driver Rani Krishna Samy, 49, said: "There are so many people waiting here. Some even for five hours. This is the least we can do to give back. This is the taxi driver brotherhood. We may lose a couple of hours of work, but that's no problem."

Meanwhile, BreadTalk has ceased sales of a new bun it introduced to honour Mr Lee. The name, “‘Lee’ bu kai ni”, which translates to “unwilling to part”, plays on the pronunciation of Mr Lee’s surname in Mandarin. In a Facebook post, the company said it was "made aware that this manner of remembering (Mr Lee's) legacy was insensitive in light of the current context". Proceeds from the sale of the S$2 bun were meant to go to Community Chest. BreadTalk said it would still donate S$30,000 to Community Chest. VALERIE KOH, XUE JIANYUE, YVONNE LIM, LAURA PHILOMIN, LEE YEN NEE, JORDON SIMPSON

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