Final Respect

I was there last night with three friends. 4hrs into the queue I heard not a word of complaint being uttered. Having lived here for 7 years now (still counting) I noticed 2 things among many others about Singapore; the queuing culture and the complaining spirit. But last night was exceptional, I witnessed the existence of the longest queue (or one of the longest) in Singapore’s history without the presence of a single complaint. This brought a realization, as my friend puts it, actually we “can” not complain, even when faced with the non-ideals (our own definition of non-ideals). I guess all it takes is that extra portion of grace, to let go, forgive and cease from being so particular about the not so perfect situation or people.

In the queue I could see quite a diverse groups of people, but what I found most encouraging is when I see the youngsters. It is perhaps easier for me to perceive why the older generations were there to pay their final respect, because they were there with him, they saw the transformation of this little red dot, from swamps to a metropolitan, from 3rd world to 1st world country. I doubt not their gratitude and feeling of ownership towards this country. But the youngsters, they were born with a developed, rich, beautiful and established Singapore. It is perhaps indeed easier for one to take for granted what he already have, what he was born with.

We started from Clarke Quay, packed Subs for dinner and ate our way into the queue. About an hour later we saw restaurant serving cold water, people giving out mineral water and Khong Guan biscuits, I am not sure if they are part of the committee or independent volunteers, but I can see from their faces, their gestures, that those are from the heart; genuine and sincere. All I can say is “Thank You” as I walked pass them.

As we move along, entering into the Hong Lim Park there is this uncle trying to crack some jokes by speaking some Hokkien and Mandarin mixed with English and Malay, he is an Indian and I thought that was sweet, he was funny and has this jokey face on him. There were railings at the initial part of the queue, so we made quite a number of turns, it felt almost like maze runner, except that we did not run, but walked. The next part was an open line queue, there wasn’t any barrier to separate one line from the next, but nobody dared to cut queue, or steal others’ queue. I was extremely amazed by this. The discipline, the “follow law” spirit is admirable. I couldn’t think of people of any country who are capable of this, well except Japan maybe.

Yesterday was the first day the mourning opened to the public to pay their final respect to Mr. Lee, initially it was only until 8PM, but about mid day, there was news about the 24 hour extension. Good news for those who work late. At this I am also amazed on how flexible, efficient Singapore is. How she mobilize her people for a time like this. There was even a priority queue for the seniors, disabled and parents with children. When I look at the security officers, the traffic police who stood for most of their shifts, it made me realize that most of the people resources are being mobilized to serve this memorial effort. I would like to believe that this could easily be the greatest mobilization throughout Singapore’s history. Everyone did a great job, I must say.

Upon reaching the Parliament House, there was security clearance like what we usually have at the airport, except that these are portable ones. Along with it also some portable TVs showing videos of Mr. Lee and live feed of the queues entering into the lying in state location. It was emotional, I saw people drying their face, wiping their tears, mostly those older generations. I thought I would tear too, but I didn’t. It happened so fast that I didn’t realized I was walking out to the Parliament House already. But I am glad I went, and I am thankful for the company who kept me for four hours, I am so proud of them, four hours of standing, not a word of complaint, the Gen-X of Singaporean.


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