My respect for the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has gone up a few notches. In the past week, with the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the SAF rose to the challenge for country in mourning. They chaired, organised and ran the State Funeral Organising Committee, and the public first got a full view of them in the Lying in State Ceremony. Many had already expressed their professionalism and attitude while maintaining order, assisting in handling water/food,etc as thousands of Singaporeans lined the streets to pay their respect to Mr Lee at the Parliament House.
I headed down to Padang at 0615am on 29 March, the day of Mr Lee’s State Funeral. More than 300 tents and thousands of barricades (which were set up to facilitate the queue) were removed and the Padang was cleaned spotless. There were no 5 ton trucks busy ferrying cargo out, the stage was all set by day break. Over 1000 servicemen and women had worked through the night to make sure that all was in order for the day’s events.
Later in the morning, storm clouds had started to form and before we knew it, the rain was pelting down. Everyone stood their ground, no one rehearsed for rain, but they procession goes on. The SAF personnel formed up and lined the road in the rain. The men from Singapore Artillery marched across the flooded Padang and knelt by their 25 pounder guns..And there, they held their positions, not bothering about being soaked through, the rain streaming down their faces
I was worried that the Black Knights will not fly in such inclement weather. “The Black Knights want to fly” someone from RSAF told me ” They will press on”
Below: The Black Knights during the Missing Man rehearsal on Saturday. When the Cortège departed, the first of 21 salute went off. Unlike NDP when one would hear cheers as the guns goes off, today it was a blanket of silence as the blast echoed around Singapore city with the splatter of the downpour. The crowd cheered for Mr Lee as his Cortège drove down St Andrew Road despite the downpour.
I think it is worth mentioning that although the “Missing Man” was not executed due to the bad weather, Black Knights had still managed to skillfully navigated the extreme flying conditions to give Mr Lee one final aerial salute.
RSS Dauntless and Resilience with 2 PT class Coast Guard vessels sailed past Marina Bay, their seamen heads bowed down and three horn blasts were sounded. Subtle from Padang, it is like a moaning cry from the sea. From the Padang, it’s soft, low, hum sounded like a moaning cry from the sea. The seamen stood on the decks, head down, still (while) in the choppy seas. The crowd applauded the men from Singapore Artillery after they dismissed from the parade.
Experiencing Mr Lee’s final goodbye at Padang reminded me of the true discipline of both the National Servicemen and service regulars alike. They stood steadfast in adversity, tall and strong. A true example for Singaporeans to look up to. It was a dignified tribute, fitting for the type of man to whom Singapore has bid farewell.
Service before self.
Just two of the many values Mr Lee Kuan Yew believed in.
Proud to be Singaporean, proud of my SAF.
Yang Pertama Dan Utama