On the day of the State Funeral of Mr Lee Kuan Yew (29 Mar), ST published an article stating that some 450,000 people have paid their respects in person to the late Mr Lee at Parliament House.
ST wrote [Link]:
The endless queue of visitors lining up to pay their respects to the country’s founding Prime Minister was finally closed last night (Saturday), setting the stage for Singapore to give Mr Lee Kuan Yew a final farewell today (Sunday).
Some 1,000 Singapore Armed Forces servicemen were deployed to clear the Padang. Their task was to work through the night to dismantle 360 tents and shift 2,000 barricades so that four ceremonial 25-pounder Howitzer guns can be moved onto the Padang for a 21-gun salute.
The Padang and City Hall provide a fitting stage for the nation to give a solemn send-off to Mr Lee, who died on Monday (23 Mar), aged 91. It is the site of many a historic event in this nation’s past – the declaration of self-government in 1959, the introduction of the national flag, anthem and state crest later that year, the announcement of Singapore’s independence in 1965 and the first National Day Parade a year later.
Mr Lee himself was instrumental in those moments. Over the past four days, some 450,000 people queued for up to 10 hours to pay their respects in person to Mr Lee.
UK Financial Times also mentioned the 450,000 figure [Link]:
Officials said more than 450,000 people had queued, sometimes for up to 10 hours, to file past Mr Lee’s body since Wednesday, when it began lying in state.
Apparently, this figure was given by “officials”. It’s not known which Ministry or officials were the ones giving the 450,000 figure to media.
A Chinese blog 新加坡文献馆 published an interesting article [Link] yesterday (8 Apr), questioning the 450,000 figure.
The blog said that if, on average, every person spent 10 seconds to pay their last respect to Mr Lee, in front of Mr Lee’s casket, one can work out the followings:
- 1 minute: 6 persons
- 1 hour: 360 persons
- 1 day: 8,640 persons
- 4 days: 34,560 persons
This figure is very must less than 10% of the “official” 450,000 figure.
The blog added that if the visiting time was cut by half to 5 seconds per person, the total number of persons would be doubled to 69,120 – a number still very much less than the 450,000 figure.
With 450,000 people, each will take 0.8 seconds
The blog then tried to work backwards from the 450,000 figure:
- 4 days: 450,000 persons
- 1 day: 112,500 persons
- 1 hour: 4,688 persons
- 1 minute: 78 persons
- 1 second: 1.3 persons (i.e, 1 person would take 0.8 seconds to pay his respect to Mr Lee)
Now, the above calculations had assumed that the Parliament House opened 24 hours for 4 days, for people to pay their respects to Mr Lee. In reality, on the last day (28 Mar), it was only opened up till 8pm.
Imagine, at less than 1 second per person, people are practically zooming past Mr Lee’s casket.
The blog wrote, “这真是“新加坡模式效率”，十分惊人。恐怕没有一个国家能破这样的纪录，也不会有哪一个国家愿意破这样的纪录。(Such is the efficiency of Singapore, very scary. Afraid no country can break this kind of record, and don’t think any country will want to break this kind of record).”
The blog added, “瞻仰遗容的速度如此之快，毫无诚意，是对死者的极大不敬。(Going by such high speed, it’s meaningless, it’s not respecting the dead at all).”
There is no doubt that both Mr Lee’s admirers and detractors will not deny that Mr Lee, together with the other old guards like Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, Rajaratnam, Hon Swee Sen etc, had contributed greatly to the country, especially in the earlier years of Singapore.
But whether the 450,000 figure is “exaggerated” or not by officials, one can be sure that Mr Lee couldn’t care less about the number.
In his book, Mr Lee once said [Link]:
“This was the job I undertook, I did my best and I could not have done more in the circumstances. What people think of it, I have to leave to them. It is of no great consequence. What is of consequence is, I did my best.”
Perhaps the current officials should take heed of his words.