Half a decade on from the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, resident photographer Kurt Ganapathy looks back at what life in Singapore was like on March 23, 2015.

In the early hours of March 23, 2015, the news began to filter across Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, the country’s founding Prime Minister and an omnipresent figure in the lives of generations of Singaporeans, had passed away.

What followed was a singular outpouring of grief, one that had never been seen on this island before, and one that, in all likelihood, will never be seen again.

In a moment of national unity, all but the starkest political differences were set aside and Singaporeans offered tributes and recollections as varied as their own walks of life.

In the days that were to follow, crowds would descend on the Padang and line the roads from Parliament House to Mandai Crematorium, but March 23 was a Monday, and life had to go on.

Travelling around Singapore that day, Kurt Ganapathy remembers a sense of contemplative stillness. From Pasir Ris to Singapore General Hospital, the Istana, Raffles Place, Geylang and Changi Airport, Singaporeans went about their business.

In that stillness, however, there was the shared acknowledgement that we were living through a day that marked the close of a chapter in Singapore’s story. Five years on, we take a look back at Singapore as it was on that day.

Photography: Kurt Ganapathy
Curation: Arman Shah

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