Beijing: Chinese are flocking to the ancestral home of Lee Kuan Yew to pay homage to the late Singapore leader whose ancestors hailed from China.
A village over 500 kilometers from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou that nestles in mountains is attracting visitors in search of a glimpse into the life of Lee, the founding father of modern Singapore and its first prime minister.
A brick and wood residence built in 1884 by his great grandfather, located in Dabu County, constructed in the traditional Chinese style is the ancestral home of the late leader who died on Monday, aged 91, in Singapore General Hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia.
Lee, hailed from the Hakka, a subgroup of China's Han community, and his family migrated to Singapore in mid-19 th century.
The local government had initiated renovation project in the house in 2007. In 2013, Meizhou City established a Hakka cultural and ecological protection zone in Dabu.
The residence was declared a city-level cultural protection site in 2014.
With an investment of 40 million yuan (USD 6.4 million) by the Dabu county government, a tourist area featuring the ancestral residence of Lee is under construction.
In the mid-19th century, across Southeast Asia the rubber, palm and mining industries were being heavily developed.
Many people in Dabu County, where there was a lack of arable land, chose to emigrate to find work.
Since Lee's death, many memorials have been organised by local villagers.
Evidence of these private events can be seen in the house's main hall - on the wall is a portrait of Lee during his time as a student in Britain, and candy and rice wine have been left on a square table, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Lee who had visited China 33 times since 1970 has been admired and revered for his achievements in making Singapore, whose model of governance the ruling Communist Party of China had tried to replicate.
Chen Peixian, head of the county's overseas Chinese affairs bureau, said over 3,00,000 ethnic Hakka lived in Singapore, and about 70 per cent were originally from Dabu.
Every year, many Hakka people travel to Dabu from Singapore to pay respects to their ancestors.