Lee Kuan Yew, founding father and the first prime minister of Singapore, has passed away at 91. The government has announced national mourning until his funeral. His body will lie in state at parliament from Wednesday to Saturday.
The city nation had been preparing themselves for the news for days. Glowing tributes poured in to the memory of the man who oversaw the small city-state's rise from a British colony to a global business and financial centre.
Lee, a British-educated lawyer, is credited with building Singapore into one of the world's wealthiest nations with a strong state. He was unapologetic about being ruthless in not tolerating opposition and clamping down on it. While Lee was praised for his market-friendly policies, he invited criticism for his strict controls over the press, public protests and political opponents. Though he had taken a break from public and political life recently, but he was still influential in the government of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his eldest son.
Lee's leadership was a model for many developing countries and politicians of all colours were inspired by his policies. “Lee's insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected globally, and this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development," said US Prez Obama .
Lee became Singapore's first prime minister in 1959 and stayed in power for 31 years, overseeing its transformation from a port city with crime and poverty into one of Asia's most prosperous nations. Even after stepping down in 1990 as the world's then longest-serving prime minister, he stayed on in the cabinet until 2011. He handed power to Goh Chok Tong, but remained influential as senior minister in Goh's cabinet and later as "minister mentor" when his son became prime minister in 2004. He was a member of parliament until his death.
Lee co-founded the People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the city since 1959 and led the new country when it was separated from Malaysia in 1965.