The first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, passed away Monday, March 22, 2015. He was 91 and had reportedly been suffering from pneumonia.
Recognized as the founding father of modern Singapore, Lee was born on Sept. 16, 1923 in Singapore while it was under colonial rule from Great Britain. Lee was educated at Cambridge University and graduated in law with honors in 1950.
Lee co-founded the People’s Action Party, which advocated for the territory’s merger with Malaysia. He was instrumental in Great Britain’s agreement to relinquish colonial rule in 1963, and after separating from the Malaysia merger in 1965, led a parliamentary transformation into what is now modern Singapore.
Lee is credited with Singapore’s rapid growth although he was criticized for maintaining a strong single party government. He was succeeded by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in 1990, and remained a senior minister. Lee’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, became the third prime minister in 2004. Lee continued in an advisory capacity as Minister Mentor
The body of the late Mr Lee will lie in state at the Parliament House from March 25-28 March 2015. A State Funeral Procession will bear the coffin from Parliament House to the National University of Singapore’s University Cultural Centre for the State Funeral Service on March 29. It will be followed by a private cremation at Mandai Crematorium.
The White House Office of the Press Secretary issues a statement from President Barack Obama on Sunday, saying he was deeply saddened to learn of the Lee’s death and called him a “remarkable man.” He sent condolences to the people of Singapore on behalf of First Lady Michelle Obama and the American people.
“A visionary who led his country from Singapore’s independence in 1965 to build one of the most prosperous countries in the world today, he was a devoted public servant and a remarkable leader,” Obama stated. “Minister Mentor Lee’s views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development. I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific. He was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one the great strategists of Asian affairs.”
Vice President Joseph Biden, said that he and Jill Biden, were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Singapore’s founding father.
“Lee was a visionary leader who spearheaded Singapore’s economic growth and helped it become one of the most prosperous countries in the world today,” Biden stated. “He understood the importance of economic integration and effective governance to building a thriving, modern economy. He was a pragmatist, and sometimes uncompromising. But his commitment to delivering excellence in public service was exemplary. I valued his insights on Asia, geopolitics, and economics, which have shaped the thinking of many around the world. I will always cherish the wisdom he imparted on me when I had the honor to sit and talk with him in Singapore in July 2013. Then just shy of ninety years old, he remained formidable. Lee’s legacy lives on in the nation of Singapore. He was a believer in the importance of America’s enduring role as a resident Pacific power and a friend and admirer of the United States. Jill and I offer our condolences to Lee’s family and join the people of Singapore in mourning his loss.”