Saturday, 4 April 2015

Dead at 91 Lee Kuan Yew

The founding father of Singapore who transformed the city state from a malaria-infested backwater into one of the first Asian Tiger economies Lee Kuan Yew - has died at the age of 91.

Supporters viewed him as a towering figure in post-colonial Asia, a leader who turned the former British colony into one of the richest places on the planet almost by sheer force of will alone.

 He created an efficient government with little corruption, cracked down heavily on crime, built a first-class education system and attracted foreign companies with low taxes.

However Mr Lee, who succumbed to pneumonia in hospital just after 3.15am on Monday local time, was also viewed as authoritarian who used Draconian tactics to clamp down on free speech and any sign of dissent.

Some of his political rivals were jailed without trial for decades and brought defamation lawsuits against journalists and opposition politicians for daring to stand up to him. In a biography, Lee Kuan Yew:

The Man And His Ideas, he spelled out his philosophy: “I'm very determined. If I decide that something is worth doing, then I'll put my heart and soul to it. The whole ground can be against me, but if I know it is right, I'll do it. That's the business of a leader.” And many Singaporeans worshipped the man who became Singapore’s first Prime Minister in 1959 and held power for more than 30 years.

 Even after standing down in 1990, he remained a member of the cabinet until 2011 and was an MP at his death. It was widely recognised that he had significant influence over the current Prime Minister, his eldest son Lee Hsien Loong.

The Prime Minister’s office said in a statement that Mr Lee “passed away peacefully” at Singapore General Hospital, where he had been on life support. It added that arrangements for the public to pay respects and funeral arrangements would be announced later.
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