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Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew passes away

Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew
Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore who earned admiration all over the world for turning his city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died in the early hours of today. He was 91.
 
Lee had been undergoing treatment at a hospital here for severe pneumonia since February 5.
 
"Mr Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3.18am," an announcement from the Singapore Prime Minister's Office said.
 
Born in 1923, Lee had co-founded the city state in 1965, when it declared independence from Malaysia, and was its Prime Minister for more than three decades, overseeing its growth into a vibrant and prosperous financial centre.
 
The Singapore government has declared a period of national mourning from March 23-29. State flags on all Government buildings will be flown at half-mast from today to Sunday.
 
Lee's body will lie in state at Parliament House from 25 March (Wednesday) to 28 March (Saturday), for the public to pay their respects. 
 
A State Funeral Service will be held at 2 pm on 29 March at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore. It will be attended by the late Lee’s family, friends and staff, the President, Cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament, Old Guards, senior civil servants, grassroots leaders and Singaporeans from all walks of life. The service will be followed by a private cremation at Mandai Crematorium.
 
Singapore's current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is the elder son of the late Lee, went on air to announce the leader's passing away.
 
"The first of our founding fathers is no more. He inspired us, gave us courage, kept us together, and brought us here. He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won’t see another man like him," he said.
 
He said that, to many Singaporeans, and indeed others too, Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore. 
 
"As Prime Minister, he pushed us hard to achieve what had seemed impossible. After he stepped down, he guided his successors with wisdom and tact. In old age, he continued to keep a watchful eye on Singapore. 
 
"Singapore was his abiding passion. He gave of himself, in full measure, to Singapore. As he himself put it towards the end of his life and I quote: 'I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country.  There’s nothing more that I need to do.  At the end of the day, what have I got?  A successful Singapore.  What have I given up?  My life.'
 
"I am grieved beyond words at the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I know that we all feel the same way.  But even as we mourn his passing, let us also honour his spirit. Let us dedicate ourselves as one people to build on his foundations, strive for his ideals, and keep Singapore exceptional and successful for many years to come," he added.
 
Born on September 16, 1923, Lee served as Singapore's first Prime Minister from June 3, 1959 to November 28, 1990.
 
He was the co-founder and first Secretary-General of the People's Action Party (PAP), which he led to eight victories from 1959 to 1990, and oversaw the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965 and its subsequent transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources into a "First World" Asian Tiger. He was one of the most influential political figures in Asia.
 
His successor Goh Chok Tong appointed him as Senior Minister in 1990. Later, he held the advisory post of Minister Mentor, created by Mr Lee Hsien Loong, who became the nation's third prime minister in August 2004.
 
With successive ministerial positions over 50 years, Lee was also one of history's longest-serving ministers. On 14 May 2011, Lee and Goh announced their retirement from the Cabinet after the 2011 general election, but Lee remained a Member of Parliament.
 
After early education in Singapore, Lee went to England for further studies and briefly attended the London School of Economics before moving to the University of Cambridge, where he read law at Fitzwilliam College. He returned to Singapore in 1949.
 
Though he had intended to practise law, he gradually drifted into politics. In the national elections held on 30 May 1959, the PAP won 43 of the 51 seats in the legislative assembly. Singapore gained self-government with autonomy in all state matters except defence and foreign affairs, and Lee became the first Prime Minister of Singapore on 3 June 1959.
 
On 16 September 1963, Singapore became part of Malaysia, but the merger was short-lived. On August 9, 1965, the Republic of Singapore was created.
 
 
Lee Kuan Yew: life and legacy
Lee had campaigned hard for the merger with Malaysia to end British colonial rule, but the race riots that followed and the subsequent failure of the merger came as a heavy blow to him. He had believed that the merger was crucial for Singapore’s survival.
 
In a televised press conference on television that day, he fought back tears and briefly stopped to regain his composure as he formally announced the separation and the full independence of Singapore to an anxious population:
 
"Every time we look back on this moment when we signed this agreement which severed Singapore from Malaysia, it will be a moment of anguish. For me it is a moment of anguish because all my life ... you see, the whole of my adult life ... I have believed in merger and the unity of these two territories. You know that we, as a people are connected by geography, economics, by ties of kinship...," he said.
 
Over the years, Lee turned Singapore into one of the most developed nations in Asia, despite its small population, limited land space and lack of natural resources. In the process, he was also accusd of being authoritarian and intolerant of dissent.
 
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