Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died on Monday. He was 91 years old.
The country's first and longest-serving prime minister, Lee guided Singapore through a traumatic split with Malaysia in 1965 and helped transform what was then a sleepy port city into a global trade and finance centre.
World leaders expressed their condolences on Lee's demise.
PM Narendra Modi
A far-sighted statesman &a lion among leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life teaches valuable lessons to everyone. News of his demise is saddening
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 23, 2015
In this hour of bereavement, our prayers are with Mr. Lee Kuan Yew's family and the people of Singapore. May his soul rest in peace.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 23, 2015
Barack Obama (US President): 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. 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.
Ban Ki-moon (UN Secretary General): During his three decades in office, he helped Singapore to transition from a developing country to one of the most developed in the world, transforming it into a thriving international business hub. Its founding father will be remembered as one of the most inspiring Asian leaders.
David Cameron (British PM): Mr Lee made Singapore into one of the great success stories of our modern world. He was always a friend to Britain, if sometimes a critical one, and many British Prime Ministers benefited from his wise advice, including me. Lady Thatcher once said that there was no prime minister she admired more than Mr Lee for ‘the strength of his convictions, the clarity of his views, the directness of his speech and his vision of the way ahead’. His place in history is assured, as a leader and as one of the modern world’s foremost statesmen. (as quoted by The Straits Times)
"He was a genuine political giant." Tony Blair pays tribute to Lee Kuan Yew > http://t.co/4EBhVEaEUe
— Tony Blair Office (@tonyblairoffice) March 22, 2015
Xi Jinping (Chinese President): Lee Kuan Yew was an old friend of the Chinese people. He was widely respected by the international community as a strategist and a statesman.
George W Bush (Former US President): Laura and I are saddened by the death of Lee Kuan Yew. The father of today's Singapore transformed his country and helped usher the ASEAN region into the modern era. The Singapore he leaves behind is an influential force for stability and prosperity and a friend to the United States. Laura and I join those in Singapore and around the world who are mourning his loss, and we send our heartfelt condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and family.
John Kerry (US Secretary of State)
I join those around the world in honoring the life of Lee Kuan Yew – he turned #Singapore into one of most dynamic countries in the world.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) March 22, 2015
Tony Abbott (Australian PM): Fifty years ago, Lee Kuan Yew led a vulnerable fledgling nation to independence. Today, thanks to his vision and determination, Singapore is one of the world's most successful countries. In Lee Kuan Yew's own words, Singapore's remarkable journey has been from 'third world to first'. Here in Australia and beyond, leaders sought and learned from his wise counsel. Thanks to his leadership, Singapore is now one of the world's most prosperous nations, a financial powerhouse, and one of the world's easiest places to do business.
Lee Hsien Loong (Yew's son and current Singaporean PM): We won't see another man like him. To many Singaporeans, and indeed others too, Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore.
Tony Tan (Singaporean President): Mr Lee dedicated his entire life to Singapore from his first position as a legal advisor to the labour unions in the 1950s after his graduation from Cambridge University to his undisputed role as the architect of our modern Republic. Few have demonstrated such complete commitment to a cause greater than themselves. (as quoted by The Guardian)
Najib Razak (Malaysian PM): I am saddened to hear about the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, founding Prime Minister of Singapore. I pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's determination in developing Singapore from a new nation to the modern and dynamic city we see today. His achievements were great, and his legacy is assured. Malaysia is committed to the future of our relationship with Singapore; to peace, stability and shared prosperity between our nations. On behalf of all Malaysians, my deepest condolences to the people of Singapore.
John Key (New Zealand PM)
Lee Kuan Yew was a man of rare qualities who unified Singaporeans. His loss will be deeply felt by his family and the people of Singapore.
— John Key (@johnkeypm) March 22, 2015
(With agency inputs)
Updated Date: Mar 23, 2015 13:50:46 IST