Singapore's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew dead

Published March 23, 2015
Yew led Singapore to independence in 1965 after a brief and stormy union with Malaysia.—AFP/File
Yew led Singapore to independence in 1965 after a brief and stormy union with Malaysia.—AFP/File

SINGAPORE: Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, one of the towering figures of post-colonial Asian politics, died on Monday in hospital, the government said.

Lee's son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said in a statement that he is “deeply grieved to announce the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore”.

“Mr Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3.18 am,” the statement said. He was 91.

Know more: Lee Kuan Yew on life support

“Arrangements for the public to pay respects and for the funeral proceedings will be announced later,” the statement added.

Lee had been in hospital since February 5 with severe pneumonia and was on life support. Last week the government said his condition had worsened.

Lee was prime minister from 1959, when colonial ruler Britain granted Singapore self-rule, to 1990. He led Singapore to independence in 1965 after a brief and stormy union with Malaysia.

His death is likely to cast a pall over preparations for the city-state's 50th anniversary of independence on August 9.

Prime Minister Lee announced his father's death on his Facebook page and was immediately flooded with messages of condolence.

“Great Man, Great Legacy. The world is poorer by his passing,” wrote reader Kasise Ricky Peprah.

“He is one of the greatest leaders of the world. He contributed a lot for his nation and the region. RIP, sir!,” wrote Kyaw Swar, while another reader called Lee a “legend”.

Eugene Tan, associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University, described Lee's death as “the end of an era”.

“It certainly marks the end of an era and then it raises the question of how Singapore is going to go from here,” Tan told AFP.

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