Singapore’s Founding Father Dead at 91
By admin March 25, 2015


Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore, died on March 23, 2015. Prime Minister Lee’s health had been deteriorating for several years, and had been commented on in the press when he failed to appear at the Chinese New Year celebrations of 2013 and 2014 for the first time since he entered politics owing to different illnesses. Over a month ago, he was admitted to Singapore’s General Hospital for severe pneumonia; his condition had been described as “critical” from March 17 onwards, eventually leading to his death.

Lee Kuan Yew first became Prime Minister of Singapore in 1959, the year it first became self-governing state within the British Commonwealth. He kept his position when the country achieved full independence in 1965. Over the next twenty-five years, he would oversee the transformation of the country into a modern and industrialized state, focusing on creating jobs and attracting foreign investment. Singapore would experience high growth rates, dramatically lowered levels of corruption, and become a high-income economy by the time Prime Minister Lee left office in 1990. While a strongly free market economy (on the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, Singapore was rated second only to Hong Kong), it nevertheless maintains a role for the public sector as well, with such things as mass transit systems and affordable public housing provided by the government.

Despite this growth, his position as Prime Minister was not free of controversy. While Singapore experienced phenomenal growth, Lee Kuan Yew governed it as a one-party state for his entire time in office. He restricted the media, arrested journalists, had several of his political opponents jailed without trial, and meticulously regulated many non-economic aspects of the city’s life. This attracted criticism from opposing politicians and human rights activists at home, and from Western critics and international institutions such as Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders. However, not all reactions to Lee Kuan Yew’s approach to politics were negative. The government of the People’s Republic of China in particular has seen Singapore’s model of development under a one-party state as an example to emulate, often expressing admiration for it ever since the first state visit of Deng Xiaoping, the leader who first broke with China’s communist ideology and encouraged a more free-market model.

In a telegram sent to Singapore’s current President Tony Tam, Chinese President Xi Jinping described Prime Minister Lee as “an old friend” of the Chinese people and the “founder” of Singapore. Other world leaders have expressed similar sentiments, with U.S. President Barack Obama calling him “a giant of history,” and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon saying he was “deeply saddened” by his death. Meanwhile, in Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (Lee Kuan Yew’s son) paid tribute to him in a television address, saying “he fought for independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans.” After a week of mourning, a funeral will be held on March 29th.

For more information:

Thanks for sharing !

Comments are disabled.