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Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

Zafar Anjum | March 23, 2015
"The Prime Minister 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 3.18am. He was 91," said the PMO.


Image courtesy Singapore PMO website

Lee Kuan Yew, the former Prime Minister of Singapore and one of Asia's tallest leaders, passed away on 23 March 2015 in Singapore General Hospital (SGH).

Lee had been warded in the intensive care unit of SGH for severe pneumonia since 6 February 2015. He remained conscious but sedated, and on mechanical ventilation. His condition deteriorated on 17 March and remained critical. 

Lee, considered the founding father of Singapore, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore. He governed the country for three decades.

He was the co-founder and first Secretary-General of the People's Action Party (PAP). He led the party to eight victories from 1959 to 1990, and oversaw the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965. Lee and his team was behind the transformation of Singapore from a third world country to a "First World" Asian Tiger.

He held the advisory post of Minister Mentor, created by his son Lee Hsien Loong, in August 2004.

Lee announced his retirement from the cabinet after the 2011 general election. However, Lee remained a Member of Parliament.

As news of his worsening condition came out, Singapore's cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament (MPs) expressed their well-wishes for Lee.

An outspoken statesman, Lee had expressed the wish in 2013 in a book that he felt weaker by the day and wanted a quick death.

"Some time back, I had an Advanced Medical Directive (AMD) done which says that if I have to be fed by a tube, and it is unlikely that I would ever be able to recover and walk about, my doctors are to remove the tube and allow me to make a quick exit," he wrote in the book "One Man's View of the World".

The peaceful end came for this great statesman in the morning of 23 March. 

Prime Minister's Message

"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,"said Singapore's Prime Minister and son of Mr. Lee, Lee Hsein Loong, in his Message to the Nation.

"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.”


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