Singapore's First Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

United States of America President Barack Obama offered condolences on Sunday (Monday, Singapore time) on the death of Lee Kuan Yew, calling Singapore's first prime minister "a true giant of history." Obama said in a White House statement that he appreciated Lee's wisdom, including during discussions they held on the president's trip to Singapore in 2009 when Obama was formulating his Asia-Pacific policy. "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," Obama said of Lee. Lee Kuan Yew, the statesman who transformed Singapore from a small port city into a wealthy global hub, has died at the age of 91.


The city-state's prime minister for 31 years, he was widely respected as the architect of Singapore's prosperity. But he was criticised for his iron grip on power. Under him freedom of speech was tightly restricted and political opponents were targeted by the courts. A state funeral will be held on 29 March, after a week of mourning. Mr Lee oversaw Singapore's independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia. His death was announced by the office of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Lee's son, early on Monday. He died peacefully at Singapore General Hospital at 03:18 on Monday (19:18 GMT on Sunday), the statement said. He had been in hospital for several weeks with pneumonia. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply saddened" by Mr Lee's death.
A charismatic figure, Mr Lee co-founded the People's Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since 1959, and was its first prime minister. The PAP said in a statement on Facebook: "While we mourn the passing of one of the greatest leaders of our party, we celebrate his incalculable contributions to Singapore and its people." Singapore's President Tony Tan has written an open letter of condolence in which he describes Mr Lee as "the architect of our modern republic".
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