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Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's First Prime Minister, Dies At 91
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Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father and first prime minister, on Monday died at the age of 91.
Lee had been hospitalised at the Singapore General Hospital for severe pneumonia since February 5.
The Prime Minister's Office(PMO) said Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital at 3.18 am (local time).
Lee is survived by his two sons, current Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 63, and Lee Hsien Yang, 57, daughter Lee Wei Ling, 60, seven grandchildren and two siblings.
"The first of our founding fathers is no more. He inspired us, gave us courage, and brought us here," prime minister Lee said in a live television address. "To many Singaporeans, and indeed others too, Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore."
Arrangements for the public to pay respects and for the funeral proceedings will be announced later.
The PMO has been giving daily updates on Lee since March 17 when his condition took a turn for the worse due to an infection.
Lee, a British-educated lawyer, is considered the founding father of Singapore and is credited with transforming the city-state into an economic powerhouse within just three decades. He quit as prime minister in 1990 after 31 years in office.
His wife died in 2010, at the age of 89.
"He was my leader, mentor, inspiration, the man I looked up to most," Goh Chok Tong, who succeeded Lee, posted on Facebook.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled the demise of Lee.
"A far-sighted statesman and a lion among leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew`s life teaches valuable lessons to everyone. News of his demise is saddening," Modi said.
Singapore's per capita GDP grew more than 100 times between 1960 and 2011.
Many world leaders paid tributes to the late leader, a strong champion of Asian values.
"My thoughts and prayers are with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and family. 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," Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said.
"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," US President Barack Obama said.
"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".
US Secretary of State John Kerry said: "When Lee Kuan Yew became its first Prime Minister in 1959, Singapore was a newly independent nation with an uncertain future. By the time he left office 31 years later, the small island had been transformed into one of the most prosperous and dynamic countries in the world".
"He was a visionary statesman whose uncompromising stand for meritocracy, efficiency and education transformed Singapore into one of the most prosperous nations in the world," said Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.
Lee also attracted criticism for stifling media freedom and for the harsh treatment of political opponents.
Lee co-founded the People's Action Party (PAP), which has governed Singapore since 1959.