The world is mourning one of 20th century’s most transformational leaders – Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew. He died aged 91.Â Leeâ€™s son and current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, announced the news in the early hours of Monday morning local time, prompting a flurry of tributes from world leaders.
In 1959, as the city-state got independence from the British, Yew became the first Prime Minister at age 31 and led the Asian nation from poverty to opulence in a period of 30 years.
An autocrat but not megalomaniac, Yew transformed Singapore, a tiny Asian island, not only into one of the world’s most developed nations but also one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
“The nation, reflected the man: efficient, unsentimental, incorrupt, inventive, forward-looking and pragmatic.,” wrote New York Times.
US president Barack Obama called Lee a â€œtrue giant of historyâ€ while UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called him a â€œlegendary figure in Asiaâ€ and Chinaâ€™s president Xi Jinping praised Lee as an â€œold friend of the Chinese peopleâ€.
In a White House statement, Obama said that he appreciated Leeâ€™s wisdom, including during discussions they held on his trip to Singapore in 2009 when he was formulating his Asia-Pacific policy.
â€œHe 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,â€ Obama said.