Obama, US leaders pay tribute to ‘visionary’ Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE: United States President Barack Obama and former President George W Bush, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry, have sent their condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his family and Singapore on the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew on Monday (Mar 23).

President Barack Obama

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Singapore’s Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew. On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to the Lee family and join the people of Singapore in mourning the loss of this remarkable man.

“A visionary who led his country from Singapore’s independence in 1965 to build one of the most prosperous countries in the world today, he was a devoted public servant and a remarkable leader.

“Minister Mentor 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. 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.

“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.

Vice President Joe Biden

Jill and I were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Singapore’s founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. Lee was a visionary leader who spearheaded Singapore’s economic growth and helped it become one of the most prosperous countries in the world today.

“He understood the importance of economic integration and effective governance to building a thriving, modern economy. He was a pragmatist, and sometimes uncompromising. But his commitment to delivering excellence in public service was exemplary.

“I valued his insights on Asia, geopolitics, and economics, which have shaped the thinking of many around the world. I will always cherish the wisdom he imparted on me when I had the honor to sit and talk with him in Singapore in July 2013. Then just shy of 90 years old, he remained formidable.

“Lee’s legacy lives on in the nation of Singapore. He was a believer in the importance of America’s enduring role as a resident Pacific power and a friend and admirer of the United States. Jill and I offer our condolences to Lee’s family and join the people of Singapore in mourning his loss.”

Former US President George W Bush

“Laura and I are saddened by the death of Lee Kuan Yew. The father of today’s Singapore transformed his country and helped usher the ASEAN region into the modern era. The Singapore he leaves behind is an influential force for stability and prosperity and a friend to the United States.

“Laura and I join those in Singapore and around the world who are mourning his loss, and we send our heartfelt condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and family.”

 Former US President Bill Clinton

“Hillary and I mourn the passing of Lee Kuan Yew. Prime Minister Lee transformed Singapore into one of the world¹s strongest and most sustainable economies. He also firmly established his country as an important friend and partner of the United States.

“After leaving office, he continued to offer brilliant analysis and wise advice to those who sought it. We will always be grateful for our fascinating conversations over the years. Our thoughts are with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his entire family, and all the people of Singapore.”

Secretary of State John Kerry

“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.

“Lee Kuan Yew exuded wisdom.  The counsel I was fortunate to glean from conversations with him–about life and politics and global affairs–is among the most valuable and insightful I have received. He was, of course, a uniquely astute analyst and observer of Asia, and it is largely through his life’s work that Singapore became one of the United States’ strongest strategic partners in the region.

“Teresa and I join so many around the world in offering our deepest condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has so ably carried on his father’s legacy, to the entire Lee family, and to the people of Singapore, who Lee Kuan Yew always knew were his nation’s greatest resource. May he rest in peace.”

US Embassy of Singapore’s Ambassador Kirk Wagar 

“I extend my deepest condolences to the Lee family and the people of Singapore on the death of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

“Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership transformed Singapore into one of the most successful and dynamic countries in the region, serving as an inspiration and a model for others in South-east Asia and beyond.

“At the same time, he was instrumental in facilitating the United States’ multi-faceted presence in Asia and spurring the rapid evolution of our expanding relationship with ASEAN. Generations of US leaders have benefited from his insights and he leaves as part of his lasting legacy a strong and enduring US–Singapore partnership.

“I join with everyone in Singapore in honoring the life and memory of Lee Kuan Yew.”

US Senator John McCain

“With the passing of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew, the world has lost one of its great statesman and visionaries.”

US Senator Bob Corker

“Singapore owes its success in large part to Lee Kuan Yew’s vision. I extend my sympathies to his family and the people of Singapore.”

Former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg

“A political giant, Lee Kuan Yew transformed the lives of generations of Singaporeans. My thoughts are with his family and the people of Singapore.”

US Senator Cory Gardner

“The world has lost a remarkable leader. Mr Lee’s legacy as modern Singapore’s founding father and a statesman of towering stature will live on in his country for generations to come.

“In no small part due to his leadership, Singapore today is an economic power and highly influential actor in regional and world affairs. My thoughts today are with the people of Singapore as they mourn this loss and reflect on Mr Lee’s extraordinary life.”

US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel

“America always counted on Lee Kuan Yew for honesty and for sage advice. I know that President Obama and previous presidents including George Bush, Bill Clinton and their predecessors, valued greatly and frankly depended on Lee Kuan Yew as a partner in understanding how the United States appeared in the eyes of Asia, and how the United States could contribute to the growth and stability of Asia.

“He played a very significant role in our long term engagement and his influence and his legacy will continue to be felt far into the future.”

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