The government announced that the statesman passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3.18am after hospitalisation for severe pheumonia. He was 91.
News of the death was met by an outpouring of sorrow as tributes flooded to honour the man credited with moulding a modern Singapore that rivals the best countries in the West in many aspects in numerous international surveys.
Born on Sept 16, 1923, in Singapore, Kuan Yew leaves behind a legacy of a modern nation and an economic powerhouse, risen from a rural backwater island of its early history.
Kuan Yew, who led the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) helmed the government for over three decades, making him one of the longest serving prime ministers in the world.
He oversaw the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965, which was considered one of the biggest challenges in his entire political career.
Kuan Yew, who stepped down as prime minister in 1990, was appointed senior minister by Singapore’s second prime minister, Goh Chok Tong before assuming the advisory post of minister mentor in the government led by his son and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
He announced his retirement from the Cabinet post on May 14, 2011, after the 2011 General Election but remained as Tanjung Pagar member of parliament.
Regarded as one of the most prominent and influential leaders not only in Asia but globally, Kuan Yew’s demise has drawn tributes from numerous world leaders expressing admiration for his determination in steering the republic to its current state.
Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak believed the legacy of Kuan Yew in transforming the island nation into a developed, modern and dynamic country would be preserved in its history.
He said the world had lost someone with the ability to contribute concrete ideas in various fields.
Expressing sadness over the passing of “a visionary leader” and “a devoted public servant”, United States President Barack Obama said Kuan Yew had built one of the most prosperous countries in the world today.
Japanese’s Shinzo Abe said Kuan Yew was one of the greatest leaders that Asia had ever produced, who brought about Singapore’s economic growth as well as peace and stability beyond the shores of the republic.
Meanwhile, Hsien Loong has declared a period of national mourning from today (March 23) until March 29 (Sunday), during which state flags on all government buildings would be flown at half-mast throughout the mourning period.
Kuan Yew s body will lie in state at Parliament House from Wednesday (March 25) to Saturday (March 28), for the public to pay their respects.
A State Funeral Service will be held at 2pm on March 29 (Sunday) at the University Cultural Centre, National University of Singapore, followed by a private cremation at Mandai Crematorium.
Additionally, the Singapore Parliament will convene a special sitting at 4pm on Thursday as tribute to Kuan Yew. Admission is for invited guests only.