Today's Paper

Lee Kuan Yew dead at 91

Architect of one of the wealthiest, least corrupt countries in Asia

Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first Prime Minister of Singapore who transformed the tiny island into one of the wealthiest and least corrupt countries in Asia, died on Monday morning. He was 91.

“The Prime Minister is deeply grieved to announce the passing of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore,” a statement on the PM’s official website said. “Mr. Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3.18 am.”

Mr. Lee was Prime Minister from 1959, when Singapore gained full self-government from the British, until 1990, when he stepped down. Late into his life, he remained the dominant personality and driving force in what he called a First World oasis in a Third World region. The nation reflected the man: efficient, unsentimental, incorrupt, inventive, forward looking and pragmatic. “We are ideology free,” Mr. Lee said in an interview with The New York Times in 2007, stating what had become Singapore’s ideology. “Does it work? If it works, let’s try it. If it’s fine, let’s continue it. If it doesn’t work, toss it out, try another one.”

His leadership was criticised for suppressing freedom, but the formula succeeded. Singapore became a business and financial center admired for its efficiency and low level of corruption. — New York Times News Service

Recommended for you