President Xi Jinping called Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew an “old friend of the Chinese people” after his death on Monday as condolences have poured in from leaders and citizens across the globe.
The “Founding Father” of Singapore passed away early this morning at the age of 91. He’d been on a mechanical ventilator for several weeks after falling severely ill with pneumonia on February 5.
In a televised address, Lee’s son and current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid heartfelt tribute to his father.
“He fought for our independence, built a nation where there was none, and made us proud to be Singaporeans. We won’t see another man like him,” he said.
Politicians in China and beyond took time to express words of sympathy over the island country’s loss while praising the achievements made by Lee throughout his leadership. Xi said Lee was “widely respected by the international community as a strategist and a statesman,” and offered his “sincere condolences” to his family, according to SCMP.
Hong Lei, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a separate statement that Lee was “a strategist boasting oriental values and international vision.”
In a message posted on the website of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was quoted a saying that “Mr Lee Kuan Yew had worked together with the pioneering generation of Chinese leaders in opening the gate for the friendly cooperation between China and Singapore…His contributions to the China-Singapore relationship and China’s reform and opening up will surely be marked by history.”
Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung likewise lauded Lee as being a “legacy of how to build a thriving, proud, diverse and dynamic country will live on for generations, not just in Singapore or Asia, but the world over,” and that he “will truly be missed.”
Lee co-founded the People’s Action Party, which has governed Singapore since 1959. He is widely respected as being the “architect” of Singapore’s prosperity but also criticized for suppressing freedom in his attempts to do so.
Previously on Shanghaiist: Chinese media wrongly report death of former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew
[Image via Straits Times]