Obama, UN chief offer condolences over death of ex-Singapore PM

Washington: US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday mourned the death of former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and offered their condolences to his family.

"I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Singapore's minister mentor, Lee Kuan Yew," Obama said in a written statement, noting he and his wife Michelle offered their "deepest condolences to the Lee family and join the people of Singapore in mourning the loss of this remarkable man".

Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father, served as the country's premier from 1959 to 1990 and then as a senior minister and minister mentor. He died early Monday at the age of 91, Xinhua reported.


Barack Obama. File pic

The US president praised Lee for his efforts to build Singapore into "one of the most prosperous countries in the world today," describing him as "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," he said.

Obama said his discussions with Lee during a trip to Singapore in 2009 played a part in helping formulate his policy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region.

"He was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one of the great strategists of Asian affairs," he added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that he is deeply saddened by the death of Lee Kuan Yew.

Ban called Lee a "legendary figure in Asia" widely respected for his strong leadership and statesmanship.

"During his three decades in office, he helped Singapore to transition from a developing country to one of the most developed in the world, transforming it into a thriving international business hub," a statement quoted him as saying.

"As Singapore marks its 50th anniversary of independence this year, its founding father will be remembered as one of the most inspiring Asian leaders," it said.

The UN chief added that he is grateful for the strong cooperation between the government of Singapore and the UN, and looks forward to deepening this partnership.

According to a statement released by Singapore's prime minister's office (PMO), Lee died at 3:18 a.m. on Monday at the age of 91. He had been in hospital for severe pneumonia since February 5.

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