Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first Prime Minister of Singapore, passed away peacefully on March 23rd at 3h18 am at Singapore General Hospital, aged 91. Lee served as prime minister of Singapore for over 30 years from 1959 until he voluntarily stepped down in 1990, making him one of history's longest-serving leaders. Nationally respected, Lee was critically important to the establishment, independence, and development of Singapore throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. Lee remained active in Singaporean politics until his death, and his son, Lee Hsien Loong, is the third and current Prime Minister of Singapore.
The office of the prime minister expressed its grievances at the passing of Lee Kuan Yew and declared a seven day period of national mourning which will take place between March 23rd and March 29th. All state flags on government buildings will be flown at half-mast during this time. Lee's body will lie in state at the Parliament House of Singapore and a full state funeral service will be held on Sunday.
In 1991 upon his departure from the office of prime minister, Time magazine wrote of Lee, "What really sets this complex man apart from Asia's other nation-builders is what he didn't do: he did not become corrupt, and he did not stay in power too long. Lee left Singapore with a per capita GDP of $14,000, his reputation gilt-edged and an entire tier of second-generation leaders to take over." Today, Singapore's real GDP is one of the highest in the world at over $50,000 per person. Lee will be remembered for his tough policies but tremendous success in transforming Singapore into an international financial centre.
At a grassroots event in 1965, Lee proclaimed, "This country belongs to all of us. We made this country from nothing." His widely popular memoirs, The Singapore Story, reflected in 1999, "The people shared our feelings and were prepared to do whatever was needed to make an independent Singapore work. I did not know I was to spend the rest of my life getting Singapore not just to work but to prosper and flourish."