Singapore mourns founding father, Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew was a charismatic but often controversial politicianSingapore has begun seven days of national mourning following the death of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew.

Mr Lee, who was 91, led Singapore’s transformation from a small port city to one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

World leaders have paid tribute to Mr Lee, who served as the city-state’s prime minister for 31 years.

US President Barack Obama described him as a “giant of history” whose advice had been sought by other world leaders.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Mr Lee was a widely respected strategist and statesman, and Russian President Vladimir Putin described him as one of the “patriarchs” of world politics.

The period of national mourning will culminate in a state funeral next Sunday and Mr Lee’s body is to lie in state at parliament from Wednesday to Saturday.

A private family wake is taking place on Monday and Tuesday.

News of Mr Lee’s death came in a government statement that said he had “passed away peacefully” in the early hours of Monday at Singapore General Hospital. Mr Lee had been in hospital for several weeks with pneumonia and was on life support.

State television broke away from its normal schedules and broadcast rolling tributes.

As evening fell, many Singaporeans were continuing to arrive at the Istana, the compound housing the president’s official residence and the prime minister’s office, where a book of condolence has been placed.

Earlier, some chanted “Mr Lee, Mr Lee” as a hearse carrying the former leader’s body arrived at the compound.

An area has also been set aside outside the hospital for flowers and other tributes.

–BBC

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