Singapore’s first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, one of the towering figures of post-colonial Asian politics, has died in hospital following a weeks-long struggle with pneumonia.
Lee’s son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, said in a statement on Monday that he is ‘deeply grieved to announce the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore’.
‘Mr Lee passed away peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital today at 3:18am,’ the statement said. He was 91.
‘Arrangements for the public to pay respects and for the funeral proceedings will be announced later,’ the statement added.
Lee had been in hospital since February 5 with severe pneumonia and was on life support.
Lee was prime minister from 1959, when colonial ruler Britain granted Singapore self-rule, to 1990. He led Singapore to independence in 1965 after a brief and stormy union with Malaysia.
His death is likely to cast a pall over preparations for the city-state’s 50th anniversary of independence on August 9.
Prime Minister Lee announced his father’s death on his Facebook page and was immediately flooded with messages of condolence.
Eugene Tan, associate professor of law at the Singapore Management University, described Lee’s death as ‘the end of an era’.
‘It certainly marks the end of an era and then it raises the question of how Singapore is going to go from here,’ Tan said.