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World leaders pay tribute to Lee Kuan Yew

World leaders pay tribute to Lee Kuan Yew
Barack Obama hailed Lee Kuan Yew as a visionary and "true giant of history" after Singapore's first prime minister died aged 91.
WASHINGTON: Leaders from around the world have paid tribute to Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew after he passed away on Monday.

US President Barack Obama hailed Lee Kuan Yew as a visionary and "true giant of history" after Singapore's first prime minister died aged 91.

Lee, who dominated Singapore politics for more than half a century, was an authoritarian leader who transformed the city-state from a sleepy British imperial outpost into a global trading and financial center.

"A visionary who led his country from Singapore’s independence in 1965 to build one of the most prosperous countries in the world today, he was a devoted public servant and a remarkable leader," Obama said in a glowing tribute.

He added in a statement: "I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific.
"He was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one the great strategists of Asian affairs."

Former US presidents George W. Bush and his father George H. W. also hailed Lee's pivotal role in the history of Singapore.

"The father of today's Singapore transformed his country and helped usher the ASEAN region into the modern era," George W. Bush said in a statement.

"The nation he leaves behind is an influential force for stability and prosperity and a friend to the United States."
In a separate statement, former US president George Bush said: "I will always be proud that Lee Kuan Yew was my friend."

Meanwhile, former United Kingdom Prime Minister Tony Blair said Lee Kuan Yew was one of the most extraordinary leaders of modern times.

“He was a genuine political giant. He was the first to understand that modern politics was about effective Government not old-fashioned ideology.

“Whether in the economy, social cohesion or law and order, he applied methods of rigorous analysis and detailed implementation. He built Singapore into the success story it is today by intelligence, wisdom and determination in equal measure. As a result Singapore has a respect and admiration far above its size.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said “Lee Kuan Yew was a man of rare qualities who unified Singaporeans. His loss will be deeply felt by his family and the people of Singapore.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Ruud said “With the passing of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore has lost the leader who guided it for the full 50 years of its independence since 1965.

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“Lee Kuan Yew was a rare statesman, both in Asia and the world, who always saw the big picture and we shall miss his counsel.”