Dignitaries pay their respects, hail Mr Lee's legacies

Dignitaries pay their respects, hail Mr Lee's legacies
Former United States president Bill Clinton led a high-level delegation including former secretary of state Henry Kissinger to pay their respects to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Dignitaries singled out Singapore's corruption-free society, education system and the Government's succession planning for praise yesterday, saying these were the legacies of founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

They were speaking to reporters at Parliament House, after paying their respects to Mr Lee yesterday, the last day of the lying in state.

Mr Lee, 91, died last Monday at the Singapore General Hospital, after 47 days in intensive care.

Yesterday, former Indonesian general Prabowo Subianto said Mr Lee had left behind a country that would thrive even without him.

"His greatest legacy... was creating a system that had succeeded in creating a meritocracy, and in grooming two, three generations of good leaders. So that's his great legacy, and Singapore will thrive with what he had achieved," he said.

Mr Prabowo was replying to questions from Indonesian journalists, who had asked if Singapore would survive without Mr Lee.

He was also asked about Singapore-Indonesia relations.

He said he was confident nothing would change. He and the other Indonesian leaders were all acquainted with the current generation of Singapore leaders so "there's nothing to worry about".

He added: "I admire Mr Lee Kuan Yew and I think he was a great leader of South-east Asia. He was a good friend of Indonesia, he was a tough leader, and I think that we have a lot to learn from his leadership style and from his thinking."

Afghanistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, who was also at Parliament House, said: "A country like Afghanistan which has gone through so much conflict and (faces) a lot of the problems... there are so many lessons Afghanistan can take from his vision, his ideas."

Quoting from Mr Lee's books, he said Singapore's first Prime Minister had brought Singapore from Third World to First in 50 years, and Afghanistan could try to "reach similar success", through learning from Singapore's and Mr Lee's experiences.

The most important lesson for him, he said, is the need to stamp out corruption.

"He created a society, a country, that is corruption-free. And corruption is a problem that is a major issue for the people and the government, and... the mechanism that he established, the initiative that he embarked on, is something we can truly benefit from," he added.

National University of Singapore president Tan Chorh Chuan, who was part of a vigil group at Mr Lee's lying in state yesterday, paid tribute to his contributions to education and talent development.

Mr Lee believed that every student should be given a chance to develop to his full potential, including the personal aspect, he said.

"Over time he's spoken about character, resilience, ability to overcome. It's shaped the thinking and culture of our educational institutions," Professor Tan said.

Other dignitaries who paid their respects were former US president Bill Clinton, former US national security adviser Tom Donilon, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, former US ambassador to Singapore Steven Green, former Taiwanese leader Hau Pei-tsun, former Malaysian finance minister Daim Zainuddin, Bhutanese King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippines Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and former Indonesian coordinating minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono.

The list also includes Mr Jack Ma, head of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Professor Pieter Winsemius and Mrs Aeyelts Averink Winsemius - children of the late Dr Albert Winsemius who was economic adviser to Singapore for about 20 years.

yuenc@sph.com.sg

charyong@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on March 29, 2015.
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