SINGAPORE - Ahead of marking a significant milestone in his life today, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew told The Straits Times: "I am lucky to reach 90."
Asked in an e-mailed interview what gave him the greatest satisfaction when he looked back on an illustrious life, he replied that it was "to see Singapore's progress".
He will be celebrating his birthday with his family at a private dinner.
Several world leaders sent birthday greetings to Mr Lee, including Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and China's former vice-premier Li Lanqing.
Mr Lee was born on this day in 1923 in a house in Kampong Java Road. He was the eldest son of a Shell employee and a housewife.
In nine decades, he has lived through the Great Depression, the Japanese Occupation, the Malayan Emergency, merger and separation, and Singapore's journey from Third World to First World.
He played a key role in the major events of his day from 1959, when he became Singapore's first prime minister, and came to be well-respected around the world as a perceptive statesman. He stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990 and from Cabinet in 2011.