SINGAPORE'S founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, has died, leaving behind the unlikely nation he and his colleagues built over five decades as his lasting legacy.
A brief statement from the Prime Minister's Office early this morning said: "The Prime Minister 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. He was 91."
A second statement two hours later said a week-long period of national mourning would be observed, with state flags flown at half-mast until Sunday.
A two- day private family wake will be held at Sri Temasek in the Istana, followed by his body lying in state in Parliament until Saturday, for the public to pay their last respects.
A State Funeral will be held on Sunday at 2pm, followed by a private cremation.
Mr Lee had been in SGH since Feb 5 with severe pneumonia, prompting an outpouring of good wishes as an anxious nation awaited updates on his deteriorating condition, hoping for a recovery.
He outlived several other titans from Singapore's tumultuous founding years - Goh Keng Swee, Lim Kim San, S. Rajaratnam, Devan Nair, Toh Chin Chye, Eddie Barker, Hon Sui Sen.
Sadly, he will be greatly missed on Aug 9 as Singapore marks the 50th anniversary of the Republic he played so critical a role in shaping.
He leaves his two sons, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 63, and Mr Lee Hsien Yang, 57, daughter Lee Wei Ling, 60, daughters-in-law Ho Ching, 61, and Lee Suet-Fern, 56, seven grandchildren and two siblings.
His wife, Madam Kwa Geok Choo, died in 2010 at the age of 89.
He was widely regarded as the man most instrumental in shaping this country, from the time he and his People's Action Party colleagues pushed for self-government in the 1950s to their quest for merger with the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form the new nation Malaysia in the early 1960s, and their efforts to secure the Republic's survival after independence was thrust on it on Aug 9, 1965.
He famously wept on TV announcing the "moment of anguish", when Singapore was "severed" from Malaysia.
Not only had he believed deeply in a unified Malaysia as a multiracial society, but he must also have sensed the enormity of the task for the new city-state to make a living in an inhospitable world.