An old friend and lion among leaders, say peers

An old friend and lion among leaders, say peers
The Singapore flag flying at half-mast at Parliament House yesterday. State flags on all government buildings will be flown at half-mast during the seven days of national mourning.

World leaders paid tribute to former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died yesterday, hailing him as a visionary and legendary leader respected all over the world, whose legacy will be remembered by many.

Mr Lee was an "old friend of the Chinese people", whose death is "a loss to the international community", said Chinese President Xi Jinping, as he and other top Chinese leaders sent their condolences to Singapore over the death of its founding prime minister.

In a statement yesterday morning addressed to Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Mr Xi extended condolences on behalf of the Chinese government and the people to Singaporeans and Mr Lee's family, as he described Mr Lee as "a strategist and politician respected widely in the international community".

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew is an old friend of the Chinese people, and founder and mover of Sino-Singapore relationship," Mr Xi said in a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry website.

"Mr Lee and China's older generation of leaders set the correct direction for the development of the bilateral relationship, helped deepen the friendship between our people and made important contributions towards co-operation between the two countries."

United States President Barack Obama paid tribute to Mr Lee in a statement released just hours after news broke of Mr Lee's death.

"On behalf of the American people, (First lady) Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to the Lee family and join the people of Singapore in mourning the loss of this remarkable man," he said.

He hailed Mr Lee as a "visionary", as well as a "devoted public servant and remarkable leader", and said he was deeply saddened by the news.

"(His) views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development," he added.

"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."

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak also conveyed his condolences to his Singapore counterpart early yesterday morning.

Addressing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mr Najib posted on his Facebook page: "I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your father. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. On behalf of all Malaysians, my deepest condolences to the people of Singapore."

"Founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's achievements were great, and his legacy is assured," Mr Najib wrote.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Mr Lee a "lion among leaders", as he led the tributes and condolences pouring in from India.

"A far-sighted statesman and a lion among leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life teaches valuable lessons to everyone. News of his demise is saddening," tweeted Mr Modi, an admirer of Mr Lee.

"In this hour of bereavement, our prayers are with Mr Lee Kuan Yew's family and the people of Singapore. May his soul rest in peace."

British Prime Minister David Cameron praised Mr Lee for making his country "one of the great success stories of our modern world". He also said Mr Lee "was always a friend to Britain, if sometimes a critical one, and many British prime ministers benefited from his wise advice, including me".

This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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