SINGAPORE - Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law Mr Shanmugam says Singapore will never be the same without Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
He posted a lengthy message on his Facebook page to express his grief on Singapore's founding prime minister's demise.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew was hospitalised in Singapore General Hospital on Feb 5 for severe pneumonia and passed away at 3.18am on Monday, March 23.
Mr Shanmugam thanked Mr Lee and his team of leaders for creating a "society based on meritocracy, equal opportunities, clean and efficient government, good education for all."
He added that he was a direct beneficiary of Mr Lee's policies: "Mr Lee and his policies ensured that neither my background nor the colour of my skin, nor my religion, were hurdles in getting opportunities. I got a good education in a neighbourhood primary school, got into RI, got into law school and had no difficulty getting a job."
For Mr Shanmugam, Mr Lee's passing is personal as he teared while writing his Facebook post.
He said: "As he lay in hospital, on life support, I began to think of what I had never wanted to accept: that we are likely to lose Mr Lee. Each time I think about him now, I tear. Each time I read a tribute to him, I choke. It is difficult to describe in words, the grief I feel."
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has declared a period of national mourning for Singapore's first prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew from today to Sunday.
Mr Lee's body will lie in state at Parliament House from Wednesday to Saturday. Those who wish to pay their respects can do so from 10am to 8pm daily during this period.