PETALING JAYA - Prominent Malaysians have paid tribute to Lee Kuan Yew, describing him as a towering Asian leader whose contributions in developing his country serves as an unforgettable legacy.
Former International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, who extended condolences to Singapore Prime Minister and Lee's son Hsien Loong, called his passing an end of a golden era.
"I am privileged to have known him personally.
"I have met him on many occasions during his tenure in government and I also called on him when he was Senior Minister.
"We had enlightening conversations on a variety of issues.
"It was always fascinating to talk to him. He would call me by my name," Rafidah said.
Rafidah recalled a joke she used to share with the father and son whenever they were attending the same functions, including those held at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting.
"I would joke to Hsien Loong - are you going to call him Papa or PM (Prime Minister)?" she said.
Former Foreign Minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar described Lee as a "politician extraordinaire" and an "astute and visionary statesman."
Tan Sri Dr Rais Yatim, who was Foreign Minister from 2008 to 2009, said Lee would always be remembered as an "Asian icon" and "a friend".
"Rest in peace Kuan Yew ... I can only say how much I appreciate our decades of friendship," Dr Rais tweeted.
Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli) co-founder and chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh said Lee was deeply interested in political and economic developments in Malaysia.
"He visited Asli twice during his visits to Malaysia over the years and had very candid and open discussions with us.
"We remember him as a towering ASEAN leader besides being the father of modern Singapore," said Yeoh, adding that in 2001, Asli conferred Lee with the ASEAN Millennium Lifetime Achievement Award together with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during a special ceremony in Singapore.