PM Lee posts tribute to man who helped build S'pore defence

SINGAPORE - Former UK Defence Secretary and friend of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Denis Healey, has died at the age of 98, British media reported on Sunday morning.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post that he was "saddened" to learn of Healey's death.

He posted a photo of Mr Healey during a 1966 visit to Singapore, and said that Healey had helped to train the young nation's first air force.

He added that while British forces had then wanted to withdraw from the 'East of Suez' due to economic troubles, Healey fought to keep forces in Singapore as long as possible.

Often described as "the best Prime Minister Britain never had", Healey also allowed Singapore to keep surplus equipment even though regulations required British forces to destroy the equipment.

According to PM Lee, founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew compared Healey to "a computer which kept on putting out new solutions as more data was fed in".

The BBC reported that Healey died after suffering from a short illness.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called him "a Labour giant", while British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was a "huge figure of post-war politics".

ljessica@sph.com.sg