He was the man human rights lawyers loved to hate, who founded the state that hangs drug-dealers and murderers, fine litterbugs and those who drop chewing-gum, abolished trial by jury, suppresses media dissent, canes offenders and boasts one of the most successful economies on earth.
It was a day that had been widely anticipated, not least since Mr Lee himself had often spoken of the need for leadership succession and had pushed it relentlessly, giving up his own job as Prime Minister in 1990 after 31 years and while still robust at 67. As soon as the Prime Minister’s Office announced the news an hour later, an unprecedented outpouring of tributes and messages of condolence began appearing online, and continued all day.He was criticized for suppressing freedom, but the formula succeeded. Singapore became an international financial center admired for efficiency and low level of corruption. After serving as PM from 1959 to 1990, he was followed by two handpicked successors, Goh Chok Tong and Lee’s eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, who groomed for the job, has been PM since 2004.
“Lee’s 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,” Obama said in a White House statement.Summing up his life’s work in his two-part memoirs, The Singapore Story, Mr Lee once revealed how he and his colleagues believed that Malaysian leaders anticipated the day when an independent Singapore would fail and be forced to appeal for readmission to the Federation, on Malaysia’s terms.