It was announced by the Prime Minister’s Office that Mr Lee Kuan Yew, first Prime Minister of Singapore, passed away peacefully at 3:18 am on 23 March. He was 91.
A period of National Mourning has been declared from 23 March (Monday) to 29 March (Sunday). Members of the public who wish to pay their respects can do so at Parliament House from 25 March (Wednesday) to 28 March (Saturday), 24-hours daily until 8 pm on 28 March (Saturday). The queue starts from the Padang, near City Hall MRT Station. The website www.rememberingleekuanyew.sg has been set up for members of the public to share memories and express condolences. Updates on current queue times and other information can be found at www.facebook.com/RememberingLeeKuanYew. A 24-hour hotline at +65 6336 1166 has also been set up for queries.
Condolence books and cards are available in front of the Istana by the Main Gate from Monday to Sunday as well as at various community sites all over the island. The addresses of the community sites can be found at www.rememberingleekuanyew.sg/visit-a-community-tribute-near-you. Condolence books will also be available at all Overseas Missions for overseas Singaporeans and friends.
Mr Lee was an instrumental political figure, and is credited with bringing Singapore out of third-world conditions and into the first. He entered politics after attaining his law degree and campaigned for Singapore to leave British rule and become a part of Malaysia. The merger with Malaysia lasted a mere two years; Singapore was expelled from Malaysia and gained independence in 1965. After that, Mr Lee and his government swiftly worked to remedy Singapore’s vulnerabilities. International recognition of Singapore’s independence was sought, and so the new country joined the United Nations the very same year and founded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1967. The Singapore Armed Forced was created with help from other countries in the form of training and advice. Racial tensions, building up the economy, public housing and even the greening of Singapore were just some of the issues that were spearheaded and tackled during his tenure as Prime Minister. The fruit of his efforts can still be seen today.
Mr Lee stepped down as Prime Minister in 1990, handing the prime ministership to Mr Goh Chok Tong and taking the position of Senior Minister. In 2004, Mr Lee became Minister Mentor before finally retiring from politics in 2011.
In the English segment of an address to the nation this morning, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, son of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, said, “Singapore was his abiding passion. He gave of himself, in full measure, to Singapore. As he himself put it towards the end of his life: 'I have spent my life, so much of it, building up this country. There’s nothing more that I need to do. At the end of the day, what have I got? A successful Singapore. What have I given up? My life.'”
Live coverage and full reports can be seen on Channel News Asia’s website.
Update: Due to the overwhelming response from members of the public, the lying in state at Parliament House will be open 24 hours daily from 25 March until 28 Mar 2015 (which will only then be until 8pm). As of 27 March, 9am, queueing time is estimated to be 8 hours.