The Philippines joins Singapore and the rest of the international community in mourning the passing of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was responsible for transforming the island-country into one of the wealthiest nations today.
“Mr. Lee was a visionary statesman who built Singapore into an economic powerhouse and modern society that has been a positive force not only in the region but also in the world,” a statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Monday.
“His fortitude, political will and wisdom will continue to be an inspiration in the years to come,” it added.
Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay called Lee “the architect of modern Singapore.”
In offering his deepest condolences to the Lee family and joining the people of Singapore in mourning the loss of its first premier, Binay said also on Monday the late Prime Minister “shaped his country into one of the most prosperous countries in the world.”
“He is a dedicated public servant and a well-respected leader. The success of Singapore is but a testament to his decades of remarkable public service,” he added in a statement.
The Vice President said he has “always admired” Lee and the Singapore success story.
“His political will and pragmatic approach to governance was my inspiration in rebuilding Makati [City, in Metro Manila] after the 1986 EDSA Revolution from a bankrupt municipality to the country’s premier city providing unparalleled social services to its constituents,” he added, referring to the popular, bloodless uprising that booted out then-strongman Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
Lee, 91, died on Monday from complications from pneumonia.
He had been in the hospital for several weeks.
His son, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, announced his passing and paid tribute to him by declaring a week of mourning until March 29, when a state funeral will be held.
As the country’s prime minister for 31 years, Lee was widely regarded as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity, turning the once small port city into one of the world’s wealthiest hubs.
Although he was criticized for his iron grip on power and his restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, Lee’s life is celebrated for overseeing Singapore’s independence from Britain and separation from Malaysia.
His vision for Singapore was different from his Asian counterparts.
With the city state lacking natural resources, he worked to build a highly educated work force fluent in English and reached out to investors to turn Singapore into a manufacturing hub.
Lee’s People’s Action Party has remained in control until today, a reign marked by clampdown on media, political opponents and dissenters.