Lee Kuan Yew

1st Prime Minister of Singapore (1923–2015) / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Lee Kuan Yew GCMG CH SPMJ DK (born Harry Lee Kuan Yew; 16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015), often referred to by his initials LKY, was a Singaporean statesman and barrister who served as the founding Prime Minister of Singapore between 1959 and 1990, and Secretary-General of the People's Action Party between 1954 and 1992. He was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tanjong Pagar from 1955 until his death in 2015. Lee is widely recognised as the founding father of the modern Singaporean state, and for his leadership in turning the island into a highly developed city state.

Quick facts: The HonourableLee Kuan YewGCMG CH SPMJ DK, 1s...
Lee Kuan Yew
Lee in 1975
1st Prime Minister of Singapore
In office
5 June 1959  28 November 1990
PresidentYusof Ishak
Benjamin Sheares
Devan Nair
Wee Kim Wee
DeputyToh Chin Chye
Goh Keng Swee
S. Rajaratnam
Goh Chok Tong
Ong Teng Cheong
Preceded byLim Yew Hock
Succeeded byGoh Chok Tong
Member of Parliament
for Tanjong Pagar
In office
22 April 1955  23 March 2015
Preceded byConstituency established
Succeeded byIndranee Rajah (PAP)
ConstituencyTanjong Pagar SMC
Tanjong Pagar GRC
Secretary-General of the People's Action Party
In office
21 November 1954  14 November 1992
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byGoh Chok Tong
Senior positions
Minister Mentor of Singapore
In office
12 August 2004  20 May 2011
Prime MinisterLee Hsien Loong
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Senior Minister of Singapore
In office
28 November 1990  11 August 2004
Prime MinisterGoh Chok Tong
Preceded byS. Rajaratnam
Succeeded byGoh Chok Tong
Parliamentary offices
Member of the Malaysian Parliament
for Singapore
In office
2 November 1963  9 August 1965[1]
Leader of the Opposition
In office
22 April 1955  31 March 1959
Chief MinisterDavid Marshall
Lim Yew Hock
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byLim Yew Hock
Personal details
Harry Lee Kuan Yew

(1923-09-16)16 September 1923
Singapore, Straits Settlements
Died23 March 2015(2015-03-23) (aged 91)
Resting placeMandai Crematorium and Columbarium
Political partyPeople's Action Party
(m. 1950; died 2010)
ChildrenLee Hsien Loong (son)
Lee Wei Ling (daughter)
Lee Hsien Yang (son)
RelativesChua Jim Neo (mother)
EducationRaffles Institution
Alma materRaffles College
London School of Economics
Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge (BA)
Quick facts: Lee Kuan Yew, Chinese, Transcriptions, Standa...
Lee Kuan Yew

Lee was born in Singapore during British colonial rule. After graduating from Raffles Institution, he won a scholarship to Raffles College (now the National University of Singapore). During the Japanese occupation, Lee escaped being the victim of a purge,[2] before subsequently starting his own businesses while working as an administration service officer for the Japanese propaganda office. After World War II ended, Lee briefly attended the London School of Economics before transferring to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge to study law, graduating with a double first degree in 1947. He was called to the Bar from the Middle Temple in 1950. Upon his return to Singapore, he practised as an advocate and solicitor whilst campaigning for the British to relinquish their colonial rule.

Lee co-founded the People's Action Party (PAP) in 1954 and won his first seat at the Tanjong Pagar division during the 1955 general election. He became the de facto opposition leader in parliament, to Chief Ministers David Marshall and Lim Yew Hock of the Labour Front. Lee led his party to its first electoral victory in 1959 and was appointed as the state's first prime minister. To attain complete home rule from Britain, Lee campaigned for a merger with other former British territories in a national referendum to form Malaysia in 1963. Racial strife and ideological differences later led to Singapore's expulsion from Malaysia and subsequent independence in 1965, less than two years after the merger.

With overwhelming parliamentary control at every general election, Lee oversaw Singapore's transformation into a developed country with a high-income economy within his premiership. In the process, he forged a highly effective, anti-corrupt government and civil service. Lee eschewed populist policies in favour of long-term social and economic planning, championing civic nationalism through meritocracy[3] and multiracialism[4][5] as governing principles, making English the lingua franca[6] to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the world, whilst mandating bilingualism in schools to preserve the students' mother tongue and ethnic identity.[6] Lee stepped down as prime minister in 1990, but remained in the Cabinet under his successors, holding the appointments of Senior Minister until 2004, then Minister Mentor until 2011. He died of pneumonia on 23 March 2015, at the age of 91. In a week of national mourning, about 1.7 million residents and world leaders paid tribute to him at his lying-in-state at Parliament House and community tribute sites.

An advocate for Asian values and a proponent of pragmatism,[7] Lee's premiership especially in the West was described as being semi-authoritarian and characterised as a sort of a hybrid regime or a guided democracy.[8][9][10][11] Critics have accused him of curtailing press freedoms, imposing narrow limits on public protests, restricting labour movements from industrial or strike action through anti-union legislation and co-option,[12] and bringing defamation lawsuits against prominent political opponents.[13][14] However, others argue his actions were necessary for the country's early development, and that he was a benevolent dictator.[15][16]