SINGAPORE, March 23 — President Tony Tan has sent a condolence letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, paying tribute to his father former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, who passed away early this morning (March 23).
In his three-page letter, Dr Tan paid tribute to Lee’s achievements, such as how he rallied Singaporeans together after forced separation from Malaysia in 1965. “Many doubted if Singapore could have survived as a nation but Lee rallied our people together and led his cabinet colleagues to successfully build up our armed forces, develop our infrastructure and transform Singapore into a global metropolis,” Dr Tan wrote.
In Singapore’s early phases of urban development, Lee set up the Housing and Development Board to give Singaporeans a stake in the nation, and had the vision of Singapore as a Garden City, and the initiated ambitious project to clean up the Singapore River and Kallang River, which were then heavily polluted.
“Today, because of Lee’s farsightedness, Singapore is hailed as a model of sustainable and inclusive development for developing cities around the world,” Dr Tan said.
Lee also made last contributions towards the building of a meritocratic and multi-cultural Singapore, by putting in place measures to ensure university places, government contracts and appointments into public office would go to the most deserving candidates based on merit, and regardless of race and religion. He also established English as the common working language and as the main medium of instruction in schools.
“Because of these policies, Singaporeans today are able to leverage on our bilingual and bicultural edge to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves around the world,” Dr Tan said.
He also paid tribute to Lee’s contributions in driving Singapore’s prominence on the international stage. “Lee was one of the first to recognise China’s potential under Deng Xiaoping’s reforms. Lee’s brilliant intellect and candour of opinion led many international leaders and foreign diplomats to seek his views on developments in the region and around the world,” Dr Tan said. “Widely revered as a senior statesman, Lee was conferred numerous international accolades throughout his political career.”
He noted that many aspects of Singaporeans’ lives bear Lee’s imprint. “Lee dedicated his entire life to Singapore, from his first position as a legal advisor to the labour unions in the 1950s after his graduation from Cambridge University to his undisputed role as the architect of our modern Republic. Few have demonstrated such complete commitment to a cause greater than themselves.” — TODAY