By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah
SINGAPORE,( March 23) — The republic’s president Tony Tan Keng Yam says Singaporeans owe ‘an eternal gratitude’ to their late former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
“The greatest tribute that Singaporeans can pay him is to treasure and build upon the legacy that Mr Lee and his team have left us, and make Singapore an even better home for our future generations,” he said.
Tan said this in his condolence letter to Kuan Yew’s son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Monday.
“On behalf of the people of Singapore, I would like to convey my most heartfelt condolences to you and your family on the passing of your dear father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew,” the president said in the letter released by the Istana.
Tan said Kuan Yew 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 the nation modern republic.
“Few have demonstrated such complete commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” he said.
Kuan Yew was elected into the British Legislative Assembly in 1955 and became Singapore’s first Prime Minister after leading the PAP to victory in the 1959 general elections when Singapore was granted full internal self-government.
At that time the city state faced problems of high unemployment, poor infrastructure and a hostile external environment.
To secure Singapore’s access to land, water and natural resources, Kuan Yew led Singapore to join the Federation of Malaysia before declaring independence from Britain in 1963.
However, said Tan, the problems were exacerbated when Singapore lost its economic hinterland after the forced separation from Malaysia in 1965.
“Many doubted if Singapore could survive as a nation but Mr 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.
“Without Mr Lee’s remarkable foresight and relentless pursuit of Singapore’s development, the Singapore that we know today would not exist.
“Singapore was his passion and he continued serving Singapore till the last days of his life,” said Tan.—BERNAMA