Foreign media publish commentaries on Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE - As Mr Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Singapore General Hospital, media outlets around the world have begun publishing profiles and commentaries of Singapore's former prime minister.

Mr Lee, 91, has been in hospital since Feb 5, when he was admitted for severe pneumonia. His condition took a turn for the worse on March 18.

Many news outlets noted that although he retired as Prime Minister in 1990, Mr Lee has had a lasting influence on Singapore. He is also respected on the world stage, and his words carried disproportionate weight for the leader of a small nation.

Here are some of the articles that have been published since March 18.

1. Washington Post: Singapore tries to imagine a future without its founder, Lee Kuan Yew

The piece written by Anna Fifield says that Singaporeans are "facing the prospect of a Singapore without Lee".

Singapore is primed for change and at an inflexion point, Fifield says.

The piece quotes Ernest Bower, an expert on South-east Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying: "Just like all the great men who built South-east Asia in the post-colonial period, Lee Kuan Yew is a presence for as long as he breathes".

On his role as an Asian elder statesman, it says that Washington has relied on Mr Lee to interpret events in Asia since US President Richard Nixon, who was in office from 1969 to 1974.

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2. The Guardian: Singapore prepares for life after founding father Lee Kuan Yew

The Guardian's Ben Doherty says that Mr Lee "has receded from public life in recent times, but he remains a revered figure in the country he led for 31 years".

The left-leaning British newspaper credits Mr Lee with "transforming Singapore from a sleepy Asian entrepot into a bustling and wealthy financial hub", but adds that "progress came at the expense of civil liberties".

"He is a good man and I've always seen him as the father of modern Singapore," it quotes Singaporean civil servant Asyraf Jalil as saying.

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3. Huffington Post: Lee Kuan Yew's Legacy

A piece in the Huffington Post, written by Country Risk Solutions CEO Daniel Wagner, expresses admiration for Singapore because it is "safe, clean, efficient and gets the job done".

The American, who has lived and worked in Singapore, says he wishes "much of what works so well in Singapore" could be applied in the United States, where he has lived for the past eight years.

Of Mr Lee's legacy, he says: "It is a textbook case about how to make something really meaningful out of very little - how to transform a tiny island nation into an economic Goliath. How to create a safe haven in a region filled with churning waters. And how to constantly evolve in order to survive and thrive."

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4. Los Angeles Times: With orderly Singapore turning 50, citizens may see a freer society

The Los Angeles Times calls Singapore "an economic miracle built on South-east Asian marshland".

The article by Violet Law explores how Singapore is changing, and says "a new generation of ever more self-assured Singaporeans, who don't have firsthand memories of the elder Lee's 31-year rule and of the country's traumatic founding, are seeking to shape its future with bolder and more diverse voices".

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5. Kompas: Lee Kuan Yew still in critical condition

Indonesian newspaper Kompas reported on its website that Mr Lee was a close friend of former president Suharto, and remains one of the longest-serving MPs in the world, having represented Tanjong Pagar since April 2, 1955.

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6. Global Times: Lee Kuan Yew's health further deteriorates

China's Global Times says that China's relations with Singapore will not be shaken by Mr Lee's failing health.

Catherine Wong Tsoi-lai writes that Mr Lee was referred by former Chinese president Hu Jintao as "an old friend of China", and he has visited China dozens of times, "developing close economic exchanges with China amid its market reform".

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7. Ta Kung Pao: How does Lee Kuan Yew's condition affect the world?

Ta Kung Pao carries a commentary in Chinese by an analyst from the Charhar Institute, a think-tank specialising in diplomacy and international relations.

Zhang Jing Wei writes that Mr Lee will be counted among "global leaders", and that his political legacy is unique.

He credits Singapore with "providing experience" for China's economic transformation under former leader Deng Xiaoping.

Finally he asks, will the political model that Mr Lee has moulded for Singapore be sustained?

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chuimin@sph.com.sg