Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee Kuan Yew one of the great men in history: Malaysian PM Najib

Calling him a "great man", Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday thanked Mr Lee Kuan Yew for strengthening ties between Malaysia and Singapore.

He also credited him with helping to "shape South-east Asia as a region of peace and prosperity".

Datuk Seri Najib arrived at Parliament House around noon yesterday to pay his final respects to Singapore's first Prime Minister, and to express his "heartfelt condolences", and those of the Malaysian government and people, on his passing.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a great man whose leadership, vision, fortitude and perseverance helped shape modern Singapore into what it is today: an advanced economy finding its own place in the world. All Singaporeans owe him a debt of gratitude," he told reporters later.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew also was a man who helped shape South- east Asia as a region of peace and prosperity," he added.

"He will go down as one of the great men in history, whose vision and leadership helped make this world a better place, and I'd like to thank him for strengthening the bilateral ties between Malaysia and Singapore."

Yesterday, Mr Najib was accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and four ministers - Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, Natural Resources and Environment Minister G. Palanivel and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Mah Siew Keong.

Sheikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the United Arab Emirates' chairman of Crown Prince Court and the UAE government's representative, also paid his respects, as did Indonesia's Parliament Speaker Setya Novanto, the head of the Regional Representatives Council Irman Gusman, and several Indonesian MPs.

Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak and Malaysian Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein signed the condolence book at the Singapore High Commission in Kuala Lumpur. Sultan Nazrin wrote: "Lee Kuan Yew was a leader of vision who founded and nurtured a country. The world has lost a great statesman."

rachelay@sph.com.sg