Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a lion among leaders, says Indian PM Modi

NEW DELHI - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described Mr Lee Kuan Yew as a "lion among leaders" as he led India's tributes to a statesman who nurtured India-Singapore ties. 

"A far-sighted statesman and a lion among leaders, Mr Lee Kuan Yew's life teaches valuable lessons to everyone. News of his demise is saddening, tweeted Mr Modi, who is known to be an admirer of Mr Lee.

"In this hour of bereavement, our prayers are with Mr Lee Kuan Yew's family and the people of Singapore. May his soul rest in peace."

Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum in a sign of the high respect for Mr Lee in India.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a condolence message, highlighted the "warm" ties Mr Lee had with the Congress party and recalled how he had delivered the 37th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture in New Delhi on Nov 21, 2005.

Describing Mr Lee as the "builder of modern multiethnic Singapore", Mrs Gandhi said he belonged to the league of Asian statesmen who successfully carried forward the task of nation building.

In the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, where Singapore is helping build a capital city, the state assembly passed a condolence resolution and observed two minutes of silence for Mr Lee.

"The world will poorer by the passing away of a visionary leader who created 'an oasis of First World amid Third World' with his pragmatic outlook and hard work," said Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrabau Naidu in a separate condolence message.

He tweeted that he was deeply grieved at the demise of Mr Lee whose "inventive, forward-looking approach inspires global leaders".

Mr Lee has had a long association with India and is seen as the architect of the close ties the two countries currently enjoy.

The two countries share close political and economic ties, which grew fast after the two countries signed a Comprehensive Economic Co-operation Agreement in 2005. 

As Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee has known Indian leaders across generations, from India’s first Prime Minister Jawarharlal Nehru to former prime minister Morarji Desai down to current leaders Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, as well as Mrs Gandhi.

In the 37th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial lecture, Mr Lee described how he shared "intellectual and emotional roots'' with Mr Nehru, also a freedom movement leader, because he too had "experienced subjugation and discrimination under the British Raj".

He was also an early supporter of India’s long cherished but unfulfilled ambition of becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It was also under his stewardship that India was able to increase its links with Asean. Singapore helped India to get full dialogue partnership in Asean in 1996.

Tributes to Mr Lee flowed in from different sections of Indian society on Twitter.

"Lee Kwan Yew: the world has lost a transformational statesman and Singapore has lost Father of their nation," tweeted leading corporate voice Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairman of Bangalore-based biotech firm Biocon Limited.

And Bharatiya Janata Party MP Tarun Vijay tweeted: "Lee Kwan Yew is much more than the builder of a city state. His vision and determination inspires millions.’’

Editor and journalist Shekhar Gupta recalled when Mr Lee spoke on China to a group of Indian editors.

"Asian statesman & builder of Singapore. Treasure the opportunity to listen to him give tutorial on China to a group of Indian editors," tweeted Mr Gupta.