Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

US President Obama pays tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, calls the Singapore leader a 'giant of history'

US President Barack Obama was among the first world leaders to pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, who died on Monday at the age of 91.

“On behalf of the American people, (First lady) Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to the Lee family and join the people of Singapore in mourning the loss of this remarkable man,” he said, in a statement released just hours after news broke of Mr Lee’s passing.

He hailed the Mr Lee as a “visionary” as well as a “devoted public servant and remarkable leader” and said he was deeply saddened by the news

“Minister Mentor Lee’s views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development. I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific,” he added, referring to Mr Lee using a previous title.

Mr Lee had met a string of US presidents and is widely recognised as having laid the foundation for the strong ties the two sides currently enjoy. Mr Obama had welcomed the Singaporean leader to the White House in 2009 ahead of his own visit to Singapore. Ahead of their White House meeting, Mr Obama had already hailed Mr Lee as someone who “trigger the Asian economic miracle”.

On Monday, Mr Obama added to that: “He (Mr Lee) was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one the great strategists of Asian affairs.”

The full statement here:

Statement by the President on the Death of Lee Kuan Yew

I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew.

"On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our deepest condolences to the Lee family and join the people of Singapore in mourning the loss of this remarkable man.

"A visionary who led his country from Singapore's independence in 1965 to build one of the most prosperous countries in the world today, he was a devoted public servant and a remarkable leader.

"Minister Mentor Lee's views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development.

"I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific. He was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one the great strategists of Asian affairs."

Former US President George W. Bush also sent his condolences:

He said: "Laura and I are saddened by the death of Lee Kuan Yew. The father of today's Singapore transformed his country and helped usher the Asean region into the modern era. The Singapore he leaves behind is an influential force for stability and prosperity and a friend to the United States. Laura and I join those in Singapore and around the world who are mourning his loss, and we send our heartfelt condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and family.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement: "When Lee Kuan Yew became its first Prime Minister in 1959, Singapore was a newly independent nation with an uncertain future. By the time he left office 31 years later, the small island had been transformed into one of the most prosperous and dynamic countries in the world.

"Lee Kuan Yew exuded wisdom. The counsel I was fortunate to glean from conversations with him - about life and politics and global affairs - is among the most valuable and insightful I have received. He was, of course, a uniquely astute analyst and observer of Asia, and it is largely through his life's work that Singapore became one of the United States' strongest strategic partners in the region.

"Teresa and I join so many around the world in offering our deepest condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who has so ably carried on his father's legacy, to the entire Lee family, and to the people of Singapore, who Lee Kuan Yew always knew were his nation's greatest resource. May he rest in peace."