Malaysian leaders convey condolences to Singapore and PM Lee Hsien Loong

Malaysian leaders reacted with grief and glowing tribute at the passing of the man who led Malaysia's closest neighbour for more than three decades of its independent existence, saying his achievements were great and his legacy was assured.

Political leaders including Prime Minister Najib Razak responded to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's passing within minutes of hearing the news, saying the founding father of Singapore crafted a modern island republic as his legacy.

"On behalf of all Malaysians, my deepest condolences to the people of Singapore. Founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew's achievements were great, and his legacy is assured," Mr Najib posted on his Facebook page.


Relations between the two neighbours were often testy as Mr Lee clashed with Malaysian leaders such as Tunku Abdul Rahman, who spearheaded Malaysia's independence movement, and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who led Malaysia to great economic strides from 1981 to 2003 in competition with Singapore.

But the rivalry has not diluted the regard Malaysians show for Mr Lee.

"I pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's determination in developing Singapore from a new nation to the modern and dynamic city we see today," Mr Najib said of the man who governed Singapore from 1959 to 1990.

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who also leads the youth wing of Mr Najib's ruling Umno party, echoed the sentiment by calling Singapore "a tremendous legacy" of the late Mr Lee.

Other Malaysian politicians also expressed their condolences, including Mr Lim Kit Siang, veteran of the Democratic Action Party, who said it was the "passing of an era".

Jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim's Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) party also noted Mr Lee's "developmental policies that were transparent and efficient, and was successful at attracting foreign investors to the point that his country was dubbed the 'Swiss of Asia' ".

"We must take stock of his efforts in administering Singapore, which focused the welfare of the people regardless of race or religion," Anwar's wife and party president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said in a statement.

Former Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said he admired Mr Lee's "resolute commitment to integrity in government."

Mr Lee died on Monday morning aged 91.


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