Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

What world leaders say about Mr Lee Kuan Yew

From Washington, London to Beijing and Jakarta, the world has paid tribute to Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, describing him as one of the "greatest" leaders of our times, a "lion among leaders" and an "inspiration" to Asia and beyond.

Here's a look at what world leaders past and present, as well as heads of international organisations say about the man who built Singapore to what it is today:

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak

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Mr Najib said the founding father of Singapore crafted a modern island republic as his legacy.

"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. His achievements were great, and his legacy is assured." Read more here.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo


Mr Joko expressed his "deep sorrow" over the passing of Mr Lee, leading a chorus of tribute in South-east Asia's dominant nation.

"The late former Prime Minister is a close friend of Indonesia, and known as the founding father of modern Singapore. As a leader and a great statesman who loved his people, he was also one of the most influential politicians in Asia." Read more here.

Chinese President Xi Jinping


Calling Mr Lee an "old friend of the Chinese people", Mr Xi said he was the founder and mover of Sino-Singapore relationship, and his death is "a loss to the international community".

"Mr Lee and China's older generation of leaders set the correct direction for the development of the bilateral relationship, helped deepen the friendship between our people and made important contributions towards cooperation between the two countries. Read more here.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi


Mr Modi hailed the late Singapore leader as a "lion among leaders", as he led the tributes and condolences pouring in from all over India.

"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." Read more here.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe


Mr Abe described Mr Lee as "one of the greatest leaders of modern times that Asia has ever produced". He said Mr Lee had frequently visited Japan during his tenure as Prime Minister of Singapore, and that he had made "outstanding contributions" to the current close relations between Singapore and Japan.

"With his incomparable leadership and unparalleled insights, His Excellency Mr Lee Kuan Yew played, for more than half a century and throughout his life, a key role not only in achieving Singapore's remarkable economic growth and prosperity but also in securing peace and stability of the Asia Pacific region and the world. He was highly revered all over the world... I still vividly remember how much I was impressed by his profound wisdom, including when I met him in person in 2014." Read more here.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott


Calling Mr Lee "a giant of our region", Mr Abbott lauded his vision and determination in making Singapore one of the world's most successful countries.

"In Lee Kuan Yew's own words, Singapore's remarkable journey has been from 'third world to first...Thanks to his leadership, Singapore is now one of the world's most prosperous nations, a financial powerhouse, and one of the world's easiest places to do business. Our region owes much to Lee Kuan Yew. Here in Australia and beyond, leaders sought and learned from his wise counsel." Read more here.

US President Barack Obama


Mr Obama led the outpouring of tributes from American leaders past and present, hailing Mr Lee as a "giant of history" and a statesman who influenced his administration's pivot to Asia.

"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." Read more here.

Former US President Bill Clinton and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton


The Clintons said Mr Lee transformed Singapore into one of the world's strongest and most sustainable economies, and also firmly established Singapore as an important friend and partner of the United States.

"After leaving office, he continued to offer brilliant analysis and wise advice to those who sought it. We will always be grateful for our fascinating conversations with him over the years. Our thoughts are with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his entire family, and all the people of Singapore." Read more here.

British Prime Minister David Cameron


Praising Mr Lee for making his country "into one of the great success stories of our modern world", Mr Cameron said he "was always a friend to Britain, if sometimes a critical one" and many British prime ministers, including himself, benefitted from his wise advice.

"Lee Kuan Yew personally shaped Singapore in a way that few people have any nation. He made his country into one of the great success stories of our modern world...He was always a friend to Britain, if sometimes a critical one, and many British Prime Ministers benefited from his wise advice, including me. Lady Thatcher once said that there was no Prime Minister she admired more than Mr Lee for 'the strength of his convictions, the clarity of his views, the directness of his speech and his vision of the way ahead'." Read more here.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde


Ms Lagarde said Mr Lee was a visionary statesman whose wisdom and leadership will be remembered by people all around the globe.

"He was a visionary statesman whose uncompromising stand for meritocracy, efficiency and education transformed Singapore into one of the most prosperous nations in the world... His wisdom and leadership will be remembered by people all around the globe." Read more here.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon


The UN leader praised Mr Lee's "strong leadership and statesmanship" and described him as "a legendary figure in Asia."

"During his three decades in office, he helped Singapore to transition from a developing country to one of the most developed in the world, transforming it into a thriving international business hub. As Singapore marks its 50th anniversary of independence this year, its founding father will be remembered as one of the most inspiring Asian leaders." Read more here.

Former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. -- PHOTO: AFP

I began this eulogy by mentioning my friendship with Lee. He was not a man of many sentimental words. And he nearly always spoke of substantive matters. But one could sense his attachment. A conversation with Lee, whose life was devoted to service and who spent so much of his time on joint explorations, was a vote of confidence that sustained one's sense of purpose. Read more here.

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