Lee Kuan Yew

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Lee Kuan Yew
(1st Prime Minister of Singapore)

Lee Kuan Yew, GCMG CH (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015) was a senior Singaporean statesman. He was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, governing for three decades. He is also widely recognized as the founding father of modern Singapore.


Lee and his wife, Kwa Geok Choo, married on 30 September 1950. Both of them spoke English as their first language. Lee first started learning Chinese in 1955 at age 32. Lee learned Japanese as an adult and he worked as a Japanese translator during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.

Lee and Kwa had two sons and a daughter. Their eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, a former Brigadier-General, became Prime Minister of Singapore in 2004. His wife, Ho Ching, is the Executive Director and CEO of Temasek Holdings. Several members of Lee's family hold prominent positions in Singaporean society. His younger son, Lee Hsien Yang, was also a former Brigadier-General and former President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SingTel. He is currently the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS). Lee's daughter, Lee Wei Ling, is the head of the National Neuroscience Institute.

Lee Kuan Yew studied at Telok Kurau English School in 1931 and then attended Raffles Institution in 1935. Lee went on to study in England after the Japanese Occupation. He briefly attended London School of Economics as enrollment at University of Cambridge had already closed. He then read law at Fitzwilliam College.


Lee Kuan Yew became a barrister of the Middle Temple and practised law until 1959.

As the co-founder and first secretary-general of the People's Action Party (PAP), he led the party to eight victories from 1959 to 1990, and oversaw the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965 and its subsequent transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources into a "First World" Asian Tiger. He is one of the most influential political figures in Southeast Asia.

Singapore's second Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong appointed him Senior Minister in 1990. He held the advisory post of Minister Mentor, created by his son Lee Hsien Loong, when the latter became the nation's third Prime Minister in August 2004. With his successive ministerial positions spanning over 50 years, Lee is also one of history's longest-serving ministers. On 14 May 2011, Lee and Goh Chok Tong announced their retirement from the cabinet after the 2011 general election.

Mr Lee passed away peacefully on 23 March 2015 at the Singapore General Hospital, aged 91. On 29 March 2015, the day of his state funeral, 86 bus services were diverted or suspended, the biggest for a single event in Singapore's history.

Political Career[edit]

Preceded by Office Term Succeeded by
Position established Minister Mentor 12 August 2004 – 21 May 2011 Position abolished
S. Rajaratnam Senior Minister of Singapore 28 November 1990 – 12 August 2004 Goh Chok Tong
Parliament established MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC
Tanjong Pagar SMC (1965 – 1991)
9 August 1965 – 23 March 2015 Indranee Thurai Rajah
Lim Yew Hock
(as Chief Minister)
Prime Minister of Singapore 5 June 1959 – 28 November 1990 Goh Chok Tong
Position established Leader of the Opposition 22 April 1955 – 31 March 1959 Lim Yew Hock
Constituency established Member of the Legislative Assembly for Tanjong Pagar 2 April 1955 – 9 August 1965 Legislative Assembly renamed to Parliament of Singapore
Position established Secretary-General of the People's Action Party 21 November 1954 – 1 November 1992 Goh Chok Tong

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