Asia

Lee Kuan Yew: Reaction in pictures and tweets

Lee Kuan Yew has died at the age of 91. Singapore's elder statesman, he is widely viewed as the man who brought the city-state into the modern era and turned it into a wealthy business hub. The BBC looks at how the news of his death unfolded.

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Lee Kuan Yew was admitted to hospital in early February with pneumonia and was later placed on life support. In the early hours of Monday, a statement from the prime minister's office confirmed his death.

The announcement was not unexpected. Mr Lee's condition had deteriorated in recent days. People had begun leaving tributes and messages of support outside the Singapore General Hospital, where he was being treated, and at a community centre in his local constituency.

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One of the first to offer his condolences was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In a statement, he described Mr Lee as a "legendary figure in Asia, widely respected for his strong leadership and statesmanship".

Within hours, the Facebook page of Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - who is Lee Kuan Yew's son - was flooded with messages of condolence. "Thank you Mr Lee Kuan Yew for the Singapore we now have," wrote one man. "Don't worry. Singapore will continue to do well, in the way you have worked hard all your life ensuring that," wrote another. At the hospital, meanwhile, Lawrence Hee, 68, said: "I'm very sad. He created Singapore."

Sayeed Hussain, 59, with his wife Sharmin, 44, son Sanerm, 13, and daughter Samira, 16, came to the hospital as a family before the children went to school. "He was a great leader and role model. He did a lot for us, helped to shape a multi-racial and multi-cultural Singapore. We wanted to start our day with no regrets so we came here to pay our respects," Mr Sayeed said.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama spoke of 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 two men met in Washington DC in 2009. Other leaders, past and present, also paid tribute, including former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

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As the sun rose, flags were lowered to half mast at government buildings, including this one here at parliament. A state funeral is to be held on 29 March, the government said.

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak - leader of the nation from which Singapore was expelled 50 years ago - tweeted his condolences to Mr Lee's son.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also released a statement, saying: "[Former British PM] Lady [Margaret] 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'."

Phil Robertson of Human Rights Watch said Mr Lee's role in Singapore's economic development was undeniable but came with a "significant cost to human rights".

In a statement on Facebook, the party Mr Lee founded - the People's Action Party - praised his "incalculable contributions to Singapore". President Tony Tan described Mr Lee as "the architect of our modern republic". And in an emotional televised address, Lee Hsien Loong - his son and the current prime minister - said: "We won't see another man like him. To many Singaporeans, and indeed others too, Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore."

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Ong Choo Bee, 71, a clerk, visited a tribute area at Singapore General Hospital. "I think we'll have to wait a few hundred years before Singapore can have another leader like Lee Kuan Yew. But he's left a good legacy and a strong government."

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was an ally of Lee Kuan Yew. "He was not at all a charmer - he was not a flatterer. He had developed his point of view. He would present it with great intelligence," he told the BBC.

Lee Kuan Yew forged strong ties with China, including a friendship with leader Deng Xiaoping, and met successive presidents including Hu Jintao (below). A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman called him "a uniquely influential statesman in Asia and a strategist boasting oriental values and international vision".

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At the Istana, the prime minister's office, a steady stream of people arrived bringing bouquets and condolence cards, reported the BBC's Tessa Wong. A tented area has been set up for people to write messages and post them on boards. Some of the well-wishers were in tears, others wore grim expressions.

"Dearest Mr Lee, you are our Superman. Superman never dies. Forever in your debt," read one message. Another simply says: "Thank you for your contributions to Singapore."

After midday, a hearse carrying Mr Lee's body arrived at the Istana. A period of national mourning has been declared from 23-29 March and for several of those days Mr Lee's body will lie in state at parliament house so the public can pay their respects.

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Singapore's main opposition Workers' Party turned its Facebook cover page black. It was founded by JB Jeyaretnam, the city-state's first opposition MP who ended up financially ruined because of court cases brought by the PAP. Its leader, Low Thia Khiang, said in a condolence letter that Mr Lee's death marked the end of an era in Singapore's history.

Papers and broadcast media were dominated by his death. The Straits Times, Singapore's leading daily, called Lee Kuan Yew the "man most instrumental in shaping Singapore".

Image copyright Reuters

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