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2015: Farewell, Mr Lee

Landslide win for PAP in first post-LKY election; Noble collides with Iceberg.

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LEE Kuan Yew, the man who led Singapore’s transformation into a first-world nation, died on March 23, 2015 at the age of 91, almost 50 years after the country attained independence.

His death drew an outpouring of emotion as Singaporeans remembered the life and work of independent Singapore’s first Prime Minister and his role in leading the country from the uncertainties of a painful separation from Malaysia to a thriving economic success punching above its weight in the world.

More than one million people turned out to pay their respects as Mr Lee’s body lay in state at Parliament House, and crowds lined the route of the funeral procession as falling rain captured the sombre mood of the country.

It was an emotionally volatile year for the country, with Mr Lee’s death coming as the country celebrated 50 years of independence. But it was the future that ultimately mattered, and an election shortly after National Day gave Singaporeans the opportunity to choose the leaders for the next chapter.

It was the first post-independence election in which every seat was contested, and despite predictions for a bruising battle the PAP won a strong victory that surprised even party veterans. If the election was a measure of whether the People’s Action Party (PAP) had successfully taken over Mr Lee’s torch, then the ruling party - and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - aced the test.

Beyond the world of politics, Noble Group, a well-traded index stock, was navigating its own treacherous waters. The company was thrust into an uncomfortable spotlight when a little-known firm called Iceberg Research published a highly negative report about the commodity trading company and its accounting practices, allegations that Noble vigorously denied.

Noble subsequently incurred a number of impairments, lost its investment- grade credit rating and was dropped from the index. Its stock, which had traded above a dollar before Iceberg’s report, was trading below 20 Singapore cents in October 2016.

The Business Times has been there to report and analyse the most significant news since 1976. Every week, this feature will showcase excerpts from the biggest stories for each year that the paper has been in operation. The full text of all the stories can be found online at bt.sg/bt_40