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Singapore's senior statesmen send condolences, tributes

Senior statesmen in Singapore sent tributes on Monday in honour of Lee Kuan Yew, who died early Monday morning at age 91.

SENIOR statesmen in Singapore sent tributes on Monday in honour of Lee Kuan Yew, who died early Monday morning at age 91.

In his condolence letter to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said: "Your family has lost its patriarch, and Singapore its key founding father. We share your grief, and can only offer you and your family our profound condolences."

Mr Goh shared a glimpse of the elder Lee as a father when he was on an official visit to South Africa in 1992.

"He was devastated upon learning that you had been diagnosed with lymphoma. He telephoned me to discuss the immediate steps for your treatment," said Mr Goh.

"Outwardly however, Mr Lee braved on with little hint of his personal emotions to his hosts. His stoicism and messages were clear - we must not be deterred, however daunting life's interventions."

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the best way to honour Mr Lee is for each new generation of Singaporeans to build on what they inherit, live by their ideals, and strive to make our society fair, just and great.

"Singapore is what it is because of Mr Lee. We survived as a small nation and earned our place in the world because of him," said Mr Tharman in a Facebook post.

"Singapore will also live on because of him. Lee Kuan Yew made Singapore to last. He led a team, not a one-man show. He groomed new leaders. He built clean government, and a culture of telling it straight - telling people the problems, and finding a way to fix them. Most fundamentally, he built a multiracial nation that has endured - still being deepened, and a rarity internationally."

Mr Tharman noted that Mr Lee was "never satisfied with today, always searching for the next challenge, always wanting a future better for Singaporeans".

"We thank you Mr Lee, from deep in our hearts."

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, K Shanmugam, said he was a direct beneficiary of Mr Lee's policies.

"Mr Lee is no more. I am tearing as I write this," said Mr Shanmugam on Facebook. He noted that Mr Lee and the People's Action Party first won elections in May 1959, two months after Mr Shanmugam was born.

"My family had no social capital and very little economic capital. Mr Lee and his policies ensured that neither my background nor the colour of my skin, nor my religion, were hurdles in getting opportunities. I got a good education in a neighbourhood primary school, got into RI, got into law school and had no difficulty getting a job," he said.

"The Mr Lee I dealt with was a practical, no-nonsense man. His sharp intellect meant going straight to the heart of any issue. There was no small talk or superficiality. Every breathing moment for him was spent thinking about Singapore and Singaporeans. There was an unwavering tenacity to ensure that Singapore succeeded."

Condolence boards are available in front of the Istana by the main gate from March 23 to March 29, for those who wish to pen their tributes to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Similar condolence boards will also be set up in front of Parliament House from 12pm on Monday till Sunday. Those who wish may lay flowers at these two locations too.

A period of National Mourning from March 23 to March 29, has been declared by the government. As a mark of respect, the State flags on all government buildings will be flown at half-mast from Monday till Sunday, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

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