You are here

Business community sends tributes in honour of Lee Kuan Yew

Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, a co-founder of the People's Action Party, has died at the age of 91.

FORMER prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, a co-founder of the People's Action Party, has died at the age of 91.

A period of National Mourning from Monday, March 23, to Sunday, 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.

Here are tributes from businesses, and industry leaders:

Mr Lee Kuan Yew dedicated his life to creating a favourable business environment to attract sustained investments which enabled businesses to prosper and workers to have good jobs and a higher standard of living. After he stepped down as Prime Minister, he opened doors through his connections and the Singapore Inc branding for local enterprises to venture abroad into China, India and many other emerging economies. Twenty years ago, I was in one such business mission that accompanied Mr Lee to Ningbo, China. He spoke of the need then for Singapore enterprises to make inroads into China. YCH took his advice and our expansion into China since 1995 has paid off. This internationalisation of Singapore enterprises is also the legacy of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. On behalf of the Federation and Council, I extend our deepest condolences to the family of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and especially to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. - Dr Robert Yap, president, Singapore National Employers Federation

Market voices on:

Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s commitment and resolve in engaging the labour movement and employers as tripartite partners brought about lasting industrial peace in Singapore. This has turned out to be a key national strength for sustainable economic and social progress. Even after he stepped down as Prime Minister, Mr Lee continued to keep watch over the state of labour management relations in Singapore. Having worked with him personally, I know that the well-being of employers and the welfare of employees were always at the heart of his concerns. - Stephen Lee, immediate past president, Singapore National Employers Federation

​Today, the world has lost a visionary statesman, a founding father and a friend. He was the architect of modern Singapore, and the country has flourished under his stewardship and earned its reputation on the global stage as an economic powerhouse. Our heartfelt condolences go to the family of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the people of Singapore on the loss of this giant and extraordinary human being. May his spirit and legacy continue to inspire us.- Francis Yeoh, managing director, YTL Corporation

Mr Lee's contribution to GIC had been immense. In the three decades that he was chairman, he guided GIC through many global and regional financial crises and saw to key milestones in its corporate development. In particular, GIC benefitted greatly from Mr Lee's deep understanding of the complexities that undergirded global political, social and financial systems. His insights kept GIC grounded and focussed on the fundamentals when it came to investing for the long term. Despite his stature and busy schedule, Mr Lee always found time beyond board meetings to engage GIC. It was a privilege to have him in our midst. - Lim Siong Guan, group president, GIC

I knew Mr Lee Kuan Yew through my father, it was in the early fifties. He was a lawyer at Laycock & Ong and discussed about the bank's legal matters with my father. When I took over the running of the business of the bank, Lee Kuan Yew was already Prime Minister of Singapore. In the seventies I did a lot of social work. I was chairman of the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan and president of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce. I led a lot of delegations to China. I always discussed with Lee Kuan Yew (about the trips) and he gave me his views. When he retired as Prime Minister of Singapore, I gave him a dinner. During the dinner I said Singapore without Lee Kuan Yew would not be today. This is the fact. He is all for Singapore, business or politics. We are very lucky to have Lee Kuan Yew. -  Wee Cho Yaw, chairman emeritus and adviser, United Overseas Bank

The SDIC is especially mindful of the far-sighted policies under Mr Lee’s visionary leadership that have led to the development of Singapore as one of the major financial centres in the world. A testament to the strong foundations he has laid is the resilience and stability of Singapore’s financial system. Singapore is only one of nine countries in the world, and the only one in Asia, to receive a triple A sovereign credit rating from all three major credit rating agencies. - Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation

He was an iconic hero—a character right out of "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" – a role model for leadership whose memory should be maintained so that one can use it to compare others to as a means of maintaining high standards. - Ray Dalio, founder, Bridgewater Associates

Few possessed the gumption like he did and despite the naysayers, Mr Lee remained steadfast in his duty...It is for his life’s work that SMEs in Singapore today can strive, prosper and compete successfully, whether at home or abroad. - Association of Small and Medium Enterprises 

Mr Lee was a visionary leader who played a critical role in the economic development of Singapore, lesser known is the part he played in shaping the electronics and technology industry. In the early days of his leadership, he envisioned and fully appreciated what it would mean to the Singapore’s economy to grow such an industry. We have much to thank him for engineering and nurturing the growth of the technology industry in Singapore. - Wong Ngit Liong, chairman and CEO, Venture Corporation Limited

Lee Kuan Yew eats, sleeps and dreams Singapore. As Prime Minister, he and Goh Keng Swee architected the Asian dollar market and set their sights on making Singapore a leading financial centre. Later on, in a somewhat controversial move, he pushed for consolidation of the Singapore banking sector. He believed that in order for Singapore banks to make it in the face of rising competition globally, they needed to be big and strong. Today, all three Singapore banks are among the world’s strongest and safest. From the time Lee Kuan Yew became MM until now, I’ve always addressed him as MM, because to me, he is the greatest mentor Singapore can ever have...Words cannot adequately express how privileged we are to have him as Singapore's founding father and mentor. - Peter Seah, chairman, DBS Group Holdings

Lee Kuan Yew was an extraordinary leader, a giant of a man. With vision, a sense of purpose and consummate execution, he changed the course of history, and helped this country of ours rise from third world to first in one generation...Today’s Singapore’s financial sector has its place on the world map largely due to the foundations he laid for our industry to flourish - a foundation underpinned by an unequivocal commitment to clean government, sound governance and a pursuit of excellence. He was a gift to Singapore, and today, all of us at DBS mourn the passing of not just a great man, but of an era. - Piyush Gupta, DBS Group CEO

- Singapore is an extraordinary success story of our modern world, much admired beyond its shores because of the vision of Mr Lee Kuan Yew...Between 2006-2008, Citi had the privilege of having Mr Lee as a Special Advisor to our senior management and its Board of Directors on strategic and international matters. His astute insights of the world and business landscape were truly unmatched. It is with a heavy heart that we mark the passing of Mr Lee. Citi joins the nation in mourning the loss of a great statesman. - Michael Zink, Head of ASEAN and Citi Country Officer, Singapore

- Staff of Shell Companies in Singapore have been saddened by the passing away of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The eldest son of a Shell employee, Mr Lee had a long-standing relationship with Shell. He was instrumental in getting his government of the day to attract multinational companies like Shell to locate their Asian headquarters in Singapore...Over the decades, Shell has benefited from his stewardship. We express our deepest condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family. - Goh Swee Chen, chairperson, Shell Companies in Singapore

- We are saddened to learn about the passing of our nation’s founding Prime Minister Mr. Lee Kuan Yew and extend our deepest condolences to his family...It was under his leadership that Singapore was transformed from a former colonial trading post into a thriving metropolis, and we will continue to be inspired by his sheer determination to succeed against all odds. With his passing, the world has lost a visionary and a gentleman. - Khoo Kah Siang, president, Life Insurance Association of Singapore

- Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding leader and first Prime Minister, not only transformed this island to a First World nation but also personally shaped Singapore's aviation industry...Without him, Changi Airport would not exist today. It was Mr Lee who took the difficult decision to move Singapore's international airport from Paya Lebar to Changi despite the recommendations of foreign experts to expand the former...We are ever grateful for his exceptional contributions to Singapore's aviation industry. He will be very dearly missed by all of us at Changi Airport. - Changi Airport

To Singaporeans and Singapore residents, Mr Lee Kuan Yew will always be remembered as the preeminent founding father of the nation that we love and call home. By boldly pursuing his visionary economic policies and focusing on good governance, he and his government turned a colonial outpost into one of the world’s most open and business-friendly economies. But just as transformative was how Mr Lee rallied a diverse people to stand together – as equal citizens – through a deft mix of vision, conviction and realism. Under his guidance, Singaporeans found the hope and the will to overcome every obstacle. Today, it is hard to conceive of modern Singapore absent the role he played. His passing is a tremendous loss, but Mr Lee’s life will continue to inspire us. - Ooi Sang Kuang, chairman, and Samuel Tsien, chief executive officer, OCBC Bank 

- Today is a sad day for Singapore as we mourn the passing of our founding father.  Mr. Lee Kuan Yew elevated the standing of Singapore beyond what many could only have imagined. He was an extraordinary man with great vision and he saw his vision through with passion, commitment and integrity.  He was respected and loved by many the world over. For all he has done for the country, we will be forever grateful. May he rest in peace. Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and CEO, UOB Group
- Mr Lee was the master builder of Singapore’s economic and social landscape...In fact, he has shaped our DNA so well that Singapore, Singaporeans and Singapore companies have become good brand names...His commitment to Singapore, unyielding spirit and astuteness are indeed qualities to be admired, remembered and embodied....All our properties carrying a Singapore national flag will fly it at half mast with immediate effect till March 29, 2015. Lighting for building signage on all our properties in Singapore will not be switched on as a mark of respect to Mr Lee.  Lim Ming Yan, President & Group CEO, CapitaLand

- Under his stewardship, Singapore earned the reputation as a key regional and global centre for businesses, supported by world-class infrastructure and a highly efficient government. With a pro-business environment and a committed highly-skilled workforce, many businesses call Singapore home and have progressed with the nation and its people. The extraordinary growth that our country has achieved since independence speaks of the exemplary and selfless leadership of Mr Lee in nation building during the 31 years he has served as Singapore’s Prime Minister and later as Senior Minister and Minister Mentor. - Singapore Business Federation

- We would also like to express our gratitude and respect for Mr Lee, founding father and key contributor to today's Singapore. He left a very deep impression on me. In particular, I was struck by his speech at the Business China's first anniversary dinner in 2008. What he said then has guided me since. He reminded us that we must not let down Singapore's reputation for reliability and integrity. These core values that have shaped Singapore's past have also influenced my behaviour. He was truly a visionary leader who will be missed. - Lim Cheng Teck, CEO, ASEAN, Standard Chartered Bank

- The architect and father of modern Singapore, a true visionary and world leader respected by all, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister and former Minister Mentor, was a colossus among men. Mr Lee devoted his entire life in service of our nation and his over-riding concern has always been the betterment of all Singaporeans...Great Eastern would like to pay our tribute and deepest respect to Mr Lee for his great and lasting contributions to Singapore. We believe and share Mr Lee's values which he had fervently championed throughout his life - strong work ethic, integrity, fairness, equality, mutual respect and tolerance. We are committed to play our part in building a more compassionate and caring society. - Great Eastern Group

- The Council and I are saddened to learn of the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew...Mr Lee read law in Cambridge University, taking a rare double-starred first and subsequently returning to Singapore in 1950 to practise law with one of Singapore's earliest law firms, Laycock & Ong. He was also a legal advisor to trade unions, often undertaking their cases pro bono. In 1955, he together with his brother and his wife set up Lee & Lee, one of Singapore's most reputable law firms...His contributions to Singapore are immense, but the legal profession owes a specific debt of gratitude to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. We enjoy effective, clear and enforceable laws, and an unimpeachable and incorruptible judiciary. We owe that first to Mr Lee's clarity of vision that sustainable economic growth is underpinned by the Rule of Law, and second, his relentless opposition to corruption of any kind, exemplified by his zero tolerance approach. - Thio Shen Yi, SC, President, Law Society

- Mr Lee Kuan Yew was a visionary leader whose extraordinary wisdom and foresight paved the way for stronger bilateral ties between Singapore and China. Mr Lee is the founding patron of Business China and has always been committed to the promotion of bilingualism and biculturalism in Singapore, as exemplified by his strong support towards Business China and its events. - Chua Thian Poh, Chairman, Business China

- The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore joins the people of Singapore in mourning the passing of an historic leader. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's contributions to modern Singapore were profound and enduring. His strategic vision, inspired policies, and purposeful economic leadership transformed this nation into the prosperous metropolis that we inhabit today. AmCham Singapore's board and members express our deepest sympathy to his family and the people of Singapore upon this great loss. - AmCham Singapore

The staff and members of the US-ASEAN Business Council would like to convey their condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the Singapore Government, and all Singaporeans on the passing of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. As Singapore's first Prime Minister from 1965 to 1990, Mr Lee was instrumental in the founding and evolution of ASEAN. He oversaw Singapore's transformation from a Third World country to the thriving business hub it is today, devoting 52 years of his life to public service. Minister Mentor Lee will be remembered with respect as the architect of a dynamic, modern Singapore which plays an essential role on the global stage. - US-ASEAN Business Council

It is with a heavy heart that we mark the passing of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Lee was a man of great foresight and conviction. He saw way ahead into the future, assembled a solid team and together with them lifted Singapore against great odds to First World status. We have much to thank him for, not least of which our status as a leading international financial hub. SGX joins the nation in mourning and expresses our condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, our Board Member Lee Hsien Yang and their families. - Singapore Exchange

 Mr Lee Kuan Yew is a statesman extraordinaire who made sterling and defining contributions to Singapore's nation-building and development. Singapore's economic prosperity is inseparably linked to Mr Lee's steely resolve; even when obstacles surfaced, he never gave up. He adhered strictly to the rule of law and a clean government against all odds, and steered Singapore towards sustainable growth through his far-sightedness and wisdom, and a bold, charismatic personality. - Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Chevron extends our deepest condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family, and Singaporeans on the passing of founding Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. Mr. Lee was an outstanding Singaporean and his passing is a great loss to Singapore. Mr. Lee was a great leader and instrumental in transforming Singapore into the international city it is today..Chevron has benefitted from Mr. Lee’s economic foresight and leadership that built the foundation for Singapore as a preferred place for business. Singapore plays a critical role in Chevron’s global operations and our history with Singapore goes back more than 80 years. On behalf of the 1,000 Chevron employees based here in Singapore, we join the community in mourning the loss of an extraordinary citizen. - Mark Nelson, President, International Products, Chevron International Pte Ltd

The Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) would like to join the rest of Singapore, in expressing its heartfelt condolences and regrets at the passing away of Singapore’s founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew...SICCI is grateful for Mr Lee’s vision and leadership in building Singapore into a thriving economic hub. The foundations of Singapore’s strengths in a strong government, sound infrastructure and stable political and economic environment, have been laid by Mr Lee and his team of Singapore’s founding leaders. Indian businessmen in Singapore have greatly benefited from Mr Lee’s focus on these values and to ensure meritocracy and multiracialism became pillars of modern Singapore. SICCI’s Board of Directors, staff and members mourn in his passing away. - Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

- On behalf of the board, management and staff of Singtel, I want to express our heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr Lee Kuan Yew on his passing. The world has lost a great visionary leader. While saddened by the loss of our founding father of modern Singapore, we celebrate his life, achievements and legacy. In the most difficult times during the early days of Singapore, Mr Lee led the people of Singapore to forge ahead and transform the nation into the success it is today. His courage, conviction and brilliance will continue to inspire future generations.Chua Sock Koong, Group CEO, Singtel

- Seagate is saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, and would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family of the late Mr Lee and to all Singaporeans. Mr Lee was truly a remarkable leader, statesman, and humanitarian...He was a good friend to Seagate through the years and we are fortunate for having known him. He will be honored and remembered throughout the world. Seagate benefited from Mr Lee's vision and support and we would not be where we are today if not for that.  It was through his leadership and encouragement that Seagate first established its presence in Singapore in 1982.  We will continue to honor his legacy and to support Singapore as it strives to reach the bright future he envisioned for it.  - Steve Luczo, CEO and Chairman, Seagate Technology PLC

- Mr Lee Kuan Yew was an extraordinarily visionary leader. Through immense foresight and conviction, he built Singapore from a resource-poor colonial outpost into a thriving metropolis and one of Asia's most advanced and admired economies...Although Mr Lee's death is a colossal loss to the nation, he leaves behind a strong legacy through his political foresight and succession planning...Our best tribute to him is to continue to build on his legacy and passion for the continued growth of Singapore. His entrepreneurial spirit, relentless drive and wisdom will live in the hearts and minds of all of us here at UBS. As a mark of respect, the UBS signage at our One Raffles Quay and other offices will be turned off from today to 29 March 2015 to observe this national week of mourning. - Edmund Koh, country head of UBS Singapore and CEO of UBS Wealth Management, South East Asia & APAC Hub

I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our beloved Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. On behalf of the Hong Leong Group Singapore, we wish to extend our profound and heartfelt condolences to you and your family during this difficult period of bereavement...Mr Lee played an instrumental role in nurturing corporate Singapore. The private sector and the business community benefitted tremendously from his pro-business policies and vision to establish Singapore as a major business hub for Asia...Even as we mourn his passing, his legacy and tireless spirit of resilience and dedication will always remain the cornerstones of Singapore. - Kwek Leng Beng, chairman, Hong Leong Group Singapore

- Mr Lee's bold decisions, such as to build Changi Airport to replace Paya Lebar Airport, gave Singapore the solid foundation upon which to develop a thriving aviation industry, which contributes significantly to Singapore's economic advancement. His vision enabled Singapore to grow into a pre-eminent global air hub, and for Singapore Airlines to prosper as a world-leading international airline - Goh Choon Phong, chief executive, SIA

For full coverage, visit