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Live Blog: Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee Kuan Yew died at age 91 early this morning at Singapore General Hospital. Follow our live updates here

Live Blog: Remembering Mr Lee Kuan Yew

In this April 27, 2011, file photo, Singapore's then Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew waves to supporters as he arrives at an elections nomination center in Singapore. Photo: AP

10.07pm: People are still trickling in at the Istana. The guards told TODAY that it'll be open overnight, pending further instructions.

Photo: Tan Weizhen/TODAY

9.46pm: Spotted on the wall of photographs at the East Coast GRC tribute site: a 1997 picture of Mr Lim Swee Say with Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his wife Kwa Geok Choo.

Photo: Yvonne Lim/TODAY

8.43pm: International football clubs offer their condolences through Facebook, such as German sports club Borussia Dortmund and Premier League's Chelsea Football Club.

8.40pm: Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin tweeted that he paid his respects to Mr Lee, and attached a note he had written for him. On it, he said: "You have fought for Singapore your entire life, You have fought the good fight and have finished your race. We will press on."

8.33pm: A large crowd forms at the East Coast GRC and Joo Chiat SMC community tribute site.

Photos: Yvonne Lim/TODAY

8.30pm: People from all walks of life visit the various tribute sites set up for Mr Lee, Many were seen praying, offering condolences, and crying.

8.19pm: People's Association (PA) says Mr Lim Swee Say, who is Deputy Chairman of PA, will be presenting a Letter of Condolence to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on behalf of the PA and its Grassroots Organisations’ Movement.   

7.40pm: Mr  Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, arrived at the East Coast GRC and Joo Chiat SMC community tribute site. 

Photo: Yvonne Lim/TODAY

7.37pm: Spotted at Parliament House - flower bouquets and wreaths under a white tentage.

Photo: Tan Weizhen/TODAY

6.59pm: The area at Singapore General Hospital is filled with tributes for the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew‬, while over at a tribute centre next to JCube, volunteers have erected boards chronicling photos of Mr Lee attending events through the decades. 

Photos: Matthias Tay, Tan Weizhen/TODAY

6.18pm: Sam Tan, Minister of State at the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, is at Tanjong Pagar CC.

Photo: Xue Jianyue/TODAY

6.15pm: As evening fell, guests continued to enter the Istana. Joining the ministers, foreign dignitaries and parliamentarians were real estate tycoon Chua Thian Poh and his wife, and singer Kit Chan. 

6pm: An estimated 3,000 to 3,500 people have come to pay tribute to Mr Lee at Ang Mo Kio Central Stage as at 6pm, according to People's Association staff.

5.55pm: A Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesperson said flags at MOE schools flew at half-mast from this morning, as a mark of respect to Mr Lee. Schools also observed a minute’s silence during morning assembly. Tomorrow (March 24) school leaders will address students and staff during assembly and reflect on Mr Lee’s life and legacy, said the spokesman. She also said teachers, staff and students from Government schools and post-secondary educational institutions, and MOE HQ staff will participate in state events such as the Lying-in-State, Special Parliament Sitting and the State Funeral Service.

5.20pm: The inaugural Travel Revolution 2015, a fair meant to rival NATAS fair, will be postponed. It was originally meant to be held from 27 to 29 March at Marina Bay Sands Expo, but will be held from April 3 to 5 instead, with the venue unchanged. Ms Alicia Seah, a spokesman for the organising committee, said they are doing this as "a mark of respect" for a great man who had remarkably raised this nation and placed it on the map of the world.

5.17pm: Google Singapore quietly added a black ribbon onto its homepage.

4pm: A steady stream of ministers have been arriving at the Istana, along with PM Lee Hsien Loong's family. They include Deputy Prime Ministers Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing. Some Members of Parliament were also there to pay their respects, including Mr Hri Kumar Nair, Ms Jessica Tan, Ms Sim Ann, Mr Cedric Foo and Mr Baey Yam Keng.

3.30pm: No use of Speakers Corner: The National Parks Board has announced that applications to use Speakers Corner will not be accepted during this time as Hong Lim Park is one of the People’s Association’s designated community sites for remembering the late Mr Lee. The Ministry of Homes Affairs issued an order to revoke the Public Entertainments and Meetings (Speakers’ Corner) (Exemption) order at 5.30am today. 

2.45pm:  Local celebrities flood social media with tributes to Lee Kuan Yew. 

“Thank you for building Singapore, your dedication, a reminder that each of us will pass on,” wrote Fann Wong. 

2.35pm: Businesses in Singapore paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Changi Airport said: "We will remember him for his vision and foresight which have put Changi Airport on the world map. Thank you, Mr Lee."

2.30pm: Tributes continue to stream in from international dignitaries such as former US President Bill Clinton and his wife, form Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Taiwanese President Ma Ying-Jeou.

ASEAN shared a triba post on Facebook, saying Mr Lee Kuan Yew "dedicated his entire life for the progress of Singapore".

1.40pm: The Esplanade has announced that all scheduled non-ticketed performances will not take place at the Concourse and Outdoor Theatre as a mark of respect during the period of National Mourning (March 23 to 29). Ticketed performances will continue as scheduled until further notice, and the Esplanade premises will remain accessible to the public during this period. 

1.30pm: Dr Ng Eng Hen has just announced a Special Sitting in Parliament at 4pm on Thursday (March 26) to pay tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore. 

1.25pm: China's President, Premier and Foreign Ministry express their condolences. Mr Lee Kuan Yew was the "founder, pioneer and promoter of China-Singapore relations", Mr Xi said in a message sent to Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on its website. 

12.30pm: LIVE from the Istana:  The hearse carrying the body of the late Mr ‪‎Lee Kuan Yew‬ arrives at the Istana. As the hearse passes by, some people cry, others clap.

A long queue has formed outside the Istana as people wait in line to write their notes on condolence boards.

Photos: Ooi Boon Keong, Amanda Lee/TODAY

12.20pm: The Singapore business community has been paying tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Here's a look at the tributes and offers of condolences:

12.05pm: US Vice President Joe Biden says: "(Mr Lee Kuan Yew) was a pragmatist, and sometimes uncompromising. But his commitment to delivering excellence in public service was exemplary."

12.00pm: Japanese PM Shinzo Abe calls Mr Lee Kuan Yew " one of the greatest leaders of modern times that Asia has ever produced". 

11.30am: Singaporeans from all walks of life have been paying tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew, whether at the Istana, Community Clubs or Singapore General Hospital. 

(Top) Actor Edmund Chen pens a condolence note outside the Istana, (bottom left) retiree R S Jaipragas holds an autograph from Mr Lee Kuan Yew from 1968 while at Singapore General Hospital, (bottom right) retiree Loke Wai Tong signs the condolence book at Teck Ghee CC. Photos: Amanda Lee, Ng Jing Yng, Matthias Tay/TODAY

Others have taken to social media to mourn his loss.

11.20am: The State flag flies at half-mast as the nation mourns the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. 

10.40am: Indonesia's foreign ministry conveyed their "deepest condolences on the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, saying "The former Prime Minister was a close friend of Indonesia and renowned as the founding father of modern Singapore. As a great leader and a statesman who truly loved his people, he was also known as an influential political figure in Asia."

10.30am: The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde said: " (Mr Lee Kuan Yew) was a visionary statesman whose uncompromising stand for meritocracy, efficiency and education transformed Singapore into one of the most prosperous nations in the world."

10.25am: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calls Mr Lee Kuan Yew "a far-sighted statesman" and "a lion among leaders".

Follow updates as tributes from leaders around the world pour in for Mr Lee Kuan Yew. 

10.20am: MENDAKI paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew with a photo of when he spoke at the opening of the MENDAKI Education Congress in May 1982.  

“…people are born with different capacities. What we must set out to do, therefore, is to help students achieve the maximum potential of whatever nature has endowed them with. In other words, nurture them, to give them the software, to encourage, support and help them achieve their fullest.”

Photo: MENDAKI

10.08am: US Embassy of Singapore’s Ambassador Kirk Wagar has issued a statement saying "generations of US leaders have benefited from his insights and he leaves as part of his lasting legacy a strong and enduring US–Singapore partnership". 

10am:  Singaporean politicians paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew on social media. Here's a look at the tributes and offers of condolences that have been posted:

9.45am: The Workers' Party have issued a condolence letter saying Mr Lee Kuan Yew's passing marks an end of an era in Singapore's history. "His contributions to Singapore will be remembered for generations to come," Secretary-General for the Workers' Party, Mr Low Thia Kiang says. 

9.25am: In a statement, The Law Society of Singapore recalled how Mr Lee Kuan Yew 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," the statement added. It went on to say that in 1955, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, together with his brother and his wife set up Lee & Lee, one of Singapore’s most reputable law firms, and he remained a practising member of the bar for 10 years before taking political office in 1959.

Here is part of the statment: 

"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."
 
"Mr Lee was elected as the first Honorary Member of the Law Society under the Legal Profession Act, the highest honour that the Society can confer, for his outstanding contributions to the nation and the legal profession. We will not see his like again, and are proud to count him as one of us."

9.20am: Members of the public write tributes for Mr ‪‎Lee Kuan Yew‬ outside the Istana, following news of his passing. Indian national Anand Ashiya, 67, said: "I know about Singapore through Mr Lee. He has his own space on this planet, generations will remember him."

9.16am: Philippine President Benigno Aquino sends his condolences.

He said: "Throughout his long life, as prime minister and senior minister, Mr Lee demonstrated an unswerving devotion to his country, turning it into a statement that would be an exemplar of efficient, modern and honest governance. The development of Singapore has earned it the respect of nations and peoples, including the tens of thousands of Filipinos who work there and visit the country."

9.10am: Statement from PMO:  Condolence boards are available in front of the Istana by the Main Gate from 23 March (Monday) to 29 March (Sunday), 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 today till Sunday. Those who wish may lay flowers at these two locations too.

8.20am: Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah called Mr Lee Kuan Yew a "charismatic and exemplary leader", whose "vast contributions towards maintaining regional peace and stability" he appreciated. 

8.10am: PM Lee Hsien Loong addresses the nation in a live broadcast. He first speaks in Malay, followed by Mandarin and English.

In an emotional message, PM Lee said Mr ‪‎Lee Kuan Yew‬ is irreplaceable in the hearts of Singaporeans. "The first of our founding fathers is no more... He made us proud to be Singaporeans," he said. "To many Singaporeans, he was Singapore."

"Singapore was his abiding passion, he gave of himself in full measure to Singapore," said PM Lee. "I am grieved beyond words at the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I know we all feel the same way". PM Lee urged Singaporeans to build on his foundations, strive for his ideals, keep Singapore exceptional and successful for many years to come.

"May Mr Lee Kuan Yew rest in peace".

Here is the full speech:

8am: PM Lee Hsien Loong is now addressing the nation via a live telecast. 

7.52am:  Malaysian PM Najib Razak issues a statement on Facebook, saying "Mr Lee Kuan Yew's achievements were great, and his legacy is assured".

7.50am: Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy has issued a statement. 

"On behalf of staff, faculty and students, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School), NUS, wishes to convey its deepest condolences to the family of Mr Lee Kuan Yew on his passing," the school said in a statement. "The LKY School is proud to have been the first institution to be named after Mr Lee. His name has been an enormous blessing to our School. It has enabled us to rise rapidly in global rankings and to fulfill our mission of inspiring leaders, improving lives and transforming Asia. Mr Lee also strongly supported the School personally. He came several times to interact with faculty and students and shared his wise counsel with us. He also wrote personal letters to potential donors. All these enabled the School to grow in strength and become the third‐best endowed School of Public Policy in the world. In 2011, we were further honoured by Mr Lee’s acceptance of the appointment as Distinguished Fellow at the School. In 2013, the LKY School held a conference entitled, “The Big Ideas of Mr Lee Kuan Yew” to celebrate its 9th anniversary. The conference brought together notable speakers and close associates who spoke about his policies both in depth and with personal anecdotes which brought to life his leadership. A book of the same title and which collated the accounts from the conference was launched the following year at the School’s 10th anniversary."

Prof Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the LKY School, shared his impressions of the former Prime Minister: “In my 33 years with the Singapore Foreign Service, one of the greatest privileges I had was the opportunity to work directly with Mr Lee Kuan Yew several times. He was a tough taskmaster. Yet, I never failed to learn valuable lessons from each encounter. Having watched him interact with several global leaders, including Reagan, Thatcher, Mitterrand and Kohl, I saw first‐hand how they were blown away by his breadth of vision, acute geopolitical analyses and wise policy solutions.“When the dust of history settles and the definitive books are written on twentieth century history, Mr Lee will emerge as one of the greatest leaders of the century. His impact extended beyond Singapore and South-east Asia. Great leaders like Deng Xiaoping and George H. W. Bush benefitted from his wise counsel. He will be missed in Singapore and by the world,” added Prof Mahbubani.

7.46am: Majlis Ugama Islam Singapore (MUIS) has issued a statement, saying the Muslim community "has always held the late Mr Lee in high esteem, as a leader and a nation-builder".

"As the nation developed, Mr Lee also supported and helped the Malay Muslim community grow. Among his many contributions was facilitating the formation of Muis as a statutory body when the Administration of Muslim Law Act (AMLA) took effect in 1968. He will also always be remembered for his strong support for the introduction of the Mosque Building Fund Scheme in 1975, which helped the community to rally together and strengthen this key community institution during Singapore’s period of rapid urbanisation and industrialisation."

Photo: MUIS 

"Mr Lee’s leadership contributed to the growth of our economy, progress in the field of education, and peace, stability and harmony. The Singaporean Muslim community too has grown and prospered in tandem with Singapore, and has garnered respect in the international arena as a successful minority community in a secular state."

7.45am: US Secretary of State John Kerry called Mr Lee Kuan Yew a "uniquely astute analyst and observer of Asia" and added "it is largely through his life's work that Singapore became one of the United States' strongest strategic partners in the region."

7.30am: Tributes come in from current UK Prime Ministers David Cameron and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

Mr Cameron said Mr Lee Kuan Yew's "place in history is assured, as a leader and as one of the modern world's foremost statesmen", while Mr Blair called him a "genuine political giant".

6.30am: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces seven days of national mourning from today till Sunday (March 29); state flags at government buildings to be flown at half mast

6.20am: The  Singapore Cabinet has issued a statement“We will always remember his sound guidance, his constant questioning, and his fatherly care for Singapore and for all of us. Let udedicate ourselves to Singapore and Singaporeans, in the way that Mr Lee (Kuan Yew) showed us."

6am:  World leaders and politicians express condolences over passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key were among the first, with Mr Abbott saying: “Our region owns much to Lee Kuan Yew.” US president Barack Obama also issued a statement saying past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development. “I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific,” he said. 

Former US president George W Bush also posted a tribute on Facebook: “The Singapore he leaves behind is an influential force for stability and prosperity and a friend to the United States. Laura and I join those in Singapore and around the world who are mourning his loss, and we send our heartfelt condolences to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and family.”

4.34am: First of tributes from Singapore leaders start appearing on Facebook; President Tony Tan extends condolences and sends letter of condolence paying tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew to PM Lee. Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said: “My tears welled up as I received the sad news. Mr Lee Kuan Yew has completed his life’s journey. But it was a journey devoted to the making of Singapore.” Obituaries on international media also begin appearing on their websites, including the New York Times and the BBC. 

4.10am: People’s Action Party changes logo on Facebook page to black and white 

4.07am: Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)  issues statement on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Facebook page, announcing that Mr Lee Kuan Yew died peacefully at the Singapore General Hospital at 3.18am today (March 23).

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