Lee Kuan Yew|j = Lei5 Gwong1-jiu6 |h = Lí Kông-yeu |y = Leíh Gwōngjiuh |ci = |poj = Lí Kong-iāu |tp = Lǐ Guangyào }} Lee Kuan Yew (16 September 1923 – 23 March 2015), commonly referred to by his initials LKY and sometimes referred to in his earlier years as Harry Lee, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades. Lee is recognised as the nation's founding father, with the country described as transitioning from the "third world country to first world country in a single generation" under his leadership.
After attending the London School of Economics, Lee graduated from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, with double starred-first-class honours in law. He became a barrister of the Middle Temple in 1950, and practised law until 1959. Lee co-founded the People's Action Party (PAP) in 1954 and was its first secretary-general until 1992, leading the party to eight consecutive victories. After Lee chose to step down as Prime Minister in 1990, he served as Senior Minister under his successor Goh Chok Tong until 2004, then as Minister Mentor (an advisory post) until 2011, under his own son Lee Hsien Loong. In total, Lee held successive ministerial positions for 56 years. He continued to serve his Tanjong Pagar constituency for nearly 60 years as a member of parliament until his death in 2015. From 1991, he helmed the five-member Tanjong Pagar Group Representation Constituency and remained unopposed for a record five elections.
Lee campaigned for Britain to relinquish its colonial rule, and eventually attained through a national referendum to merge with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963. However, racial strife and ideological differences led to its separation to become a sovereign city-state two years later. With overwhelming parliamentary control at every election, Lee oversaw Singapore's transformation from a British crown colony with a natural deep harbour to a developed economy. In the process, he forged a system of meritocratic, highly effective and incorrupt government and civil service. Many of his policies are now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Lee eschewed populist policies in favour of long-term social and economic planning. He championed meritocracy and multiracialism as governing principles, making English the common language to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the West, whilst mandating bilingualism in schools to preserve students' mother tongue and ethnic identity.
Lee's rule was criticised for curtailing civil liberties (media control and limits on public protests) and bringing libel suits against political opponents. He argued that such disciplinary measures were necessary for political stability which, together with the rule of law, were essential for economic progress, once saying: "Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle-dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society". He died of pneumonia on 23 March 2015, aged 91. In a week of national mourning, 1.7 million residents and guests paid tribute to him at his lying-in-state at Parliament House and at community tribute sites around the island. Provided by Wikipedia