The ambassador of Singapore in Hanoi, Ng Teck Hean, has affirmed that late Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was a firm believer in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and also a key figure in laying a solid foundation for Singapore-Vietnam relations.
“Mr. Lee first visited Vietnam in 1992 when he was then-Senior Minister, and struck up a close friendship with many Vietnamese leaders. Over the decade, Mr. Lee had many in-depth and frank conversations on Vietnam’s Doi Moi reforms and the opening up of its economy. Investments from Singapore started to come into Vietnam thereafter,” Ambassador Ng said in a statement Monday in response to questions by Tuoi Tre News.
“These close personal links between Mr. Lee and Vietnamese leaders have since set a firm and enduring foundation for Vietnam-Singapore relations to grow and strengthen,” he added.
According to Ambassador Ng, late PM Lee was a leader and a public servant who contributed immensely to Singapore’s independence and development.
He was a leader who enjoyed great admiration, adoration and respect in Singapore and in many countries around the world, the diplomat said, adding that many Singaporeans can be proud of Singapore because of the late leader.
The ambassador said that Lee governed Singapore during one of the most difficult periods in the Southeast Asian country’s history.
As a small country without natural resources, Singapore not only survived but thrived, against all odds.
Lee successfully transformed Singapore from a third-world to a first-world country in less than a generation.
“Today [March 23, 2015] is a sad day for all Singaporeans. Over the past week when he was at the Singapore General Hospital, many Singaporeans of different races and from all walks of life left flowers and get-well messages. This is the kind of deep affection that Singaporeans have towards Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. He will be greatly missed and remembered by many,” Ambassador Ng said.
Former PM Lee, seen as modern Singapore’s founding father, passed away on Monday at 91 at Singapore General Hospital, where he had been admitted on February 5, after suffering from pneumonia.
He was the founding prime minister of Singapore and father of the current premier, Lee Hsien Loong.
He was Singapore’s prime minister from 1959 to 1990 and has been widely credited with turning Singapore into one of the most affluent economies in Asia within three decades.
PM Lee Hsien Loong has declared a period of national mourning over his father’s death from March 23 to 29, according to a statement from the Singaporean Prime Minister’s Office.
As a mark of respect to the late leader, the state flags on all government buildings in Singapore will be flown at half-mast from Monday to Sunday, the office added.