Profile: Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew

2015-03-22 21:12:44 GMT2015-03-23 05:12:44(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SINGAPORE, March 23 (Xinhua) -- Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore and one of the most influential political figures in Asia, passed away at the age of 91 Monday morning.

Lee served as Singapore's prime minister from 1959 till 1990.

Born in September 1923 into a family of Chinese descent, Lee did well in high school and later majored in law at Cambridge.

He married Kwa Geok Choo in 1950 and they have two sons and a daughter. His eldest son Lee Hsien Loong became the third prime minister of Singapore in August 2004.

Lee had a fairly tough experience during the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1942 to 1945.

Lee, who returned to Singapore in 1949 as a lawyer, helped with local elections and also worked as a legal advisor to labor unions.

In November 1954, Lee, together with a group of fellow English- educated middle class men, formed the socialist People's Action Party (PAP), and Lee served as its secretary-general.

Lee won the Tanjong Pagar seat in the 1955 elections. He led the PAP to a national election victory in 1959 and was sworn in as the prime minister of the autonomous government.

In September 1963, Singapore became part of Malaysia in a short- lived union. In August 1965, Singapore was expelled from Malaysia, and hence the Republic of Singapore was created.

Lee served as the prime minister of Singapore till 1990 when he handed over power to Goh Chok Tong.

Lee tried to create a unique Singaporean identity in the early decades of the republic by recognizing the multiracial reality and stress multicultural harmony.

He stressed the rule of law and clean government.

Lee remained a member of the cabinet as senior minister and, later, minister mentor before stepping down in 2011.

Lee was active in recent years attending dialogue sessions and fora and writing books to "disseminate his wisdom."

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