UN chief offers condolences over death of Singapore's former PM Lee Kuan Yew, calls him a "legendary figure in Asia"

2015-03-22 21:27:45 GMT2015-03-23 05:27:45(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

UNITED NATIONS, March 22 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Sunday that he is deeply saddened by the death of Lee Kuan Yew, former prime minister of Singapore, and offered his condolences to Lee's family, the government and the people of Singapore.

In a statement issued here by his spokesperson, Ban called Lee a "legendary figure in Asia" widely respected for his strong leadership and statesmanship.

"During his three decades in office, he helped Singapore to transition from a developing country to one of the most developed in the world, transforming it into a thriving international business hub," the statement said.

"As Singapore marks its 50th anniversary of independence this year, its founding father will be remembered as one of the most inspiring Asian leaders," it said.

The UN chief added that he is grateful for the strong cooperation between the government of Singapore and the United Nations, and looks forward to deepening this partnership.

According to a statement released by Singapore's Prime Minister 's Office (PMO), Lee died at 3:18 am on Monday at the age of 91. He had been in hospital for severe pneumonia since Feb. 5.

Lee, known as Singapore's founding father, served as the prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, and later served as a senior minister and minister mentor after stepping down from the first chair.

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