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), born Harry Lee Kuan Yew, often referred to by his initials LKY and sometimes known in his earlier years as Harry Lee, was a Singaporean statesman and lawyer who served as the first Prime Minister of Singapore between 1959 and 1990, and is widely recognised as the nation's founding father. He was also one of the founders of the People's Action Party, which has governed the country continuously since independence.
Lee was born in Singapore during British colonial rule, which was then part of the Straits Settlements. He attained top grades in his early education, gaining a scholarship and admission to Raffles College. During the Japanese occupation, Lee worked in private enterprises and as an administration service officer for the propaganda office. After the war, Lee initially attended the London School of Economics, but transferred to Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, graduating with starred-first-class honours in law in 1947. He became a barrister of the Middle Temple in 1950 and returned to Singapore, and began campaigning for the United Kingdom to relinquish its colonial rule.
Lee co-founded the People's Action Party in 1954 and won his first seat in the Tanjong Pagar division in the 1955 election. He became the ''de facto'' opposition leader in the legislature to chief ministers David Marshall and Lim Yew Hock. Lee led his party to its first electoral victory in the 1959 election, and was appointed as the state's first prime minister. To attain complete self-rule from Britain, Lee campaigned for a merger with other former British territories in a national referendum to form Malaysia in 1963. Racial strife and ideological differences led to Singapore's separation from the federation to become a sovereign city-state in 1965.
With overwhelming parliamentary control at every election, Lee oversaw Singapore's transformation into a developed country with a high-income economy within a single generation. In the process, he forged a system of meritocratic, highly effective and anti-corrupt government and civil service. Lee eschewed populist policies in favour of long-term social and economic planning. He championed meritocracy and multiracialism as governing principles, making English the lingua franca to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the world, whilst mandating bilingualism in schools to preserve students' mother tongue and ethnic identity. Lee stepped down as prime minister in 1990, but remained in the Cabinet under his successors, holding the appointments of senior minister until 2004, then minister mentor until 2011. He died of pneumonia on 23 March 2015, aged 91. In a week of national mourning, about 1.7 million Singaporean residents as well as world leaders paid tribute to him at his lying-in-state at Parliament House and community tribute sites.
A co-inventor of "Asian values", Lee's rule has been described as authoritarian, especially in the West. Critics accuse him of curtailing press freedoms, imposing narrow limits on public protests, restricting labour movements from strike action through legislation and co-option, and bringing defamation lawsuits against political opponents. However, others argue his actions were necessary, and generally benevolent. Provided by Wikipedia