Singapore’s “founding father” Lee Kuan Yew has been hospitalized due to a severe lung infection. At 90 years old, Mr. Lee has become increasingly fragile in recent years, though he has tried to remain active in politics. Mr. Lee’s son, Lee Hsien Loong, is Singapore’s current prime minister.
The illness does not appear to be critical, but so far little has been released regarding the extent and nature of Mr. Lee’s condition. It is believed that he has suffered some sort of lung infection and is currently being treated with antibiotics.
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While Mr. Lee has largely retired from public life, he remains among the most influential people in Singapore, and is highly regarded across the world.
Lee Kuan Yew was instrumental in Singapore’s rise
Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s first prime minister, and also longest serving prime minister, having served from 1959 to 1990. While Mr. Lee could have held onto power for longer, he decided in 1990 that it would be best for the nation’s next generation of leaders to start taking charge. Following his retirement, Mr. Lee remained active in politics, first as the Minister Mentor, and later as a regular member of parliament.
Under Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore grew from a small backwater harbor into one of the world’s richest and most influential cities. While the city-state is home to only 5 million people and covers an area similar in size to New York City, it has emerged as economic powerhouse and regional military power.
Singapore is now home to a vibrant, advanced manufacturing industry that has continued to thrive even in the face of stiff competition from China and other Asian competitors. Singapore has also emerged as a leading financial trading hub, competing against New York City, London, Hong Kong and others for investment and market dollars.
PAP struggling since Lee’s retirement
Lee Kuan Yew’s party, the Peoples’ Action Party, has slowly lost ground since Mr. Lee stepped down as prime minister. The last few elections have seen approval ratings for the party slip to their lowest levels of all time, while critics are becoming increasingly vocal.
Lee Kuan Yew is known for advocating the concept of a “corporate Singapore” that was very friendly to investment, businesses, and foreigners. While these policies drove the city-state’s economic development, they have also resulted in a growing gap between the rich and the poor, and a strict style of governance, sometimes called a “nanny-state”, that sees high levels of interference with peoples’ daily lives. These polices have now become a source of consternation for many Singaporeans.