Prime Minister Narendra Modi today lauded Singapore’s founder and first premier Lee Kuan Yew as a “global thinker” and said India deeply valued his friendship and his support for its economic progress.
Modi, who arrived here this morning to attend the State Funeral Services of Lee, said the former Singapore Prime Minister was “among the tallest leaders of our times”.
91-year-old Lee died of severe pneumonia on March 23.
Noting that Singapore’s transformation in one generation is a tribute to Lee’s leadership, Modi said his death marks the end of an era. “He inspired not just Southeast Asia, but all of Asia, to believe in its own destiny,” he said.
“In the 50th anniversary year of Singapore’s independence, I am sure that he (Lee) left satisfied with Singapore’s achievements and confident about its future.”
Modi underlined India’s relations with Singapore, saying it “is one of our strongest relationships” in the world.
“India’s integration with Southeast Asia and beyond is growing. Singapore is a key pillar of India’s Act East Policy,” the prime minister said.
Modi also held two meetings with Singapore’s Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shamugaratnam this morning, conveying his condolences to the Singapore leaders and people.
“I am visiting Singapore at a sad moment,” said Modi.
“He (Lee) was a global thinker, who saw things ahead of others. He was an advocate of economic progress, but also made tireless efforts to advance peace and stability in our region.
“We deeply valued his friendship and his support for India’s economic progress and global role,” he said, adding Lee “believed in India’s potential more than many of us did.”
Lee’s “vision is coming true. The seeds he sowed are bearing fruits today,” said Modi, who had earlier visited Singapore as Gujarat Chief Minister in October 2006.
“Personally, he was a source of inspiration for me. His achievements and thoughts give me confidence in the possibility of India’s own transformation,” Modi said.
“The people of India share this nation’s grief over the loss of its founding father and leader,” he said, noting that India was observing a day of public mourning today in honour of Lee and the deep bonds of friendship the two nations share.
“I bring here today the condolences and prayers of the people of India,” Modi added.
Apart from Modi, several world leaders are expected to attend Lee’s funeral, including former US President Bill Clinton, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian King Abdul Halim Shah.
Lee’s body has been lying in state in parliament’s main lobby since Wednesday after he died on March 23.
The state funeral procession will commence at about 12:30 PM and cover a distance of 15.4 kms to the National University of Singapore, where a funeral service will be held from 2 PM.
The procession would pass through old parliament house and other iconic places while the armed forces will accord a 21-gun salute, an air force fly-past and a patrol boat sail-past in honour of Lee.
Lee is widely credited with transforming Singapore from an impoverished third-world nation into an advanced first- world economy within just a generation, shaping the city- state’s present status as a global financial and commercial hub.