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PM pays tribute to Lee Kuan Yew

The Prime Minister has paid tribute to the founder of modern Singapore, describing him as a friend to Britain, if at times a critical one.

Lee Kuan Yew, w ho died yesterday aged 91, was hailed as having provided a number of British prime ministers with advice over the years.

He was once singled out by the late Margaret Thatcher as the prime minister she most admired.

David Cameron said Mr Lee had transformed Singapore into one of the great success stories of the modern world.

He said: "That Singapore is today a prosperous, secure and successful country is a monument to his decades of remarkable public service. He was always a friend to Britain, if sometimes a critical one, and many British Prime Ministers benefited from his wise advice, including me.

"Lady Thatcher once said that there was no Prime Minister she admired more than Mr Lee for 'the strength of his convictions, the clarity of his views, the directness of his speech and his vision of the way ahead'.

"His place in history is assured, as a leader and as one of the modern world's foremost statesmen."

Former prime minster Sir John Major said Mr Lee was "one of the political giants of recent history".

"He was the architect of modern Singapore, and led the way in changing it from a small island country in Malaysia to the thriving, competitive state that it is today, punching well above its weight and admired across the world.

"Few men left a better legacy to their nation than Lee Kuan Yew, and we may not see his like again. He really was a remarkable leader, and will be much missed by those of us who were privileged to know him and work with him.

Mr Lee, known for his authoritarian tactics including limiting free speech and public protest, was the country's longest-serving prime minister, leading the country for 31 years as it became a global trade and finance centre.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: " I am deeply saddened by the death of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first prime minister.

" Mr Lee fashioned the Singapore and Asian region that we know today. Internationally, Lee Kuan Yew was a leading global statesman of his era, a co-founder of ASEAN and driver of Asia's rise. Singapore and the UK have a long and deep friendship. He will be sorely missed.

My thoughts are with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his family, and the people of Singapore at this sad time."

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