The government and politicians yesterday mourned Singaporean founding father and former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀), with the Presidential Office calling him “a staunch friend of the Republic of China (ROC) and a sage of the international community.”
A statement released by the Presidential Office said that since the establishment of Singapore as an independent state in 1965, Lee Kuan Yew had laid the foundations on which the ROC and Singapore have built long-term relationships in the fields of politics, economics and culture, leading to the signing of the Agreement Between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP) in 2013.
Lee Kuan Yew deserved enormous credit for the advances made in the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, facilitating the first high-level meeting between Taiwan and China, which took place in Singapore in April 1993, when then-Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) held talks with China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits chairman Wang Daohan (汪道涵), it added.
The first Koo-Wang meeting unveiled a new era in cross-strait relations characterized by peaceful dialogue and stable exchanges, it said.
The ROC’s government and its people will forever remember with gratitude how Lee Kuan Yew had contributed to peaceful relations between Singapore and the ROC, it said.
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) was quoted by his office director Wang Yan-chun (王燕軍) as saying: “Lee Kuan Yew lived life to the fullest.”
Lee Teng-hui was in close contact with Lee Kuan Yew when they were both in office and Singapore was the first country Lee Teng-hui visited as president, he added.
Despite being a small country, Singapore is in the enviable position of boasting strong competitiveness and development, Wang Yan-chun quoted Lee Teng-hui as saying, adding that there are important tasks ahead of the Singaporean government and its people — namely democratization.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Lee Kuan Yew paid a total of 25 visits to Taiwan during his 31 years in office and after he retired.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said Lee Kuan Yew was an advocator of Asia’s economic miracle, a defender of the universal values of freedom, democracy and peace, and a true friend of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
“There will be no second prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, but his ideas will live on,” Chu said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) praised Lee Kuan Yew’s contributions to Singapore.
“Tsai thinks the former prime minister is an outstanding contemporary politician,” DPP spokesperson Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) quoted Tsai as saying. “Under his leadership, with wisdom and vision, Singapore developed into an economically vibrant and prosperous nation.”
DPP Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) said that no matter how much she dislikes dictators, she “still hoped that Lee Kuan Yew may rest in peace.”
She also compared Lee Kuan Yew to Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), saying Lee was as much a dictator as Chiang, but had accomplished more economically than Chiang.
Meanwhile, DPP Legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄) said that Lee Kuan Yew’s death puts an end to the strongman’s era in Singapore.
Additional reporting by Su Fun-her
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