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Singapore

Founding father Lee Kuan Yew quits cabinet

Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew has announced he will resign from the cabinet to make way for younger leaders after the ruling People’s Action Party’s worst performance in an election. 

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Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, the city-state’s second premier will also leave the cabinet.

The resignation means Lee, aged 87, will be out of government for the first time in 52 years. He was first elected prime minister in 1959 when colonial ruler Britain granted independence to Singapore. He stepped down in 1990 in favour of Goh who was succeeded in 2004 by Lee’s son, the current prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong.

Lee’s surprise move comes after general elections which saw the PAP lose its stranglehold on power. Although they won 81 out of the 87 elected seats, the opposition scored its best performance since Singapore separated from Malaysia and became a republic in 1965.

The PAP also saw it share of all votes cast fall to an all-time low of 60 per cent from 67 per cent in 2006 and 75 per cent in 2001.

The elder Lee is widely credited with taking Singapore from a third-world trading port to one of Asia’s wealthiest, most stable and safest societies.

But he has been criticised for sidelining political rivals and stifling freedom of expression. People who opposed him often found themselves in court charged with defamation and other offences.

 

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