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Lee Kuan Yew
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World Leader
    (September 16, 1923-March 23, 2015)
    Born in Singapore
    Birth name was Harry Lee Kuan Yew
    First Prime Minister of Singapore (1959-90)
    Remained in the cabinet as Senior Minister (1990-2004) and Minister Mentor (2004-11)
    He was a black market trader during the Japanese occupation of Singapore in WWII.
    He tried to silence journalists by filing libel suits over any negative coverage of him.
    He said, 'I have always believed Machiavelli was right. If nobody is afraid of me, I’m meaningless.'
    During his rule, caning became the mandatory punishment for over 40 offenses and an optional punishment for a similar number.
    He banned chewing gum. (Although, contrary to rumor, possession is punished by a fine, not a caning.)
    In leaked cables, he called Islam a 'venomous religion.'
    He was married to Kwa Geok Choo for 60 years until her death.
    He was fluent in English, Mandarin and Malay.
    He said his 'venomous religion' comment referred to 'extremist terrorists... and the jihadist preachers who brainwashed them.'
    He oversaw the transformation of Singapore from an underdeveloped colonial outpost with few resources to one of the richest countries in Asia.
    He was known for his pragmatic, non-ideological approach to the economy and governance.
    Catherine Lim, a novelist and frequent critic of the Prime Minister, said, 'If they had three Lee Kuan Yews in Africa, that continent wouldn’t be in such a bad state.'
    He said, 'I’m not saying that everything I did was right, but everything I did was for an honorable purpose.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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