ASEAN Secretary-General, Le Luong Minh
ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh joined other world leaders in mourning the loss of Lee Kuan Yew, the first Prime Minister of Singapore, who passed away yesterday at 91. In a letter addressed to Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore and son of Lee Kuan Yew, Secretary-General Minh conveyed his “deepest condolences” on the passing of the late Prime Minister.
In his letter, Minh described Lee Kuan Yew as “a great statesman who had built Singapore with his vision, wisdom and courage.” The ASEAN Secretary-General also acknowledged the late Prime Minister as one of those “instrumental in the establishment of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations” in 1967. Singapore is one of ASEAN’s five founding members and together with the other leaders, he has provided guidance to ASEAN in its formative years.
For three decades, Lee Kuan Yew dedicated his life to the success of his country and is widely recognised as the architect of Singapore’s transformation from a small port town 50 years ago to one of the world’s wealthiest countries. Secretary-General Minh noted that the late Prime Minister “has left a lasting legacy not only for Singapore but also for ASEAN and he will be greatly missed.”
Cambodian dignitaries signing the condolence book at the Singapore Embassy in Phnom Penh
Defence Minister of Indonesia, General (Retired) Ryamizard Ryacudu
“Every time I came for a meeting with the Singapore Army, he would definitely invite me for talks. I was shocked the first time. I was only the Army Chief. He was more senior than the prime minister. But he wanted to speak to me – not once but five times,” said General (Retired) Ryamizard.
“I regard him as a true statesman. He did not discriminate against anyone. He spoke from the heart and I responded likewise. He was sincere in his views. And I responded with sincerity. We understood each other,” he added.
General (Retired) Ryamizard likened his discussions with Mr Lee to those between a father and son. He said Mr Lee’s honesty and sincerity laid the foundation for good ties between Indonesia and Singapore’s armed forces.
“We must talk to each other, whatever the issues may be. There’s nothing hidden, because we know he is sincere, forthright. The rest of us followed the same,” said General (Retired) Ryamizard.
“From earlier on, Indonesia and Singapore conducted joint military exercises annually. The two armies took turns to host. Similarly, for the air force and navy. It has been going on well. That’s a result of the foundations laid from the top. That’s how it was between Mr Lee and President Suharto,” he added.