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Singapore daily names Lee Kuan Yew its “Asian of the Year”

December 5, 2015

Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper on Saturday named the late former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew as its “Asian of the Year” for his influence on regional and global affairs.

“Few Asians have made such an impact as Mr Lee. His passing was a reminder of how big a role he played in steering and shaping modern Singapore,” the award citation said.

Lee, who died in March aged 91, received a hero’s funeral after an unprecedented outpouring of grief from Singaporeans who now enjoy one of Asia’s highest standards of living.

He was consulted for decades by world leaders for his views on Asian affairs.

But Lee, who was prime minister from 1959 to 1990, was also criticised locally and abroad for restricting political freedom, including muzzling the press, jailing political opponents and suing critics for defamation.

The Straits Times, founded 170 years ago, launched the award in 2012.

The inaugural winner was Myanmar President Thein Sein, who started political reforms in the former military-ruled state. In 2013, it was shared by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was selected in 2014.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.