Over the course of a few decades, Singapore has come to embody the economic dynamism and rise to geopolitical relevance experienced by much of Asia. So when its de facto founding father passed away last week, the world took notice.
Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first Prime Minister, died on March 23 at 91 years old. He leaves behind a nation mourning the loss of its first and most impactful leader, and a complex political legacy.
By some, Lee will be remembered as the bold and ambitious founder who elevated the so-called Lion City from economic and political irrelevance. His assertive leadership did more than propel Singapore from the trauma of war and colonialism; it transformed the tiny country into an economic powerhouse.
Yet to others, Lee's image is that of the calculative dictator, adept at discouraging political opposition and suppressing free speech .
Now in his wake, the country must decide how Lee's historically predominant People's Action Party (PAP) will respond to growing dissent from younger Singaporeans . The country must also face the prospect of balancing social order and economic strength with the need for democratic values--as its mass surveillance programs illustrate .
Lee may be gone, but how will the country he authored fare without him?