Lee Kuan Yew, the man who remade a sleepy port city that was Singapore into a global trade and finance powerhouse, passed away "peacefully in his sleep" aged 91 on March 23, 2015. As tributes pour in, here is an exclusive interview from 2009 with his biographer that sheds light on one of the most colorful and remarkable political figures in recent times...
A nation that has grown from being a tiny slip of land with just 100 million dollars against its name into a global financial powerhouse with over $300 billion in funds.
Over 95 per cent of its citizens are homeowners.
The city state is almost corruption free and its roads are entirely litter free.
Its people are among the most educated and its economy is among the most admired.
All this is the handiwork almost entirely of one man - Lee Kuan Yew, who was at the helm of affairs, first as Prime Minister, then as Senior Minister and later as Minister Mentor.
Lee was a leader, who despite being a soft authoritarian, commanded a standing of his own.
Indeed, when he talked, even President Barack Obama listened.
Articulate, idealistic and unafraid to speak his mind, the 91-year-old, who passed away on Monday morning, played a part in China's and India's economic revival too.
Veteran American journalist Tom Plate met and interviewed Singapore's Minister Mentor over two days in 2008 for his book, the hugely absorbing Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew.
A book, it must be added, that is a must read for everyone interested in governance and in thought-provoking conversations.
In an interview with R Rajesh Kumar, Tom shares his experience while also offering us Lee's views on India, China, Nehru and Deng Xiaoping.
Image: Author Tom Plate and Lee Kuan Yew take a stroll down the corridors of Istana, the seat of the Singapore government.
Image Courtesy: Marshall Cavendish and Tom Plate