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Ex-Malaysia PM Mahathir says he is saddened over Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad finally broke his silence on Mr Lee Kuan Yew's death.

He said he was "saddened" by the passing of Singapore's founding father.

Mr Mahathir,89, who didn't have the best of relationships with Mr Lee, said: "I cannot say I was a close friend of Kuan Yew. But still I feel sad at his demise.

"No matter how friendly or unfriendly we are, the passing away of a man you know well saddens you."

"(The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) lost a strong leadership after President Suharto and Lee Kuan Yew," he added, referring to the former Indonesian leader who died in 2008.

“Now Kuan Yew is no more. His passage marks the end of the period when those who fought for independence led their countries and knew the value of independence,” Mr Mahathir wrote in his blog.

Testy

Malaysia-Singapore ties were testy after Mr Lee led his nation to independence in 1965 following a brief and stormy union with Malaysia.

The relationship between Mr Mahathir and Mr Lee mirrored this tension, with each of them occasionally criticising each other's nation.

In his posting, Mr Mahathir, who led Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and still exerts political influence, recounts first meeting Mr Lee in 1964 when Singapore was still part of Malaysia.

He said they disagreed on “most” issues, but that each of them reached out when the other suffered health problems.

Mr Mahathir said: "When I had a heart attack in 1989 and required open heart surgery, he cared enough to ring up my wife to ask her to delay the operation as he had arranged for the best heart surgeon, a Singaporean living in Australia, to do the operation.

Apologised

"But by then I had been given pre-med and was asleep prior to the operation the next day.

"My wife thanked him but apologised. She promised to ring him up after the operation. She did the next evening."

Mr Mahathir also added that he requested to meet him.

He said: "He agreed but the night before the visit, the Singapore High Commissioner received a message that he was very sick and could not see me." 

Source: AFP

 

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