World

Singaporeans mourn death of founding father Lee Kuan Yew as world leaders pay tribute

  • A quote attributed to Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew lies among earlier messages of support for him at the hospital where he passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died Monday, the government said. He was 91. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

    A quote attributed to Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew lies among earlier messages of support for him at the hospital where he passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died Monday, the government said. He was 91. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)  (The Associated Press)

  • Lawrence Hee, 68 is one of the first to arrive at the hospital where Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Yuan Yew passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died Monday, the government said. He was 91. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

    Lawrence Hee, 68 is one of the first to arrive at the hospital where Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Yuan Yew passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died Monday, the government said. He was 91. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)  (The Associated Press)

  • Members of the media gather in an area set aside for tributes at the hospital where Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died Monday, the government said. He was 91. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)

    Members of the media gather in an area set aside for tributes at the hospital where Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew, who founded modern Singapore and was both feared for his authoritarian tactics and admired for turning the city-state into one of the world's richest nations, died Monday, the government said. He was 91. (AP Photo/Joseph Nair)  (The Associated Press)

Singaporeans are grieving and world leaders paying tribute as the Southeast Asian city-state mourns the death of its founding father Lee Kuan Yew.

The government announced that Lee, 91, "passed away peacefully" early Monday at a Singapore hospital. An increasingly frail Lee was hospitalized in early February with severe pneumonia.

State television broke away from regular programming with a hagiographic tribute to Lee's life, calling his death the "awful and dreaded" news.

He is credited with transforming the resource poor island into a wealthy bustling financial hub with low crime and almost zero corruption.

President Barack Obama has called Lee a "visionary" in a statement.

Sayeed Hussain, 53, says Lee was a "great hero" to Singaporeans as he paid respects at the hospital where Lee died.