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The founding father of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew dies at 91

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By Newsgram Staff Writer

Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father and first prime minister of Singapore, who transformed the tiny island outpost into a global trade and financial centre, died on Monday aged 91, in Singapore General Hospital.

Lee was the Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 until 1990. He remained the dominant personality and driving force in what he called a First World oasis in a Third World region.

Efficient, unsentimental, incorrupt, inventive, forward-looking and pragmatic this is how the nation saw him.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was deeply saddened” by Mr Lee’s death . US President Barack Obama described him as a “giant of history”. The Chinese foreign ministry called him “a uniquely influential statesman in Asia”.

“We are ideology-free,” Lee said in an interview with The New York Times in 2007, stating what had become, in effect, Singapore’s ideology. “Does it work? If it works, let’s try it. If it’s fine, let’s continue it. If it doesn’t work, toss it out, try another one.”

Lee’s leadership was at times criticized for suppressing freedom, but the formula succeeded. With low level of corruption and high efficiency Singapore became an international business and financial center.

A lifetime of building and contribution:

In 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia, ever since then Lee started his never ending struggle to overcome the nation’s lack of natural resources.

In one of his interview in 2007 he said, “To begin with, we don’t have the ingredients of a nation, the elementary factors: a homogeneous population, common language, common culture and common destiny. So, history is a long time. I’ve done my bit.”

Lee’s ‘Singapore Model’ had been admired and studied by leaders in Asia, including in China.

Born in 16th Sept, 1923, to a fourth-generation middle-class Chinese family, Lee was also called as Harry Lee. He earned a law degree in 1949 from Cambridge University. After serving as prime minister from 1959 to 1990, Lee was followed by two handpicked successors, Goh Chok Tong and Lee’s eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, who, groomed for the job, has been prime minister since 2004.

In one of his interview with The Time, 2010 he said, “I’m not saying that everything I did was right, but everything I did was for an honorable purpose,” he said. “I had to do some nasty things, locking fellows up without trial.”

Reaching 87 also, Lee maintained a strict diet to keep him fit, but the signs of age didn’t abandon him.

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Reported Deaths from New Coronavirus Probably an Underestimation: WHO

WHO Expects Coronavirus Cases, Deaths to Escalate

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People wear masks to protect themselves from coronavirus on a street in Hong Kong. VOA

By Lisa Schlein

The World Health Organization says the number of reported cases and deaths from the new coronavirus is probably an underestimation. The latest reports put the number of confirmed cases at 830, including 26 deaths.

Most of the infections and all of the deaths have occurred in China. A small number of coronavirus cases have been reported in seven other countries, including the United States. All have been mild, and all of those patients have recovered.

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says it is too early to draw conclusions about the severity of the coronavirus.

“Because at the beginning of any outbreak, you would focus more on the severe cases and you will have more of those and then maybe we are missing some mild cases because people will just be a little bit sick and will not be ever tested and they will recover,” Jasarevic said. “We may see more mild cases as surveillance intensifies. So, the issue is not really so much on numbers that we know that will go up.”

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People travelling for the Lunar New Year wear protective masks as they head to the departure area at the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing. VOA

Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO’s health emergencies program, says there is no particular treatment for this new pneumonia-like coronavirus.

“There have been a number of compounds that have been used in the fight against coronavirus, but it is very important to recognize that there is no recognized effective therapeutic against coronaviruses,” he said. “However, there are potential clinical trials that can be done with agents and that is what we are focused on right now — identifying other therapeutic agents and opportunities to test new drugs.”

Also Read- High-Protein Diets May Increase Heart Attack Risk: Study

On Thursday, a WHO expert committee decided not to declare the coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted the virus was an emergency in China, but had not yet become a global health emergency.

He did, however, add the WHO was ready to reconvene another emergency meeting to review the decision if the evolution of the epidemic warranted a re-examination. (VOA)