Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew resigns

Lee Kuan Yew Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore's first prime minister after independence in 1965

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Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew has resigned from the country's cabinet, ceding leadership to his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The move comes after their party's worst election result since 1965.

Lee Kuan Yew and fellow former prime minister Goh Chok Tong said in a joint resignation statement that the "time has come for a younger generation".

The 87-year old Mr Lee was prime minister from 1959 to 1990, after which Mr Goh took over until 2004.

Analysis

Lee Kuan Yew has designed, driven, and dominated Singapore's development for over 50 years.

But now, aged 87, he says it's time to step down. He will give up his post as Minister Mentor, a cabinet advisory role specifically established for him in 2004.

The move comes after an election in which the opposition mounted their most effective challenge since independence. Mr Lee, under whose leadership, freedoms and rights were curtailed in return for a promise of security and prosperity, described the vote as a watershed.

"The time has come for a younger generation to carry Singapore forward in a more difficult and complex situation," he said.

The next government will be led, like the last one, by Mr Lee's son. The Patriarch's retirement is, unquestionably, a key moment in Singapore's political history. But the dynasty is secure.

Mr Lee had been known as minister mentor, while Mr Goh was senior minister since 2004. Both won parliament seats in the city-state's latest general election on 7 May.

BBC South-East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says Mr Lee's retirement is, unquestionably, a key moment in Singapore's political history.

'Clean slate'

In a joint-statement, Mr Lee and Mr Goh said the current prime minister and his team "should have a fresh clean slate".

"The time has come for a younger generation to carry Singapore forward in a more difficult and complex situation," they said.

"After a watershed general election, we have decided to leave the cabinet and have a completely younger team of ministers to connect to and engage with this young generation."

Politics in the tiny but hugely wealthy state have been dominated by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) since independence in 1965.

But in the latest elections, the PAP won only 60% of the vote - down from 67% in 2006 and 75% in 2001.

The Workers' Party won six seats, the most the opposition has held since independence in 1965.

Singapore is one of the world's richest countries, but soaring housing prices amid a surge of foreign workers have left poorer islanders struggling.

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