Founding father of Singapore. Consummate statesman who put Singapore on the world map.
Candid, forceful and visionary.

At DBS, we mourn the loss of Mr Lee Kuan Yew – a great man with an unparalleled spark within.

“This is not a game of cards,” he once thundered at a rally. “This is your life and mine.” And it was a potent combination - this fierce sense of duty to the people he’d suddenly found himself in charge of in 1965, and his burning desire for an independent and more equal Singapore, a small country with no natural resources or prospects.

Against impossible circumstances, Mr Lee steered a vulnerable city-state from third world to first, in a mere thirty years. A lifelong testament to the power of personal conviction and how it can shape not just a personality, but the course of history.

His breadth of knowledge and his role in every facet of Singapore’s development is well-documented.

In the financial industry in the early years, together with compatriots Mr Hon Sui Sen, who would later become DBS’ first Chairman and President, and Mr Goh Keng Swee, the country’s economic architect, Mr Lee built Singapore’s reputation upon a bedrock of integrity, competence, and skilled financial supervision. The DBS story begins here – with our roots in a country hard won and struggling to finance its industrialisation efforts. We were set up to help build Singapore.

From an offshore Asian dollar market – a risky proposition at the time - that Mr Lee decided to establish, to the opening up of the banking industry in the 1990s, he sought to break new ground. His push for local banks to be more diverse, outward and forward-looking prompted DBS to accelerate our Asian ambitions. Because of his foresight and judgement, and the generations of leaders who built a thriving but robust financial system, banks in Singapore weathered two recent financial crises well. Today the country is one of the world’s top financial hubs.

We bid farewell to this extraordinary man who was our first prime minister. In the gleaming cityscape of today’s Singapore, we remember not just a brilliant, remarkable world leader, but the man who gave our fledgling nation an identity, a home, and a hope for the future – that will forever be Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy.

Photo: The Straits Times ©Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.