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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 04:24 GMT 05:24 UK
Lee moves to end Malaysian row
Lee Kuan Yew, 2003 photo
Mr Lee is still an important figure in Singapore
The former leader of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, has offered a qualified apology for remarks he made about how Malaysia treats its ethnic Chinese.

In a speech last month, Mr Lee said the success of Malaysia's and Indonesia's Chinese led them to be marginalised.

In a letter to Malaysian PM Abdullah Badawi, Mr Lee said he was merely repeating comments made before.

He expressed regret for any discomfort and said he had no intention of meddling in Malaysian politics.

"Indeed, I do not have the power to influence Malaysia's politics, or to incite the feelings of the Chinese in Malaysia," Mr Lee said, according to excerpts of the letter distributed by his aide.

The BBC's Jonathan Kent, in Kuala Lumpur, says the Malaysian media was quick to hail the letter as a climb-down, but it is in fact someway short of that.

Troubled relations

Mr Lee's letter was written in response to a request for an explanation and an apology for the comments he made on 15 September, claiming that Malaysia and Indonesia "systematically marginalised" their minority Chinese.

The offending remark was made at the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Singapore - which has a predominantly ethnic Chinese population.

Malaysia and Singapore have close economic ties, but diplomatic relations between the two neighbours are often troubled.

Mr Lee, 83, was Singapore's founding prime minister, and still has a powerful position in the cabinet of his eldest son, current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Country profile: Singapore
26 Aug 03 |  Country profiles

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