Lee Kuan Yew passed away yesterday, 23rd March 2015, at 3.18 am, in Singapore General Hospital. He was 91. Many people worldwide are mourning his passing and condolences are pouring into the tiny island at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula for his demise.
Who is Lee Kuan Yew?
To the machas and machis who have little idea on who Lee Kuan Yew was, he was the first Prime Minister of Singapore who was in office since 1965 – 1990. He is known as the Founding Father of modern Singapore who took the tiny island nation that was part of Malaysia in the past from an unassuming trading nation which has no natural resources to the pinnacle of success by cutting a new path. His feat earned the Lion City’s sobriquet, Asian Tiger.
The tale of how Lee Kuan Yew made Singapore a high income and developed nation in a short span of time is nothing short of wondrous and completely astonishing. He is considered as one of the great nation builder of our time, admired by many world leaders.
Okay, so what’s so great about Lee Kuan Yew again?
I said Lee Kuan Yew is admired by many world leaders due to his ideas and the ways he employed to make a basket case island into a thriving metropolis that depends on the productivity and the racial and religious harmony of its people.
Iron Lady, the late Margaret Thatcher was a huge fan of Lee Kuan Yew. When Lee Kuan Yew built high rise apartments for Singaporeans, in exchange for slum dwellings, in order to make the people appreciate their living place, he made arrangements for the people to own the government built homes that’s testimony to Singapore’s cleanliness and discipline. Lee Kuan Yew instilled those values by inculcating a sense of belonging and patriotism in Singaporeans that are continued by his successors, the latest being his bereaved son, Lee Hsien Loong.
Margaret Thatcher copied Lee Kuan Yew’s house ownership of the people blueprint and applied it in UK with rousing success. Our 4th prime minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad devised the ‘Look East instead of West’ campaign and Singapore was one of the countries in the east that is worth exemplifying.
Lee Kuan Yew built Singapore under a firm foundation of discipline and docile behaviour and sacrifice of its people who, in 3 generations, literally went from zilch to zenith in the most remarkable way, unprecedented in the world, enjoying an unbroken prosperity and economic stability. Despite the almost despotic statecraft was applied by Lee Kuan Yew, stifling dissent and keeping the opposition in a stranglehold, most Singaporeans placidly abide by their leaders rule of law which amazed the west. It was due to the spurt of growth that Lee Kuan Yew brought to Singapore that kept his people largely satisfied – they did not have a reason to object to the government led by Lee Kuan Yew.
Though, Lee Kuan Yew, like our own Tun Dr Mahathir, used Internal Security Act to silence critics and earned worldwide condemnation like our very own Dr M. He did so so that he could implement his ideas on what he thought would be good for Singapore, unchallenged and unquestioned.
When an American teen, Michael Fay was caught for vandalism in Singapore, the then Singapore prime minister and Lee Kuan Yew’s successor, Goh Chok Tong did not compromise stringent punishment to be meted on the wayward teen that included a hefty fine, 4 months of imprisonment and 6 lashes of the cane that was later reduced to 4 lashes. Singapore govt did not give a shit to Clinton’s request that Michael Fay be exempted and despite the intense lobbying from the US government, Michael Fay was caned. If it was other Asian nations, they would have released Michael Fay at all the international pressure but Singapore not only jailed an American, they caned him and there was nothing America could do about it!
Okay, I understand that machas and machis would be yawning now so here’s a juicy piece of info that would make you wide awake, eyes open, and ears tweaked up and give you a reason to know more about Lee Kuan Yew and motivate you to finish reading this article:
Here’s Rajinikanth saying it himself:
I hope I got your attention now.
A brief account of history of Lee Kuan Yew’s political journey
We all know that Tunku Abdul Rahman ousted Singapore from the federation of Malaysia on 9th August 1965 due to communal tensions that arose due to deep political and economic differences between the ruling parties of Singapore and Malaysia which resulted in racial riots in the months of July and September 1964. Tunku also did not like Lee Kuan Yew’s clarion call in parliament for a Malaysian Malaysia and Singapore was dubbed a rogue state which acted like a nation within a nation under the tenure of Lee Kuan Yew. The culmination of all these string of events was Singapore being kicked out of Malaysia with the indifference of weeding a pesky rat out.
Lee Kuan Yew had bet all his stakes in a merger with Malaysia and here he can be seen getting emotional and breaking down when announcing the separation from Malaysia at a press conference as the fate of Singapore hangs in the balance. Singapore’s union with Malaysia had lasted for barely 2 years.
Lee Kuan Yew then took the fate of Singapore’s into his own hands and worked all his lifetime to prove that he was wrong and the rest is history.
Singapore literally left Malaysia in the dust under the stewardship of Lee Kuan Yew in almost every aspect, from racial harmony, GDP, economy, transparency and education. While we are reeling from rising crimes, religious bigotry, racial prejudice, a corrupt govt that’s becoming a fascist govt, rising cost of living as opposed to stagnant wages, inflation, national debt reaching the ceiling and a crumbling economy, Singapore is not looking back and is having the last laugh.
Now, it is our turn to go work in Singapore for better pay and their turn to look down on us. The tables have been turned. Karma is a bitch.
How did Lee Kuan Yew pull this off?
Lee Kuan Yew on fundamental tenets of good governance:
1. Integrity, absence of corruption
2. Meritocracy, the best people for the best jobs.
3. A fair, level playing field for everybody.
All 3 do not exist in Malaysian governance. The only thing that kept us going are our natural resources. I don’t know if you feel it but Lee Kuan Yew literally showed Malaysia his middle finger for the treachery Malaysia gifted him for asking for a Malaysian Malaysia by developing Singapore like nobody’s business, his only asset being his people.
Some of the measures employed by Lee Kuan Yew to make Singapore one of the most envied country in the world:
1. He made English the uniting language and made four languages, English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil Singapore’s national languages. He introduced the bilingual education policy and made it compulsory for every citizen to learn English. Years later, English became the common language of the Singaporean people while Malay was still spoken widely.
2. He closed down Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools and integrated them into a single school system. His primary goal was racial unity and achieved it by the means of a single school system unlike ours.
3. He glued the different races together and came up with something called the ‘race quota’. While the term race quota incurs racially biased policies here, it’s otherwise in Singapore. Race quota there ensured even dilution of different races in public housing flats so that one race doesn’t cluster in one area. He still championed racial integration after he stepped down as PM.
4. For Lee Kuan Yew, survival was paramount. LKY sacrificed race for survival. It is nowhere more evident than in his move of closing down vernacular schools that would impede unity. His priority was the survival of the people as opposed to race, the exact opposite of Malaysia.
5. He believed in his people and made them work for him and with him. Singapore is not blessed with natural resources like Malaysia. The only asset Lee Kuan Yew had in his hands were his people and he brought out the best out of them and gave them the chances they deserve immaterial of their race, again, unlike Malaysia. There was an unbiased platform for talent to manifest, recognised and then utilised for the benefit of the nation. People’s productivity is Singapore’s biggest asset.
Many did not like Lee Kuan Yew’s decisions but he did what it took to make his country progress and the skyline of Singapore today is the testimony of Lee Kuan Yew’s legacy.
Lee Kuan Yew and the minions
Ivaneke enna pirachanai nu terile.. Eppo paaru inthe maari pannitu irukan.
Bahasa pun tunggang-langgang ada hati nak kutuk orang. Takpe lah Lee Kuan Yew masuk neraka, namanya akan dikenang sebagai seorang pemimpin yang berwibawa dan berkaliber. Ayahanda akan dikenang sebagai apa pulak? Minta direnungkan..
I am not asking you all, machas and machis to become like Lee Kuan Yew. Just take an inspiration from the man who made the most unlikely, likely, defying the odds and surpassing expectations. Make your own greatness. Greatness is greatness no matter how small. For once, stop idolising Tamil film actors to the point of fighting with each other over them and broaden your worldviews. Be a fan of Kollywood actors, don’t be a fanatic.
Dear sir, you fought the good fight. Thank you for being such a wonderful inspiration. You embodied the adage ‘you won’t know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice’.