The world certainly mourns when a great man dies. Today, we celebrate the life of one such great leader who did right by and for their people. Lee Kuan Yew, the man credited with building modern Singapore from a small backwater city-state and strategic port into an industrial and economic powerhouse since its separation from Malaysia in 1965 passed today to glory to join his ancestors —Singapore is one of the world’s most efficient and prosperous international business centres.
He was once the subject of sharp criticisms from human-rights groups for his authoritarian ways and intolerance of political dissent. However, as his economic vision and decisions bore fruit evidenced by the dramatic improvement in living standards over a generation, he became widely acknowledged one of the world’s most respected senior statesmen. RIP
Some selected quotes:
- I’m not guided by what Human Rights Watch says. I am not interested in ratings by Freedom House or whatever. At the end of the day, is Singapore society better or worse off? That’s the test.― Lee Kuan Yew
- “To straddle the middle ground and win elections, we have to be in charge of the political agenda. This can only be done by not being beaten in the argument with our critics. They complain that I come down too hard on their arguments. But wrong ideas have to be challenged before they influence public opinion and make for problems. Those who try to be clever at the expense of the government should not complain if my replies are as sharp as their criticisms.” ― Lee Kuan Yew, From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000
- “When you’re Singapore’s leader and your existence depends on performance – extraordinary performance, better than your competitors – when that performance disappears because the system on which it’s been based becomes eroded, then you’ve lost everything… I try to tell the younger generation that and they say the old man is playing the same record, we’ve heard it all before. I happen to know how we got here and I know how we can unscramble it.” – On one freak election result ruining Singapore” ― Lee Kuan Yew
- “The task of the leaders must be to provide or create for them a strong framework within which they can learn, work hard, be productive and be rewarded accordingly. And this is not easy to achieve.” ― Lee Kuan Yew, The Singapore Story: Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew