Lee Kuan Yew – The Sage of Singapore

“Try and get a government on the cheap and you end up with a cheap government. … First job of a government is to equalize opportunities, right? You equalize results, you’re done for.”

It’s heartbreaking that hundreds of millions of Indians have to needlessly endure extreme poverty because of the insanely retarded policies of Gandhi, Nehru and the rest of the worthless bunch. If only, lord if only, India had the good fortune to get a leader like Lee Kuan Yew.

LKY - The Grand Master's InsightsLKY had observed India closely. I tend to agree with his opinion about the trouble with India. Here are a few excerpts from a compilation of his writings, interviews and speeches. “Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China,  the United States, and the World.” The book was published in 2013. LKY passed away in March 2015.

So here you have excerpts squared — excerpts from a collection of excerpts. From the foreword[1]: 

“By far the smallest country in Southeast Asia, Singapore seemed destined to become a client state of more powerful neighbors, if indeed it could preserve its independence at all. Lee thought otherwise. His vision was of a state that would not simply survive, but prevail by excelling. Superior intelligence, discipline, and ingenuity would substitute for resources.”

“When Lee took over, per capita income was about $400 a year; it is now more than $50,000. He inspired his polyglot population to become the intellectual and technical center of the Asia-Pacific. Because of his leadership, a medium-sized city has become a significant international and economic player, especially in fostering multilateral transpacific ties.”

From the preface:

Lee Kuan Yew … took a poor, corrupt city-state and built a modern nation whose citizens now have incomes higher than those of most Americans. Not only as a thinker, but also as a primary actor, he knows about transformation.

In international affairs, no individual has been more eagerly sought out, more regularly consulted, and more carefully listened to by a generation of American, Chinese, and other world leaders than the “sage of Singapore.”

On China, to the question, “Will China become a democracy?”:

No. China is not going to become a liberal democracy; if it did, it would collapse. Of that, I am quite sure, and the Chinese intelligentsia also understands that.

I do not believe you can impose on other countries standards which are alien and totally disconnected with their past. So to ask China to become a democracy, when in its 5,000 years of recorded history it never counted heads; all rulers ruled by right of being the emperor, and if you disagree, you chop off heads, not count heads.

Note that that was not the full answer. It’s just an excerpt from an excerpt, as I mentioned before. Now about India. Chapter 4 of the book is “The Future of India.” 

What constraints does India’s culture impose on its longterm prospects?

India is not a real country. Instead, it is 32 separate nations that happen to be arrayed along the British rail line. The British came, conquered, established the Raj, incorporated under their rule an amalgam of 175 princely states, and ruled them with 1,000 Englishmen and several tens of thousands of Indians brought up to behave like English.

I am against a society which has no sense of nurturing its best to rise to the top. I am against a feudal society where your birth decides where you stay in the pecking order. The example of that, par excellence, is India’s caste system.

India is an established civilization. Nehru and Gandhi had a chance to do for India what I did for Singapore because of their enormous prestige, but they could not …

What are India’s long-term economic challenges and likely performance?

Unless India moves away from its mindset, it will be a case of lost opportunities…It has to build super highways, introduce super fast trains, and build bigger and better airports. It will also have to accept that to be a developed nation, it has to move its people from the villages to urban areas, as China is doing.15

After Indira Gandhi’s son died, I said to her…“Take this chance, open up India, change the policy. Look at Indians overseas, see how well they are doing in England, in Singapore, all over the world. You are confining and conscribing them by your policies, by your bureaucracy.” She told me: “I cannot do it. This is this. That is the way India is”…I did not see anybody else. She had the gumption to declare a state of emergency, and by the time you have the guts to do that, you should have the guts to change the system and let Indian enterprise break out. So that was when I became resigned that India was going to go the slow path. And at that time, I saw China rising…breaking away from communism. So I knew that the race would not be an equal one. I gave up.

Nehru was an idiot. And also a hypocrite. I note that to draw a sharp contrast between LKY and Nehru. Anyway, back to LKY:

Policies of self-reliance are no longer relevant in an interdependent world with fast-changing technology…A second relic of India’s historical legacy is its preoccupation with fair distribution…To redistribute all the gains in the early stages of growth will slow down the capital accumulation necessary to generate further growth. Wealth springs from entrepreneurship, which means risk taking…The only way to raise the living conditions of the poor is to increase the size of the pie. Equality of incomes gives no incentive to the resourceful and the industrious to outperform and be competitive.29

The lack of an economically educated electorate has made it easy for India’s leaders to engage in economic populism, …

LKY did not tolerate idiocy. 

There are three Indian schools in Singapore. There were going to be more, but I said no. You either go to a Singapore school or you go back to India, because…even if they [Indians] stay on as permanent residents and do national service, they are not readily absorbed because they have been oriented toward Indian culture…The textbooks in these schools are all India-oriented, the knowledge is Indian, the sentiments, and everything. That is the problem.

In 1974, LKY said this to J. R. D. Tata:

I have a selfish motive in wanting India to emerge as early as possible as a major economic power in world politics. If India does not emerge, Asia will be submerged.

Chapter 5 of the book is titled “The Future of Islamic Extremism.” 

We are faced with a new situation, never faced before in the history of civilization. We have a group of people willing to destroy themselves to inflict damage on others.

What role does Islam itself play in fueling Islamic extremism?

Muslims want to assimilate us. It is one-way traffic…They have no confidence in allowing choice.

Samuel Huntington sent me a piece he was writing in Foreign Affairs called the “Clash of Civilizations.” When I saw him, I said, look, I agree with you only where the Muslims are concerned, only there…Hinduism, Chinese Confucianism or Communism, Japanese Shintoism, they are secular really. They know that to progress, you must master science and technology…But the Muslims believe that if they master the Qu’ran and they are prepared to do all that Muhammad has prescribed, they will succeed. So, we can expect trouble from them and so, it happened.

Alright, that’s it for now. I have written quite a bit over the years about LKY. I never feel sad when people die but I felt genuinely sad when LKY died in 2015.

Related posts: Goodbye, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Lee Kuan Yew: An Inteview. And a series that I wrote: Lee Kuan Yew on India.


[1] The foreword is by Henry Kissinger. He is a mass-murdering war criminal. As has become the fashion, he was appropriately awarded the Noble “Peace” prize. The Nobel “Peace” prize was also awarded to another warmonger who before he assumed the office of POTUS in anticipation that he would start a few wars. Kissinger is pure evil. But it is impossible to deny that he is an evil genius. He’s still around at 98 years of age.



Author: Atanu Dey


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