Lee Kuan Yew 16.9.23 – 23.3.15

Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew has died.

Lee Kuan Yew, the statesman who transformed Singapore from a small port city into a wealthy global hub, has died at the age of 91.

Mr Lee served as the city-state’s prime minister for 31 years, and continued to work in government until 2011.

Highly respected as the architect of Singapore’s prosperity, Mr Lee was also criticised for his iron grip on power.

Under him freedom of speech was tightly restricted and political opponents were targeted by the courts. . .

A charismatic and unapologetic figure, Mr Lee co-founded the People’s Action Party, which has governed Singapore since 1959, and was its first prime minister.

The Cambridge-educated lawyer led Singapore through merger with, and then separation from, Malaysia – something that he described as a “moment of anguish”.

Speaking at a press conference after the split in 1965, he pledged to build a meritocratic, multi-racial nation.

But tiny Singapore – with no natural resources – needed a new economic model.

“We knew that if we were just like our neighbours, we would die,” Mr Lee told the New York Times in 2007.

“Because we’ve got nothing to offer against what they have to offer. So we had to produce something which is different and better than what they have.”

Tight controls

Through investment in schooling, Mr Lee set about creating a highly-educated work force fluent in English.

He reached out to foreign investors to turn Singapore into a manufacturing hub, introducing incentives to attract foreign firms.

The city-state grew wealthy and later developed into a major financial centre. But building a nation came with tight controls – and one of Mr Lee’s legacies was a clampdown on the press.

These restrictions remain today. . .

The investment in education and welcome to foreign investment both paid big dividends.

His methods can be questioned but there is no doubt that he transformed Singapore, taking it from a poor island with few resources to an economic powerhouse.

2 Responses to Lee Kuan Yew 16.9.23 – 23.3.15

  1. Andrei says:

    His methods can be questioned but there is no doubt that he transformed Singapore, taking it from a poor island with few resources to an economic powerhouse.

    Maybe but it wasn’t a “poor Island” – it has been a strategic Port City for several hundred years.

    And while the majority of goods involved in international commerce travel by sea will remain so.


  2. Richard says:

    This is obit from The Telegraph- there will be many other in the coming days He ran a benign dictatorship if there is any such thing. I worked/visited from the 60’s-90’s. Astonishing transformation in terms of doing business- never came across any corruption- clearly it must have been there, One of the things I miss is the Satay market close to the central bus terminal – I cannot eat Satay without the memory of the smell of diesel -Greens would have a fit

    Less supportive of Lee is this obit


    One memorable/bizarre piece is this:
    “Lee worried that the nation’s Indians and Malays boasted a higher birthrate than the Chinese, that Chinese men tended to marry less intelligent women and that educated women often did not marry or had fewer babies, diluting the quality of the elite’s sperm bank. He organised cruises on “love boats” for graduates, and at a dinner for the visiting Princess Anne, he propounded his ideas on this subject, whereupon the Princess told him, “I really don’t know what to say to you, Mr Prime Minister. All I can tell you is that it doesn’t work with horses.”

    To his credit he did bring stability to the region


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