Lee Kuan Yew quotes

Lee Kuan Yew photo
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Lee Kuan Yew

Birthdate: 16. September 1923
Date of death: 23. March 2015

Lee Kuan Yew CH GCMG SPMJ , commonly referred to by his initials LKY, was the first Prime Minister of Singapore, governing for three decades. Lee is recognised as the nation's founding father, with the country described as transitioning from the "third world to first world in a single generation" under his leadership.

After attending the London School of Economics, Lee graduated from Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, with double starred-first-class honours in law. In 1950, he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and practised law until 1959. Lee co-founded the People's Action Party in 1954 and was its first secretary-general until 1992, leading the party to eight consecutive victories. After Lee chose to step down as Prime Minister in 1990, he served as Senior Minister under his successor, Goh Chok Tong until 2004, then as Minister Mentor until 2011, under his son Lee Hsien Loong. In total, Lee held successive ministerial positions for 56 years. He continued to serve his Tanjong Pagar constituency for nearly 60 years as a Member of Parliament until his death in 2015. From 1991, he helmed the 5-member Tanjong Pagar GRC, and was returned unopposed for a record five elections.

Lee campaigned for Britain to relinquish its colonial rule, and eventually attained through a national referendum to merge with other former British territories to form Malaysia in 1963. But racial strife and ideological differences led to its separation to become a sovereign city-state two years later. With overwhelming parliamentary control at every election, Lee oversaw Singapore's transformation from a stagnant British crown colony with a natural deep harbour to an Asian Tiger economy. In the process, he forged a system of meritocratic, highly effective and incorrupt government and civil service. Many of his policies are now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Lee eschewed populist policies in favor of pragmatic long-term social and economic measures. With meritocracy and multiracialism as governing principles, Lee made English the common language to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the West, whilst mandating bilingualism in schools to preserve students' mother tongue and ethnic identity. Lee's rule was criticised, for curtailing civil liberties and bringing libel suits against political opponents. He argued that such disciplinary measures were necessary for political stability, which together with rule of law, were essential for economic progress.

On 23 March 2015, Lee Kuan Yew died of pneumonia, at 91. In a week of national mourning, 1.7 million residents and guests paid tribute to him at his lying-in-state at Parliament House and at community tribute sites around the island.

„… If you can't think because you can't chew, try a banana“

—  Lee Kuan Yew

2000. Lee was responding to a BBC reporter who suggested that Singapore's draconian laws (including the ban on chewing gum) could stifle the people's creativity. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/820234.stm
2000s

„I make no apologies that the PAP is the Government and the Government is the PAP.“

—  Lee Kuan Yew

(quoted in Milne and Mauzy 1990, p. 85) http://books.google.com/books?id=gzdbfu55IGgC&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=I+make+no+apologies+that+the+PAP+is+the+Government+and+the+Government+is+the&source=bl&ots=S0zsvGrdSE&sig=BdKP_Lx7rh0f0xG6Y0dmn8TgGWc&hl=en&sa=X&ei=lNjuUqqGD8PlsATSi4DACw&ved=0CCcQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=I%20make%20no%20apologies%20that%20the%20PAP%20is%20the%20Government%20and%20the%20Government%20is%20the&f=false
1980s

„I have said this on many a previous occasion: that had the mix in Singapore been different, had it been 75% Indians, 15% Malays and the rest Chinese, it would not have worked. Because they believe in the politics of contention, of opposition. But because the culture was such that the populace sought a practical way out of their difficulties, therefore it has worked.“

—  Lee Kuan Yew

[President's Address, Debate on President's Address, Parliament of Singapore, http://sprs.parl.gov.sg/search/topic.jsp?currentTopicID=00062986-ZZ&currentPubID=00069476-ZZ&topicKey=00069476-ZZ.00062986-ZZ_1%2Bid005_19850301_S0005_T00051-president-address%2B, March 01 1985, January 16 2015]
1980s

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„What if Mr Mah is unable to defend himself, he deserves to lose? No country in the world has given its citizens an asset as valuable as what we've given every family here. And if you say that policy is at fault, you must be daft.“

—  Lee Kuan Yew

when asked about a Straits Times report that cited keen opposition interest in contesting Tampines GRC, which National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan helms, so that they can raise the affordability of public housing as an election issue. Prime Minister's Office, January 28 2010 http://www.pmo.gov.sg/content/pmosite/mediacentre/inthenews/ministermentor/2010/January/fewer_foreign_workersinfiveyearssaysmm.html
2010s

„Freedom of the press, freedom of the news media, must be subordinated to the overriding needs of the integrity of Singapore, and to the primacy of purpose of an elected government.“

—  Lee Kuan Yew

Address To The General Assembly Of The International Press Institute At Helsinki Wednesday, 9th June, 1971 http://journalism.sg/lee-kuan-yews-1971-speech-on-the-press/
1970s

„Of course there are Chinese millionaires in big cars and big houses. Is it the answer to make a few Malay millionaires with big cars and big houses? How does telling a Malay bus driver that he should support the party of his Malay director (UMNO) and the Chinese bus conductor to join another party of his Chinese director (MCA) - how does that improve the standards of the Malay bus driver and the Chinese bus conductor who are both workers in the same company? If we delude people into believing that they are poor because there are no Malay rights or because opposition members oppose Malay rights, where are we going to end up? You let people in the kampongs believe that they are poor because we don't speak Malay, because the government does not write in Malay, so he expects a miracle to take place in 1967 (the year Malay would become the national and sole official language in Malaysia). The moment we all start speaking Malay, he is going to have an uplift in the standard of living, and if doesn't happen, what happens then? Meanwhile, whenever there is a failure of economic, social and educational policies, you come back and say, oh, these wicked Chinese, Indian and others opposing Malay rights. They don't oppose Malay rights. They, the Malay, have the right as Malaysian citizens to go up to the level of training and education that the more competitive societies, the non-Malay society, has produced. That is what must be done, isn't it? Not to feed them with this obscurantist doctrine that all they have got to do is to get Malay rights for the few special Malays and their problem has been resolved.“

—  Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew in the Parliament of Malaysia, 1965 http://maddruid.com/?p=645
1960s

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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