The demise of Lee Kuan Yew robbed Singapore, and indeed the world, a great leader. His death at Singapore General Hospital on Monday, March 23 2015 is characterized by far-arching political overtones.
An orator conversant with English, Mandarin and Malay, Lee Kuan Yew obtained a First Class (honours) in law from Cambridge University. He is regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern Singapore.
Were it not for political tensions and racial strife, his efforts would have led to a merger between Singapore and Malaysia. In addition, Lee Kuan Yew managed to govern the country for about thirty years using autocratic measures for political stability. He is credited for turning Singapore around.
Under his watch, Singapore grew from an underdeveloped colonial outpost bereft of natural resources to an Asian Tiger economy even under single dominant-party control.
His political philosophy and worldview reverberates in his famous quotes:
"Between being loved and being feared, I have always believed Machiavelli was right. If nobody is afraid of me, I'm meaningless."
"If you are a troublemaker... it's our job to politically destroy you... Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac."
"We have to lock up people, without trial, whether they are communists, whether they are language chauvinists, whether they are religious extremists. If you don't do that, the country would be in ruins."
"If you don't include your women graduates in your breeding pool and leave them on the shelf, you would end up a more stupid society... So what happens? There will be less bright people to support dumb people in the next generation. That's a problem."
"So when the graduate man does not want to marry a graduate woman, I tell him he's a fool, stupid. You marry a non-graduate, you're going to have problems, some children bright, some not bright. You'll be tearing your hair out. you can't miss."
“I had to do some nasty things, locking fellows up without trial. I'm not saying everything I did was right. But everything I did was for an honorable purpose.”
"My definition of an educated man is a man who never stops learning and wants to learn. I am not interested in whether a man has a Ph.D or not, or an M.A. for that matter, or a diploma. Mao never had one, neither had Khrushchev, nor Stalin."
"If you want to be popular, do not try to be popular all the time. Popular government does not mean that you do popular things all the time. We do not want to be unpopular or to do unpopular things. But when they are necessary, they will be done. Popular representative government means that within each five-year period, your policies have demonstrably worked and won popular support. That is what it means. And if we flinch from the unpopular, we are in deep trouble."