Lee Kuan Yew
Paul Chong Friday 6 August 2021
Lee Kuan Yew when addressing an audience in Cambridge was known to have said: “MacMillan your Prime Minister did not get a Double First in Cambridge, but I did”.
Cambridge was where Lee Kuan Yew topped his cohort with a rare double starred-first-class honours in law.
That put him up tops among all leaders of the world. His leadership is beyond all compare.
He was a young man in a hurry, always on the go, beaming with brilliant ideas. In 1959, at the age of 35, he led the PAP (People’s Action Party)
to victory in the Legislative Assembly elections and became Singapore’s first Prime Minister.
Lee Kuan Yew was the brilliant politician & national leader who led Singapore from colony to nationhood, and served as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1990.
Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam College paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, calling him the most significant statesman to graduate from the school.
He was born in 1923 in Singapore, studied at Raffles Institution & Raffles College, and proceeded to Cambridge to read for a law degree, graduating in 1949 with a double First Class and a star for “special distinction.” He returned to Singapore to practice law in the well known firm, Laycock and Ong.
He was the founder and Secretary General of the People’s Action Party (PAP) from 1954 to 1992. He entered politics as Legislative Assemblyman for the constituency of Tanjong Pagar in 1955. In 1959, at the age of 35, he led the PAP to victory in the Legislative Assembly elections and became Singapore’s first Prime Minister. In 1990, he retired from the Prime Ministership and was succeeded by Goh Chok Tong. Mr Lee became Senior Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.
When his son Lee Siang Loong succeeded Goh Chok Tong as Prime Minister in 2004, Lee Kuan Yew served as the son’s Mentor without interfering in his son’s administration.
Lee Siang Loong is equally as bright as his father. The second son Siang Yang served as an army general, while his daughter Wei Ling is a specialist doctor. Lee Kuan Yew married Kwa Geok Choo, similarly brilliant, a Queen’s Scholar & the first Malayan woman to gain a First Class Honours at Cambridge, a feat she achieved in just two years. Together, they formed the legal practice of Lee & Lee.
I first saw Lee Kuan Yew in person when he came to address us in 1963 at the University of Malaya in Pantai Valley, Kuala Lumpur. At the political forum & brain storming session which was chaired by Professor Wang Gungwu, Lee Kuan Yew showed his communication skill & towered above all other leaders & politicians. As a great communicator, he captured your mind, heart & soul . . . for he could easily & eloquently rattled off in English, Mandarin, Malay, Indian & Hokkien dialect. Professor Wang Gungwu, eloquent as he is, his style is more palatable to the academics.
In 1965, when the Federation of Malaysia under the UMNO leadership ousted out Lee Kuan Yew from Malaysia, he literally cried . . . a cry more significantly for the fate of Malaysia. He knew then that the Malay leadership was pursuing a hidden racial agenda. Lee Kuan Yew was moving too fast & fast gaining popularity with his brilliant concept of “Malaysian Malaysia”. Politically, the Malay leadership foresaw this danger of movement against their hidden agenda, especially with added Chinese population of Singapore, the combined Chinese voids would be disastrous to the Malays.
Now what is happening to Malaysia with a bunch of good for nothing politicians who are all thieves & crooks . . . the most notorious are Tun Dr Mahathir Kutty (his Indian father’s surname) & Najib of 1MDB heist.
Lee Kuan Yew over the Causeway built & developed the impoverished little island state without any natural resources developing a third world British colony to a first world economy . . . all achieved within one generation, a feat unsurpassed by any other nations globally. He was reputed to say either he amassed wealth as a leader or prosper Singapore as a nation. He forewent having his name in Forbes.
People ask whether Lee Kuan Yew could work the same magic for America or India. Well directly or indirectly he was in some ways responsible for China phenomenal growth. When Deng Xiaoping visited Singapore in 1978, he was taken aback by the tiny nation’s prosperity. In the conversation that ensued between him & Lee Kuan Yew, the latter made it known that the Singaporeans were mainly descendants from the lowest strata of Chinese stock. The elite class who didn’t need to migrate all remained in China. If Singapore could achieve it, China could prove to be even greater. Well he rest is history.
Lee Kuan Yew’s ideas are many & enduring & they are all studied & put to practice through Lee Kuan Yew’s School of Public Policy, established under the capable chairmanship of Professor Wang Gungwu of National University of Singapore. The first Dean of the School Professor Kishore Mahbubani did a wonderful job.
Lee Kuan Yew’s beacon is shinning brighter & brighter. His enduring ideas & policy will grow from strength to strength.
In conclusion, I would certainly urge you to watch & listen to Lee Kuan Yew on many available YouTube videos. Foreign journalists just love to interview him & how he would mock those foreign interviewers who thought they could trick him, got out of line or trying to put him in a spot.
Lee Kuan Yew’s name still lives on though he passed on at age 92 on 23 March 2015. He will always be remembered. Will there ever be another future like him?