TRANSCRIPT OF MINISTER MENTOR LEE KUAN YEW’S INTERVIEW WITH MARK JACOBSON FROM NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ON 6 JULY 2009 (FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE JAN 2010 EDITION)

 Q: “So when, don’t take this the wrong way, but when you decided to close the Chinese stream education and the college, what was the rationale behind that and do you ever regret doing that?”
Mr Lee Kuan Yew : “No, I regret not doing it faster becaus…e politically, if there’d been a violent electoral protest in the next elections because they’re so wedded to the idea that language means, culture means, life means everything. But I’m a pragmatist and you can’t make a living with the Chinese language in Singapore. The first duty of the government is to be able to feed its people, to feed its people in a little island. There’s no hinterland and no farming, you have got to trade and you have got to do something to get people buy your goods or services or get people to come here and manufacture themselves, export, ready-made markets and multinationals which I stumbled on when I went to Harvard for a term in 1968 and I said oh, this could solve my unemployment problem. So we brought the semiconductors factories here and one started, the whole herd came and we became a vast centre for production of computers and computer peripherals. But they all speak English, multinationals from Japan, Europe, whatever European country they come from, they speak English. So Chinese-educated were losing out and they were disgruntled because they got the poorer jobs and lesser pay. So eventually our own Members of Parliament were Chinese-educated and graduates from the Chinese university said okay, we have got do something. We’re ruining these people’s careers. By that time, the university was also losing its good students and getting bum students. Because they took in poor students, they graduated them on lower marks and so the degree became valueless. So when you apply for a job with a Chinese university degree, you hide your degree and produce your school certificate. So I tried to change it from within, the Education Minister was Chinese-educated and English-educated to convert it from within because most of the teachers have American PhDs. So they did their thesis in English but they’ve forgotten their English as they’ve been teaching in Chinese, so it couldn’t be done. So I merged them with the English speaking university. Great unhappiness and dislocation for the first few years but when they graduated, we put it to them do you want your old university degree or you want English university degree? All opted for the English university degree. That settled it.”
 

Q: “I think that there is a lot of addiction in that, yes, there’s no doubt about it. Speaking of that, so what made you decide to have these casinos?”
Mr Lee Kuan Yew: “When I was a student in England, the only casino in Europe was in Monaco.”
 

…Q: “I remember that.”
Mr Lee Kuan Yew : “The younger ministers have said look, we must have a casino, otherwise, we are out of the circuit of this fast set that goes around the world, with F1 and so on. And it will increase the tourist trade because the casino will pay for all the shows. Otherwise, the shows are too expensive. So I’ve been resisting it and I’ve told the Prime Minister, I said no, no, don’t do that, you’ll bring mafias here and money laundering and all kinds of crime.”

Q: “I think it is a definite risk.”
 Mr Lee Kuan Yew “Then I see the British having casinos and Switzerland having casinos. I said God, the world has changed. If I don’t change, we’ll be out of business. So alright, we’ll put up two casinos, so obviously they are not going to target Singaporeans because there are not enough numbers for two casinos. So they got to bring them in from China, India and elsewhere and we have passed legislation to say that any family can ask for a ban on …”

Q: “A person from that family.”
Mr Lee Kuan Yew : “And the Singaporeans when they go in, they have got to pay $100.”

Q: “That doesn’t sound quite fair.”
 Mr Lee Kuan Yew “No, they are going, driving up to a place called Genting, Star Cruises come in and they go outside the territorial limit and they gamble. So I said you do that because I do not want to be blamed and the Prime Minister doesn’t want, and his Cabinet doesn’t want to be blamed for those who get addicted. And there will be those who will get addicted.”
 

Q: “During the 1960s and the 1970s, you ran a programme ‘Two is Enough’. Did the government succeed too well?”
Mr Lee Kuan Yew : “No, it has happened all over Asia. It has happened in Hong Kong, it has happened in Korea, they never had this Stop at …Two, it has happened in Japan, it is the education that the women and equal job opportunities. Once the women are educated, they have equal job opportunities, some of them earning as much if not more than men, there is a certain independence of choice. I mean they say what’s the hurry? Singlehood is no burden, my daughter is 55, unmarried, mother has been nagging her when she was in her 30s, she’s quite happy.”
 
Q: “I don’t want to take more of your time. Let me just ask you a couple more things. How would you like to be remembered?”
Mr Lee Kuan Yew : “I don’t think I can decide that. I live my life in accordance to what I think is worth doing. I never wan…ted to be in politics. I wanted to be a lawyer and make a good living, to be a good advocate but I was thrown into it as a result of all these political earthquakes that took place. So I was saddled with the responsibility and I just have to be responsible to get the place going. That’s all and I mean we’ve got here and I can’t decide what posterity is going to do. I studied law and in the law, the British said you can will yourself, you can will your property, the longest you can do it is life and lives in being and 21 years thereafter. After that, you can’t control your trust. So in my case, I can’t go that long. All I can do is to make sure that when I leave, the institutions are good, sound, clean, efficient and there’s a government in place which knows what it has got to do and is looking for a successive government of quality. That’s all I can do.”
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Let Us Be More Than A Nation Of Shopkeepers.

by Cheow-Seng Hoon Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11:13pmA people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. …..

Hi My Friend, You and I belong to the same generation judging by the photo of yourself you have put up. I was born when the Japs were raining bombs on Singapore. So you can guess how old I am.

Meanwhile you can assure yourself of one thing: you and I have lived through WW11. We have seen suffering and we’ve seen pain. We know what poverty means not form textbooks or over the TV. We understand poverty in the way the young  will never be able to. I don’t know about you, but my parents were poor when I was just a child. So I have tasted poverty. In our times as children, we have seen civil unrests in the form workers going on strikes and marching down the main Seranoon roads 3 abreast shouting slogans and singing revolutionary songs. We’ve seen inter-racial clashes, and Chinese Secondary School pupils defying the authorities by refusing to allow schools to function. They held sit-ins. We have seen gang-fights in the street and how brutal and gory these gangland wars were. Also we were witness to the life and death struggle against the Communists who wanted to take over Singapore. Some of our fellowmen were more than witnesses. Thay took part in the actual struggle. And before this we were treated very cruelly by the Japanese who conquered many parts of Southeast Asia. 

Yes my Friend, we have been there and we saw the ugly things that unfold before our eyes. We were  part of the Singapore Story, our Nation’s history. We also understand what it means to have the life of a Nation come to a complete halt for several weeks  because of racial unrests. In today’s terms several weeks’  of businesses lost would cost the Nation  billions of dollars. But because of all that we’ve beenthrough, we are the stronger for it. We may say we  led a richer, more meaningful and colourful life. We belong to the generations who can take painand suffering all at once. And so we are stronger and will prevail against all odds.

Once some members of the younger generations told me that the Government today  will have a tougher time ruling Singapore because the young of today, unlike their parents and grandparents,  are all very highly educated. They are able to challenge the Government and debate with them on many issues and so the Government cannot push them around.And they could make life very difficult for the Government if they were so inclined. Of the older generation they said they were either illiterate or semi-literate and so the Government of yesteryears had an easier time at governing Singapore. At this juncture I interrupted the one speaking and aked that they listen to several points I had to make: 

1. I told them the older generations had tasted more salt than they of the younger generations have eaten rice. I also said that in the riotous days of the mid 1950’s to the early 1970’s we struggled, sweat and toiled to help build the Singapore they  have today. I asked them where they were  then. One retorted  we were not born then. That precisely was the point, I told them. You were all still swimming somewhere. They looked puzzled and I thought it best to leave things for them to figure out. 

2. Concerning their point about the younger generation being much better educated and so the Government cannot run roughshod over them, I told them to remember that it was the older generations who had laid the foundation for Singapore’s properity so that the Government now could build enough schools to ensure that no child will miss the chance of a good education. I also differed with them on a critical point. I told them that being very literate was not to be very equated to being well educated. The younger generations today know the price of everthying but the value of nothing. I said that the older generations had a tradition of values and culture orally passed down to them. They were taught by their elders by example to be well-mannered, to know how to manage money and to be hardworking. They knew that there was no free lunch and one had to be prepared to work inorder to eat. The older generations also knew how to save for rainy days. In this sense of having good values and being willing to work hard to do their duties by their children, wife and their aged parents, they showed themselves to be well educated. So the young today may learn more things in school and spend more years learning, but have they become better people because of what they have been given in terms of very well facilitated schools, and the privilege of spending longer years in school. Knowing how to operate and apply all the modern technology to make sophisticated products do not make them better educated. They must have good values to be considered educated. Otherwise they are just being literate, and it is their parents and grandparents who could claim to be better educated. So being very literate does not translate into being well-educated. You are well educated only when you have good values,when you understand that as a person whether old or young, you have duties, responsibilities and obligations. You do not take things for granted and know how to show appreciation for the good things of life that you have been given. An educated person also knows his resposibilities to his/her Community and Country. The educated person knows what it means to be a good citizen, to co-operate with their fellowmen, work together in harmony, always ready to lend a helping hand, and, being caring and compassionate to the poor, the socially disadvantaged and the handicapped. So an educated person is a good fellowman, a good head of the family, a good and faithful friend, and, a dutiful and loyal citizen.

So, ..  my fellow Singaporean, rest assured that you are an enlightened citizen who knows how to put Country before Self. Whether or not you belong to any political party is of no consequence. You will be recognised not for the party you belong to but for what you are able to do for  Singapore, your Home and mine.

https://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/cheow-seng-ho/let-us-be-more-than-a-nation-of-shopkeepers/218003191593752

Comments collected from the net :

1.  […the Government today will have a tougher time ruling Singapore…]

This I concur.

But, NO, not becoz the older generation are illiterate and can be pushed around.
… …
It is tougher becoz the young today, for the very reason that they r more educated, THINK that they know best & thus DEMAND for what they DEEM is BEST.

It is tougher becoz the young today, has no value of gratitude. What is / has been done for them are being taken as their entitlement.

It is tougher becoz the young today, have parents who give in to all their demands, and they expect the same from the Govt.

It is tougher becoz the young today, are so influenced by the West – they long to be like the West – FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

It is an easier job to rule the older Singapore becoz the older generation are happy with just porridge & egg, while we may only be contented with Sakae Sushi.

I don’t blame the young completely. I mean, it is not their fault that they are born in this internet era. That, they may not even have used a coin phone before. Or a camera which needs to be loaded with a roll of film.

What is it that the young lack that leads them to behave how they are behaving? VALUES, I personally think.

The problem is, children today will be parents of tomorrow. And if the children are not taught values, how then do we expect them to pass down to their next generation?

Perhaps it is high time that, we (GEN X) parents, the society, the Govt start to invest more time / energy / resources into cultivating the good morals of our next generation, lest they become an even more educated ungrateful foolish lot.

2.   Better educated for many of them and they start to think and complain. But how on earth they are better educated if it hasnt been the credit of a good government which has long been making sure Singaporeans receive adequate education? Sometimes it is quite a joke to see some of the cynical comments from some of the people who write on the net so liberally and proudly, why? Is this what better educated Singaporeans supposed to be? Lacking simple social behavior or respect for the elders is coming from people who are nurtured in this country. Better educated does not equate to value for some of the people.

3.   As Mr Lee Kuan Yew had said, “we haven’t become brighter as a population, we have just become more educated.”

4. …… I think it is perfectly alright for different opinions from people, we are all different, so as a society is alright to have different choices of their prefered politicians or political parties, however, there should be some base line that Singaporeans should observe, crossing over the base line could mean disharmony or splitting of the nation, worst potentially country not moving forward due to mistrust and fights among the people. We are at this successful level both in the region and globally, obviously it has become ‘attractive’ to some other politicians, some popped up from nowhere, to find easy path or even success now if they take over, it is like if a company is already doing well, whichever CEO takes over has an easy task. So it is now ‘ power play ‘, those who are on the sideline hungry to eat up the whole fat meat will continue to find ways and means to over throw the current CEO.

 
 

Lee Kuan Yew launches Chinese edition of Hard Truths, turns 88

by REACHSingapore on Saturday, September 17, 2011 at 10:30am
By Andrea Ong , Rachel Chang 

There were two reasons for former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to celebrate on Friday. It was his 88th birthday, and the launch of the Chinese edition of his best-selling book, Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going. At the book launch attended by 200 guests at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront hotel, Mr Lee spoke about the importance of bilingualism in Singapore society.

English has connected the country to the world, and Mandarin has rooted Chinese Singaporeans to their culture and history, he said.

Then, the assembled guests sang him Happy Birthday in both languages, and he was presented with a print of a black-and-white picture of him and his family in 1965. It was a token of appreciation from the Singapore Press Holdings, whose subsidiary Straits Times Press published both editions of Hard Truths.

Taken by a Life magazine photographer, it showed Mr and Mrs Lee and their young children – Hsien Loong at age 13, Wei Ling at age 10 and Hsien Yang at age 8 – outside their Oxley Road home.

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reprinted with permission
https://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/reachsingapore/lee-kuan-yew-launches-chinese-edition-of-hard-truths-turns-88/10150289712798795

Netizens set up Facebook page to defend PAP

Published on Sep 16, 2011  By Leonard Lim

After two divisive elections, a Facebook page has been set up by pro-establishment Singaporeans in what appears to be a first major citizen-led response to anti-government sites.

Called ‘Fabrications about the PAP’, the two-week-old page has garnered more than 340 ‘likes’ so far. Its declared mission: ‘To re-present the misrepresentation of information in the real light with facts.’

Among the topics it has wrestled with: whether Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim’s son will serve national service and whether former minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew called Islam a ‘venomous’ religion.

Both were among a cache of WikiLeaks cables made public a few weeks ago, and prompted swift rebuttals from Dr Yaacob and Mr Lee. The Facebook page reproduces the WikiLeaks cables and official rebuttals.

http://www.straitstimes.com/BreakingNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_713493.html

Happy Birthday, dearest Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Singapore survived and become a great city state because of a great statesman, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. Words cannot express our gratitude to you, our dearest beloved Singapore founding father, for all that you, Mrs Lee and PAP have done for us and Singapore. How blessed and fortunate we Singaporeans are to have you and PAP governing the country.
因为有您,才有今天的新加坡,身为新加坡人,我们何其有幸啊!!感恩您,我們最敬愛的國父。
May you be blessed with longevity and good health always.

:

Comments collected from the net –  Charlie’s Rose interview :

1.  several third world countries could do with similar leadership and direction …Nigeria may be one

2. My applause and best wishes for Mr. Lee. I hope the world will see statesmen of his calibre again in the future.

3. I am Singaporean. I am thankful for the education that Singapore has provided me. Because of it, I am comfortable conversing in English with people of other countries. In my job I have to travel; I am grateful for the quality of life in Singapore.

Charlie asked Mr Lee Kuan Yew what he thinks about when he contemplates about death. Mr Lee Kuan Yew answered he asks himself if he has given those who depended on his decisions a better life. Mr Lee gave himself a B+. I think it is fair to say many Singaporeans would give him an A+.

Thank you, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. I hope I have an opportunity to say that to you in person one day.

4. I loved this old man. We would have a better world if we had more leaders around of the caliber of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew.

5. Why are there so few leaders of uncommon good sense like Mr Lee Kuan Yew? Young Singaporeans working and traveling outside their country can be easily identified by their informed intelligence, their sop…histication and their charming civility — always. Senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew can take pride in that and quietly give himself an A+ (as I once got on a political science term paper on him).

6. This gentleman is something else. Not many people have achieved what he has and introduced in Singapore. When someone does an in-depth biography on him and his father it will be some read. What a great way t…o spend an hour listening to Charlie’s interview with him.

This man has long been renowned for his crisp opinions, thoughts, organization skills, diplomatic skills and strategic mind. This with the ability to express himself weaving a great story reminds me of a Reagan, a Churchill, a Roosevelt. World leaders have spoken of him with admiration, respect and praise for many years now. He is an example that there is hope for great leadership in the world which we desperately need.

Thank you Charlie for bringing him to us again to enjoy and learn, we need more program hours like this.

Nicole Tan of AWARE Comments on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s Advice to a Female NTU Graduate Student on the Doctoral Programme.

by Cheow-Seng Ho on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 12:55am
 Nicole Tan Commented on Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s advice to a graduate student doing her doctoral programme that perhaps she should also think about getting married and becoming a mother after her studies. Nicole remarked that Mr. Lee’s remarks contradicted what Halimah Yacob had said about the status of women is society.

Obviously Nicole Tan is not on the same page as Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. While the latter, the foremost founding member of Modern Singapore is rightly concerned about Singaporeans not being able to reproduce to replace themselves and the ramifications of such a trend for the future of Singapore. Nicole takes a very provincial view and and is more concerned about women’s right and place in society. Of course we should view women as equal to men. But while women and men may be treated on par socially and in their workplace, surely they are physiologically different for a good reason. If only men could also conceive and give birth to babies, then the problem might be much more manageable. Between them a couple could decide on how many children to have and take turns to give birth. But that is not to be because men and women are formed differently. And alas, as their physiological differences dictate, it falls on the women to do the childbearing while the men do their needful and then wait for the outcome of his effort to the joint enterprise.

 Also, while Nicole is not wrong to insist that women should not be stereotyped, does she understand why childbearing should be an issue of such great concern to Mr. Lee and the Government? I remember that when Singapore’s population was about 1.5 million and the number of unemployed people stood at 75,000, the then PM, Mr Lee Kuan Yew himself was quite perturbed by the size of the population and worried about Singapore being overpopulated. That was what led him to decide on encouraging newly married couples to each have no more than two children. But now we have a population of 3 million citizens and one million non-citizens, yet Mr. Lee worries about Singapore being underpopulated. And the aim of the Government now is to have population grow to 6 million. Now does not the situation seem very puzzling for the commonman? Perhaps Nicole could weigh in here and share with us her thoughts on this matter as I have portrayed above. 

https://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/cheow-seng-ho/nicole-tan-of-aware-comments-on-mr-lee-kuan-yews-advice-to-a-female-ntu-graduate/216712821722789

Mr Lee Kuan Yew on…

 Published on Sep 15, 2011

Whether he ever dreamt that Singapore would become what it is today when he first became prime minister in 1959:

‘What I did was to catch every wind that came along… we used all the forces that came our way to …our advantage.’

Whether there is a trade-off between economic development and democracy, and how to handle Singaporeans who, having fulfilled their basic needs, now want greater participation in the political process:

‘If you don’t have economic development, what democracy can you have except that of contention over your parlous state? You must have cognizance of Maslow’s five levels of needs…

Well, conditions change after a long period of quiet confident growth. A generation that grows up in a period of affluence believes that we have arrived. As the saying goes, a First World parliament must have a First World position. So the restlessness, whether that leads to better governance, I’m not able to say, I think we’ll wait and see how constructive the opposition can be, or will be.’

Whether there is a systemic problem with the type of government that habitually runs into budget deficits:

‘Well, when you have populist democracy, to win votes you got to give more and more. And to beat your opponent in the next election, you promise to give more away. So it’s a never-ending process of auctions, at a cost that’s paid for by the next generation… I’ve been careful to make sure that Singapore doesn’t go that way, and I hope the Prime Minister and his Cabinet will make sure that Singapore veers on the side of prudence and balances its budget, and not raid its reserves…

Where does the money come from? Not from taxes but from our reserves. Then, you got to see the President and persuade him to release the money. And I hope the President will know that if you release the money this time, there will be many more releases and you will soon deplete the reserves.’

His vision for Singapore going forward:

‘No, the vision has got to be your vision, not my vision. I’ve lived my life. I’m 88. I’m strolling into the sunset. Maybe I’ll stumble towards the end. But you have to have a vision on the kind of Singapore you want. And you got to crystallise that and get your leaders to adopt your vision. It’s not for me to tell you what vision you should have.

I had a simpler problem – mainly raising living standards. Now you got a more complex situation – many highly educated and highly combative people who believe that we must have more competition, more pressure on the government. So you want to have an opposition. Finally, you will end up with a two-party system and you’ll become like the Europeans or Americans. I think that’s not a good development for Singapore. I hope that it remains just as a competitive opposition and not one where eventually the public says, let’s have a two-party government, believing that it will be better. I do not think so. Amongst other reasons, I do not believe Singapore can produce two top-class teams. We haven’t got the talent to produce two top-class teams.’

Comments collected from the net :

1. LKY convictions remain. He is not swayed by the wind although he catch every wind that came along. I have great respect for this man.