Monday, March 23, 2015

Commander of his stage: Lee Kuan Yew | The Economist

Commander of his stage: Lee Kuan Yew | The Economist: "THERE was no vainglory in the title of the first volume of Lee Kuan Yew’s memoirs: “The Singapore Story”. Few leaders have so embodied and dominated their countries: Fidel Castro, perhaps, and Kim Il Sung, in their day. But both of those signally failed to match Mr Lee’s achievement in propelling Singapore “From Third World to First” (as the second volume is called). Moreover, he managed it against far worse odds: no space, beyond a crowded little island; no natural resources; and, as an island of polyglot immigrants, not much shared history. The search for a common heritage may have been why, in the 1990s, Mr Lee’s Singapore championed “Asian values”. By then, Singapore was the most Westernised place in Asia.

Mr Lee himself, whose anglophile grandfather had added “Harry” to his Chinese name, was once called by George Brown, a British foreign secretary, “the best bloody Englishman east of Suez”. He was proud of his success in colonial society. He was a star student in pre-war Singapore, and, after an interlude during the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1942-45, again at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Cambridge. He and his wife, Kwa Geok Choo, both got firsts in law."

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