PM Modi recalls Lee Kuan Yew: What were Singapore founder's views on ‘freebies’?

By | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar
Sep 16, 2023 04:32 PM IST

Singapore marks centenary birth anniversary of founding PM Lee Kuan Yew, PM Modi pays tribute to his visionary leadership.

Singapore marks the centenary birth anniversary of its founding prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew on Saturday acknowledging his pivotal role in the island nation's extraordinary development. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tributes, recognising Lee's visionary leadership.

Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew(Reuters)
Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew(Reuters)

"My tributes to the great Lee Kuan Yew on the special occasion of his 100th birth anniversary. His visionary leadership played a key role in Singapore's transformation. His foresight and relentless pursuit of excellence are a testament to his personal greatness. His work continues to inspire leaders worldwide," Modi wrote on social media platform X.

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ALSO READ: Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew’s Punjab link

Life and career of Lee Kuan Yew | 5 key points

1. Educational journey: Born in Singapore in 1923, Lee Kuan Yew pursued his education at Raffles College during the Japanese occupation and later at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, earning first-class honors in law in 1949.

2. Legal career: Lee was called to the Bar at Middle Temple, London, in 1950 and practised law in Singapore while also serving as a legal advisor to various trade unions.

3. Founding the PAP: In 1954, Lee played a foundational role in establishing the People's Action Party (PAP) in Singapore and served as its secretary-general until November 1992.

4. Prime ministerial stint: Lee became Singapore's prime minister in 1959 and continued in successive terms until he stepped down in November 1990. Subsequently, he held positions as senior minister and minister mentor.

5. Awards and honours: Lee received numerous awards and decorations during his lifetime, including the First Class Order of the Rising Sun from Japan (1967), Order of the Companions of Honour (C.H.) (1970), and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (G.C.M.G) (1972).

He also received honours from other nations, including Indonesia and Brunei.

ALSO READ: Singapore PM's praise for country's new Indian-origin president

Lee Kuan Yew's speech viral on the internet

Ideology of Lee Kuan Yew - ‘Grand Master of Asia’

Lee's legacy elicits varied perspectives. He is celebrated for his pragmatic approach to governing Singapore but criticised for his authoritarian methods. Lee emphasised that a thriving society must balance nurturing excellence and encouraging average individuals to improve. This entails, he said, promoting cooperation and healthy competition within the community.

Lee's views on welfare: In his own words

“I soon realised that before distributing the pie, I had first to bake it. So I departed from welfarism because it sapped a people's self-reliance and their desire to excel and succeed,” Lee delivered the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture in 2005 in New Delhi.

Lee's view on democracy

“You are talking about Rwanda or Bangladesh, or Cambodia, or the Philippines. They have got democracy ... But have you got a civilised life to lead? People want economic development first and foremost. The leaders may talk something else. You take a poll of any people. What is it they want? The right to write an editorial as you like? They want homes, medicine, jobs, schools,” quoted in Lee Kuan Yew, The Man and His Ideas, 1997.

Lee's views on citizens' privacy

“I am often accused of interfering in the private lives of citizens. Yes, if I did not, had I not done that, we wouldn’t be here today. And I say without the slightest remorse, that we wouldn’t be here, we would not have made economic progress, if we had not intervened on very personal matters – who your neighbor is, how you live, the noise you make, how you spit, or what language you use. We decide what is right. Never mind what the people think,” he said speaking to Straits Times newspaper, 1987.

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