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Thread: Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

  1. #1
    Senior Member galvatron's Avatar
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    Feb 2007

    Default Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

    Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew dies aged 91

    Lee seen as power behind nation's rise from glorified fishing village into one of the world's economic powerhouses.

    Singapore - Lee Kuan Yew, the founder of modern-day Singapore, has died. He was 91.
    The former prime minister, who had been hospitalised in intensive care for severe pneumonia since early Feburary, died early on Monday morning in Singapore General Hospital.
    Incumbent Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's office announced seven days of mourning in the city-state ahead of a state funeral next Sunday.
    Lee is widely considered to be single-handedly responsible for Singapore's unique success story, the architect behind its fantastic transformation from glorified fishing village into one of the world's economic powerhouses.
    Singaporeans and world leaders paid tribute on Monday to a man described by US President Barack Obama as a "true giant of history".
    A complex and controversial figure, Lee's adherence to the rule of law and tight social control ushered in an era of peace and prosperity that he worried in his later years would be taken for granted by a younger generation of Singaporeans.
    Showing the physical frailty that comes with his 91 years, Lee made relatively few public appearances in recent years. But by many accounts, Singapore's first and longest-serving prime minister remained mentally active, continuing to write occasional books and opinion columns, and sometimes stepping into policy debates about the island-nation's future.

    With Singapore nearing its 50-year-old mark as a nation in August 2015, Singaporeans wonder aloud what their country will look like without its founding father.
    "Mr Lee's biggest legacy to Singapore is to have Singapore continue robustly as a unique state even after his passing," Eugene Tan, an associate professor of law at Singapore Management University, told Al Jazeera.

    "A Singapore that cannot endure and thrive beyond Mr Lee would be an indictment of Mr Lee's leadership and legacy."
    Rough start
    Born Harry Lee Kuan Yew on September 16, 1923, a British subject in colonial Singapore - he omitted his English name Harry after reading law at Cambridge University.
    Lee saw his country survive a brutal three-year Japanese occupation during World War II, and a short-lived merger with Malaysia that brought an end to British colonial rule.
    He became Singapore's first prime minister in 1959 when it became a self-governing state within the Commonwealth, and continued in the post from the country's independence in 1965 until he stepped down in 1990. He went on to assume successive ministerial positions.
    "The Father of Singapore" as he came to be known, first took power amid a host of problems including a multi-racial and multi-religious society with a history of violent outbursts, inadequate housing, unemployment, a lack of natural resources such as a water supply, and a limited ability to defend itself from potentially hostile neighbours.
    Whip-smart, self-assured and unflappable, Lee earned plenty of criticism along the way.
    "If someone living in Singapore in the 1950s could have entered a time machine and travelled to the Singapore of today, he would have found the transformations of this island literally unbelievable," former Singapore president SR Nathan said at a September 2013 conference on the legacy of "LKY", as he is commonly referred to.
    Central to Lee's vision were the creation of good governance, political stability, a quality infrastructure, and improved living conditions.
    "Had we not differentiated Singapore in this way, it would have languished and perished as a shrinking trading centre and never become the thriving business, banking, shipping and civil aviation hub it is today," Lee said in 2007.
    Capitalism focused
    To some, Lee created a capitalist alternative to Western liberal democracy, a model for countries where corruption and racial and religious divisions can be overcome by the rule of law and strict social controls. He created a hyper-efficient governing structure, and raised the standard of living and the quality of life.

    "There is no question that Deng Xiaoping looked to Singapore as a principal set of lessons for China as he thought about China's march to the market," said Graham T Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, and author of Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World.
    "Other states in the region have also noticed Singapore's success. Indeed, states as far away as Kazakhstan have been attracted by Singapore's success and have attempted to learn the lessons," said Allison.
    By empowering the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau to aggressively investigate and prosecute public and private sector crime, he created an island of non-corruption in a region that is still plagued by it.
    Lee instituted a system of meritocracy in a multi-racial society to create relative harmonious relations among the Chinese, Malay, and Tamil Indian population. His belief in merit over Western thinking about affirmative action was based on his oft-stated belief that, "People are not born equal, but they must be given equal opportunity to compete under fair, transparent rules, with respected referees."
    Shooting to the top
    To urban planners, Singapore is a model city. The skyline is ever-growing with glittering new skyscrapers, and streets are free of litter and graffiti. A conscious policy decision to build up with high-rises for its growing population left room enough for lush trees and green lawns seemingly everywhere, allowing the country to market itself as a "Garden City."
    The first city in the world to introduce road congestion pricing - motorists pay a premium for using busy downtown roads at peak hours - Singapore makes driving an expensive proposition, and instead lures commuters off the roads with world-class mass transit that is safe, clean, and cheap.
    One of Lee's books about Singapore's swift rise is titled From Third World to First, and the country remains a first on many lists. It is one of the world's richest countries, and one of the easiest places to do business, with one of the world's highest concentration of millionaires.
    It has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, the lowest rate of drug abuse, and is consistently rated one of the least corrupt countries in the world by Transparency International.
    Its port is one of the world's busiest in terms of tonnage handled, and Changi Airport is one of Asia's most important aviation hubs. Singaporean students are among the top academic achievers in the world, and Singapore became the first Asian country to break into the top 10 national higher education systems.
    On the housing front, Lee embarked on a mass home-building exercise with the construction of low-cost apartments in high-rise buildings. Today, more than 80 percent of Singaporeans live in government-built flats, with 95 percent owning their homes.
    "There must be a sense of equity, that everybody owns a part of the city," Lee said in an August 2012 interview with the Centre for Liveable Cities.

    "I could see that wage-earners in Taipei and South Korea did not own their homes, they had to pay heavy rents. I aimed for a home for every family, so a large portion of their salaries need not go into paying for rents. They own it, an asset which will increase in value as the city grows."
    To become less reliant on neighbouring Malaysia for its water supply, Singapore became a pioneer in harvesting urban stormwater on a large scale for its water supply. Today, the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize honours outstanding contributions in solving global water problems.
    To protect itself in a sometimes unstable region, Singapore created a strong national defence force including a service requirement for all male Singaporeans at the age of 18.

    R.I.P ,Mr Lee.

  2. #2
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    Sep 2004


    RIP, Mr Lee.

  3. #3
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    Jun 2007
    Giang Ho, Canada


    RIP, Mr Lee. You are the role model for the world leaders to follow. Too bad there aren't many great leaders like you.

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