Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew Lee Kuan Yew Is Singapore S Most Influential Son But He Is Not Without His Critics He Has Not Flinched From Taking Them On, Even Now After AlmostYears In The Political Fray Why Is Lee So Hard On His Political Opponents Could The People S Action Party Ever Lose Its Grip On Power Are The Younger Leaders Up To The Mark Will Growing Religiosity Change Singapore For The Better Of Worse How Will Rising Giants China And India Affect Singapore S Fortunes Lee, Fields These Issues And Many Other Questions As He Covers The Terrain Of The Past And Contemplates The Expanse Of The Future For Tis Iland Nation That He And His Foundin Generation Uilt On The Hopes Of A People Based OnHours Of Interviews At The Istana, Along WithPages Of Photographs And A Dvd Insert, The Book Features Lee In Full Flow, Combative, Thought Provoking Controversial

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  • Hardcover
  • 458 pages
  • Lee Kuan Yew
  • Zuraidah Ibrahim
  • English
  • 06 January 2019

10 thoughts on “Lee Kuan Yew

  1. says:

    Disclaimer I am a naturalized citizen of Singapore, having resided here for 28 years as of 2012 and married into a Singapore family 23 years ago I gave up US citizenship and never looked back.Lee Kwan Yew is simply the most seminal, inspirational and effective political leader of the post World War II world One is hard pressed to find any statesman who comes close After the ordeals of British colonial rule and the Japanese occupation, Singapore struggled to survive On that fateful day August 9, 1965 when Singapore was ejected from its Federation from Malaysia, Lee Kwan Yew was faced with the challenged of survival He not only endured but built a phenomenally successful republic, a vibrant center for business, services and tourism To do so, he had to impose his will on a reluctant population and drag them in to the modern world He succeeded As he enters his final days, he imparts some invaluable lessons and insights in this book to the citizens and next generation of leaders.The most engaging feature of this book is how it presents the human side of LKY His 60 year marriage to his wife Choo, his role as a father and grandfather, his recollections of his student days in the UK One has to be careful about taking LKY on and disagreeing with him however, while I loved 98% of his book, I respectfully demurred on a few minor points LKY has a vision of Bill Clinton as a vibrant, dynamic leader and characterizes is impeachment by the US Congress as shameful In reading LKY s book about the importance of integrity, honesty and truth, it is hard to rationalize his approval of Clinton My other disagreements concerned some of his views on genetics and intermarriage of Singaporeans It is hard to accept the notion that people are born with certain qualities that enable them to be superior With Singapore s outstanding education system, the field can be level and the door open for advancement On intermarriage of Singaporeans with foreigners which Lee seems to frown upon , I can only offer my own life as a refutation of that notion Nevertheless, this book is a great read about the accomplishments and legacy of one of this generations great political leaders.

  2. says:

    I found this book interesting for Lee Kuan Yew s views, and definitely not for the interview format in which they were presented.The journalists barely contributed anything valuable at all they were clearly cowed by LKY, unable to debate him into any concessions or to challenge his extreme views To their credit, they did present others well worn criticisms, but after LKY rejects the arguments, immediately gave up pursuing the issues any further The interview summaries are rather sycophantic, uncritically praising pragmatism and finishing each time with twee sentiments.The journalists and Lee Kuan Yew were very upfront with their belief that the role of the media is to support the government, and I suppose there s no reason to expect a better effort on their part here.LKY s analysis of Singapore s strategic advantages and disadvantages was very impressive in its insight, and it s not surprising that Singapore s economic policy and resultant growth far outclasses that of many Western countries Just compare Singapore s response to the GFC with Australia s But this technocratic approach value free pragmatism also contains a strong disregard for constitutionalism the belief that there are principles to which a government must abide LKY is repeatedly dismissive of the concerns of the people eg the non compensated compulsory acquisitions of coastal properties , and blurs national interest and partisan interests many times.I enjoyed Rachel Lin s chapter towards the end aside from the requisite twee ending because many of her concerns were similar to my own she does a lot to humanise the book in her responses to the man who regrets nothing.

  3. says:

    I used to ride with Tunku Abdul Rahman in his car He treated me as a courtier I had to follow him to weddings and all social functions Everywhere, they had new mosques I said, Tunku, why don t you build clinics No, no, he said, Kuan Yew, you don t understand these things This is a Malay society They need to pray You just give them the right prayers and a little bit of better life and they will be happy, they will work with you This is coming from a Malay man with position himself And now you wonder why the Malay race will never progress or somewhat oppressed Look in the mirror Religion and race are two separate components.

  4. says:

    the review is confined to the first 4 chapters Mr LKY is full of charisma and state vision despite being controversial for his ardent advocacy of meritocracy and the genetic beliefs.what he did were to serve Singapore s interests and its future is his perpetual preoccupation He has an exceptional sense of crisis for his country When the outside world marvel at what Singapore has achieved and its stunning transformations, he always keeps wary and vigillent for the country s looming threat He is too clearly about Singapore s advantages and predicaments What you see could be deceptive and illusionary, the ostensible prosperity of the country could be transitory if the country falls into the pitfall of a policy blunder Singapore must have a powerful and productive,highly efficient government If Singapore failed to be aware of its singularity that distinguish it from any other state and if a mediocre governance prevails , the country is doomed That could come as a reason for his relentless support for a strong government and meritocracy and that is the harsh truth of singapore.He explicitly elaborated that Singapore is a sort of 80 storey mansion built on the unstable marsh The mansion would possibly collapse if blunder were to made Any threatening blunder would give birth to unpleasant consequences even devastations.His unduplicatable experience mould him the hard core and his penetrating views on complex international issues.Why Singapore can earn the respects of the major powers and what a role can this city state play and wins its reputation in the international community and how can it proceed to survive amid its hostile neighbors ,the book gives illuminating perceptions Its bilingual policy and congenial interaction with almost all major powers were thoroughly and prudently conceived,whereby Mr LKY dedicated all his toil and wisdom.Singapore has an inextricable relations with the United State and China In reading the book, I perceived Even before early 1980s Mr LKY has sensed the inexorable rise of China and began to establish close relations with it, I really want to explore what made him so confident on his judgements.

  5. says:

    If Tom Plate s Conversations with LKY was a four star read for me, I would rate Hard Truths as a 4.5 star read Hard Truths is presented as a dialogue in question and answer format and like Conversations with LKY, this allows LKY s voice to come through You can almost hear the rhythm of his speech rolling off the pages of the book and indeed, the copy I borrowed came with a DVD featuring excerpts from the interview where you really could hear LKY speak By reproducing his blunt observations, the hard hitting assessments of Singapore s future, on politics, etc almost verbatim, you get a slightly different feel than you would reading his other books written in standard prose format like volumes 1 and 2 of The Singapore Story So why is Hard Truths worth at least an extra half star Well, for one thing, while Tom Plate s book was based on 2 days worth of interviews and came up to slightly over 200 pages, Hard Truths was based on interviews held over 16 sittings from Dec 2008 to Oct 2009 Hard Truths clocks in at close to 450 pages and allows for a much detailed exploration of LKY s views on a wide range of topics, from Singapore s vulnerability, and race and religion, to his family, homosexuality and even whether he believes in feng shui And whereas Plate to my annoyance tried hard to inject his own personality and spin into Conversations with LKY, Hard Truths is entirely about the man The only hint of the personalities of the Straits Times team behind Hard Truths comes through from the introductory paragraphs preceding each chapter, where the journalists must about their responses to LKY I m always impressed whenever I hear LKY speak, whether he s giving a speech or is at a dialogue session His grasp of the issues, the clarity of thought, his tell it as it is approach You may not always agree with him, but you can see where he s coming from and at the very least, you respect how his actions are guided by a set of considered and consistent principles Which in LKY s case, as he reiterates throughout the interview, is his abiding concern for Singapore When I read Conversations with LKY, the thing that struck me and really stuck in my mind was LKY s assessment of the quality of the US Secretaries of State over the years, and how the Secretaries in recent years lack the deep understanding of Asia and their inability to appreciate how developments in the region fit into a cultural and historical context that has been shaped over the centuries That and his anecdote about Jimmy Carter being completely out of his depth as POTUS For Hard Truths, the first thing that really struck me was LKY s defence of high ministerial salaries That it is fair to expect people to step up to serve not for the money, but for the honour of serving one s country But you can only get people to make this sacrifice of their personal space and time for one term If you want your Cabinet to stay for 2, 3, 4 terms, this isn t sustainable The second thing that stuck with me was LKY s account of his relationship with his wife, how they met, how he got her into Cambridge, and how he would read to her nightly after she became bedridden and lost her ability to speak after several strokes It reminded me that LKY wasn t just an elder statesman, Singapore s first PM who did battle with the communists and cut down his political enemies He was also a husband and a father I stopped buying books a couple of years back as a space and cost saving measure, opting to make use of the library instead the library gets my vote for greatest utility derived from my tax dollars I only buy books that I ve already read, love and absolutely have to own a copy of Hard Truths is one of those books.

  6. says:

    An aged Moses writes the book of Deuteronomy leading up to his last days, warning the nation of Israelites he had led through the unforgiving wilderness the past 40 years Moses reminds them of the unlikely circumstances on which their nation had emerged from, inclining them to learn from their past mistakes and hold true to commandments that it might go well with them Lee Kuan Yew Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going flows in the same vein, in essence preparing a new generation for a new set of challenges With the passing of his wife, Lee knew the days he had left to make an impact on his life s work, the nation of Singapore, were numbered A new generation of Singaporeans who had not experienced the tumultuous rise of early Singapore was about to inherit the nation he has given his blood, sweat, and famous tears of 1965 He had to make peace with his abiding concern that we should take this nation for granted, lest it made him get up from his grave This led Lee to collaborate with The Straits Times editor, Han Fook Kwang, to produce Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going , based on numerous interviews over hundreds of hours Every interview is reminiscent of Lee in parliamentary debate, a relentless cut and thrust repartee, yet weighted in sagely wisdom Personally, I am a skeptic of the product of Lee s unimaginative, pragmatic, authoritarian style of politics that has led Singapore to be dubbed Disneyland with the death penalty Gibson, 1993 However, Lee pulled no punches when weighing in on the issues of our Singaporean community through a grating political lens, drawing me in from beginning to end From here on forth, I will be discussing Lee s views on issues prevalent in Singapore community.Firstly, an issue faced by the Singaporean community is its lackluster national identity This is an issue as national identity determines one s sense of belonging to a place, in turn determining one s commitment to a nation Shamai, 1991 Lee, in his book, affirms the importance of a national identity, citing the American Democrats resistance toward assimilation policies in favour of multi cultures as a problem for the state Han Fook Kwang, 2011 Yet, Lee does not seem to have an answer as to what our Singaporean National Identity could be based on, except that of the economic necessity of peace and stability and growth Han Fook Kwang, 2011 Singapore s national identity has never been founded on firm ground, lacking traditional means of ethnic nationalism and its nascence precludes the success of typically long term nation building efforts Ortmann, 2009 Lee s pragmatic approach to governance means that no values or ideology are ever held sacred in ensuring the survival of Singapore, leaving the thin thread of economic necessity to unite a nation Saxena, 2011 With nothing but the rational economic instincts of self preservation and self gain to unite us, all it takes is an economic crisis or better opportunities elsewhere before it s every man for himself once again To me, to have Lee s notion of a national identity is to have none at all Secondly, a compounding issue is intolerance with regard to the openness to immigration in Singapore Intolerance is not a new challenge for Singapore, though its focus has evolved over the decades from racial intolerance to that toward immigrants The controversial Population White Paper meted out in 2013 that projects a 6.9 million Singaporean population by means of increasing immigration National Population and Talent Division, 2013 Locals responded with hostility toward the new immigration policy, staging three major protests Chang, 2013 In spite of the backlash, Lee does not change his position about the influx of foreigners in Singapore, asserting that the ends will justify the means Talking about the low fertility rate in Singapore and the economic ramifications of an ageing population, he claims that Singapore will have much to owe to such an open borders policy just decades down the road in typical paternalistic fashion Han Fook Kwang, 2011 I believe the intolerance of foreigners could inadvertently raise the Singaporean national identity Since the founding of Singapore, bloc notions had been responsible for a heightened sense of national identity first in the Malay community when the Chinese and Indians were welcomed by British colonial masters, then in the Singapore community when we were separated from Malaysia Milner, 2009 Though ethnic nationalism is off the cards, a sense of civic nationalism could be cultivated through a bloc notion , clearly defining group boundaries between Singaporeans and immigrants Ross, 2009 What is truly Singaporean might then be distilled from the melting pot that is our city, creating a core identity for our society through which immigrants might be able to take as true north for successful assimilation Thus, I disagree with Lee s insistence that economic principles are the antidote for these issues of our community, believing instead in an organic social construction of national identity through a bloc notion, which could in turn give immigrants a reference for assimilation.The third issue in community in Singapore raised in Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going is meritocracy Meritocracy is the concept that pay and privilege should be awarded solely on the basis of merit, however defined Arrow, Bowles, Durlauf, 2000 In theory, meritocracy should equalize opportunities in Singapore offsetting inequalities in family background with the promise of social mobility through the rational and neutral allocation of resources Teo, 2018 Lee affirms the merits of meritocracy, citing benefits such as the recruitment of the most capable leaders in government to navigate the sampan that is Singapore in rough waters , controversially justifying their astronomical income Han Fook Kwang, 2011 He also maintains that meritocracy cultivates a competitive society, polishing Singapore s most valuable resource its talent Han Fook Kwang, 2011 Lee s position on meritocracy does not budge, leaning back on Singapore s precarious geopolitical context at the risk of coming across as overly paranoid However, the meritocracy has been practiced so extremely in Singapore that it has backfired on its initial promises of social mobility, leading us to the fourth issue inequality Though a bright eyed believer in socialist ideals in his youth, he had come to accept the realities of social Darwinism in his early days as a politician Evident in policies like the Graduate Mothers Scheme, Lee s controversial take on inequality is that it is a result of genetics, which causes a wide disparity between the elites and those he refers to as duds in no ambiguous manner Han Fook Kwang, 2011 Lee s seemingly parochial attribution of capabilities to genetics has hence led to the internalization of narratives of mobility and worth, producing a long held acquiescence toward inequality in Singaporean society Teo, 2018.I have chosen to discuss the third and fourth issues in community together, as I believe inequality and meritocracy are intimately related Lee s obstinacy on his stance on meritocracy is theoretically backed but lacks empathy While Lee is right that economic prosperity is high on Singaporeans list of priorities due to strong Asian values, this relentless economic pursuit has cast a shadow over the plight of those lagging behind on the socioeconomic ladder Though Singapore s economic machine has managed to prosper the nation in absolute terms, the relative deprivation felt by those marginalized by inequality is cause for worry Rahim, 1999 It simply does not matter how rich one becomes if he looks to his left and right and sees the rest have become even richer Meritocracy, as practiced in Singapore, rubs salt in the wounds of the marginalized with the narrative that those at the top deserve to be where they are, and inversely, those at the bottom deserve to be where they are This dissuades the affluent elite from wealth redistribution policies and is compounded by the fact that top policymakers make up the affluent elite as well Lee s regime has left bodies in its wake as it bulldozes to economic conquest and does not show signs of slowing down anytime soon, especially if it continues to be undergirded by the meritocratic narrative of deservedness The fifth and last issue raised in Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going pertains to the target audience of the book the next generation of youth in Singapore and our infamous political apathy Likening youth to fruit strawberries and durians in particular has been a common theme in recent years, and Lee seems to agree to a tangent When asked to share his views on the political apathy of youth in Singapore, he puts it simply, saying they re too comfortable Han Fook Kwang, 2011 The prospect of losing everything , Lee remarks, was what had kept him going, and wistfully comments that the youth of today might never grasp such an outlook Han Fook Kwang, 2011 He is right After all, what is there to fight for when all has been laid on a silver platter I appropriately conclude this review on this note, as Lee s greatest contribution through Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going are not his astute observations or nuggets of wisdom, but his ability to draw even the most apathetic into the debate on issues in Singapore In all his obstinance and paranoia, Lee inadvertently answers the one question that defines my generation why should I care While most would be prepared to gobble down every of Lee s views in reverence of Singapore s biggest political celebrity, it is his shortcomings that have defined this book for me Lee wasn t always right, and our leaders might never be There will always be a need for the unlikely members of society to throw down the gauntlet with regard to the evolving issues of our Singaporean community Works CitedArrow, K., Bowles, S., Durlauf, S 2000 Meritocracy and Economic Inequality Princeton, New Jersey Princeton University Press.Chang, R 2013, October 6 Third Population White Paper protest draws smaller crowd Retrieved from The Straits Times W 1993, January 4 Disneyland with the Death Penalty Retrieved from Wired Fook Kwang, Z I 2011 Lee Kuan Yew Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going Singapore Straits Times Press.Milner, A 2009 the Malays John Wiley and Sons.National Population and Talent Division 2013, January A Sustainable Population for a Dynamic Singapore Retrieved from Strategy Group S 2009 Singapore The Politics of Inventing National Identity Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs , 23 46.Rahim, L Z 1999 The Singapore Dilemma The Political and Educational Marginality of the Malay Community Oxford University Press.Ross, M H 2009 Culture in Comparative Political Analysis In A S Mark Irving Lichbach, Comparative Politics Rationality, Culture, and Structure pp 134 161 New York Cambridge University Press.Saxena, N 2011 Virtuous cycles the Singapore public service and national development Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Shamai, S 1991 Sense of place an empirical measurement Geoforum, 347 358.Teo, Y Y 2018 This Is What Inequality Looks Like Ethos Books.

  7. says:

    This book gave great insights to the mind of Singapore s founding father in the most direct and provocative manner Helped young sgeans understand the history and milestones that our grandparents and parents have been through Awesome read.

  8. says:

    Hard Truths are factual unpleasantries that most people do not admit In Hard Truths, Lee Kuan Yew candidly gives his harsh opinions that may be politically incorrect on several controversial issues regarding Singapore s governance in sixteen face to face interview sessions with seven Straits Times journalists Written in an enthralling question and answer style, Hard Truths gives readers a glimpse into Lee s unique perspectives on leadership in his own words One dominant characteristic highlighted by Lee is having convictions Lee believes that if one does not have convictions, it may be because of reasons such as personal glory, honour, publicity or popularity, instead of true passion for the cause Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 75 During the period Lee took helm, Singapore was in uncertainty and distress Racial riots were askew, with high tension between racial groups Hence, Lee and his team had the single minded focus to revolutionise Singapore, and keep Singapore going For Lee, his cause is simply Singapore s success With this conviction, he was prepared, regardless of the sacrifices he had to make For the other leaders, they recognised that if they, as capable leaders, did not step in, Singapore could potentially collapse, affecting their family, businesses and everything else that mattered to them Lee s conviction to Singapore s success is exemplified through his continual presence in Singapore s politics and desire to groom the next generation Even though Lee had stepped down from his Prime Minister position in 1990, he continued to serve as Senior Minister, Minister Mentor and a Member of Parliament up till his death in 2015 Utilising his vast experience, Lee mentors and advises younger ministers on decision making He does not flaunt his political clout, instead providing them guidance and support Acknowledging the fact that circumstances have changed, he does not criticise the current leadership and processes When asked about his opinions, he directs the interviewer to question the younger ministers instead Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 62 Lee s strong, no nonsense personality shines throughout the interviews When the interviewers remarked that Lee s convictions may not have been perceived positively, he retorts that he is not interested in other people s opinions, and does not allow himself to be affected Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 78 It is this same conviction that allows Lee to make tough, unpopular decisions that were fundamental to Singapore s long term economic and social growth One such decision was the phasing out of dialects during the Speak Mandarin campaign, to promote social cohesiveness between the different dialect groups of Chinese Singaporeans, as well as successfully implementing the social policy of bilingual education Frequently highlighted by Lee as a trait of a successful leader is practicing empathy As such, a community leader should stay in touch and communicate with the community Lee previously visits constituencies and new estates to talk to residents Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 62 Despite his struggles to pick up Chinese and Hokkien as an English educated bourgeois, he did not relent Instead, he communicated with the working class masses in their familiar language to understand their problems and interests Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 375 This allowed him to propose suitable social policies, ensuring the government s interests are aligned with the community s, so that families could live better lives Remaining objective, he acknowledges effort made by political opponents, such as Low Thia Khiang, Worker s Party leader and leader of the opposition in Singapore s Parliament He remarked that Low retains control of Hougang as he wins the ground by attending every funeral, every wedding, and every complaint This is further illustrated when the topic of elitism within PAP s leadership is broached The pragmatic and realistic Lee admits that PAP s leadership selection favours the elite who have explicitly shown their leadership capability, such as determination, resourcefulness and stamina These qualities can be seen in scholars who have performed well academically, as well as the top in various professions Aligning with his governing principle of meritocracy, Lee asserts that the objective criteria of a chosen leader being successful is performance based A successful minister is one who can achieve their intended outcome being popular with the masses through empathy and sound decision making Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 105 To surmise, other than explicit knowledge, a successful leader should have a high level of contextual intelligence, defined as a combination of IQ, EQ and tacit knowledge, which is accumulated from on the job experience Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 129 He further explains that although most ministers are part of the elite who received a better social and educational foothold compared to the working class, there are exceptionally successful ministers from non elite origins, including non scholars Wong Kan Seng and Tharman Shanmugaratnam Lee uses his convictions about bettering Singapore as his guiding principles for decision making, not wavering at the face of uncertainty However, even the best leaders do not make the best decisions all the time As Lee reflected upon his political career, he admitted that some of his convictions, such as fighting for a Malaysian Malaysia, were a mistake Nonetheless, Lee does not regret his past decisions He stands by his convictions, explaining that he did what he thought was right given his knowledge and circumstances then Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 374 He perceives his past mistakes as learning points for better decision making The largest challenge faced would be the lack of leadership continuity Along with the stringent leadership criteria, this is perpetuated by Singapore having a population of three million people Hence, Singapore has a smaller pool of potential leaders and successors compared to countries like China Next, lack of a strong conviction dissuade the younger population from pursuing politics Young Singaporeans have not experienced the economic hardship during the 1960s, doubting and disbelieving Singapore s vulnerable economic and social position Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 126 Instead of having to constantly worry over the country s affairs, most would rather have a comfortable, well paying job in the private sector He points out that leaders should be highly motivated and passionate to their convictions, such as MP Denise Phua Instead of treating the task like a job, she campaigns aggressively for disadvantaged children as she personally feels for them due to her son being autistic Ibrahim et al., 2011, p 209.Hard Truths allowed me, as a reader, to learn about traits of successful leaders, and the challenges faced in their communities Lee s style of leadership can be perceived as either stubborn by critics, or simply wanting the best for the nation by advocates Still, one cannot help but to admire and respect him for moulding Singapore from a Third to a successful First World nation today.

  9. says:

    Having spent my entire life in Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew Hard Truths to Keep Singapore Going Han et al, 2011 proved to be deeply relatable and stands out from other volumes written on Mr Lee with its candid and genuine tone throughout When asked if he would choose to be a politician again, Mr Lee expressed his reluctance and it was the circumstances that driven him to take up the mantle, having felt that he led his supporters down Mr Lee provided thought provoking insights based on years of experience that my generation would not have gone through especially in Singapore s formative years He answered questions pertaining to prevailing social issues that I had previously oversimplified Some instances of these issues are not specific to Singapore but our unique predicament starting out as a third world country with no natural resources require innovative solutions to tackle with prevailing issues income inequality, reliance on government, views on eugenics, open door policy, mandatory national service and even keeping Singapore green which we Singaporeans take for granted but is often the first comment that foreigners would have about Singapore I would like to share my thoughts on the former three issues in this short review and hopefully inspire you to pick up this book and explore the other thought provoking yet touchy issues raised by Mr Lee On Income Inequality and Reliance on Government Many of us recognize Singapore as one of the wealthiest countries, coming in 3rd with a GDP per capita of int 93,905 However, we also have one of the highest Gini coefficients in the world and Mr Lee mentions that the pursuit of high growth inevitably leads to a widening income disparity p 143 , if we can make the growth and we choose not to, then we are stupid p 167 As dire income inequality is, I agree with Mr Lee to prioritize growth and help the gifted individuals go the furthest so they can bring jobs in for the masses, redistributing the surpluses p.186 However, now that we have attained first world status, income inequality remains unchanged and our Gini coefficient even rose from 0.458 to 0.459 Despite similar GDPs profiles, Scandinavian countries boast a much lower Gini coefficient, ranging from 0.247 to 0.269 p 143 Thus, it begs the question are we doing enough to strive towards equality Admittedly, there are measures in place by the Ministry of Manpower to improve the situation such as to retrain and upgrade older workers to improve their skillset and thus employability p 182 However, this remains a challenge as pick up rates for such schemes like SkillsFuture remain drastically low at 6.3% Therefore, is it wise to continue to render additional help to the lower strata if they themselves choose not to pick up the aid made available Or is the help rendered in the case of retraining schemes even remotely useful at all It is a moral dilemma to allocate resources to help the struggling working class as it then becomes unfair to the other classes that also contribute to the nation yet do not benefit from the reallocation Instead, this could inevitably encourage a welfare state in the case of Britain and Europe p 200 where the underclass is over reliant on the government Such socialist societies with a slower growth economy in favor of solving social issues p 168 may theoretically sound viable but real world anecdotes from other countries have proven otherwise Therefore, Mr Lee was wise enough to avoid promoting any form of reliance and opt for empowering citizens through means like education.On his views on Eugenics Mr Lee s views on inequality extend beyond income, but also human intellect Surprisingly, Mr Lee was not always so firm in his belief towards eugenics back in the 1930s when he thought that people were innately equal and it was the unequal opportunities that resulted in some doing better p 187 During his time as Prime Minister, he observed that performance varied substantially between different races in Singapore p 188 He cited the Indian caste system p 189 and Chinese Imperial exam to illustrate Darwinism as human nature to seek progression and concluded that the decisive factors were the people, their natural abilities, education, and training p 188 However, if individuals like Lim Chee Onn, son of a taxi driver p 198 had adhered to this belief seeing it pointless to work hard, it would have become a self fulfilling prophecy In fact, our community is so fixated with attaining quantifiable success that we neglect other non quantifiable aspects like creativity Quoting Aesop Jr, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid As such, it is crucial for our nation to start promoting other paths to success apart from the well worn traditional path Currently, there are initiatives in creating such alternatives in the form of music, art and sports schools More importantly, our society needs to adopt an open minded view towards these alternatives instead of dismissing them as to offer ing no future , a common sentiment that many older generations have passed down and encouraging the younger generation to take up practical well paying jobs In conclusion, I am deeply inspired by how Mr Lee s leadership that undoubtedly shaped today s Singapore Admittedly, before reading this book I had several qualms regarding Singapore s policies which I still do regarding the high ministerial pay, eugenics However, I have come to appreciate aspects of Singapore that I would not have otherwise As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side , it is always easier to find fault in our system and choose to migrate to better countries , causing Singapore its brain drain phenomenon In reality, the grass is greener where you choose to water Given the number of talented individuals and our leading education, it remains baffling that none that we have groomed have come close to Mr Lee s calibre Regardless, Hard Truths has truly illustrated community leadership driven by genuine intentions that I would hope to witness in my generation, to go against odds and forge a better community.

  10. says:

    I need to write Han Fook Kwang a thank you note This could have been another concrete block of a book, but with some deft manouevring, Han convinced the titan of Asian geopolitics to drop the idea of a third instalment to his autobiography series, and submit instead to a series of interviews Han and his team of young and old journalists cap and sock the revealing, highly entertaing interview sequences with what appear to be factual backdrop, but in fact serve as sly little digs at the interviewee For all the subversiveness of the interviewers and the offensiveness of the interviewee, Lee emerges as a human being after all That is something that, left to himself, I suspect he could not possibly have known how to do The myth is turning into a man at last.

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