It is a given that late Lee Kuan Yew was the force behind the transformation of Singapore from a little village with no natural resources into a First World modern country where people of all races stand united amid enviable peace and harmony.
The more I read and hear about late Lee Kuan Yew in the media the more I am convinced that he wielded enormous influence among Singaporeans and with leaders the world over.
If the leader of a tiny nation can influence those with a much larger geographical expanse such as China, Australia and South Korea to take his advice, delivered with brutal honesty but in all sincerity and without rancour, that is a great tribute to his intellect and statesmanly stature.
Lee Kuan Yew with Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Barack Obama, David Cameron and Tony Blair
White Trash: Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott recalled yesterday how the stern “white trash” message Mr Lee delivered in 1980 had served as a wake-up call and spurred the country to move rapidly on the growth track.
It was during a visit Down Under in 1980 that Mr Lee had warned that Australia would become “white trash in Asia” if it failed to open up the economy, check inflation and tackle unemployment.
Wise Advice: Echoing a similar sentiment, British Prime Minister David Cameron said “Lee Kuan Yew was always a friend to Britain, if sometimes a critical one, and many British Prime Ministers benefited from his wise advice, including me.”
“Lady Thatcher once said that there was no Prime Minister she admired more than Mr Lee for ‘the strength of his convictions, the clarity of his views, the directness of his speech and his vision of the way ahead’.”
Former British Prime Minister recalled: “When I became leader of the Labour Party I travelled to Singapore to seek his advice, which he gave with typical acumen and frankness. Over the years we then worked together in many ways. He will be profoundly missed and greatly mourned not only by the people of Singapore but by his many friends the world over.”
Great Strategist: In the words of US President Barack Obama “Mr Lee was a true giant of history who will be remembered for generations to come as the father of modern Singapore and as one of the great strategists of Asian affairs,” Obama said.
“Minister Mentor Lee’s views and insights on Asian dynamics and economic management were respected by many around the world, and no small number of this and past generations of world leaders have sought his advice on governance and development. I personally appreciated his wisdom, including our discussions during my trip to Singapore in 2009, which were hugely important in helping me formulate our policy of rebalancing to the Asia Pacific,” Mr Obama said.
Fascinating Conversations: To former US President Bill Clinton “Mr Lee transformed Singapore into one of the world¹s strongest and most sustainable economies. He also firmly established his country as an important friend and partner of the United States. After leaving office, he continued to offer brilliant analyses and wise advice to those who sought it. We will always be grateful for our fascinating conversations over the years.”
A Genuine Giant: Mr Blair best summarises the impact Mr Lee had on the global stage.
“Lee Kuan Yew was one of the most extraordinary leaders of modern times. He was a genuine political giant. He was the first to understand that modern politics was about effective Government not old-fashioned ideology”.
“Whether in the economy, social cohesion or law and order, he applied methods of rigorous analysis and detailed implementation. He built Singapore into the success story it is today by intelligence, wisdom and determination in equal measure. As a result Singapore has a respect and admiration far above its size.”
Mr Lee was a great friend of India, a country he had visited many times. It was Singapore which first tapped the information technology potential of India by building the country’s first IT Park in Bangalore.
Mr Lee had once said that “if India wanted to prosper, it had to first reduce red tape in its public sector, support the private sector, build infrastructure, attract foreign capital investment and boost the country’s manufacturing services.”
Example of Syria: The global praise for Mr Lee was despite many leaders being uneasy with Singapore coming down heavily on the opposition and on the media critical of the country. But, as Henry Kissinger, who shared a strong personal friendship with Mr Lee, says: “Had Singapore chosen the road of its critics, it might well have collapsed among its ethnic groups, as the example of Syria teaches today.”
For more on the tributes for Mr Lee from global leaders, you may like to check out: http://mustsharenews.com/world-leaders-tribute-lky/#prettyPhoto
Mr Clinton, Mr Abbott, Mr Kissinger and Mr Modi are among the leaders who will be in Singapore on Sunday for the funeral of the country’s founding father.
My earlier posts on Singapore’s founding PM
- Singapore in Grief at Passing of Lee Kuan Yew – https://joslinv.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/lee-kuan-yew-the-man-who-made-the-country-an-economic-powerhouse/
- Nation in Grief, But Life and Business Normal – https://joslinv.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/nation-in-grief-but-life-and-business-normal/
- Lee Kuan Yew and Indira Gandhi – https://joslinv.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/lee-kuan-yew-and-indira-gandhi/
- Crowds converge on Parliament House – https://joslinv.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/people-throng-parliament-house-to-pay-respects-to-lee-kuan-yew/
G Joslin Vethakumar