Likes Likes:  5
Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew dies at age 91

  1. #1

    Singaporean statesman Lee Kuan Yew dies at age 91



    Lee Kuan Yew was a man of complex values. On one hand, he helped transform the tiny island port city-state of Singapore into an independent economic superpower, whilst juggling to keep the state independent from many of its nearby neighbors (notably China, India, Japan, and Malaysia after being expelled from British Malaya in 1965).

    On the other hand, he was also not a big fan of free speech as espoused by western-styled democracies, and was notorious for his iron grip on political institutions and the press.

    I had the honor of meeting Mr. Yew over a decade ago, and he wasn't the man I had read about. At that time, he said that his biggest achievement was the Singaporean educational system. His pride was that he helped create an intelligent workforce in an island state that lacked any natural resources. From polytechnics to universities such as the National University of Singapore and Nanyang, Singapore has a skilled workforce that's disproportionately high relative to its population.

    One of my favorite economists, Amartya Sen, is often credited with bringing a moral and ethical perspective to economics. He talks about the Lee thesis in his book Development for Freedom:

    "Many people in different countries of the world are systematically denied political liberty and basic civil rights. It is sometimes claimed that the denial of these rights helps to stimulate economic growth and is ‘‘good’’ for economic development. Some have even championed harsher political systems – with denial of basic civil and political rights – for their alleged advantage in promoting economic development. This thesis (often called ‘‘the Lee thesis’’) is sometimes backed by some fairly rudimentary empirical evidence."

    I do not know what drove Mr. Yew to the values that built modern day Singapore. Was it the fear of being annexed by its much more powerful neighbors? After all, Japan had invaded parts of British Malaya, including Singapore, during WWII. Was it the drive to demonstrate that the dearth of natural resources is no bar to success? Was it to build a developed society that squarely contradicted many of the Pax Colonia ideals (i.e., free speech, democracy, and liberalism)?

    We may never know. We cannot deny the quality of life that modern Singaporeans enjoy, not to mention the independence. However, free speech continues to be restricted in Singapore, which ranks 150 in the Reports Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, below countries like Russia and Myanmar.

    Either way, Mr. Yew was a statesman who helped build a great nation state, and he will always be remembered as such.
    Last edited by M. Montaigne; Mar 23, 2015 at 12:58 AM.

  2. Likes Chronopolitano liked this post
  3. #2
    The Dude Abides Nokie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Northern CA
    Posts
    3,516
    RIP. I have read a bit about his life and it appears he lived it to it fullest.
    "Either He's Dead, Or My Watch Has Stopped....."
    Groucho Marx

  4. #3
    Random guy vinylgreek's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    The bottom Left corner of the U.S. of A.
    Posts
    557
    Quote Originally Posted by M. Montaigne View Post


    We may never know. We cannot deny the quality of life that modern Singaporeans enjoy, not to mention the independence. However, free speech continues to be restricted in Singapore, which ranks 150 in the Reports Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, below countries like Russia and Myanmar.

    Either way, Mr. Yew was a statesman who helped build a great nation state, and he will always be remembered as such.
    Interesting mini-bio and thought provoking questions which bring to mind Hernando de Soto. He has written at length on the idea that property rights and the rule of law are foundational for the establishment of not only a strong economy and a well functioning society. The ideal of a free press is clearly of value but I sometimes wish I had lived at the time of this nation's (U.S.) founding when the press was openly partisan and didn't hide behind a veneer of false objectivity.

  5. Likes M. Montaigne, Chronopolitano liked this post
  6. #4
    While I wholeheartedly agree, I would also add that there are certainly news sources that are quite objective. Fox and CNN may not be amongst them, but they exist. Democracy Now!, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, is one example. NPR is another.

    Part of the challenge in the United States is that there is good money be made in sensationalism, which is what drives the modern day 24 hour news channels.

    Even so, I would any day settle for a discernable veneer of false objectivity than one where any view other than that of the state is suppressed, by force.

  7. Likes vinylgreek, gnuyork liked this post
  8. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Nokie View Post
    RIP. I have read a bit about his life and it appears he lived it to it fullest.
    And then some.

    World leaders of his era (e.g., Churchill, Nehru, Eisenhower) were cut from a different cloth.

  9. #6
    Dinger of Hum Chronopolitano's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Chronopolis
    Posts
    1,561
    Quote Originally Posted by M. Montaigne View Post
    And then some.

    World leaders of his era (e.g., Churchill, Nehru, Eisenhower) were cut from a different cloth.
    It strikes me as something of a mystery... that five "titans" all came into History at the same time: Churchill, Stalin, Hit-Ler, Mao, and FDR.

    Of course one could argue, things happened the way they happened, and these men just happened to be in the positions they were in.
    And that would be the more "rational" explanation, of course.

    I, on the other hand, think certain persons come into the world at the same time in order for certain changes to happen - for good or bad.

    Call it a Hegelio-Heideggerian hypothesis.

  10. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Chronopolitano View Post
    It strikes me as something of a mystery... that five "titans" all came into History at the same time: Churchill, Stalin, Hit-Ler, Mao, and FDR.

    Of course one could argue, things happened the way they happened, and these men just happened to be in the positions they were in.
    And that would be the more "rational" explanation, of course.

    I, on the other hand, think certain persons come into the world at the same time in order for certain changes to happen - for good or bad.

    Call it a Hegelio-Heideggerian hypothesis.
    And you see similar patterns all through history. It is indeed a rather intriguing phenomena, and I am curious to know if there are any underlying socio-economic principles at work.

  11. #8
    Member pepperami's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Kildare, Ireland
    Posts
    3,289
    Quote Originally Posted by Chronopolitano View Post
    It strikes me as something of a mystery... that five "titans" all came into History at the same time: Churchill, Stalin, Hit-Ler, Mao, and FDR.

    Of course one could argue, things happened the way they happened, and these men just happened to be in the positions they were in.
    And that would be the more "rational" explanation, of course.

    I, on the other hand, think certain persons come into the world at the same time in order for certain changes to happen - for good or bad.

    Call it a Hegelio-Heideggerian hypothesis.
    Today's equivalent?


  12. #9
    U.S. Aides confirm singapore charge of 1960 CIA plot.

    "In the late 1950s, the CIA were worried about what they saw as the PAP's close ties with pro-communist elements. They even approached the British Special Branch about it but the SB told the CIA not to worry (the British knew Lee better than the Americans). The CIA, naturally, decided to take matters into their own hands, and mounted their own covert op to infiltrate Singapore's intelligence apparatus. This was discovered in 1960.


    The local CIA station chief then apparently tried to bribe Lee to hush up the matter, offering him US$3.3 million. Lee refused and counter-proposed US$33 million in aid to Singapore. Eventually, Dean Rusk, Kennedy's Secretary of State, who had inherited the mess, wrote Lee a formal letter of apology in 1961 for the affair.


    But when Lee recounted the story a few years later, the CIA issued one of its automatic denials. Lee was enraged - not only had the CIA tried to bribe him like some tin-pot third world dictator, now they were calling him a liar. He produced the letter and threatened to broadcast tape recordings of the incident.

    The CIA hastily retracted its denial.

    Lee said, "The Americans should know the character of the men they are dealing with in Singapore and not get themselves further dragged into calumny. They are not dealing with Ngo Dinh Diem or Syngman Rhee. You do not buy and sell this Government."

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
About Us
We are an independent and wide-ranging forum for watch enthusiasts. From mainspring to microchip, from Europe to Asia, from micro-brand to boutique - we cover it all. Novice or expert, we want you to feel at home. Whether it's asking a simple question or contributing to the fund of horological knowledge, it's all the same hobby. Or, if you like, you can just show us a picture of your new watch. We'll provide the welcoming and courteous environment, the rest is up to you!
Join us