INTRODUCTION Lee Kuan Yew led Singapore to independence and served as its first Prime Minister. He was regularly re-elected from 1959 until he stepped down in 1990. Lee Kuan Yew was educated in England, and under his guidance Singapore became a financial and industrial powerhouse despite a lack of abundant natural resources. Lee ruled with ultimate authority, and his zeal for law and order was legendary. In 1990, he stepped down (though he remained in the cabinet as Senior Minister and now Minister Mentor) and was succeeded as Prime Minister by Goh Chok Tong.
ANCESTORY He is a fourth-generation Singaporean. His great-grandfather had left Dapu County, Guangdong Province for Singapore at the age of 16. Lee’s grandfather, Hoon Leong, went to an English school and began a career as a pharmacist, a trade dominated by the Hakkas. Lee’s father, Chin Koon, first worked as a storekeeper at Shell and later at a jewellery shop. Lee Kuan Yew was born in Singapore on September 16, 1923. Lee’s birth was an occasion for great rejoicing in the Lee household.
He was the first-born and he was a boy, important to the Chinese for perpetuating the family name. He gave his grandfather such great pride that the old man declared that the child should be educated to become the equal of any Englishman, that is, the model of perfection. The name chosen for him, Kuan Yew, means “the light that shines far and wide”. FAMILY He is married to Kwa Geok Choo, a similarly brilliant mind who was a Queen’s Scholar and the first Malayan woman to achieve a First Class Honors at Cambridge, a feat she achieved in just two years.
Together, they formed the legal practice of Lee & Lee, and have two sons, Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Hsien Yang, and a daughter, Lee Wei Ling. Lee’s eldest son Brigadier-General Lee Hsien Loong is now the Prime Minister, one of the second-generation leaders to whom Lee and his cohorts have handed over power. AWARDS & RECOGNITION •50 Most Powerful men in Asia Guru of Asian values, architect of Singapore’s development. Still sought after for advice and comment. •Architect of the century. State decorations, including the Order of the Companions of Honor (1970), Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (1972), the Freedom of the City of London (1982), the Order of the Crown of Johore First Class (1984), the Order of Great Leader (1988) and the Order of the Rising Sun (1967). •The highest honor of Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (1988), and Man for Peace (1990). •The Ig Nobel Prize in 1994. In 2002, was formally admitted to the Fellowship of Imperial College London in recognition of his promotion of international trade and industry, and development of science and engineering study initiatives with the UK. •In 2006, was presented with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. •In 2007, was conferred an honorary Doctorate in Law at the Australian National University in Canberra, albeit amid protest from students and staff. UPBRINGING & EDUCATION Lee studied at Raffles Institution and Raffles College, and proceeded to Cambridge to read law.
After graduating in 1949 with a double First Class Honors and a star for “special distinction”, he returned to Singapore to practice law at a well known firm, Laycock and Ong. Lee emerged as the top Malayan boy in the Senior Cambridge examinations. At the age of 19, his studies were interrupted by the Japanese invasion. After the war, he took law at Cambridge University, where he scored a double first (first-class honors in two subjects) in law. POLITICAL CAREER In November 1954, led by young Lee, a group of British-educated, middle-class
Chinese who had returned to Singapore in the early 1950s after studying in Britain formed the People’s Action Party. The party sought to attract a following among the mostly poor and non-English-speaking masses. Lee became the first officially elected Prime Minister of Singapore. He stayed in office from 1959 to 1990, when he voluntarily stepped down from office to let a group of second-generation leaders take over the running of the government. Lee’s intellect and energy shaped bold — and often uncompromising — responses to the challenges of wresting rule from the British and building a nation.
His government sought to build a multiracial and multilingual society that would be unified by a sense of a unique “Singaporean identity”. During Lee’s long rule, Singapore experienced remarkable economic growth and diversification. In addition to enhancing its position as a world trade centre, it has developed powerful financial and industrial sectors. Singapore has the most advanced economy in Southeast Asia. An island of 600 square kilometres, with 4. 3 million people, it is the ninth richest country in per capita terms today.
The story of how Lee transformed Singapore is a fascinating one because no other leader in the modern world has had such a hand in influencing and directing his country’s progress from independence to developed nation status the way he has. None has straddled the two worlds with as much success: the revolutionary world in the first half of this century for independence from empire, and the development world in the second half for wealth and progress. PRIME MINISTER, PRE-INDEPENDENCE – 1959 TO 1965 In the national elections held on June 1, 1959, the PAP won forty-three of the fifty-one seats in the legislative assembly.
Singapore gained self-government with autonomy in all state matters except in defence and foreign affairs, and Lee became the first Prime Minister of the state of Singapore on June 3, 1959, taking over from Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock. Lee faced many problems after gaining self-rule for Singapore from the British, including education, housing, and unemployment. In response to the housing problem, Lee established the Housing and Development Board (HDB), an agency which began a massive public housing construction programme to relieve the housing shortage. MERGER WITH MALAYA, THEN SEPARATION – 1963 TO 1965
After Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman proposed the formation of a federation which would include Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak in 1961, Lee began to campaign for a merger with Malaysia to end British colonial rule. He used the results of a referendum held on September 1, 1962, in which 70% of the votes were cast in support of his proposal, to demonstrate that the people supported his plan. During Operation Coldstore, Lee crushed the pro-communist factions who were strongly opposing the merger and who were allegedly involved in subversive activities.
On September 16, 1963, Singapore became part of the Federation of Malaysia. However, the union was short-lived. The Malaysian Central Government, ruled by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), became worried by the inclusion of Singapore’s Chinese majority and the political challenge of the PAP in Malaysia. Lee openly opposed the bumiputra policy and used the Malaysian Solidarity Convention’s famous cry of “Malaysian Malaysia! “, a nation serving the Malaysian nationality, as opposed to the Malay race. PAP-UMNO relations were seriously strained.
Some in UMNO also wanted Lee to be arrested. Racial riots followed, such as that on Muhammad’s birthday (21 July 1964), near Kallang Gasworks, in which twenty-three were killed and hundreds injured as Chinese and Malays attacked each other. It is still disputed how the riots started, and theories include a bottle being thrown into a Muslim rally by a Chinese, while others have argued that it was started by a Malay. More riots broke out in September 1964, as rioters looted cars and shops, forcing both Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew to make public appearances in order to alleviate the situation.
The price of food also rose dramatically during this period, due to the disruption in transport, which caused further hardship. Unable to resolve the crisis, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, decided to expel Singapore from Malaysia, choosing to “sever all ties with a State Government that showed no measure of loyalty to its Central Government”. Lee was adamant and tried to work out a compromise, but without success. He was later convinced by Goh Keng Swee that the secession was inevitable.
Lee Kuan Yew signed a separation agreement on August 7, 1965, which discussed Singapore’s post-separation relations with Malaysia in order to continue co-operation in areas such as trade and mutual defence. The failure of the merger was a heavy blow to Lee, who believed that it was crucial for Singapore’s survival. On that day, August 9, 1965, the Malaysian Parliament passed the required resolution that would sever Singapore’s ties to Malaysia as a state, and thus the Republic of Singapore was created.
Singapore’s lack of natural resources, a water supply that was beholden primarily to Malaysia and a very limited defensive capability were the major challenges that Lee and the Singaporean Government faced. Lee began to seek international recognition of Singapore’s independence. Singapore joined the United Nations (UN) on 21 September 1965, and founded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 8 August 1967 with four other South-East Asian countries. Lee made his first official visit to Indonesia in May 25, 1973, just a few years after the Konfrontasi under Sukarno’s regime.
Relations between Singapore and Indonesia substantially improved as subsequent visits were made between Singapore and Indonesia. Singapore has never had a dominant culture to which immigrants could assimilate even though Malay was the dominant language at that time. Together with efforts from the government and ruling party, Lee tried to create a unique Singaporean identity in the 1970s and 1980s, one which heavily recognized racial consciousness within the umbrella of multi-culturalism.
Lee and his government stressed the importance of maintaining religious tolerance and racial harmony, and they were ready to use the law to counter any threat that might incite ethnic and religious violence. For example, Lee warned against “insensitive evangelization”, by which he referred to instances of Christian proselytizing directed at Malays. QUALITIES OF LEE KUAN YEW •Strong character. •Firm when one has to be firm. •A man with a vision. •An optimist. •An untiring worker. •Determined and dedicated. •One who is not daunted by problems or challenges. •One who executes whatever job he takes well. One who sets a goal and works towards that goal. TRAITS OF LEE KUAN YEW If we think of some of the world’s famous (or infamous) leaders, Washington, Churchill, Lee Kuan Yew, Mahatma Gandhi, George W Bush, Putin, we realise that they all have (had) different behavioural styles but are (or were) successful leaders among different groups and in different situations. There are however, some common traits that people look for in a leader. The anchor point of these is : TRUST and trust is generated by two factors: 1. Competence: getting the job done, and 2. Character: how you get it done. If you take on the job, you have to do it well without any excuses or “its” and “but”. If you feel you cannot handle a particular job, then don’t take it. ” Lee Kuan Yew The manner in which individual leaders demonstrate and communicate these common traits will be a reflection of : 1. Their own natural behavioural style 2. The behavioural style of their target audience 3. The nature of the leadership challenge situation facing the team. The environment and required focus. He is pragmatic, law-abiding, hard-working, corruption-free (clean). He is a man of integrity. His government is a clean one.
The hand of the law come hard on those who commit offences or resort to corrupt practices. His hard work is evident in all sectors. Singapore are enjoying a trouble free life because of his hard work. Singapore is clean and green city. The honest leaders have succeeded in attracting foreign investors to invest their money in Singapore. What is more than all these is:- The leaders have set a good example and have passed on all their good qualities to the people of Singapore. Most Singaporeans are hard working, law abiding and honest in their dealings – be it business or personal commitments.
All the peace, stability and security that the people of Singapore are enjoying today are the result of hard working, honest and sincere Prime Minister and his team. OTHER TRAITS : •Connectability The leader must practice good relational skills. Lee Kuan Yew, Senior Minister of Singapore has cultivated close ties with the top leaders across the world in establishing strong economic partnership. Admittedly, on several occasions, he has exerted critical influence over the cross-Straits relationship between Chinese mainland and Taiwan. •Creativity
The leader should have an ability to think outside the box and generate new ideas. •Communication The leader’s message must be clear and compelling, inspiring the heart and informing the head. An effective leader needs an incredible amount of information to chart a course for his/her organization. Many failures in decision-making are easily tracked back to the failure of a leader to solicit the proper information, or the failure of a group to accept information that may be difficult. •Credibility Trust that is earned on the basis of character and competence is the leader’s credibility. •Courage
The leader must have the courage to stand for what is right regardless of circumstances or popular opinion. Lee Kuan Yew have the Edge, the courage to make tough yes-or-no decisions, no maybes. On major political, social, economic, moral and other challenges, it is imperative for an effective leader to make decisions – right or wrong. Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew became effective leaders and bold reformers who endured all kinds of domestic political criticisms and even the most virulent Western attacks on numerous controversial economic and political policies, but they did not waver or appear indecisive.
Right or wrong he made tough and sometimes unpopular decisions with political courage, and even their most bitter foes and critics grudgingly respected these true great leaders of Asia. •Conviction The leader must be consistently guided by core values or principles. Asian Value a set of core values which is distinctively Asian and which entails a political-social practice other than the Western style of liberal democracy. Lee Kuan Yew, is the most prominent spokesman of this thesis.
Lee believes that Singapore is “a society with communitarian values where the interests of society take precedence over that of the individual. ” If Singapore became a Western-style, individualistic society, he says, “we’d go down the drain; we would have more drugs, more crime, more single mothers with delinquent children, and a poor economy”. •Charisma People like this leader because the leader is others-minded, trying to add value to them. Gained the heart of his peoples, won the confidence of foreign investors by selling Singapore as the well-prepared Southeast Asian country for investment.
He also inspirationally motivates his subordinates and peoples by setting a good example of a person with great integrity. He also made his government found meaning in executing certain policies by providing a challenging yet attainable goal, to make Singapore stands out among all Asian countries. •Competency The leader has the skills to accomplish the task. •Common Sense The leader has an ability to wisely discern the best course of action. •Correct Team Success or failure will be largely determined by the leader’s inner circle team. TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP: LEE KUAN YEW
Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore stands out, in many respects, as one of the great transformational leaders of our times. Why? Instead being controlled by circumstances, Lee Kuan Yew created opportunities and circumstances. He had a clear vision of what Singapore’s road should be after the independent from Malaysia. Through a three-decade period, he shaped and drove Singapore’s development, catapulting the city-state from a Third World backwater, to the front ranks of the First World. Of course, one could argue that while Singapore was a tiny city-state, the owers that Lee Kuan Yew wielded were large. However, if to cut through to the core, the issue is more about the quality of imagination, courage, political will, and about exercising power in a benign manner. Let’s look at how his leadership was demonstrated. At the time of its independence, Singapore’s prospects for survival looked bleak. It had little land and no natural resources; the neighbouring countries were hostile to the idea of an independent Singapore. The city was heavily dependent on subsidies received from Britain.
Poverty and corruption were rampant. There was also the ever-present tinderbox of ethnic strife, given the population mix of Chinese, Malays and Indians. Most observers did not give Singapore much of a chance. However, history has confounded the skeptics. Between 1959 and 1990, Singapore achieved what is widely regarded as a social and economic miracle, without encountering any major disruption along the way. And, Lee Kuan Yew’s extraordinary leadership and statesmanship is acknowledged as the major driver of the city-state’s success.
Below are the four of the many unique aspects of his leadership. •Role as a strategist He made periodic and sweeping transformations, based on a perceptive reading of impending trends and events. During his tenure, the Singapore government successively pushed through at least four radical directional changes — from labour-intensive import substitution, to labour-intensive, export-oriented manufacturing, to moving the entire economy up the value chain, and lastly, turning the focus sharply to infrastructure, human capital, and high technology.
Implemented deftly, this strategy kept Singapore’s economy on a relatively even keel. Countries that had more rigid structures and could not adapt as quickly, floundered. What is noteworthy is that, at each stage, the leadership sought the citizens’ inputs, thus helping to strengthen the people’s sense of identity with the vision set out by the leaders. •Unique attribute Lee Kuan Yew was his aversion to strong ideologies. He consistently discarded theory in favour of what worked. If a policy worked, he would continue with it; if it didn’t work he would drop it and try something else.
For example, what mattered most to him was not whether Singapore Airlines was nationalised or privatised, but rather, how the airline performed. While his inclination was towards letting free markets operate, he resorted extensively to government intervention if the circumstances called for it. •Distinguishing feature Lee Kuan Yew’s leadership was his accent on meritocracy in government. His focus on getting the best people was almost absolute. Speaking in Parliament in 1994, he said, “Singapore must get some of its best in each year’s crop of graduates into government.
When I say best, I don’t mean just academic results which indicate only the power of analysis. You’ve then got to assess him for his sense of reality, his imagination, his quality of leadership, his dynamism. But most of all, his character and his motivation, because the smarter a man is, the more harm he might do to society. ” Lee Kuan Yew worked hard to drive this thinking into the mindset of every government official and every citizen in Singapore. •Approach – unconventional and practical
His unconventional and practical approach stood out sharply was in policies related to human resources. For instance, he believed that primary and secondary education would, to the extent possible, be universalised. But not so a university education that would be restricted to a relatively small percentage of the population. Lee Kuan Yew’s view was that trying to promote universal access to university education would create too many graduates for the Singapore economy to absorb which was a real concern in the 1960s and 1970s.
The flip side was that those who did not get into a university were given excellent access to technical and vocational education, often through programmes organised jointly with foreign governments and multinational companies. WHAT WAS THE IMPACT HIS GOVERMENT HAD? During the three decades in which Lee held office, Singapore grew from being a developing country to one of the most developed nations in Asia, despite its small population, limited land space and lack of natural resources. Lee has often stated that Singapore’s only natural resources are its people and their strong work ethic.
He is widely respected by many Singaporeans, particularly the older generation, who remember his inspiring leadership during independence and the separation from Malaysia. He has often been credited with being the architect of Singapore’s present prosperity. Per capita GNP has risen from US$ 920 in 1965 to US$ 23,300 in 2000. The literacy rate has risen from 72 per cent in 1970 to over 92 per cent currently. The number of people living in owner-occupied housing rose from 9 per cent of the population in 1970 to 90 per cent by 1990.
Singapore’s government and public sector are regarded as one of the most efficient and cleanest in the world. Its infrastructure facilities are world-class. And all these factors combined, contribute to Singapore being ranked amongst the top in the world competitiveness league. STRENGTHS OF LEE KUAN YEW Lee had three main concerns—national security, the economy, and social issues—during his post-independence administration. There are three events that shaped his outlook on life and his leadership style.
The events are, first, the Japanese Occupation from 1942 to 1945; second, the battles with the communists in the 1950s and 1960s; and third, the trauma of merger with Malaysia in 1963 and its separation two years later. The Japanese Occupation made Lee decide to become a politician, the communist battles turned him into a hardened politician, and separation from Malaysia provided the final drama which led to Singapore’s independence, and made Lee govern Singapore the way he has. •Revolutionary Zeal Making Singapore a different city! Singapore became a centre of international trade and relatively prosperity in Asia.
Under his guidance, Singapore became a financial and industrial powerhouse despite a lack of abundant natural resources. Lee ruled with ultimate authority, and his zeal for law and order was legendary. No other leader in the modern world has had such a hand in influencing and directing his country’s progress from independence to developed nation status the way he has. None has straddled the two worlds with as much success: the revolutionary world in the first half of this century for independence from empire, and the development world in the second half for wealth and progress. A dictator and Autocrat to the core Lee sequenced the changes and orchestrated the development of his city without apologizing for what he had to do. Lee’s authoritarian manner won him both admirers and detractors but it appears to have had the desired results, in as much as the people of Singapore remain independent, comparatively prosperous, and untroubled by the strife that now troubles the region. •Perspicacity When it comes to crafting national economic policy, few political leaders in the world have had the perspicacity of Lee Kuan Yew. Lee set Singapore on the path of industrialization.
In 1961, the Economic Development Board was established to attract foreign investment, offering attractive tax incentives and providing access to the highly skilled, disciplined and relatively low paid work force. At the same time, the government maintained tight control of the economy, regulating the allocation of land, labor and capital resources. In the balancing of labor and capital, specifically the labor unions and employers of Singapore, a form of tripartite corporatism was introduced to provide stability and consistent economic growth that rguably ended exploitation and major strike activity simultaneously. Modern infrastructure like the airport, the port, roads, and communications networks were improved or constructed with state intervention. The Singapore Tourist Promotion Board was set up to promote tourism, which would eventually create many jobs in the service industry and prove to be a major source of income for the country. In formulating economic policies, Lee was primarily assisted by his ablest ministers, especially Goh Keng Swee and Hon Sui Sen. They managed to reduce the unemployment rate from 14 percent in 1965 to 4. 5 percent in 1973.
Some structural problems, however, have remained in Singapore including the heavy foreign ownership of capital. •Government Policies Like many countries, Singapore was not immune to the disease of corruption. Lee was well aware how corruption had led to the downfall of the Nationalist Chinese government in mainland China. Fighting against the communists himself, he knew he had to ‘clean house’. Lee introduced legislation that gave the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) greater power to conduct arrests, search, call up witnesses, and investigate bank accounts and income tax returns of suspected persons and their family.
With Lee’s support, CPIB was given the authority to investigate any officer or minister. Indeed, several ministers were later charged with corruption. Singapore is one of the least corrupt economies of the world. He made Singaporeans clean up their act, both figuratively and literally. No other dictator has been able to achieve that sort of transformation. One of the remarkable successes of Lee Kuan Yew’s management of Singapore is his making his nation the least corrupt in Asia, by institutionalizing “clean, no-money elections” and recruiting the best people into government.
He says: “They must be paid a wage commensurate with what men of their ability and integrity are earning for managing a big corporation or successful legal or other professional practice. They have to manage a big corporation or successful legal or other professional practice. They have to manage a Singapore economy that yielded an annual growth rate of eight to nine percent in the last two decades, giving its citizens a per capita income that the World Bank rated in 1995 as ninth highest in the world. He debunked what Western liberals claimed about a free unfettered press exposing corruption, pointing out that the freewheeling press of India, the Philippines, Thailand, South Korea and Japan have not stopped pervasive corruption. One way Lee Kuan Yew cleaned up Singapore was by shaming corrupt officials. In fact, one of his cabinet ministers took his own life due to “loss of face” from corruption charges. “We had established a climate of opinion which looked upon corruption in public office as a threat to society. Lee laments that in much of Asia, corruption has become a way of life for government officials. He said: “The higher they are, the bigger their homes and more numerous their wives or mistresses, all bedecked in jewelry appropriate to the power and position of their men. ” Lee believed that ministers should be well paid in order to maintain a clean and honest government. In 1994, he proposed to link the salaries of ministers, judges, and top civil servants to the salaries of top professionals in the private sector, arguing that this would help recruit and retain talent to serve in the public sector.
In the late 1960s, fearing that Singapore’s growing population might overburden the developing economy, Lee started a vigorous ‘Stop-at-Two’ family planning campaign. Couples were urged to undergo sterilization after their second child. Third or fourth children were given lower priorities in education and such families received less economic rebates. In 1983, Lee sparked the ‘Great Marriage Debate’ when he encouraged Singapore men to choose women with high education as wives.
He was concerned that a large number of graduate women were unmarried. Some sections of the population, including graduate women, were upset by his views. Nonetheless, a match-making agency Social Development Unit (SDU) was set up to promote socialising among men and women graduates. Lee also introduced incentives, such as tax rebates, schooling, and housing priorities for graduate mothers who had three or four children, in a reversal of the over-successful ‘Stop-at-Two’ family planning campaign in the 1960s and 1970s.
By the late-1990s, birth rates had become so low that Lee’s successor Goh Chok Tong extended these incentives to all married women, and gave even more incentives, such as the ‘baby bonus’ scheme. •Personifies excellent management, integrity and discipline With his intolerance, hypocrisy and stands as one of Asia’s great modern leaders One can disagree with him, but intolerance and authoritarianism have never had so articulate or stimulating a spokesman. •The World’s greatest businessman Lee efficiently managed the Republic of Singapore like a successful giant corporation.
He presided over the transformation of Singapore from a fractious and squalid colonial backwater into one of the shining jewels of Asia. In less than half a century, through complex and ingenious economic and social engineering, Singapore has melded a multi-ethnic, multi-racial population into a thriving, safe and incredibly productive society that boasts the world’s number one airline, the busiest maritime port, nearly nonexistent unemployment, and a lower infant mortality rate than the United States. •Visionary
John Chambers, boss of global giant Cisco Systems, says: “There are two equalizers in life: the Internet and education. Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew is a world leader who understands this and is using the power of the Internet to position Singapore for survival and success in the Internet economy. ” WEAKNESSES OF LEE KUAN YEW Without a doubt, Mr Lee Kuan Yew is widely hailed and acknowledged for his extraordinary achivements ; for almost single –handedly turned a trading post into a successful thriving nation that it is today.
It is also true that if we were to analyse Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s life and decisions made, which would have impacted his fellow countrymen’s lives ( not necessarily in a positive way) in an objective manner , we have detected weaknesses which has to be brought out into the open . This has to be performed in order that we have a balanced view of the achivements of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and to avoid the mistake of mindlessly jumping on the bandwagon of this esteemed statesperson’s group of fervent supporters.
It is common knowledge by now of a High Court judgement on September 24, 2008 where it was ruled that Far Eastern Economic Review ( FEER) magazine’s publisher and editor Restall had defamed Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his son Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong . The Court found that 2006 article “ Singapore’s Martyr: Chee Soo Juan “ had insinuated that the two Lee’s were corrupt. The article criticized the government’s handling of a pay and perks scandal at the country’s largest charity, the National Kidney Foundation ( NKF). The charity’s former head T. T. Durai has since been jailed.
The Court sentenced FEER publisher and editor to pay damages to the complainants. To put things in perspective , we have to be aware that generally, the consensus is that one of the key defining areas which sets this complex man apart from Asia’s other nation building is what he didn’t do : he did not become corrupt and he did not stay in power too long. Mao Tze Tung, Suharto , Marcos and Ne Win left their countries on the verge of ruin with no obvious successor. Mr Lee left Singapore with a per capita GDP of $14,000 , his reputation gilt-edged and an entire tier of second-generation leaders to take over when he stepped down in 1990.
Mr Lee now basks in the wisdom of seniority, whose views continue to be sought by statesmen and commentators who travel from all over the world to pay court to him in Singapore. Thus , it appears that Mr Lee could have insecurity issues, of which one of the key symptoms is an inability to accept criticisms in a gracious manner. It is effortless to understand why this is so. It is worthwhile highlighting that it has had negative repercussions on Singapore who has been criticized by human rights groups and the foreign media for clamping down on dissent as ell as curbing press freedom and other political rights. In Mr Lee’s own words , “ There are very few things that I do not know about Singapore politics and there are very few things that you can tell me or any foreign correspondent can tell me about Singapore . ” [ Sg news online : May 1 2006 ] A statement which reeks of total arrogance. It appears that this runs contrary to the earlier point about insecurity but we have to be aware that more often than not, the outward perception of arrogance portrayed could be fuelled by extreme sense of insecurities within.
We are reminded that only one party, the People’s Action Party ( PAP) has ruled the country since independence in 1965. Opposition leaders have been crippled by financially draining defamation suits filed by PAP stalwarts, which if not instructed , would have been condoned by Mr Lee. With the exception of a brief period of competitive politics between 1963 and 1965, the political landscape has been characterized by PAP hegemony. In addition to the marginalization of opposition political parties in Singapore, public dissent against PAP dominance has been minimal.
The weakness of civil society combined with PAP control of the media and intimidation of opposition viewpoints has produced a classic illiberal democracy. Opposition parties and interest groups are tolerated so long as they do not threaten the position and role of the ruling regime. This would be the greatest tragedy of Singapore, a society which is stifled of freedom of speech, repressed by an autocratic regime , perpetrated by Mr Lee . We only have to look towards the late JB Jeyaratnam, Singapore’s most prominent opposition politician.
As a result of decades of opposing Mr Lee and his government, JB was crushed by defamation suits, then bankrupted and expelled from parliament, and denied the right to practice law. Mr Lee believes that he did not believe that market liberalism needed to go hand in hand with liberal democracy. [ Jakarta Post : October 10 2008]. Economic wealth far outweighs the individual’s right for free speech, self expression and right to dissent. In 1983, Mr Lee sparked the “Great Marriage Debate” when he encouraged Singapore men to choose women with high education as wives.
Mr Lee expressed concern in August 1983 that Singapore faced the prospect of a declining talent pool, with disastrous consequences for the country and society, if current ( then) marriage and procreation trend continues. First there was an inverse relationship between the educational level of married women and the number of children that they have. Second, Singaporean men tend to marry their educational equals or inferiors which result in an increasing number of well educated women who were single. [Asian Higher Education by Gerard A. Postiglione, Grace C. L.
Mak- 1997] A match –making agency –Social Development Unit ( SDU) was set up with the primary objective of promoting socializing among men and women graduates. The Government in fact introduced incentives , such as schooling and housing priorities for graduate mothers who had three or four children. With the benefit of hindsight, this policy was a major flop. Currently, it is common practice to encourage the influx of “foreign talent”. The key point here however is not that the policy failed. Rather it is the eugenic beliefs / selective breeding and population control .
Eugenics involves the controlled breeding of humans in order to achieve desirable traits in human generations ; the desirable trait here being intelligence as reflected by the level of education. It can be viewed as brutal movement which inflicted massive human rights violations on the people. The “interventions” advocated involved prominently the identification and classification of individuals ie the level of education. The favourable incentives for the chosen ones ie women with high level of education would on the flip side of the coin discriminates against women lacking the same.
Generally speaking, any form of discrimination would be on a base level, be classified as a violation of human rights and this is aggravated by the fact that such a discriminatory policy was initiated and propagated by the Government. LESSONS FROM LEE KUAN YEW Lee Kuan Yew an outstanding examples of transformational leadership — of a vastly different nature and in totally different contexts. We believe that there are several important leadership lessons we can draw from the examples of this political leader : •Good Leader
He is good leader in government that was enabled by the electoral process, and from policy directives granting him authority. Emerge to respond to the demands of a given situation, leading until the situation has been resolved satisfactorily. •Bold vision Transformational leaders are able to set out a bold vision. But that’s not enough. They are also able to project their dream and put extraordinary communication skills to use to drive it across to a large number of people. Also, far-reaching as the vision may be, it is usually expressed in a simple and direct manner.
When we get to the core, we see something very basic, often strikingly obvious. With hindsight, we might almost wonder how we could have missed it! •Trust and commitment Transformational leaders are skilled at marshalling the intellectual and emotional equity of their people. They work hard to gain their trust and commitment because, no matter how appealing the vision, if others don’t buy into it, it won’t get implemented. And the most potent way to get everyone on the same wavelength is to set an example. A leader has to be true to the beat of his own drum, and there cannot be any inconsistency between word and action.
All these types of leadership matter. We saw that without the top-level, policy support vision could not succeed. There needs to be someone in the organization at a high level who is committed to the goals of the vision, someone who engenders belief in the “goodness” of the vision. And when goals are not clear, or when there is considerable uncertainty about the outcome, or when the leadership at the top is not well defined or evident, vision can be saved by the skill and commitment of team members. All these kinds of leadership are necessary, no one type is sufficient in itself. Individualized consideration This implies caring for the individual at the highest level, understanding and factoring in his or her unique circumstances, but at the same time, being dispassionate and not letting it cloud one’s sense of judgment. •Ability to mind the mind. Transformational leaders will not let the storms of the heart cover the sun in the mind. They leave behind the regrets of the past, and will take forward the lessons instead, into the future. They are far from egocentric, quick to recognize that they are wrong and change track accordingly. For them ego, E-G-O connotes edging goodness out. Intellectual Courage Transformational leaders stoke the spirit of intellectual courage to ferment constructive dissent, which has a huge positive impact on the quality of team building and decision-making. They are quick to recognize good ideas and have the intellectual honesty to give credit where it is due. •Imperative of institutionalization In order to ensure continuity without disruption. They focus on building an institution, which is enduring and lasts far beyond his individual contribution, and continues to thrive and to serve the larger interest of the group. Role change The leader’s willingness to move away from his conventional role and take on an entirely different mantle, maybe even hanging up his boots. Such an act caps true leadership, representing as it does, wisdom and the grace to pass on the baton. •Situational Leadership Leadership styles work best when they fit the nature of the situation. If cooperation is a necessary ingredient for success, then leading through consensus gives the clear message that everyone will be heard. If a massive culture change is coming, a charismatic, risk-taking leader is called for.
If change is inevitable but unsettling and unwanted, leaders have be both convincing and consistent in their commitment to change. When the goals are very visible to the public, leadership have to inspire and pitch in personally to get the work done. When a vision embodies high risk and complexity, a leader at the top of the government who supports the project is of immense value, both for symbolism and for resources. CONCLUDING REMARKS To conclude, transformational leaders are few and far between.
They emerge from the times and circumstances — and all too often, from the ashes strewn around them. Commanding leadership and easy times rarely go together. Leaders were a critical success factor in all of these innovation and vision. Lee KY communicated the value of the undertaking, engendered and encouraged commitment from the working group, negotiated the environment to get resources and build support, and handle criticism. He created the environment to get the work done. Each of these aspects of leadership contributed to progress, acceptance, and success.