Lee Kuan Yew’s deepest fear is that young Singaporeans will take the prosperity and growth the island state is now enjoying as a given.
Lee, 91, is worried that the next generation may lose the perseverance and stamina that have shaped today’s Singapore.
This concern has led him to become a prolific commentator after he stepped down as prime minister in 1990. He has written several books, including two volumes of memoirs.
Lee thinks it behooves him to share with youngsters his experience and thoughts in nurturing and leading Singapore to its global eminence, since everything its people enjoy today, from law and order, personal safety and social stability to economic advancement, is the hard-won result of a decent and efficient government that cannot be taken for granted.
Singapore’s ascent from a tiny city state to a global economic and financial powerhouse offers substantial experience to learn from.
Lee is often asked whether China’s rise will complicate or even endanger Singapore’s standing.
His answer is simple: if China is offended, there’s no need for Beijing to invade Singapore; all it needs to do is tighten its grip on trade or market access to the island’s disadvantage.
By the same token, Lee points out that it doesn’t take much effort for China to either support or suppress Hong Kong, and pragmatic Hongkongers all know who the real boss is.
In this sense, Lee is pessimistic about democracy and constitutional reform in the special administrative region.
When asked whether his country, in which ethnic Chinese make up about three-quarters of the population, should look up to Beijing in all respects, Lee’s response was a straightforward “no”.
He said China has already become conceited even before getting rich, and with its economic muscle, it will “treat you with condescension”.
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