Lee Kuan Yew, love him or hate him, has spent a lifetime in the political arena. Over the course of his career, he has spent countless hours in the presence of foreign dignitaries and rubbed shoulders with the likes of Deng Xiaoping, the founder of modern China, and various US presidents, international statesmen and public figures.

A reader has put together a collation of quotes by politicians about the aging leader, who even up till his last hours on earth, continues to leave an impression in the minds of local and international audiences worldwide.


“Lee is like a banana –yellow of skin, white underneath.”

-Zhou Enlai, Premier of the People’s Republic of China, at the Bandung Conference (1955)


“More like a Hitler or Mussolini but with less polish and skill.”

– Socialist Front on Lee Kuan Yew, Malay Mail (March 28, 1964)


“A chameleon, a remarkable creature which can adjust its colour to its surroundings.”

– Tan Siew Sin, Malaysian Chinese Association, in Malay Mail, (March 29, 1964)


“Lee Kuan Yew’s political power has always been built over the dead bodies of his friends and allies.”

– Malaysian Chinese Association, (1964)


“Harry, you’re the best bloody Englishman east of Suez.”

– George Brown, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom (1966-68)


“Kuan Yew, I can never trust you as a politician.”

Tunku Abdul Rahman, Prime Minister of Malaysia, (1975)


"The fact that a leader of Lee’s breadth of vision was not able to act on a broader stage represents an incalculable loss to the world.”

-Richard Nixon, President of the United States


“Who is this ridiculous man who wastes my time? Running Singapore is like running Marseilles. I am running a whole country!”

-Francois Mitterrand, President of France


“[Lee] is bloody-minded and ruthless with his adversaries. He stomps them into the ground.”

– Dennis Bloodworth, journalist (1989)


“A little Emperor … of a tiny Middle Kingdom.”

Mahathir Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia


“All those who met the great man from the little country were lectured on how Malaysia should be run.”

Mahathir Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia


“Singapore is a tiny country. Don’t talk big.”

Mahathir Mohamed, Prime Minister of Malaysia


“Why is he still so afraid? I honestly think that through the years he has accumulated enough skeletons in his closet that he knows that when he is gone, his son and the generations after him will have a price to pay. If we had parliamentary debates where the opposition could pry and ask questions, I think he is actually afraid of something like that.”

Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party


“Mr Lee Kuan Yew kept on repeating how he built up this country and how much he has stored in the reserves. That is the tragedy of the man. For all his intelligence, he does not possess the wisdom of life. …

Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party


"Mr Lee Kuan Yew fights all his demons within himself to try to shore up his reputation. In the process, however, he destroys the very legacy that he so desperately desires to establish.”

Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party

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