With the recent uproar of racist incidents, let us reflect on some of the most racist statements the late Lee Kuan Yew once said himself.
❶ From the book Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas —
“I have said openly that if we were 100 per cent Chinese, we would do better. But we are not and never will be, so we live with what we have.”
❷ From an interview with Tom Plate, in Giants of Asia: Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew, 2010 —
“We could not have held the society together if we had not made adjustments to the system that gives the Malays, although they are not as hardworking and capable as the other races, a fair share of the cake.”
❸ The Straits Times, 1999-09-30 —
“If, for instance, you put in a Malay officer who’s very religious and who has family ties in Malaysia in charge of a machine-gun unit, that’s a very tricky business. We’ve got to know his background.”
❹ Talk at NUS on Dec 12th, 1986, as quoted by The Straits Times, 1986-12-16 —
“The Indians never vote, never agree to vote any single party. They like contention. It is in their nature (laughter). And it is established by our polls.”
❺ From the book Lee Kuan Yew: The Man and His Ideas —
“At the very beginning, the Malays were not hardworking, nor were a lot of the Indians. We encouraged them to keep up. I’m not sure whether they will not feel a little resentful, but I mean this is part of history. I know that it took a long time before the Malays accepted that they had to work hard because it was not in their culture.”
Racism is not new. It is not a sign of people “going crazy” because of COVID. Racism has always been around and it will not change unless we call out racist people for what they are!