Monday, 27 July 2009

Lee Kuan Yew at 85

One of my political heroes, up there with Mikhail Gorbachev and President Obama has just had a landmark birthday.

In that difficult assessment between authority and personal freedom I suspect he draws the line closer to authority than I do but one cannot deny his and Singapore's success. The fact that the two in that context are virtually synonymous says it all.

A Cambridge trained barrister he returned to Singapore after qualification. He defeated the Communists in Singapore with Malay and British help. He won with others freedom from the colonial power, Britain and then from Malaysia. Singapore then proceeded to outpace and outperform Malaysia.

He was Prime Minister of the country through a period of remarkable growth, stability and personal prosperity. He was succeeded by Goh Chok Tong. who was in his turn succeeded by Lee Tsien Loong, the great man's son. Lee Kuan Yew as Prime Minister Mentor still has his hand on the tiller and Singapore remains prosperous secure and strong. Singapore also has four languages though only Mandarin and English are used regularly. It also has a relatively young and multi-racial population. Weren't we warned of that? That was a potentially explosive mix, not a bad record and no sign that the light is dimming or that retirement is calling.

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