Friday, August 10, 2007

MORE PICS – Lee Kuan Yew - Pioneer of Singapore; 1-1/2 Hr Q & A - Aug 06 07; 'My generation is forged... in the crucible struggle; 'I am what I am"

We look with awe this genius Harry Lee Kuan Yew who seems to accomplish so much in his life time on earth. But remember all of you possess genius minds, but you look to these individuals as your geniuses, who connect slightly more, momentarily, with some information. They offer this information to you as great revelations of fact. They are, through their most powerful and magnificently gigantic scopes, viewing just only a pinpoint of reality!

You do not incorporate a basic understanding of what and who you are. Therefore, how do you determine to understand what you have created within a universe? You do incorporate what you choose to call genius minds. You are all multidimensional creatures, and you study one dimension! Therefore, you base facts upon one dimension, and you express these as temporary truths. There are myriads of dimensions!

The multidimensional nature of the human psyche gives clues as to the abilities that lie within each individual. These are part of your racial heritage. They give notice of psychic bridges connecting the known and 'unknown' realities in which you dwell. There are springboards to lead you into other levels of understanding and initiate you in journeys in which it may seem that the familiar is left far behind.The known reality is even more precious, more "real," because you will find it illuminated both within and without by the rich fabric of an 'unknown' reality now seen emerging from the most intimate portions of daily life.

Your concepts of personhood are now limiting you personally and en masse, and yet your religions, metaphysics, histories, and even your sciences are hinged upon your ideas of who and what you are. Your psychologies do not explain your own reality to you. They cannot contain your experience. Your religions do not explain your greater reality, and your sciences leave you just as ignorant about the nature of the universe in which you dwell.

"These institutions and disciplines are composed of individuals, each restrained by limiting ideas about their own private reality; and so it is with private reality that we will begin and always return, period. These may appear esoteric or complicated, yet they are not beyond the reach of any person who is determined to understand the nature of the unknown elements of the self, and its greater world.

"The self is multidimensional when it is physically alive. It is a triumph of spiritual and psychological identity, ever choosing from a myriad of probable realities its own clear unassailable focus. When you don't realize this, then you project upon life after death all of the old misconceptions. You expect the dead to be little different from the living--if you believe in afterlife at all--but perhaps more at peace, more understanding, and, hopefully, wiser. "The fact is that in life you poise delicately and yet perfectly between realities, and after death you do the same= = == == = == == = =

I am what I am

By Ng Tze Yong August 08, 2007
As the Minister Mentor left the stage last evening, he took two steps to the side to grasp the railing before making his way down. A small, perfectly natural move for an elder statesman. But for a 20-something like me, it served as a reminder that Mr Lee Kuan Yew turns 84 next month. For in our mind's eye, we still see MM as he appeared in the videos of his fiery rally speeches, in his younger days. When you actually see him in person, you are jolted by the passage of time. And once again we think of how important it is to hear from someone who can make the dry pages of history spring to life.

MM Lee's mind was as razor-sharp as ever, when he spoke yesterday at the first of a seminar series, Pioneers of Singapore: Inside Stories. For one-and-a-half hours, MM Lee took questions from the 300-strong audience - telling tales of old, linking them to current trends, and all the while peppering his remarks with dates, places and names. Once, he even reminded the moderator, who was about to move on to another question, that he had not yet answered the second part of the previous question.

It drew laughter, and quite a few nods, from the audience. The seminar series is organised jointly by the Economic Development Board (EDB) and The Straits Times. In explaining the idea behind the series, EDB Society president Lee Suan Hiang had said that there was a 'time window of opportunity' to capture the stories of the pioneering generation. Arguably the best question of the night also centred around the old and new guard.Someone remarked that for years he had been grooming scholars, meeting potential leaders at tea parties, and developing a new crop of ministers and civil servants. So why, with the exception of PM Lee, have we been unable to find enough talent to match the joint qualities of the pioneering team? How can we recreate such a team?

'My generation was forged... in the crucible of struggle,' said MM Lee. 'I will not say that the present team is inferior in ability. If you look at the successive teams, in fact, the standard has gone up. 'But what is missing is the combat experience, the actual fire.' The current team, he said, has been through 'a few scares', such as Sars and the Asian financial crisis, and 'did not lose their nerve'. But there is a 'vast difference' between a soldier who has seen real combat and one who hasn't.

The present team, MM Lee believes, is 'as best as you can get'. In a globalising economy abound with opportunities, someone else wanted to know, how to attract the best into government? If you were a young high-flying lawyer, he asked MM Lee, would you forsake everything to join the Government? His response: 'It depends on the kind of life I have had before I reached 30.' Someone from a humble background who made the grade through a scholarship, MM Lee said, would feel 'a certain moral obligation' to keep the systemgoing.

Someone from a more comfortable family background would hesitate. 'That is the problem we are facing,' he said. Several questions dealt with the usual issues: Foreign talent and retaining the Singapore identity, the failed merger with Malaysia, and Singapore'sunique brand of labour tripartism.
But there were also some unusual ones. 'What keeps you awake at night?' someone asked.

'These days, I don't stay awake at night. I leave that to the PM and his ministers.'
What is your BHAG, another wondered. (BHAG is slang for Big Hairy Audacious
.) MM Lee's BHAG, it turned out, was that PM Lee would find a capable team to succeed him in time.

The last question of the night was: How do you want to be remembered?
'I am what I am' was MM Lee's reply. The seminar series comes on the wave of a recent interest in political memoir-writing. Memoirs are great. But storytelling, as yesterday's session showed, can be just as important.
There's a play showing at the National Library called Big Fool Lee. It tells the story of legendary radio broadcaster Mr Lei Dai Soh, a well-loved Cantonese storyteller on Rediffusion from the 1940s to 1980s. Mr Lei was said to stop traffic in Chinatown with his tales. Hearing MM Lee in person had a similar effect. The audience hung onto his
every word. MM Lee once famously said: 'Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up.'

His words still make even the inattentive among us get up.
= = == =


Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has been one of Singapore's most iconic pioneers since independence.
Becoming Singapore's first Prime Minister in 1959, he remained in that capacity for 31 years to become the world's then longest-serving premier. After leading the People's Action Party (PAP) through eight General Elections, Lee stepped down on 28 November 1990, handing over the Prime Ministership to Mr Goh Chock Tong. But he continued to serve in Cabinet as Senior Minister for another 14 years. Since 2004, he has taken on the newly created role of Minister Mentor.
His biggest achievement is often cited as his stewardship in transforming Singapore from a small trading settlement into a world-class global city in three decades.
When Singapore was officially declared independent on 9 August 1965, Lee was overwhelmed with grief rather than joy. Singapore had just been ejected from the Malaysian Federation. The tiny island did not boast any natural resources and faced little odds of survival. In fact, Richard Hughes from the London Sunday Times made a gloomy prediction on 22 August 1965: 'Singapore's economy would collapse if the British bases - costing more than 100 million pounds sterling - were closed.' Indeed, just six years later, Britain withdrew totally from Singapore. The economy faltered, but did not collapse. Instead, by the 1970s, the economy was steaming ahead as an industrial powerhouse.
Lee and his team tackled problems like security, education, housing and unemployment head-on.
The economy was in bad shape. Lee was told that by the end of 1966, unemployment would exceed 14 per cent and this pointed to social unrest. The loss of the British military expenditure between 1968 and 1971 left a huge hole in the economy, costing some 20 per cent of GDP and ten thousands of jobs. Lee acted fast. In 1961, the EDB was established to attract foreign investment, offering attractive tax incentives and providing access to Singapore's highly skilled, disciplined and relatively low paid work force. The government also maintained tight control of the economy, regulating the allocation of land, labour and capital resources. Modern infrastructure and communications networks were improved and constructed. By 1990, the GDP had ballooned from US$970 million in 1965 to US$34.5 billion.

Housing was another big problem. Lee's solution was to set up the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in 1960, a statutory body which began a massive public housing construction programme to relieve the housing shortage. After an initial lack of response due to cost, Lee decided to come up with a savings plan which would allow Singaporeans to own their own homes. The Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme then took off, and the number of Singaporeans who wanted to buy new HDB flats rose rapidly from about 3,000 in 1967 to 70,000 in 1996. Lee also suggested that HDB constantly improve the quality and vary the flat designs and landscaping of new towns to add distinctiveness and variety in the neighbourhoods. Today, HDB flats have become a quintessential part of Singapore living.
A further headache - national security. In 1965, Singapore had virtually no armed forces to defend itself. Domestically, racial tension simmered and riots were not unusual. With increasing unrest, Lee and then Defence Minister Goh Keng Swee started plans to build Singapore's own army from scratch. The original National Service Ordinance passed by the British was amended in 1967, and by 1971, Singapore had 17 national service battalions (16,000 men), with 14 battalions (11,000 men) in the reserves.

There were also schools for basic military training and officer cadets, the artillery, engineers, bomb disposal units and naval training. Things took off from there. By 1990, Military Technology, an international defence journal, said that the Singapore Armed Forces had grown into a "respected and professional force operating modern defence systems that was capable of defending the territorial integrity and independence of the state." Today, National Service has become a rite of passage for young men and even a means of unifying people from all backgrounds.
Good governance and clean administration was another source of concern for Lee. He knew he could not lead Singapore alone, so he made sure he appointed the right leaders to stand alongside him. Their education, capabilities and character were areas which he looked out for.

In order to draw people into taking up a political career, Lee also raised the incentives for people who wanted to join the government. More importantly, Lee introduced legislation that gave the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau greater power to conduct arrests, search, call up witnesses, and investigate bank accounts and income tax returns of suspected persons and their families. With Lee's support, CPIB was given the authority to investigate any officer or minister - a means of keeping the government transparent and corruption at bay.

To achieve First World Standards in a Third World region, Lee also set out to transform Singapore into a tropical garden city. He introduced an anti-spitting campaign in the 1960s and started planting trees at community events to instil a 'clean and green' movement in Singapore. Over subsequent decades, millions of trees, palms and shrubs were planted to beautify public spaces. Lee also started plans to clean up the Singapore River and Kallang Basin and bring fish back to the rivers. Proper underground sewage was also laid for the whole island, all part of Lee's plan for rigorous urban renewal.
On a global macro level, Lee also helped to further Singapore's international recognition by building diplomatic relationships with other countries. Although he continues to have foreign critics, Lee's close ties with other world leaders over the years has shaped him into a much sought-after international statesman.

= = == =Quotes ON POLITICS

'To straddle the middle ground and win elections, we have to be in charge of the political agenda. This can only be done by not being beaten in the argument by our critics. They complain that I come down too hard on their arguments. But wrong ideas have to be challenged before they influence public opinion and make for problems. Those who try to be clever at the expense of the government should not complain if my replies are as sharp as their criticisms.'
(On the opposition, From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, Lee Kuan Yew. 2000)
'You know, the cure for all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government. You get that alternative and you'll never put Singapore together again: Humpty Dumpty cannot be put together again...and your asset values will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries, foreign workers.'
(Justifying pay hikes for Singapore ministers, The Straits Times, 5 April 2007)


'On our island of 224 square miles were two million people. We inherited what was the capital of the British Empire in Southeast Asia, but dismembered from the hinterland which was the empire. The question was how to make a living? How to survive? This was not a theoretical problem in the economics of development. It was a matter of life and death for two million people. The realities of the world of 1965 had to be faced. The sole objective was survival. How this was to be achieved, by socialism or free enterprise, was a secondary matter. The answer turned out to be free enterprise, tempered with the socialist philosophy of equal opportunities for education, jobs, health, housing.'
(Speech at the 26th World Congress of the International Chamber of Commerce, October 5 1978)
'In fact, we were part of the process that disproved the theory of the development economics school, that this was exploitation. We were in no position to be fussy about high-minded principles. We had to make a living and this was a way to make a living.'
(On Singapore's strategy of attracting multinational investors, at a time when this was viewed as exploitative of the local economy. From Lee Kuan Yew: The Man & His Ideas, Han Fook Kwang, Warren Fernandez, Sumiko Tan. 1998)
'Political reform need not go hand in hand with economic liberalisation. I do not believe that if you are libertarian, full of diverse opinions, full of competing ideas in the market place, full of sound and fury, therefore you will succeed.'
(Quoted in The Straits Times, Aug 17 2004)
'Before you discuss your future, remember how we got here - the past. You have a role to play in transforming a dependent under-developed community to an independent industrial society. It depends upon how successfully we can mobilize internal and international capital and expertise, get people to learn the skills and crafts, and acquire the managerial and marketing know-how. Only then can we produce goods and services efficiently and competitively for international customers. So whilst throwing your eyes towards the far horizon, do not forget the harsh realities of today. Let us first negotiate and overcome these immediate hazards.'
(Speech at NTUC's seminar, November 16 1969)

'A faint hearted people would have given up long ago. We never gave in, never mind giving up. For that alone, we deserve to succeed. If we press on, in twenty years we shall build a great metropolis, worthy of a hardy, resilient and stout-hearted people.'
(National Day Speech, August 8 1972)

'Geography and history decided this for us. Whilst we have no vast hinterland to open up for plantations or mines, we have the location, the social and economic infrastructure, the discipline and skills to keep us competitive. Singapore has always had to face competition in a tough world.

Our young are ambitious and energetic. They must also acquire those qualities which enabled their parents to make Singapore what is it today - the grit and determination to stay the course, the strength and stamina to ride over rough patches.
We must take in our stride today's upsets, making adjustments as conditions change, whilst keeping our eyes on targets for next year, for the years after, working and planning into the next decade and beyond.'
(Speech at the 23rd World Assembly of the World Confederation of Organisations of the teaching profession, July 31 1974)
'In the early years any factory was welcome. For example, when I was in London in January 1968 to discuss the British withdrawal, Marcus Sieff, the chairman of Marks & Spencer's, met me at my London hotel. He had seen me on BBC television. He suggested that as Chinese had nimble fingers, Singapore could go into making fish-hooks and lures for trout fishing. This was high-value work because the feathers had to be skilfully attached to the hooks. There were other such products which did not require much capital but created many jobs. His retail network could help market the goods. I must have looked forlorn on television for him to have taken time to see me. I thanked him but nothing came of it. Not long after, a Norwegian manufacturer of fish-hooks, Mustad, set up a factory in Singapore, employing several hundred workers to make millions of fish-hooks of all shapes and sizes, though not with feathers for trout fishing.'
(Recounting in his memoirs the desperation of the early years to get investments into Singapore, From Third World to First, The Singapore Story: 1965-2000, 2000)

'If we maximise our opportunities in this golden period, in five years we will have a more vibrant cosmopolitan Singapore, not only clean, green and safe, but also a city, fun to work and live in for Singaporeans and for the many foreign professionals and their families.'

(Speech at Tanjong Pagar GRC Orchard Fiesta at Civic Plaza, Ngee Ann City Building, 7 July 2007)
'If you ask me, the future is really shining for us...We will survive; this is a red dot, which we can make redder and brighter.'
(On the economy, quoted in The Straits Times, November 5 2006)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can see why Singapore is what it is today and Malaysia is what it is today.
Imagine Singapore is still part of Malaysia and Malaysia is ruled by people of LKY's calibre, vision, and passion, Malaysia including Singapore would be a very different place from what it is today!
How sad for Malaysia.
The fate of a country actually depends only on a handful of people - prospers or be ruined.

8:02 PM  

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