Lee Kuan Yew

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Lee Kuan Yew

Image:Lee Kuan Yew.jpg

Order: 1st Prime Ministar of Singapore
Term of office: June 3 1959November 28 1990
Date of birth: September 16 1923
Place of birth England, Cambridge
Political Party: PAP
Prime Minister
Toh Chin Chye (19591968)

Goh Keng Swee (19681984)
S Rajaratnam (19801985)
Goh Chok Tong (19851990)
Ong Teng Cheong (19851990)

Lee Kuan Yew (Template:Zh-cp; born September 16, 1923; also spelt Lee Kwan-Yew) was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. He has remained the second most influential politician in Singapore (after the Prime Minister) since stepping down from office. Under the administration of Singapore's second prime minister, Goh Chok Tong, he served as Senior Minister. He currently holds the specially created post of Minister Mentor under his son Lee Hsien Loong, who became the nation's third prime minister and second from the same family on August 12, 2004. He is also known informally as "Harry" to his close friends and family and thus his name is sometimes cited as Harry Lee Kuan Yew, although this first name is never used in official settings.

A dialogue on 12 April, 2006, with a group of young Singaporeans on their questions and issues on the upcoming election, "Why My Vote Matters", can be found here.[1]


Family background

In his memoirs, Lee mentions that he was a fourth-generation Chinese Singaporean: his Hakka great-grandfather, Lee Bok Boon (born 1846), emigrated from the Dapu county of Guangdong province to the Straits Settlements in 1862.

The eldest child of Lee Chin Koon and Chua Jim Neo, Lee Kuan Yew was born at 92 Kampong Java Road in Singapore, in a large and airy bungalow. As a child Lee was strongly influenced by British culture, due in part to his grandfather, Lee Hoon Leong, who had given his sons an English education. His grandfather gave him the name "Harry" in addition to his Chinese name (given by his father) Kuan Yew.

Lee and his wife Kwa Geok Choo were married on September 30, 1950. They have two sons and one daughter.

Several members of Lee's family hold prominent positions in Singaporean society, and his sons and daughter hold high government and government-linked posts.

His elder son Lee Hsien Loong, a former Brigadier-General, has been the Prime Minister, since 2004, and Finance Minister of Singapore. He is also the Vice-Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Company (GIC) (Lee himself is the Chairman). Lee's younger son, Lee Hsien Yang, also a former Brigadier-General, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of SingTel, a pan-Asian telecommunications giant and Singapore's largest company by market capitalisation (listed on the Singapore Exchange, SGX). Sixty-two percent of SingTel is owned by Temasek Holdings, a prominent government holding company with controlling stakes in a variety of very large government-linked companies such as Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank. Temasek Holdings in turn is run by Executive Director and CEO Ho Ching, the wife of Lee's elder son, the Prime Minister. Lee's daughter, Lee Wei Ling, runs the National Neuroscience Institute, and remains unmarried. Lee's wife Kwa Geok Choo used to be a partner of the prominent legal firm Lee & Lee. His younger brothers, Dennis, Freddy, and Suan Yew were partners of the same firm. He also has a younger sister, Monica. However, Lee has consistently denied charges of nepotism, arguing that his family members' privileged positions are based on personal merit.

Early life

Lee was educated at Telok Kurau Primary School, Raffles Institution, and Raffles College. His university education was delayed by World War II and the 19421945 Japanese occupation of Singapore. During the occupation, he operated a successful black market business selling a tapioca-based glue called Stikfas <ref>Ooi, Jeff (2005). "Perils of the sitting duck". Retrieved Nov. 6, 2005.</ref>. Having taken Chinese and Japanese lessons since 1942, he was able to work as a transcriber of Allied wire reports for the Japanese, as well as being the English-language editor on the Japanese Hodobu (報道部 — an information or propaganda department) from 1943 to 1944<ref> Pillai, M.G.G. (Nov. 1, 2005). "Did Lee Kuan Yew want Singapore ejected from Malaysia?". Malaysia Today.</ref>[2].

After the war, he studied law at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge in the United Kingdom (graduating with Double Starred First Class honours), and briefly attended the London School of Economics. He returned to Singapore in 1949 to work as a lawyer in Laycock and Ong, the legal practice of John Laycock, a pioneer of multiracialism who, together with A.P. Rajah and C.C. Tan, had founded Singapore's first multiracial club open to Asians.

Early political career 1951 to 1959

Pre People's Action Party

Lee’s first experience with politics in Singapore was his role as election agent for his boss John Laycock under the banner of the pro-British Progressive Party in the 1951 legislative council elections. However, Lee eventually realised the party’s future looked bleak as it was unlikely to have mass support, especially from the Chinese-speaking working class masses. This was especially important when the 1953 Rendel commission significantly expanded the electoral rolls to include all local-born as voters, resulting in a significant increase in Chinese voters. His big break came when he was engaged as a legal advisor to the trade and student unions which provided Lee with the link to the Chinese-speaking, working class world (Later on in his career, his party the PAP would use these historical links to unions as a negotiating tool in industrial disputes).

Formation of the People's Action Party

On November 21, 1954, Lee, together with a group of fellow English-educated middle-class men whom he himself described as “beer-swilling bourgeois” formed the socialist People's Action Party (PAP) in an expedient alliance with the pro-communist trade unionists. This alliance was described by Lee as a marriage of convenience, since the English-educated group needed the pro-communists’ mass support base while the communists needed a non-communist party leadership as a smoke screen because the Malayan Communist Party is illegal. Their common aims were to agitate for self-government and put an end to British colonial rule. An inaugural conference was held at the Victoria Memorial Hall, packed with over 1,500 supporters and trade unionists. Lee became secretary-general, a post he held until 1992, save for a brief period in 1957. UMNO’s Tunku Abdul Rahman and MCA’s Tan Cheng Lock were invited as guests to give credibility to the new party.

In Opposition

Lee contested and comprehensively won the Tanjong Pagar seat in the 1955 elections. He became the opposition leader, pitting himself against David Saul Marshall’s Labour Front-led coalition government. He was also one of PAP's representatives to the two constitutional discussions held in London over the future status of Singapore; the first being led by Marshall and the second by Lim Yew Hock, Marshall's hardline successor. It was in this period when Lee had to contend with rivals from both within and outside of the PAP. While Lee had to keep a safe distance from his pro-communist colleagues as they actively participated in mass and often violent actions to undermine the government’s authority, he also consistently maintained his opposition to the ruling coalition, often attacking the latter as incompetent and corrupt. Lee’s position in the PAP was seriously under threat in 1957 when pro-communists took over the leadership posts, following a party conference which the party's left wing had stacked with fake members <ref>Mauzy, Diane K. and R.S. Milne (2002). Singapore Politics Under the People's Action Party. Routledge ISBN 0-415-24653-9</ref> . Fortunately for Lee and the party's moderate faction, Lim Yew Hock ordered a mass arrest of the pro-communists and Lee was reinstated as secretary-general. After the communist 'scare', Lee subsequently sought and received a fresh and stronger mandate from his Tanjong Pagar constituents in a by-election in 1957. The communist threat within the party was temporarily removed as Lee prepared for the next elections. It was during this period when he had the first of a series of secret meetings with the underground communist leader, Fong Chong Pik (or Fang Chuang Pi) whom Lee referred to as the Plen, short form for plenipotentiary.

Prime Minister, pre-independence 1959 to 1965

Self-government administration 1959 to 1963

In the national elections held on June 1, 1959, the PAP won forty-three of the fifty-one seats in the legislative assembly. Singapore gained self-government with autonomy in all state matters except in defense and foreign affairs, and Lee became the first prime minister of the state of Singapore on June 3, 1959, taking over from Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock. Before he took office, Lee demanded and secured the release of Lim Chin Siong and Devan Nair who were arrested earlier by Lim Yew Hock's government.

Lee faced many problems after gaining self-rule for Singapore from the British, including education, housing, and unemployment. In response to the housing problem, Lee established the Housing and Development Board (HDB), an agency which began a massive public housing construction program to relieve the housing shortage.

Merger with Malaysia, then separation 1963 to 1965

After Malaya Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman proposed the formation of a federation which would include Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei in 1961, Lee began to campaign for a merger with Malaysia to end British colonial rule. He used the results of a referendum held on September 1 1962, in which 70% of the votes were cast in support of his proposal, to demonstrate that the people supported his plan. During Operation Coldstore, Lee crushed the pro-communist factions who were strongly opposing the merger and who were allegedly involved in subversive activities.

On September 16 1963, Singapore became part of the Federation of Malaysia. However, the union was short-lived. The Malaysian Central Government, ruled by the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), became worried by the inclusion of Singapore’s Chinese majority and the political challenge of the PAP in Malaysia. Lee openly opposed the bumiputra policy and used the Malaysian Solidarity Convention's famous cry of "Malaysian Malaysia!", a nation serving the Malaysian nationality, as opposed to the Malay race. PAP-UMNO relations were seriously strained. Some in UMNO also wanted Lee to be arrested.

Image:Leecry.jpg Race riots followed, such as that on Muhammad's birthday (21 July 1964), near Kallang Gasworks, in which twenty-three were killed and hundreds injured as Chinese and Malays attacked each other. Today, it is still disputed how it started, and theories include a bottle being thrown into a Muslim rally by a Chinese, while others argued that it was started by a Malay. More riots broke out in September 1964, as the rioters looted cars and shops, forcing both Tunku Abdul Rahman and Lee Kuan Yew to make public appearances in order to soothe the situation. The price of food skyrocketed during this period, due to the disruption in transport, which caused further hardship.

Unable to resolve the crisis, the Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku, Abdul Rahman, decided to expel Singapore from Malaysia, choosing to "sever all ties with a State Government that showed no measure of loyalty to its Central Government". Lee was adamant and tried to work out a compromise, but without success. He was later convinced by Goh Keng Swee that the secession was inevitable. Lee Kuan Yew signed a separation agreement on August 7 1965, which discussed Singapore's post-separation relations with Malaysia in order to continue co-operation in areas such as trade and mutual defence.

The failure of the merger was a heavy blow to Lee, who believed that it was crucial for Singapore’s survival. In a televised press conference, he broke down emotionally as he announced the separation to the people (The particular conference is used as evidence by supporters of Lee that he had not intentionally instigated the breakup of Malaysia):

"For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I believed in merger and unity of the two territories. ... Now, I, Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore, do hereby proclaim and declare on behalf on the people and the Government of Singapore that as from today, the ninth day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and sixty-five, Singapore shall be forever a sovereign democratic and independent nation, founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of the people in a most and just equal society."

On that day, August 9 1965, the Malaysian Parliament passed the required resolution that would sever Singapore's ties to Malaysia as a state, and thus the Republic of Singapore was created. Singapore's lack of natural resources, a water supply that was beholden primarily to Malaysia and a very limited defensive capability were the major challenges that Lee and the Singaporean Government faced.

Prime Minister, post-independence 1965 to 1990

Image:Lky.jpg In his biography, Lee Kuan Yew stated that he did not sleep well, and fell sick days after Singapore's independence. As the British prime-minister at the time, Harold Wilson expressed concern upon learning of Lee's condition from the British High Commissioner, John Robb. In response to their concern, Lee replied:

"Do not worry about Singapore. My colleagues and I are sane, rational people even in our moments of anguish. We will weigh all possible consequences before we make any move on the political chessboard..."

Lee began to seek international recognition of the Singapore's Independence. Singapore joined the United Nations (UN) on 21 September 1965, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 8 August 1967. Lee made his first official visit to Indonesia in 25 May, 1973, just a few years after the Konfrontasi under Sukarno's regime. Relations between Singapore and Indonesia substantially improved as subsequent visits were made between Singapore and Indonesia.

As Singapore has never had a dominant culture to which immigrants could assimilate, nor a common language, together with efforts from the government and ruling party, Lee tried to create a common Singaporean identity in the 1970s and 1980s.

Lee and his government stressed the importance of maintaining religious tolerance and racial harmony, and they were ready to use the law to counter any threat that might incite ethnic and religious violence. For example, Lee warned against "insensitive evangelisation", by which he referred to instances of Christian proselytising directed at Malays. In 1974, the government advised the Bible Society of Singapore to stop publishing religious materials in Malay. [3]

Decisions and policies

Lee had three main concerns – national security, the economy, and social issues – during his post-independence administration.

National security

The vulnerability of Singapore was deeply felt with threats from multiple sources including the communists, Indonesia (with its Confrontation stance), and UMNO extremists who wanted to force Singapore back into Malaysia. As Singapore gained admission to the United Nations, Lee quickly sought international recognition of Singapore's independence. He declared a policy of neutrality and non-alignment, following Switzerland's model. At the same time, he assigned Goh Keng Swee with the task of building the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and requested help from other countries for advice, training and facilities.

With the British announcement of having the intentions to pull out or cut down the troops from Singapore and Malaysia, In 1967, he and Goh introduced National Service, a conscription program that developed a large reserve force that can be mobilized in a short notice. In January 1968, Lee bought some AMX-13 French-made tanks and a total of 72 refurbished tanks in 1972.

Later, Singapore was able to establish strong military relations with other nations of ASEAN, the Five-Powers Defense Agreement (FPDA) and other noncommunist states. This partially restored the security of the country following the withdrawal of British troops in 31 October 1971.

Economic issues

The separation from Malaysia signified a permanent loss of a common market and an economic hinterland. The economic woes were further exacerbated by the British withdrawal that would eliminate over 50,000 jobs. Although the British were backing out from their earlier commitment to keep their bases till 1975, Lee decided not to strain the relationship with London. He convinced Harold Wilson to allow the substantial military infrastructure (including a dockyard) to be converted for civilian use, instead of destroying them in accordance with British law. With advice from Dr Albert Winsemius, Lee set Singapore on the path of industrialization. In 1961, the Economic Development Board was established to attract foreign investment, offering attractive tax incentives and providing access to the highly skilled, disciplined and relatively low paid work force. At the same time, the government maintained tight control of the economy , regulating the allocation of land, labour and capital resources. In the balancing of labour and capital, specifically the labour unions and employers of Singapore, a form of triparite corporatism was introduced to provide stability and consistent economic growth that arguably ended exploitation and major strike activity simultaneously. Modern infrastructure like the airport, the port, roads, and communications networks were improved or constructed with state intervention. The Singapore Tourist Promotion Board was set up to promote tourism, which would eventually create many jobs in the service industry and prove to be a major source of income for the country.

Despite Lee's prominent role in economic development, he was primarily assisted by his ablest ministers, especially Goh Keng Swee and Hon Sui Sen. They managed to reduce the unemployment rate from 14 percent in 1965 to 4.5 percent in 1973. Some structural problems, however, have historically remained in Singapore: heavy foreign ownership of capital remains, unemployment and poverty continue to exist and some government interventions in the economy, at least in the short term, have proven to be unprofitable.

Designating official languages

Lee designated English as the language of the workplace and the common language among the different races, while recognizing Malay, Chinese, and Tamil as the other three official languages. Most schools use English as the medium of instruction, although there are also lessons for the mother tongues.

Lee discouraged the usage of Chinese dialects by promoting Mandarin to be supplanted as the "Mother Tongue" of ethnic Chinese, in view of having a common language of communication within the Chinese community. In 1979, Lee officially launched the first Speak Mandarin Campaign. Lee also cancelled the broadcasting of all television programmes in dialects, with the exception of news and operas, for the benefit of the older audience. However, the policy worked at the expense of Chinese dialects; it was recently observed that most of the younger Chinese Singaporeans are no longer able to speak Chinese dialects fluently, thus encountering some difficulty when communicating with their dialect-speaking grandparents.

In the 1970s, graduates of the Chinese-language Nanyang University were facing huge problems finding jobs because of their lack of command in the English language, which was often required in the workforce, especially the public sector. Lee had to take drastic measures, and had Nanyang University absorbed by the English-language University of Singapore; the combined institution was renamed the National University of Singapore. This move greatly affected the Chinese-speaking professors who would now have to teach in English. It was also opposed by some Chinese groups who had contributed significantly to the building of Nanyang University and therefore had strong emotional attachments to the school.

Government policies

Like many Asian countries, Singapore was not immune to the disease of corruption. Lee was well aware how corruption had led to the downfall of the Nationalist Chinese government in mainland China. Fighting against the communists himself, he knew he had to "clean house". Lee introduced legislation that give the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) greater power to conduct arrests, search, call up witnesses, and investigate bank accounts and income tax returns of suspected persons and their family. With Lee’s support, CPIB was given the authority to investigate any officer or minister. Indeed, several ministers were later charged with corruption.

Lee believed that ministers should be well paid in order to maintain a clean and honest government. In 1994, he proposed to link the salaries of ministers, judges, and top civil servants to the salaries of top professionals in the private sector, arguing that this would help recruit and retain talents to serve in the public sector.

In the late 1960s, fearing that Singapore's growing population might overburdened the developing economy, Lee started a vigorous "Stop-at-Two" family planning compaign. Couples were urged to undergo sterilization after their second child. Third or fourth children were given lower priorities in education and such families received less economic rebates.

In 1983, Lee sparked the "Great Marriage Debate" when he encouraged Singapore men to choose women with high education as wives. He was concerned that a large number of graduate women were unmarried. Some sections of the population, including graduate women, were upset by his views. Nonetheless, a match-making agency Social Development Unit (SDU) was set up to promote socializing among men and women graduates. Lee also introduced incentives for graduate mothers to have third and fourth children, in a reversal of the over-successful “Stop-at-Two” family planning campaign in the 1960s and 1970s. By the late-1990s, birth rates had become so low that Lee's successor Goh Chok Tong extended these incentives to all married women.

Relations with Malaysia

Mahathir bin Mohamad

Lee looked forward to improving relationships with Mahathir bin Mohamad upon the latter's promotion to Deputy Prime Minister. Knowing that Mahathir was in line to become the next Prime Minister of Malaysia, Lee invited Mahathir (through then-President of Singapore Devan Nair) to visit Singapore in 1978. The first and subsequent visits improved both personal and diplomatic relationships between them. Mahathir told Lee to cut off links with the Chinese leaders of the Democratic Action Party; in exchange, Mahathir undertook not to interfere in the affairs of the Malay Singaporeans.

In December 1981, Mahathir changed the time zone of the Malay Peninsula in order to create just one time zone for Malaysia, and Lee followed suit for economic and social reasons. Relations with Mahathir subsequently improved in 1982.

In January 1984, Mahathir imposed a RM100 levy on all goods vehicles leaving Malaysia and Singapore. However, when Musa Hitam's tried to discourage Mahathir's policy, the levy was doubled to discourage the use of Singapore's port, and a breakdown in relations with Malaysia was evident.

In June 1988, Lee and Mahathir reached a major agreement in Kuala Lumpur to build the Linggui dam on the Johor River. Lee approached Mahathir in 1989, when he intended to move the railway customs from Tanjong Pagar in Southern Singapore to Woodlands at the end of the Causeway, in part because of an increasing number of cases of drug smuggling into Singapore. This caused resentment in Malaysia, as some of the land would revert to Singapore when the railway tracks were no longer used. In response, Mahathir designated Daim Zainuddin, then Minister of Finance of Malaysia, to settle the terms.

After months of negotiation, an agreement was reached involving the joint development of three main parcels of land in Tanjong Pagar, Kranji, and Woodlands. Malaysia had a sixty percent share, while Singapore had a forty percent share. The Points of Agreement (POA) was signed on 27 November 1990, a day before Lee stepped down as Prime Minister.

Senior Minister 1990 to 2004

Image:Lee Kuan Yew Cohen.jpg

After leading the PAP in seven victorious elections, Lee stepped down on 28 November, 1990, handing over the prime minister position to Goh Chok Tong. He was then the world's longest serving Prime Minister ever.

This leadership transition was meticulously planned and executed. The recruitment and grooming for the second generation leaders took place as early as 1970s. In the 1980s, Goh and the younger leaders started to assume important cabinet positions. Prior to the official transition, all other first generation leaders (the "old guards") were retired, including Goh Keng Swee, S. Rajaratnam and Toh Chin Chye. Being so thoroughly planned, the transition was quite a non-event in Singapore, even though it was the first leadership transition since independence. By stepping down when he was still mentally alert and in good health, Lee set himself apart from other strong contemporary Asian leaders such as Mao Zedong, Suharto, Ferdinand Marcos, and Ne Win, who had stayed in power for too long and left their countries in disarray.

As Goh Chok Tong became the head of government, Lee remained in the cabinet with a non-executive position of Senior Minister and played a role he described as advisory. In public, Lee would refer to Goh as "my Prime Minister", in deference to Goh's authority. Nonetheless, Lee's opinions still carry much weight with the public and in the cabinet. He continues to wield enormous influence in the country and is ready to use it when necessary. As he said in a 1988 National Day rally:

"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."

Lee subsequently stepped down as the Secretary-General of the PAP and was succeeded by Goh Chok Tong in November 1992.

Lee refrained from official dealings with all ASEAN governments, including Malaysia, so as not to cross lines with his successor, Goh Chok Tong. He played a major role, however, with regard to the diplomacy, such as with the agreement of the transfer of public-administration software for the development and management of Suzhou's Industrial Park with then Vice-president Li Lanqing on February 26 1994.

Minister Mentor 2004 to present

On 12 August 2004 Goh Chok Tong stepped down in favour of Lee's eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong. Goh became the Senior Minister and Lee Kuan Yew assumed a new cabinet position of Minister Mentor.

Regarding gambling laws, Lee stated that he was "emotionally and intellectually" against gambling. However, he made no opposition to his son's proposal to allow casinos in the country, stating: "Having a casino is something the new leaders will have to decide".

Recently, Lee has expressed his concern about the declining proficiency of Mandarin among younger Singaporeans. In one of his parliamentary speeches, he said: "Singaporeans must learn to juggle English and Mandarin". Subsequently, he launched a television program, 华语 Cool!, in January 2005, in an attempt to attract young viewers to learn Mandarin.

In June 2005, Lee published a book, Keeping My Mandarin Alive, documenting his decades of effort to master Mandarin — a language which he said he had to re-learn due to disuse:

"...because I don't use it so much, therefore it gets disused and there's language loss. Then I have to revive it. It's a terrible problem because learning it in adult life, it hasn't got the same roots in your memory."

In an interview with CCTV on June 12 2005, Lee stressed the need to have a continuous renewal of talent in the country's leadership, saying:

"In a different world we need to find a niche for ourselves, little corners where in spite of our small size we can perform a role which will be useful to the world. To do that, you will need people at the top, decision-makers who have got foresight, good minds, who are open to ideas, who can seize opportunities like we did. ... My job really was to find my successors. I found them, they are there; their job is to find their successors. So there must be this continuous renewal of talented, dedicated, honest, able people who will do things not for themselves but for their people and for their country. If they can do that, they will carry on for another one generation and so it goes on. The moment that breaks, it's gone."

Values and beliefs

Lee was one of the leading advocates of Asian values, though his interpretation of Asian values is open to debate. Using his support of Asian values, Confucian, and to a lesser extent, Buddhist virtues were widely promoted by Lee in the 1980s. This was evidenced in his visits to Chinese temples.

Legacy and memoirs


During the three decades in which Lee was in office, Singapore grew from being a developing country to one of the most developed nations in the world, despite its small population, limited land space and lack of natural resources. Lee has often stated that Singapore's only natural resources are its people and their strong work ethic. He is widely respected by many Singaporeans, particularly the older generation, who remember his inspiring leadership during independence and the separation from Malaysia. He has often been credited as being the architect of Singapore's present prosperity, although the role was also played by his Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee, who was in charge of the economy.


On the other hand, some Singaporeans and foreigners have criticized Lee as elitist and even an autocrat, and that the economic prosperity under Lee was achieved at the expense of much political and social freedom. Lee was once quoted as saying he preferred to be feared than loved. Adamant that the ends justify the means, Lee often prescribed repressive measures to safeguard national security and interests. Unlike some politicians who softened their stance as they aged, Lee seems to retain this rather hard-lined approach even into his eighties.

Lee has been criticized for implementing some harsh measures to suppress political opposition and freedom of speech, such as outlawing public demonstrations without an explicit police permit, the restriction of the press freedom, and the use of defamation lawsuits to bankrupt political opponents, such as Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, Tang Liang Hong and Chee Soon Juan. On political matters, public opinion was rarely solicited. On this issue, Devan Nair, the third president of Singapore and who was living in exile in Canada, remarked in a 1999 interview with the Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail that Lee's technique of suing his opponents into bankruptcy or oblivion was an abrogation of political rights. He also remarked that Lee is 'an increasingly self-righteous know-all', surrounded by 'department store dummies'. In response to these remarks, Lee sued Devan Nair in a Canadian court. The lawsuit was dismissed after Nair countersued Lee.

On one occasion, after a court ruling in favor of Lee was overturned by the Privy Council, the government had the right of appeal to the Council abolished. During Lee's premiership from 1965 to 1990, he incarcerated Chia Thye Poh, a former MP of an opposition party, the Barisan Socialis, for twenty-two years under the Internal Security Act without trial for being an alleged member of the Malayan Communist Party, only to be released in 19893. Also, in order to give full authority to the judges in their judicial decisions, Lee abolished the "Trial by Jury" in the courts. Lee's reasoning was that jury members are more liable to be swayed emotionally; a judge is likely to be more objective and impartial.


Lee Kuan Yew has written a two-volume set of memoirs: The Singapore Story (ISBN 0130208035), which covers his view of Singapore's history until its separation from Malaysia in 1965, and From Third World to First: The Singapore Story (ISBN 0060197764), which gives his account of Singapore's subsequent transformation into a prosperous first-world nation.


See also



External links


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